Aftermath of the Trump Administration, February 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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Wednesday, 1 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine widens corruption crackdown; France to give Kyiv air defense radar, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Victoria Bisset, Robyn Dixon, Dan Lamothe, and Claire Parker, Wednesday, 1 February 2023: “Ukrainian authorities widened an anti-corruption drive Wednesday, raiding and searching multiple locations, including construction companies in Kyiv and the home of oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky. Local media, including Ukrainska Pravda, reported that the raid against Kolomoisky — who made his fortune through energy companies, banking, airlines and media — was related to an investigation into embezzlement. The construction companies are also accused by Ukraine’s security service of laundering money to benefit former lawmakers allied with Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed the searches in a nightly address and said the head of Ukraine’s customs service was also dismissed. ‘We will not allow anyone to weaken our state,’ he said. ‘Change as much as necessary to ensure that people do not abuse power.’ The moves come as Ukraine prepares to host a summit with the European Union in Kyiv.

  • The former head of procurement at the Ukrainian Defense Ministry was charged with embezzlement for allegedly buying nearly 3,000 bulletproof vests of inadequate quality for more than $2.7 million, Ukraine’s Security Service said in a statement. ‘The purity of processes within the Ministry of Defense, and the defense forces in general, is especially important,’ Zelensky said. Any internal supply, any procurement — everything must be absolutely as clean and honest as the external supply for our defense.’
  • The fresh investigations came ahead of the E.U. summit on Friday, a meeting Kyiv hopes will help its bid to become a full member of the bloc. An E.U. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to brief the press on Wednesday, called the earlier dismissals ‘a signal of their determination and of the functioning of what they have now put in place.’
  • Russia is preparing to hold elections on Sept. 10 in the Ukrainian territories it occupies, Russian Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko told reporters Wednesday. Residents of those regions — Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson — are ‘full-fledged citizens of Russia, and we can’t deprive them of the right to elect and the right to be elected,’ Matviyenko said.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Carries Out Wide Anticorruption Raids Ahead of Visit From E.U. Leaders. President Volodymyr Zelensky is under pressure over his country’s bid to join the European Union as some European leaders plan a Friday visit to Kyiv. The New York Times, Wednesday, 1 February 2023:

  • More searches are conducted in connection with corruption allegations in Ukraine.

  • Russia’s bombardment grows, even as its next steps remain unclear.

  • A missile strike on Kramatorsk kills at least 3 as Russia steps up its eastern campaign.

  • The town of Kreminna is in the cross hairs in the fight for northern Luhansk.

  • Zelensky accuses Georgia of trying to kill its former president, Mikheil Saakashvili.

  • An ailing Navalny describes a prison move that will extend his isolation.

  • Funds for Russia, frozen for 15 years, will be redirected to aid Ukraine, U.S. says.

  • The U.S. Treasury announces measures against a ‘sanctions evasion network’ aiding Russia’s military.

Documents Suggest Bias and Human Error Played Parts in F.B.I.’s January 6 Failure. The F. B.I. appeared to be blinded by a lack of imagination, a narrow focus on ‘lone wolf’ offenders, and a misguided belief that the threat from the far left was as great as that from the far right, new congressional documents show. The New York Times, Adam Goldman and Alan Feuer, Wednesday, 1 February 2023: “Days before the end of the 2020 presidential race, a team of F.B.I. analysts tried to game out the worst potential outcomes of a disputed election. But of all the scenarios they envisioned, the one they never thought of was the one that came to pass: a violent mob mobilizing in support of former President Donald J. Trump. The team’s work, which has never been reported, is just the latest example of how the Federal Bureau of Investigation was unable to predict — or prevent — the chaos that erupted at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Apparently blinded by a narrow focus on ‘lone wolf’ offenders and a misguided belief that the threat from the far left was as great as that from the far right, the analysis and other new documents suggest, officials at the bureau did not anticipate or adequately prepare for the attack.”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, February 2023:

The College Board Strips Down Its A.P. Curriculum for African American Studies. The official course looks different from a previous draft: No more critical race theory, and the study of contemporary topics–like Black Lives Matter–is optional. The New York Times, Anemona Hartocollis and Eliza Fawcett, Wednesday, 1 February 2023: “After heavy criticism from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the College Board released on Wednesday an official curriculum for its new Advanced Placement course in African American Studies — stripped of much of the subject matter that had angered the governor and other conservatives. The College Board purged the names of many Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, the queer experience and Black feminism. It ushered out some politically fraught topics, like Black Lives Matter, from the formal curriculum. And it added something new: ‘Black conservatism’ is now offered as an idea for a research project. When it announced the A.P. course in August, the College Board clearly believed it was providing a class whose time had come, and it was celebrated by eminent scholars like Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard as an affirmation of the importance of African American studies. But the course quickly ran into a political buzz saw — first from conservatives after an early draft leaked to conservative publications like The Florida Standard and National Review. And then, once the curriculum was released on Wednesday, some academics and liberal groups protested the changes. The dispute over the A.P. course is about more than just the content of a high school class. Education is the center of much vitriolic partisan debate, and the College Board’s decision to try to build a curriculum covering one of the most charged subjects in the country — the history of race in America — may have all but guaranteed controversy. If anything, the arguments over the curriculum underscore the fact that the United States is a country that cannot agree on its own story, especially the complex history of Black Americans. The pushback began in January, when Governor DeSantis of Florida, a Republican who is expected to run for president, announced that he would ban the curriculum, citing the draft version. State education officials said it was not historically accurate and violated state law that regulates how race-related issues are taught in public schools.” See also, Inside the College Board’s Revised African American Studies Curriculum. A guide to some changes in the curriculum, and how the new course differs from standard treatments of Black history in American high schools. The New York Times, Dana Goldstein, Wednesday, 1 February 2023.

Lawmakers Call for inquiry Into Durham’s Review of Russia Investigation. The Democrats asked the Justice Department’s inspector general to scrutinize whether John H. Durham and William P. Barr ‘violated any laws, Department of Justice rules or practices, or canons of legal ethics.’ The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 1 February 2023: “Two House Democrats urged the Justice Department’s independent inspector general on Wednesday to open an investigation into the special counsel review of the Russia inquiry, citing ‘alarming’ disclosures in a recent New York Times article. The article, which showed how the special counsel’s review became roiled by disputes over prosecutorial ethics, ‘reveals possible prosecutorial misconduct, abuse of power, ethical transgressions and a potential cover-up of an allegation of a financial crime committed by the former president,’ the lawmakers wrote. In a four-page letter to the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, they asked that he scrutinize whether the special counsel, John H. Durham, or the attorney general who appointed him, William P. Barr, ‘violated any laws, D.O.J. rules or practices, or canons of legal ethics.’ A spokesman for Mr. Durham declined to comment. Because Democrats are in the minority in the House, the two lawmakers — Representatives Ted Lieu of California and Dan Goldman of New York — lack the power to convene their own oversight hearings into the matter. But on Monday, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, suggested that he would hold oversight hearings into Mr. Durham’s inquiry along with other aspects of how the Trump administration handled the Justice Department. The report is ‘but one of many instances where former President Trump and his allies weaponized the Justice Department,’ Mr. Durbin said in a statement, adding that his committee would ‘do its part and take a hard look at these repeated episodes, and the regulations and policies that enabled them, to ensure such abuses of power cannot happen again.'”


Thursday, 2 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: European Union leaders arrive in Kyiv for wartime summit; Putin evokes past on Stalingrad anniversary, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Victoria Bisset, Emily Rauhala, Natalia Abbakumova, Meaghan Tobin, Sammy Westfall, and Kyle Rempfer, Thursday, 2 February 2023: “Senior European officials arrived in Kyiv on Thursday, in what European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted was a demonstration ‘that the EU stands by Ukraine as firmly as ever.’ The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, announced that the bloc would double the number of Ukrainian soldiers it trains, and it pledged about $27 million to fund demining efforts. E.U. leaders will take part in a wartime summit with Ukraine on Friday, which Kyiv hopes will help its bid to become a member of the bloc. However, E.U. officials are unlikely to offer Ukraine any concrete promises during the meeting, and full membership is likely to be years, if not decades, away. In a speech in Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, marking the 80th anniversary of the Soviet army’s victory over Nazi German forces there, Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed victory in Ukraine, continuing to build on a line of rhetoric that has suffused his remarks since the invasion of Ukraine, casting the Ukrainian government as Nazis and calling on the popular memory of Russia’s World War II history to bolster support for the war with Ukraine. The potential of German Leopard tanks engaging with Russian forces has lent new force to this propaganda narrative.

  • The E.U. will ‘deepen further our support and cooperation’ with Kyiv, von der Leyen said, while noting that it was the fourth time she has visited Ukraine since Russia’s invasion. Though the 27-member bloc is broadly supportive of Ukraine, it remains split on the idea of fast-track E.U. membership, with many countries worried about the cost of reconstructing Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky remained optimistic about E.U. membership prospects. ‘I thank Mrs. President of the European Commission, her colleagues and our friends in the E.U. for their tangible support on the path of integration and in protecting our country and people,’ Zelensky said during his evening address on Thursday. ‘I believe that Ukraine deserves to reach the beginning of negotiations on E.U. membership this year.’
  • Von der Leyen said an international center for the prosecution of the crime of aggression in Ukraine will be established in The Hague. The body will coordinate evidence collection and work closely with the joint investigation teams supported by the E.U. Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, she said. The crime of aggression, while fundamental and relatively provable, is notoriously difficult to prosecute.
  • Zelensky praised an ongoing anti-corruption drive as ‘movement toward justice,’ after the home of oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky was raided and construction companies were searched in Kyiv and top officials were investigated and dismissed Wednesday. The E.U. has set out anticorruption efforts as a condition of Ukraine’s joining the bloc, and an E.U. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to brief reporters, called the investigations a sign of Ukraine’s ‘determination’ to address corruption.
  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin sidestepped questions about Ukraine’s request for F-16 fighter jets during his visit to the Philippines. Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Austin said the United States is ‘focused on providing Ukraine the capability it needs to be effective in its upcoming, anticipated counteroffensive in the spring.’ Earlier this week, President Biden rejected the possibility of sending F-16 jets to Ukraine. However, Pentagon officials voiced skepticism, noting that the administration previously dismissed Kyiv’s requests for tanks, only to later reverse the decision.
  • Russia’s foreign minister appeared to suggest that Moscow would need to launch an offensive in response to the Western supply of weapons in Ukraine. ‘We are in the midst of a geopolitical battle,’ Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with state television on Thursday. ‘The more long-range weapons the West supplies to the Kyiv regime, the further they should be moved from the Russian territory.’
  • Ukraine won’t strike Russian territory if it’s given the long-range missiles it has been asking the West to supply, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said at a meeting Thursday with the European Commission reported by Ukrainian state media. ‘Ukraine is ready to provide any guarantees that your weapons will not be involved in attacks on Russian territory,’ Reznikov said, according to state media. ‘We have enough targets in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine and are ready to coordinate targets with our partners.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin Promises Victory in Ukraine as His Forces Strike a Key City. On the 80th anniversary of a decisive Soviet triumph over the Nazis, President Vladimir V. Putin tried to cast Russia’s invasion as a virtuous endeavor. Back-to-back missile strikes hit the Ukrainian military hub of Kramatorsk as Kyiv warned of a new Russian offensive. The New York Times, Thursday, 2 February 2023:

  • Putin uses a World War II anniversary to vow victory in Ukraine.

  • Another attack in Kramatorsk comes as rescuers search for survivors of an earlier Russian strike.

  • Putin’s promise of victory overlooks rising casualties in his army.

  • If Russia launches a new offensive, where might it come?

  • The White House says Russian Olympians should be permitted only as neutral participants.

  • A hit French novel tries to explain Putin. Too well, some critics say.

  • Top E.U. officials arrive in Kyiv for a summit with Zelensky.

Trump Won’t Commit to Backing the Republican Nominee in 2024. The former president faces several potential Republican challengers in his bid for the White House. The New York Times, Michael C. Bender, Thursday, 2 February 2023: “Donald J. Trump refused to say he would support the next Republican presidential nominee if it was not him, exposing a potential quagmire along the party’s path toward reclaiming the White House in 2024 and showcasing, once again, the former president’s transactional spin on political loyalty. In a radio interview on Thursday, the conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt asked Mr. Trump if he would support ‘whoever’ wins the party’s nomination next year. Mr. Trump announced his third presidential campaign in November and faces a number of potential Republican challengers. ‘It would depend,’ Mr. Trump said, adding, ‘It would have to depend on who the nominee was.’ The hesitation from Mr. Trump differed from many of the Republican Party’s top officials and most prominent activists. Several of Mr. Trump’s critics inside the party, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, have repeatedly said they planned to back the G.O.P. nominee, even if that person is not their top choice.” See also, Trump declines to say if he’ll support eventual 2024 Republican presidential nominee, The Washington Post, Mariana Alfaro, Thursday, 2 February 2023: “Former president Donald Trump refused to say whether he’ll commit to backing the 2024 GOP presidential candidate if it’s not him, injecting uncertainty into Republican hopes of reclaiming the White House next year. ‘It would depend,’ Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in a radio interview Thursday, later adding, ‘It would have to depend on who the nominee was.’ Trump’s unwillingness to deliver a full-throated endorsement of the eventual nominee stood in contrast to other leading Republicans — including some critics of the former president — who have promised to support the GOP nominee even if it’s Trump. On Thursday, Hewitt told Trump that former Maryland governor Larry Hogan (R) — a well-known anti-Trump Republican who has been mentioned as a possible GOP presidential candidate — had said in an interview earlier that day that he would support Trump if he ultimately wins the nomination.”

Representative Ilhan Omar was kicked off the House Foreign Affairs Committee after party-line vote in House. The vote came after a heated debate in which Omar’s Democratic colleagues rallied around her in defense. The Washington Post, Marianna Sotomayor, Thursday, 2 February 2023: “Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) was kicked off the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a party-line vote that followed a contentious debate on the House floor Thursday morning that included yelling and Omar defending herself, on the verge of tears. House Republicans had set their sights on removing Omar after she had made what Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) recently described as ‘repeated antisemitic and anti-American remarks’ throughout her time as a member of the House. The resolution passed 218-211 on party lines, with only Republican Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio), voting present. He cast a similar vote when Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) was removed from his committee under Democratic leadership, saying then that his service on the House Ethics Committee could pose a conflict of interest. Democrats have aggressively pushed back against Republicans trying to compare the rebuke of Omar to those of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Gosar, saying that the offenses are not the same. ‘I had a member of the Republican caucus threaten my life and … the Republican caucus rewarded him with one of the most prestigious committee assignments in this Congress. Don’t tell me this is about consistency,’ Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said on the floor, her voice rising as fellow Democrats clapped. ‘This is about targeting women of color in the United States of America.’ Gosar had posted a video on social media that depicted him killing Ocasio-Cortez, and Greene was removed from her committees after social media postings approving of violence toward Democratic leaders.” See also, Ilhan Omar defiant as Republicans oust her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, The Guardian, Lauren Gambino, Chris Stein, and Martin Pengelly, Thursday, 2 February 2023: “Republicans voted to expel Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar from the House foreign affairs committee on Thursday as punishment for her past remarks on Israel. Democrats objected, saying the move was about revenge after Democrats removed far-right extremists in the last Congress. A majority of 218 GOP lawmakers supported Omar’s expulsion from the committee, which is tasked with handling legislation and holding hearings affecting America’s diplomatic relations. One Republican lawmaker voted ‘present.’ Omar struck a defiant note in a speech shortly before the votes were counted, accusing Republicans of trying to silence her because she is a Muslim immigrant, and promising to continue speaking out. ‘Is anyone surprised that I am being targeted? Is anyone surprised that I am somehow deemed unworthy to speak about American foreign policy? Or that they see me as a powerful voice that needs to be silenced? Frankly, it is expected because when you push power, power pushes back,’ Omar said.” See also, House Ousts Ilhan Omar From Foreign Affairs Committee as Republicans Exact Revenge. In a highly politicized vote, the Republican-led chamber criticized Ms. Omar’s statements about Israel, delivering retribution for the removal of Republican members when Democrats held the majority. The New York Times, Karoun Demirjian, Thursday, 2 February 2023: “A bitterly divided House on Thursday ousted Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota from the Foreign Affairs Committee over past comments about Israel that were widely condemned as antisemitic, as Republicans moved to cater to the demands of right-wing members and mete out punishment to a Democrat their party has demonized for years. The 218-to-211 party-line vote, with one member voting ‘present,’ settled a partisan score that has been festering since 2021, when the House, then controlled by Democrats, stripped Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona of their committee assignments for social media posts in which they endorsed violence against Democrats. The removal of Ms. Omar delivered on a threat that Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California made at the time to retaliate if his party took the House majority by removing Democrats whom Republicans regarded as unfit to serve on committees. Last week, he unilaterally removed Representatives Adam B. Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both of California, from the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where membership is appointed and thus not subject to a vote.”

Two years after January 6, Trump is still promoting violent rhetoric, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Thursday, 2 February 2023: “It has been some 25 months since supporters of Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol. Trump was later impeached for allegedly inciting the mob, with a historic number of Republicans voting to convict, though the Senate acquitted him. And many of those arrested for rioting said Trump’s suggestive language ahead of that date amounted to a call to arms. Trump has shown little remorse and no signs of self-reflection about what happened that day. In fact, he’s making and promoting the same kind of references to political violence that preceded Jan. 6. Perhaps the most pronounced recent example came Tuesday. On his Truth Social platform, Trump shared the message of a user actively encouraging physical violence on his behalf. Discussing a hypothetical effort to disqualify Trump from office, the user said anyone behind such an effort ‘will have to figure out how to fight 80,000,000 + it’s not going to happen again.’ ‘People my age and old will physically fight for him this time,’ the user said. ‘What we got to lose ? I’ll donate the rest of my time here on this planet to do it. And I know many many others who feel the same. They got my 6 and we Are Locked and LOADED.'”

It’s now legal for domestic abusers to own a gun in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, Vox, Ian Millhiser, Thursday, 2 February 2023: “A panel of judges on an exceedingly reactionary federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that the federal law prohibiting individuals from ‘possessing a firearm while under a domestic violence restraining order’ is unconstitutional. Under Judge Cory Wilson’s opinion in United States v. Rahimi, people with a history of violent abuse of their romantic partners or the partners’ children now have a Second Amendment right to own a gun, even if a court has determined that they are ‘a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child.’ The immediate impact of this decision is that Zackey Rahimi, who ‘was subject to an agreed civil protective order entered February 5, 2020, by a Texas state court after Rahimi’s alleged assault of his ex-girlfriend,’ may not be convicted of violating the federal ban on gun possession by domestic abusers. More broadly, because the decision was handed down by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which presides over federal lawsuits in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, this federal law can no longer be enforced in those three states.”


Friday, 3 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: European Union leaders in Kyiv make no promises for membership; U.S. announces $2.17 Billion in aid, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Ellen Francis, Kate Brady, and Claire Healy, Friday, 3 February 2023: “Any hopes that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s summit with European Union leaders in Kyiv would deliver fast-track E.U. accession for Ukraine were dashed Friday. In a joint statement, the leaders in attendance offered ‘commitment to further deepening our relationship’ but no further action. In his nightly address Friday, Zelensky said, ‘There is an understanding that it is possible to start negotiations on Ukraine’s membership in the European Union this year.’ Air raid sirens were heard in Kyiv early Friday ahead of the meeting and again after the meeting, which European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described as proof that the E.U. ‘stands by Ukraine as firmly as ever.’ The United States will provide Ukraine with longer range rocket artillery that will double the reach of its current munitions, the Pentagon said Friday. The move, which would increase the potential for Ukraine to strike Russian territory, signals a relationship of trust between Kyiv and Washington, which has recently demonstrated less reluctance to provide arms once thought to carry too great a risk of escalation between the West and Russia.

  • A 33-year-old U.S. citizen and former U.S. marine was killed Thursday in an explosion in Bakhmut. Peter Reed was the founder of the nongovernmental group Global Response Medicine and in January became the Ukraine director of Global Outreach Doctors, a U.S.-based NGO, where he focused on ‘trauma work and civilian evacuations.’ GRM confirmed his death in a statement, calling Reed the ‘bedrock’ of the organization and describing his loss as a ‘stark reminder of the perils rescue and aid workers face in conflict zones.’
  • The E.U. will provide Ukrainians with 35 million LED lightbulbs, von der Leyen announced on Twitter. Every kilowatt ‘of energy saved is precious to counter Russia’s energy war,’ she said. The E.U. also announced an aid package of 25 million euros to support humanitarian demining work but made no mention of the fighter jets Ukrainian officials have called for in recent weeks. Earlier this week, President Biden rejected these requests and said the United States would not send the F-16s.
  • A center for the prosecution of the crime of aggression in Ukraine will be established in The Hague, von der Leyen also said. The international body will work closely with the joint investigation teams supported by the E.U. Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, she told a news conference Thursday with Zelensky. The crime of aggression is notoriously difficult to prosecute, and Ukraine has expressed its preference for establishing a special tribunal.
  • Germany has issued an export license for Leopard 1 tanks to be sent to Ukraine, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said Friday, without providing details. Last week, Germany announced plans to send 14 of its more-modern Leopard 2 tanks and allow European countries to send theirs, as Washington pledged to give Ukraine 31 M1 Abrams tanks. The Leopard 2 is bigger, faster and more powerful than the Leopard 1, which was produced between 1965 and 1979.
  • Ukraine’s prosecutor general is pressing criminal charges against the head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, whose private military forces are fighting alongside the Russian army. The statement said prosecutors interrogated two Wagner fighters in Europe. Last month, the United States designated the group a ‘transnational criminal organization.’ Here’s what you need to know about the Wagner Group and what it’s doing in Ukraine.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. Package of $2.2 Billion in Ukraine Aid Includes New Guided Weapon. The military aid announced by the Pentagon on Friday includes money for Kyiv to purchase a ground-launched gliding bomb. The New York Times, Friday, 3 February 2023:

  • The Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb can hit targets up to 93 miles away.

  • Zelensky insists that ‘no one will give away Bakhmut.’

  • A U.S. volunteer aid worker is killed in eastern Ukraine.

  • France and Italy pledge to send air defense systems to Kyiv.

  • E.U. leaders visiting Kyiv make no promises on faster membership for Ukraine.

  • Germany adds older Leopard 1s to the list of tanks for Ukraine.

  • In the war against Russia, energy-efficient light bulbs are a powerful weapon.

Trump’s 2020 Wisconsin team knew he lost but began promoting election lie, recording shows, Los Angeles Times, Scott Bauer | Associated Press, Friday, 3 February 2023: “A newly released audio recording offers a behind-the-scenes look at how members of former President Trump’s campaign team in the battleground state of Wisconsin knew they had been outflanked by Democrats in the 2020 presidential election. But even as they acknowledged defeat, they pivoted to allegations of widespread fraud that were ultimately debunked — repeatedly — by elections officials and the courts. The audio from Nov. 5, 2020, two days after the election, is surfacing as Trump again seeks the White House while continuing to lie about the legitimacy of the outcome and President Biden’s win. The Wisconsin political operatives in the strategy session even praised Democratic turnout efforts in the state’s largest counties and appeared to joke about their efforts to engage Black voters, according to the recording obtained Thursday by the Associated Press. The audio centers on Andrew Iverson, who was the head of Trump’s campaign in the state.”

2016 Trump Campaign to Pay $450,000 to Settle Nondisclosure Agreements Suit. The settlement with a former campaign aide who says she was the target of sexual discrimination effectively invalidates agreements hundreds of 2016 Trump campaign officials signed. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Friday, 3 February 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump’s 2016 campaign will pay $450,000 as part of a settlement of a long court fight over its use of nondisclosure agreements, according to documents filed on Friday in a New York federal court. The proposed settlement with Jessica Denson, a former campaign aide whom the campaign tried to silence as she claimed she was the target of abusive treatment and sexual discrimination by another campaign member, effectively invalidates the nondisclosure agreements that hundreds of officials from Mr. Trump’s first presidential run signed. Ms. Denson is set to receive $25,000, the filings show, and the rest will cover legal fees and other costs. The judge in the case, who has not yet approved the settlement, pushed back on efforts by the campaign to keep the paperwork sealed. The details were reported earlier by Bloomberg News.”


Saturday, 4 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: More than 170 freed in prisoner swap; new U.S.-made bombs will double Ukraine’s reach, The Washington Post, Niha Masih, Ellen Francis, Natalia Abbakumova, and Nick Parker, Saturday, 5 February 2023: “Russia and Ukraine announced the release of nearly 180 troops in a prisoner swap on Saturday, the latest in a series of exchanges that have become a rare intersection of interests for the two countries. The Pentagon has revealed plans to send longer-range rocket artillery to Ukraine that will double the reach of its current munitions. Ukraine is set to receive the ground-launched, small diameter bombs (GLSDB) as part of the latest U.S. aid package, which is worth more than $2 billion. It is part of a new wave of weapons promised by Western governments that expect battles to intensify in the coming months.

  • Russia’s Defense Ministry announced the return of 63 prisoners of war from Ukraine on Saturday, describing the negotiation process for their release as complex. The group that returned includes people of a ‘sensitive category’ whose exchange was made possible with mediation by the United Arab Emirates, the ministry said.
  • Ukraine secured the release of 116 of its forces in the swap, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Saturday. ‘We are constantly working to bring home all our people held in Russian captivity. And I’m happy every time it succeeds.’ His country has brought 1,762 Ukrainians from Russian captivity since the war began Feb. 24, he said.
  • ‘We will continue to work. We will bring everyone back,’ Zelensky adviser Andriy Yermak wrote on Telegram, adding that Ukraine had also returned the bodies of two foreign volunteers — Christopher Matthew Perry and Andrew Tobias Matthew Bagshaw. Britons Perry and Bagshaw were killed in eastern Ukraine in January while attempting a humanitarian evacuation, their families said.
  • The small diameter bombs promised by the U.S. have an approximate range of 95 miles, nearly twice the capability previously provided by the United States. However, the munitions are part of a package drawn from the U.S. defense industry, not existing military stockpiles, so it could take months for the ammunition to arrive on the battlefield, according to U.S. officials. Washington had refused to supply such weapons for fear that Ukrainian forces will use them to strike inside Russia. Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, called the move ‘a deliberate escalation.’
  • Pete Reed, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and medical volunteer, was killed in an explosion in Bakhmutaccording to his wife, Alex Potter, and Global Outreach Doctors, where he served as country director for Ukraine. The organization, which works in areas facing famine and violence, said 33-year-old Reed had joined the team last month. ‘Pete was a beacon of humanitarian work — an incredible visionary, leader, compassionate care provider, and an inspiration to us all,’ it said. ‘He was just such a special person,’ Potter said in an interview. ‘Everything he did in life was to help other people.'”

Democrats Overhaul Party’s Primary Calendar, Upending a Political Tradition. The proposal radically reshapes the way the party picks its presidential nominees, putting more racially diverse states at the front of the line. The New York Times, Katie Glueck, Saturday, 4 February 2023: “Upending decades of political tradition, the Democratic National Committee on Saturday approved a sweeping overhaul of the Democratic primary process, a critical step in President Biden’s effort to transform the way the party picks its presidential nominees. For years, presidential nominating contests have begun with the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, a matter of immense pride in those states, and a source of political identity for many highly engaged residents. But amid forceful calls for a calendar that better reflects the racial diversity of the Democratic Party and the country — and after Iowa’s 2020 meltdown led to a major delay in results — Democrats voted to endorse a proposal that starts the 2024 Democratic presidential primary circuit on Feb. 3 in South Carolina, the state that resuscitated Mr. Biden’s once-flailing candidacy. New Hampshire and Nevada are scheduled to follow on Feb. 6, Georgia on Feb. 13 and then Michigan on Feb. 27. ‘This is a significant effort to make the presidential primary nominating process more reflective of the diversity of this country, and to have issues that will determine the outcome of the November election part of the early process,’ said Representative Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who has vigorously pushed for moving up her state’s primary, in an interview.” See also, Democratic National Committee (DNC) approves Biden plan to remake 2024 calendar, but hurdles remain. The move was long expected, but it does not guarantee the calendar will ultimately be enacted as designed. The Washington Post, Dylan Wells and Tyler Pager, Saturday, 4 February 2023: “Democrats on Saturday voted overwhelmingly to remake the party’s presidential nominating calendar, embracing President Biden’s push for South Carolina to be the first state to hold its contest in 2024 and replacing Iowa amid calls for greater racial, geographic and economic diversity in the process. The move by members of the Democratic National Committee was long expected, but it does not guarantee the calendar will ultimately be enacted as designed. In December, Biden asked DNC leaders to move up South Carolina, which sealed his comeback victory in the 2020 Democratic primary, to the first slot. Under the new plan, New Hampshire and Nevada would hold their primaries a week later, followed by primaries in Georgia and Michigan.”

George Santos Is Accused of Sexual Harassment in His Capitol Office, The New York Times, Grace Ashford and Michael Gold, Saturday, 4 February 2023: “A prospective congressional aide has accused Representative George Santos of ethics violations and sexual harassment, according to a letter the man sent to the House Committee on Ethics and posted to Twitter on Friday. The man, Derek Myers, briefly worked in Mr. Santos’s office before his job offer was rescinded earlier this week, according to the letter. Mr. Myers said in the letter that he was alone with Mr. Santos in his office on Jan. 25 when the congressman asked him whether he had a profile on Grindr, a popular gay dating app. Then, he said, Mr. Santos invited him to karaoke and touched his groin, assuring him that his husband was out of town. Mr. Myers’s account could not be corroborated, but a spokeswoman for Representative Susan Wild, ranking member of the House Ethics Committee, acknowledged that his letter had been received by her office. Mr. Myers said in an interview that he also filed a report with the Capitol Police, speaking to an officer over the phone. On Twitter, he said that he was making his complaint public for the sake of transparency…. A day before making his complaint public, Mr. Myers received attention following the release of recordings he had secretly made of Mr. Santos and his chief of staff, Charley Lovett.” See also, George Santos is accused of harassing a prospective staffer in his D.C. office, The Washington Post, Azi Paybarah, published on Sunday, 5 February 2023: “A prospective staffer in the D.C. office of Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) said Saturday that he was sexually harassed by the embattled congressman, who is facing calls to resign from both sides of the aisle after admitting to fabricating details about his biography. Derek Myers made the allegation in a series of posts on Twitter, which included a complaint he said he filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics. A spokeswoman for Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), the ranking Democrat on the House Ethics Committee, confirmed that the congresswoman received the complaint. Representatives for Santos on Sunday referred questions to the congressman’s counsel. Joseph Murray, a lawyer for Santos, declined to comment. The New York Times reported the news about the filing of the complaint on Saturday night.”



Sunday, 5 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine expects leadership shake-up, with defense minister replaced by military intelligence chief, The Washington Post, Annabelle Timsit, Bryan Pietsch, Maham Javaid, and Isabelle Khurshudvan, Sunday, 5 February 2023; “Ukraine is expected to shake up top ministerial positions, including replacing Oleksii Reznikov as defense minister with Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, the country’s current military intelligence chief. Parliament members still have to vote on the proposed changes. ‘War dictates personnel policy. Time and circumstances call for strengthening and regrouping. This is happening now and will continue to happen in the future,’ David Arakhamia, leader of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s party in parliament, said on his Telegram channel Sunday. Reznikov, a politician who has been defense minister since November 2021, is expected to become the minister for strategic industries, where he will be charged with strengthening military-industrial cooperation, Arakhamia said. Budanov’s elevation to defense minister would be ‘absolutely logical for wartime,’ given that he is a career military officer, Arakhamia added. The reshuffling comes amid a midwinter surge in fighting and warnings of a new Russian offensive preparing in the east. The changes also come amid a wider crackdown on corruption. Although Reznikov was not implicated in the misappropriation of funds, the defense ministry did come under scrutiny after Ukrainian journalists reported that the country’s military had paid inflated prices for food for its troops.

  • Ukraine’s acting minister of internal affairs, Ihor Klymenko, and the acting director of the Security Service of Ukraine, Vasyl Malyuk, are expected to become permanent positions. ‘The logic is the same,’ Arakhamia said. ‘Law enforcement agencies at this stage should be headed not by politicians, but by cadre law enforcement officers. The enemy is preparing to advance. We are preparing to defend ourselves and return our own.’
  • While still defense minister, Reznikov said at a news conference Sunday that Ukraine will receive fighter jets from the West eventually, but that what kind they’ll be is yet to be decided. He did not specify why he was confident that the aid would arrive. President Biden last week said the United States would not send F-16s to Ukraine, but that comment elicited skepticism from the Pentagon.
  • Reznikov also hinted at his potential resignation at the news conference, but said that would be Zelensky’s decision. ‘No authority sits in the same chair for their entire life, so you have to be prepared for this fate,’ Reznikov said. ‘As a former lawyer, I’m optimistic that even if I’m not in this role, I’ll have a role that will allow me to punish the Russians.’ Zelensky has recently dismissed several top officials in a shake-up; Reznikov has not been implicated in alleged corruption.
  • Crews expect to finish their work by Friday on Odessa’s electrical substation, where an accident this weekend caused a severe fire, said Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the Ukrenergo utility’s chairman. About 300,000 people had limited electricity Sunday, down from almost 500,000 who lost power initially. Kudrytskyi blamed the accident on recent Russian attacks on Ukrainian electricity infrastructure, but he did not specify an exact cause.
  • A strike in Kharkiv injured five people and damaged a university and a residential building, local officials said. Those injured were a security guard who was working at an educational institution, a 54-year-old woman and three middle-aged men, according to the regional governor. Oleh Synyehubov said rescue efforts are ongoing. Photos from the scene show residents being evacuated and emergency personnel working amid the rubble.

Taking Aim at Trump, Koch Network Will Back Republican Primary Candidates. The move by the alliance of conservative donors could provide an enormous boost to a Republican alternative to the former president. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Jonathan Swan, and Kenneth P. Vogel, Sunday, 5 February 2023: “The donor network created by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch is preparing to get involved in the presidential primaries in 2024, with the aim of turning ‘the page on the past’ in a thinly veiled rebuke of former President Donald J. Trump, according to an internal memo. The network, comprising an array of political and advocacy groups that have been backed by hundreds of ultrawealthy conservatives, has been among the most influential forces in American politics over the past 15 years, spending nearly $500 million supporting Republican candidates and conservative policies in the 2020 election cycle alone. But it has never before supported candidates in presidential primaries. The potential move against Mr. Trump could motivate donors to line up behind another prospective candidate. Thus far, only the former president has entered the race. The memo went out to the affiliated activists and donors after a weekend conference in Palm Springs, Calif., where the network’s leaders laid out their goals for the next presidential election cycle. At various sessions, they made clear they planned to get involved in primaries for various offices, and early.” See also, Koch network to back alternative to Trump after sitting out recent presidential primaries. the return of one of the biggest spenders in American politics to the presidential primary field poses a direct challenge to the former president’s comeback bid. The Washington Post, Isaac Arnsdorf, Sunday, 5 February 2023: “The network of donors and activist groups led by conservative billionaire Charles Koch will oppose Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination, mounting a direct challenge to the former president’s campaign to win back the White House. ‘The best thing for the country would be to have a president in 2025 who represents a new chapter,’ Emily Seidel, chief executive of the network’s flagship group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), wrote in a memo released publicly on Sunday. The three-page missive repeatedly suggests that AFP is taking on the responsibility of stopping Trump, with Seidel writing: ‘Lots of people are frustrated. But very few people are in a position to do something about it. AFP is. Now is the time to rise to the occasion.’ The move marks the most notable example to date of an overt and coordinated effort from within conservative circles to stop Trump from winning the GOP nomination for a third straight presidential election. Some Republicans have grown increasingly frustrated with Trump after disappointing midterm elections in which he drew blame for elevating flawed candidates and polarizing ideas. But absent a consolidated effort to stop Trump, many critics fear he will be able to exploit GOP divisions and chart a course to the nomination as he did in 2016.”

Monday, 6 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Says Russian Attacks Intensify in East. The scope of Moscow’s assault appears to be widening as Ukraine warns of a new Russian offensive. The New York Times, Monday, 6 February 2023:

  • The Ukrainian military reports attacks at dozens of points across the eastern front.

  • A possible shake-up looms in Ukraine’s Defense Ministry.

  • Leopard training, a Russian diesel ban and the battle for Bakhmut: What to watch for this week.

  • Russia’s foreign minister heads to Mali, his third trip to Africa in recent months.

  • What weapons is Ukraine getting, and will they arrive in time?

  • Millions of Ukrainians will face mental health challenges because of the war, the W.H.O. country head says.

  • Russia’s soaring death toll offers a grim insight into its tactics.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: European Union just banned Russian diesel and other oil products, NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 6 February 2023: “Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: As the war nears its one-year mark, on Feb. 24, Ukrainian officials and Western analysts have warned that Russia will likely launch a decisive offensive in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region in the coming weeks. Fighting in the east has already been intensifying, including around the city of Bakhmut. A Ukrainian government shake-up that started last month may escalate, with some politicians calling to remove the highest-ranking official yet: the defense minister. Rafael Mariano Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is due to visit Moscow this week. Grossi, who’s repeatedly warned about the security of embattled nuclear power plants in Ukraine, will meet with representatives from the Russian Foreign Ministry and national energy company, but Russian President Vladimir Putin will not meet him, the Kremlin said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed condolences and offered assistance to Turkey after a major earthquake early Monday. Turkey’s hosting tens of thousands of Ukrainian war refugees. Market analysts and motorists are watching for any price rise at the diesel pump after the European Union banned Russian oil products on Sunday. Ukraine’s military said training on German-made Leopard tanks begins Monday. That’s happening outside Ukraine. What happened last week: Ukraine called for allies to send fighter jets — not long after landmark decisions for Germany and the U.S. to give Ukraine battle tanks. Both Berlin and Washington have said no to fighter planes, so far. But Germany did announce more tanks. And the U.S. pledged more weapons, including a type of long-range, GPS-guided bomb it hasn’t provided before. Human Rights Watch called on Ukraine to investigate its alleged use of banned land mines in the eastern Ukrainian city of Izium. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen led a delegation to Kyiv for an EU-Ukraine summit, against the backdrop of air raid sirens. A European Union ban on Russian oil products took effect Sunday. Usually a major importer of Russian fuel, the EU has barred the products to target the Kremlin’s war chest. A new round of U.S. sanctions target networks supporting Russia’s military based in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Israel and Singapore. The U.S. later sanctioned the board of an Iranian drone maker. Over 100 Ukrainian and 63 Russian war prisoners were released in a prisoner swap, according to officials from each country. The United Arab Emirates helped negotiate some of the exchanges.”

Pair Is Charged With Plotting to ‘Destroy Baltimore’ by Attacking Electrical Grid. The charges came as experts have warned that the energy grid and electrical substations in particular have become popular targets for far-right extremists. The New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Michael Leverson, Monday, 6 February 2023: “Federal law enforcement officials have arrested two people accused of conspiring to ‘completely destroy Baltimore’ in what they described on Monday as a racist plot to demolish the power grid in a predominantly Black city. Sarah Clendaniel, 34, of Catonsville, Md., and Brandon Russell, 27, of Orlando, Fla., planned to inflict ‘maximum harm’ by targeting five facilities operated by Baltimore Gas and Electric, which serves 1.2 million customers in central Maryland, according to a complaint filed in federal court. While prosecutors suggested the arrests did not appear linked to recent attacks on the electrical grid in North CarolinaWashington State and Oregon, Mr. Russell is a founding member of a neo-Nazi group called the Atomwaffen Division that discussed targeting electrical and nuclear facilities in Florida in 2017. He was released last August from federal prison after a conviction for bomb making. ‘Russell provided instructions and location information,’ Thomas J. Sobocinski, the special agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s field office in Baltimore, said at a news conference. ‘He described attacking the power transformers as the greatest thing somebody can do.’ Ms. Clendaniel, who was responsible for carrying out the attacks, boasted that she wanted to ‘completely lay this city to waste,’ Mr. Sobocinski said, adding that local, state and federal law enforcement agencies disrupted the plot before it could be carried out. The charges came as researchers and homeland security officials have warned that the energy grid and electrical substations in particular have become popular targets for far-right extremists.” See also, Duo accused of neo-Nazi plot to target Maryland power stations. Atomwaffen founder Brandon Russell and Sarah Clendaniel allegedly sought to attack substations around Baltimore. The Washington Post, Rachel Weiner, Jasmine Hilton, and Dan Morse, Monday, 6 February 2023: “A neo-Nazi leader recently released from prison is accused of plotting an attack on the Maryland power grid with a woman he met while incarcerated. The charges against Brandon Russell, 27, and Sarah Clendaniel, 34, come amid a spate of sabotage targeting power stations across the country. Gunfire at two North Carolina substations in December left 45,000 people without power for several days. Most of the cases remain unsolved, but authorities and experts say they follow increased interest among white supremacists in targeting electric infrastructure.”


Tuesday, 7 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. State Department weighs $10 billion deal with Poland for HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System), The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Jennifer Hassan, Sammy Westfall, and Dan Lamothe, Tuesday, 7 February 2023: “The State Department is weighing whether to approve the sale of $10 billion in artillery rocket systems to NATO ally Poland, it said in a notification to Congress on Tuesday. The deal would include 18 launchers and long-range ammunition that the Ukrainian government has repeatedly sought but not received. Poland has requested 18 M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers and an array of ammunition, including 45 Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), the State Department said. The United States has so far declined to provide the long-range missiles to Kyiv, out of concern that Russia could view such a move as a significant escalation of the U.S. role in the war. State Department officials said in a statement that providing the weapons to Poland would meet U.S. foreign policy goals by ‘improving the security of a NATO Ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in Europe.’

  • German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Tuesday. ‘The tank coalition is marching … to victory!’ Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in a tweet.
  • The defense ministers of Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands announced Tuesday that they would provide Ukraine with at least 100 Leopard 1A5 battle tanks. They would arrive in March, in a move set to complement plans to deliver more-sophisticated Leopard 2 tanks by March.
  • Sweden is ready to restart negotiations over its application to join NATO as soon as Turkey is ready, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Tuesday, according to Reuters. The process was halted last month after months of tension, with NATO member Turkey holding up the accession of Finland and Sweden. The two countries asked to join the 30-member military alliance in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was set to arrive in Washington on Tuesday for meetings with senior Biden administration officials and members of Congress this week. Stoltenberg will sit down with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, among others.
  • Ukraine’s main Catholic church is set to begin following a new calendar, breaking another link to Russia. Under the change, the church would celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25, rather than Jan. 7, when the Russian branch of the Orthodox Church marks the holiday per the Julian calendar. The calendar switch was ‘influenced by the social change that took place in the last six months,’ which increased support among Ukrainians for the move, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church said in a statement Monday.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin offered emergency assistance by phone to the presidents of quake-hit Syria and Turkey. After a Monday call between Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Kremlin announced that Russian rescue personnel are set to fly to Syria.
  • On a visit to Mali on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow plans to increase support to Mali’s military, Russian state media outlet Tass reported.
  • Norway’s government is considering a five-year aid package to Ukraine worth about $7.3 billion, an official said Monday, with half the money funding military requirements and half funding humanitarian aid in 2023. Zelensky hailed the proposal as ‘an extremely significant contribution.’ As one of Europe’s largest fossil-fuel exporters, Norway has seen its gas revenue spike amid the war as people search for alternatives to Russian energy, and the growing demand has led to accusations that it is profiting from the war.
  • U.N. Secretary General António Guterres expressed concern that the war in Ukraine could escalate into a broader global conflict. ‘The Russian invasion of Ukraine is inflicting untold suffering on the Ukrainian people, with profound global implications,’ he said in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Monday. ‘I fear the world is not sleepwalking into a wider war. I fear it is doing so with its eyes wide open.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: As Russia Amasses Troops in East, Questions Remain About Its Ability to Sustain an Offensive. Russia is grinding out slow gains in eastern Ukraine, but some Western intelligence officials doubt that it can quickly change the course of the war. The New York Times, Tuesday, 7 February 2023:

  • Moscow’s forces are advancing only a few hundred meters a week, U.K. intelligence says.

  • Ukraine may no longer have a troop advantage, but Russia’s bolstered forces are still struggling.

  • Zelensky asks for national unity and no rumor-mongering amid his government’s shake-ups.

  • A plan by Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands aims to get some Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine ‘within months.’

  • Biden is expected to ask Congress for more Ukraine military aid. Here’s some of what the U.S. has given so far.

  • Biden is likely to boast about NATO’s unity against Russia in his address.

  • Zelensky may attend the E.U. summit this week in Brussels.

  • Fears that Russia could use nuclear weapons in Ukraine have diminished, but could re-emerge.

7 Takeaways From Biden’s State of the Union Address. The president’s speech presented no big new proposals, but he offered to work with Republicans even as he parried hecklers and sought to allay Democratic concerns about his vigor heading into 2024. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Jim Tankersley, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Tuesday, 7 February 2023: “President Biden delivered a plea to Republicans on Tuesday for unity in his second State of the Union address, but vowed not to back off his economic agenda and offered no far-reaching, new ideas in a speech filled with a familiar litany of exhortations from more than four decades in political life. Reading rapidly through his prepared remarks and occasionally sparring with his congressional adversaries in real time, Mr. Biden — at 80 the oldest president in history — used the biggest platform of his office to frame his argument for an expected re-election bid by portraying Republican policy proposals as out of step with most Americans even as he offered to work across the aisle. For Mr. Biden, the speech was a moment to demonstrate to his supporters that he still has the political skills to lead them to victory in 2024 even as polls show a large majority of Democrats want someone from a new generation (he would be 86 at the end of a second term). After a few stumbles at the beginning, the president turned energetic and combative, and even showed flashes of humor and effective off-the-cuff retorts to Republican hecklers in a setting not known for improvisation.” See also, Biden makes a pitch to ‘finish the job’ in his State of the Union address, NPR, Asma Khalid, Tuesday, 7 February 2023: “In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Biden touted the economic progress and legislative achievements made under his watch, repeatedly saying ‘Let’s finish the job’ — a refrain likely to be heard as his unofficial pitch for reelection. It was his first address to Congress since Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives in the November midterms. With newly elected GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy sitting over his shoulder, Biden urged Congress to pass a lengthy list of his unfinished priorities. ‘There’s so much more to do,’ he said, calling on lawmakers to pass policing reform and immigration legislation, codify abortion rights, and cap the price of insulin for all at $35 a month. Biden, the oldest president in U.S. history at 80 years old, has said it is his intention to run again in the 2024 presidential election. He’s expected to make an official announcement in the near future.” See also, Biden, in State of the Union, mixes bipartisanship with defiance. Speech is marked by unusual back-and-forth between president and Republican lawmakers. The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa and Yasmeen Abutaleb, Tuesday, 7 February 2023: “President Biden, facing a vocal and divided Congress, used his second State of the Union address Tuesday to emphasize popular ideas from job creation to health care, aiming to throw Republicans on the defensive and pitch himself as a friend of ordinary Americans. In a speech that foreshadowed his potential 2024 campaign message, Biden defended his record, made a direct appeal to blue-collar workers and sought to shift voter attitudes about the economy by touting his administration’s massive investment in the nation’s infrastructure. Alternating between calls for Republicans to unify with Democrats and condemnation of the GOP’s least popular policies, Biden showcased both the potential for future cooperation and the likelihood of nasty partisan fights over the next two years.” See also, Joe Biden, Once Again, Lucks Out With His Enemies. In his State of the Union address, the President offered a strong performance–with an assist from House Republicans. The New Yorker, Susan B. Glasser, published on Wednesday, 8 February 2023: “The address was … an instructive speech and, I think, an important one. It showed that Biden, despite his age, could deliver a clear and forceful case for his record. Biden loves nothing more than to make his pitch for why government still has something to contribute to the American story, and, looking to 2024, he seems to be preparing for a campaign in which he will offer not only a rhetorically outstretched hand to congressional Republicans but an actual pitch to their voters as well. The speech was a Democratic version of populism that was right in Biden’s I’m-just-a-guy-from-Scranton comfort zone. The President’s 2020 campaign was about throwing out Trump and “restoring the soul of the nation,” as he often put it. Biden’s 2024 reëlection campaign looks to be about co-opting Trumpism, with its angry but compelling pitch to the voters of Middle America about the unfairness of it all. Unlike Trump, Biden wasn’t offering them anger; he was selling them on a President who might actually do something about their problems.”

Republican Senator Mitt Romney told Republican Representative George Santos ‘You don’t belong here’ in tense exchange in House chamber before Biden’s State of the Union (SOTU) address, CNN Politics, Melanie Zanona and Manu Raju, Tuesday, 7 February 2023: “Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told GOP Rep. George Santos of New York: ‘You don’t belong here,’ according to a member who witnessed the tense exchange in the House of Representatives chamber Tuesday night. Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, made the remarks as he walked into the chamber for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address. After the speech, Romney told CNN he criticized Santos for standing in the front aisle “trying to shake hands” with the president and senators ‘given the fact that he’s under ethics investigation. He should be sitting in the back row and staying quiet instead of parading in front of the president and people coming into the room,’ he said, noting that Santos may have responded to his remark but he ‘didn’t hear.’ Santos posted on Twitter after the speech: ‘Hey @MittRomney just a reminder that you will NEVER be PRESIDENT!’ Santos faces multiple investigations over his finances and repeated lies about his resume and biography. In November, he flipped a Democratic seat in a redrawn district, helping Republicans seize a narrow majority in the House.”


Wednesday, 8 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: NATO chief in Washington; Zelensky arrives in Paris after London visit, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Jennifer Hassan, Claire Parker, and Ben Brasch, Wednesday, 8 February 2023: “NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is in Washington for meetings with top national security officials in the Biden administration to discuss defense assistance for Ukraine. Russia is preparing to launch new offensives in Ukraine, and any public hints at readiness to negotiate are deceptive, Stoltenberg told reporters during a visit to the State Department. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in France late Wednesday local time, for the second leg of his surprise Europe tour. The visit to Paris, where Zelensky is dining with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday night, comes after a whirlwind trip to London. ‘Russia cannot and must not win this war,’ Macron said at a joint news conference with Scholz and Zelensky at the Élysée Palace. ‘As long as Russia continues to attack, we will continue to adapt and moderate the necessary military support to preserve Ukraine and its future.’

  • Stoltenberg was meeting with senior Biden administration officials in Washington on Wednesday, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan. ‘We must continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs to retake territory and prevail as a sovereign independent nation,’ Stoltenberg said at the State Department.
  • He was expected to meet with members of Congress to discuss ‘support for Ukraine’s self-defense against Russia’s aggression,’ a NATO official said. Ukraine is a partner, but not a member, of NATO — while Finland and Sweden have applied to join the alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • In a speech to Britain’s Parliament, Zelensky made a fresh appeal for military aircraft. ‘I will leave Parliament thanking all of you in advance for powerful English planes,’ he said to laughter and applause. Standing with Zelensky in front of a tank at a military base in Dorset, where the British military is training Ukrainian troops, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that ‘nothing is off the table’ when it comes to Ukraine’s requests for fighter jets.
  • Responding to Zelensky’s visit Wednesday, the Russian Embassy in Moscow warned Britain against providing Ukraine with fighter jets. ‘In the event of such a scenario, the death toll of yet another round of escalation … will be on the United Kingdom’s hands,’ the embassy said in a statement. ‘Russia will know how to respond to any unfriendly actions by the British side.’
  • Zelensky also met with King Charles III at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday afternoon. In a statement, Zelensky said it was ‘an honor’ to become the first Ukrainian president to have an audience with a British monarch.
  • Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark will provide Ukraine with at least 100 Leopard 1A5 tanks along with training and logistics support, the nations’ defense ministers said in a statement. The announcement complements plans to deliver more-advanced Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine by March. Germany also announced a new round of military aid to Ukraine on Wednesday, including 32 Gepard self-propelled antiaircraft guns.
  • E.U. sanctions against Russia ‘will continue’ and ‘may even be enhanced,’ Scholz told German lawmakers on Wednesday. ‘Ukraine belongs to Europe; its future lies in the European Union,’ he said in a speech to Germany’s Bundestag, less than three weeks before the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported. ‘Putin will not achieve his goals — not on the battlefield and not through a dictated peace,’ Scholz added. ‘This is clear after one year of this war.’
  • President Biden reiterated U.S. support for Ukraine during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, calling Russia’s invasion ‘a test for America’ and the world. Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, was present at the event, representing ‘not just her nation, but the courage of her people,’ Biden said.
  • Dutch prosecutors have linked the deaths of 298 people aboard a passenger plane that was shot down and Russian President Vladimir PutinThe Post has reported. Putin signed off on supplying antiaircraft missiles to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine before they downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014. Despite ‘strong indications’ of Putin’s direct role, prosecutors said their evidence was ‘not concrete enough’ for a new prosecution.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Britain Pledges to Train Ukraine’s Pilots, Signaling That Warplanes Could Come Next. The training is a ‘first step,’ Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told President Volodymyr Zelensky, who then went to Paris to meet with the French and German leaders. The New York Times, Wednesday, 8 February 2023:

  • Zelensky began his surprise trip to Europe in London, then went to Paris.

  • Zelensky thanks Britain and redoubles his demand for jets.

  • Ukraine says it is preparing to use Western jets, even though none have yet been pledged.

  • Investigators say Putin likely approved the supply of the missile system that brought down Flight MH17.

  • Britain’s support for Ukraine reflects its vexed history with Russia.

  • Russia rejects U.S. demands to inspect its nuclear arms facilities.

  • Even at Buckingham Palace, Zelensky wears his familiar military green.

President Biden Is Not Backing Off His Big-Government Agenda. In his first appearance before a Republican House, the president renewed calls for large new economic programs and offered no concessions on federal spending. The New York Times, Jim Tankersley, Wednesday, 8 February 2023: “There were no economic pivots in President Biden’s first State of the Union address to a Republican House. He did not pare back his push to raise taxes on high earners or to spend big on new government programs. He offered no olive branches to conservatives who have accused him of running the country into crisis with government borrowing. It was a shift from Mr. Biden’s two most recent Democratic predecessors in the White House, who tacked toward a more conciliatory and limited-government approach to economic policy after losing at least one chamber of Congress. But on Tuesday night, Mr. Biden barreled ahead. The president renewed his calls for trillions of dollars of new federal programs, including for child care and community college, over the sometimes raucous objections of Republicans who have centered their fight with Mr. Biden on the issue of spending and debt. He did not name a single federal spending program he was willing to cut. He said he would work to reduce budget deficits, but by raising taxes on high earners and corporations, a position anathema to Republicans. The speech was not a blueprint to pass any of those proposals, which have little chance of becoming law during his first term. Instead, it was a defiant opening bid for a high-stakes clash over raising the nation’s borrowing limit. It was a no-quarter recommitment to a campaign theme aimed squarely at blue-collar voters in 2024 swing states, centered on expanding government in pursuit of what Mr. Biden calls ‘middle-out’ economic policy.”


Thursday, 9 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky asks European Union leaders for fighter jets; Ukraine’s rocket attacks often rely on U.S.-fed coordinates, The Washington Post, Beatriz Rios, Loveday Morris, Jennifer Hassan, Bryan Pietsch, Maham Javaid, and Anumita Kaur, Thursday, 9 February 2023: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is asking European Union leaders for more military equipment, including warplanes, during his Thursday visit to the bloc’s home base. ‘We need artillery guns, the ammunition, the tanks, the long-range missiles and the fighter jets,’ he told a European Council meeting. He said at a news conference that he would discuss aircraft in bilateral meetings with leaders. Other weapons previously sent to Ukraine have come with targeting assistance behind the scenes, the Washington Post revealed Thursday afternoon. Senior Ukrainian officials told The Post that U.S.-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems require coordinates provided or confirmed by the United States and its allies for the vast majority of strikes. The previously undisclosed practice highlights a deeper and more operationally active role for the Pentagon in the war than was previously known.

  • The European Parliament’s president urged E.U. nations to provide Ukraine with warplanes and long-range weapons, among other military equipment. ‘We know the sacrifice your people have endured for Europe, and we must honor it not only with words, but with actions,’ Roberta Metsola said to Zelensky. ‘States must consider quickly steps to providing long-range systems and the jets you need to protect the liberty too many have taken for granted.’
  • Zelensky praised the E.U. for taking steps to wean itself off Russian fossil fuels in his European Parliament speech. The E.U. banned imports of Russian seaborne imports of crude oil last year, with an embargo on oil products including diesel kicking in earlier this week. Natural gas deliveries through the main pipeline between Russia and Europe also ended after Moscow stalled supplies and a sabotage attack damaged two pipelines.
  • British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said ‘nothing is off the table’ after Zelensky asked for fighter jets in his speech to the British Parliament this week. ‘I will leave Parliament thanking all of you in advance for powerful English planes,’ Zelensky told the lawmakers. No country has sent fighter jets to Ukraine so far; Poland and Slovakia have both offered decades-old MiG fighter jets, but transfers have become entangled in discussions among allies.
  • Estonia’s prime minister proposed a program to purchase military equipment for Ukraine. Kaja Kallas cited a system used by the E.U. during the coronavirus pandemic, where countries provided cash but the European Commission negotiated with the pharmaceutical companies to lower the price. ‘We should send a clear signal to the European industry that they need to produce more,’ she said Wednesday.
  • Ukraine’s rocket campaign is reliant on U.S. precision targeting, The Post reported Thursday. Ukrainian forces almost never launch the advanced weapons without specific coordinates provided by U.S. military personnel from a base elsewhere in Europe, wrote Post reporters Isabelle Khurshudyan, Dan Lamothe, Shane Harris and Paul Sonne.
  • Russian forces are on the offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk regionaccording to a Telegram post from Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk region military administration. Hayday stated that the situation is kept under control by Ukraine’s defense forces. Russian operations in Luhansk increased over the past week, the Institute for the Study of War, a D.C.-based think tank, reported. Russian troops are attacking Ukrainian defensive lines and making marginal advances along the Kharkiv-Luhansk Oblast border.
  • Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has arrived in Moscow, where he is set to advise on the implementation of a nuclear safety and security protection zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, said officials at the U.N. nuclear watchdog. Earlier, the Kremlin said that Grossi would meet state officials but not Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit. Russia seized control of the power plant last March, and since then, the IAEA has repeatedly expressed security concerns at the plant.
  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX has accused the Ukrainian military of using its satellite internet service, Starlink, to power drones. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said that while she was pleased that the service has helped Ukraine, Starlink ‘was never intended to be weaponized’ and ‘Ukrainians have leveraged it in ways that were not part of any agreement.’
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov slammed the possibility of Britain providing jets to Ukraine, saying such steps would ‘make this conflict more painful and tormenting for Ukraine.’ He added that providing jets ‘will not fundamentally change the outcome of the conflict’ or Russia’s goals in the war. On Thursday, a spokesperson for Sunak told the Press Association that the British government is ‘aware of potential escalatory risks’ that sending the jets could entail and is weighing the decision ‘carefully.’
  • Zelensky’s renewed appeal for military aircraft comes amid warnings from Ukrainian officials that Russia is planning an offensive that is likely to include the northeastern region of Kharkiv and the southern Zaporizhzhia region. The Kremlin needs ‘to have something to show before their people, and have a major desire to do something big, as they see it,’ by the Feb. 24 anniversary of the invasion, Oleksiy Danilov, head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, told Reuters.
  • Shelling in the Kharkiv region killed two civilians and injured five, regional governor Oleh Synyehubov said. A 48-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman died of their injuries after residential buildings in the village of Dvorichna were hit, he said. Five people were injured in Kharkiv’s Chuguyiv district, he added.
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met in Washington with top U.S. officials including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan. ‘We must continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs to retake territory and prevail as a sovereign independent nation,’ Stoltenberg said at the State Department. The Pentagon said in a statement that Austin and Stoltenberg discussed NATO unity and ‘support for Ukraine during this critical time.’
  • The E.U. will impose sanctions on Russian ‘propagandists’ in addition to military and political leaders in a new round of sanctions following a request from Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday. ‘Their lies are poisoning the public space in Russia and abroad,’ she said. The 10th European sanctions package, due to be imposed by the anniversary of the invasion on Feb. 24, will also include an export ban worth more than 10 billion euros ($10.7 billion), she said, adding that ‘Russia must pay for the destruction caused and the blood spilled.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia’s Attacks Escalate as Zelensky Urges European Unity With Ukraine. On his second trip abroad, the Ukrainian president asked the leaders of the European Union to begin talks this year for his country to join. Back home, he faces an intensifying fight on the eastern front. The New York Times, Thursday, 9 February 2023:

  • Fighting increases near Kreminna, a city key to Putin’s objectives in the east.

  • A grateful Zelensky in Brussels asks the E.U. for more help, fast.

  • Wagner, the Russian mercenary group, says it has stopped recruiting prisoners.

  • Roger Waters of Pink Floyd weighs in on the war in Ukraine, again.

  • Battlefield Update: Russia tries for ‘maximum escalation’ around Kreminna.

  • Here’s a look at what Britain has given Ukraine and what it still has in its arsenal.

Mike Pence subpoenaed by Jack Smith, special counsel overseeing Trump investigations. It follows months of negotiations between prosecutors and Pence’s legal team. ABC News, Katherine Faulders and John Santucci, Thursday, 9 February 2023: “Former Vice President Mike Pence has been subpoenaed by the special counsel overseeing probes into former President Donald Trump, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. Sources told ABC News that the subpoena from special counsel Jack Smith requests documents and testimony related to the failed attempt by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election, which culminated in the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.” See also, Mike Pence Gets Subpoena From Special Counsel Jack Smith in January 6 Investigation. The move by Smith is one of the most aggressive in his investigation of Donald Trump’s efforts to stay in power and is likely to lead to a battle over executive privilege. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, Thursday, 9 February 2023: “Former Vice President Mike Pence has been subpoenaed by the special counsel investigating former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to cling to office after he lost his bid for re-election, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The move by the Justice Department sets up a likely clash over executive privilege, which Mr. Trump has previously used to try to slow, delay and block testimony from former administration officials in various investigations into his conduct. The existence of the subpoena was reported earlier by ABC News. It was not immediately clear when the special counsel, Jack Smith, sought Mr. Pence’s testimony. The move is among the most aggressive yet by Mr. Smith in his wide-ranging investigation into Mr. Trump’s role in seeking to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election. He is also overseeing a parallel inquiry into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents. The New York Times previously reported that the Justice Department was seeking to question Mr. Pence in connection with the investigation into Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in power after he lost the 2020 election and had reached out to his team. Mr. Pence is potentially a key witness because he is one of the people best positioned to provide information about Mr. Trump’s state of mind at the time, even though his relationship with Mr. Trump reached the breaking point in the days leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, legal experts said.” See also, Mike Pence receives subpoena from prosecutors examining Trump’s January 6 role. It is unclear whether Pence will comply with the subpoena, which could pit two potential presidential candidates against each other. The Washington Post, Josy Dawsey and Perry Stein, Thursday, 9 February 2023: “Former vice president Mike Pence received a subpoena from the special counsel investigating key aspects of the sprawling probe into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and former president Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, according to a person familiar with the matter. Jack Smith — the special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland to lead the day-to-day operations of the investigation — is also heading a separate criminal probe into Trump’s possible mishandling of classified documents at his Florida home. The Pence subpoena is related to Jan. 6, according to the person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. The subpoena comes after months of negotiations between the Justice Department and Pence. ABC News first reported news of the subpoena. A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment. A spokesman for Pence also declined to comment.”

Kevin Seefried, man carrying Confederate flag through Capitol on January 6, is sentenced to 3 years. Seefried said he didn’t mean the flag as a racist provocation and is ashamed of his part in the riot. The Washington Post, Rachel Weiner, Thursday, 9 February 2023: “On a day of surreal, unnerving scenes, one stuck out — a man carrying a massive Confederate flag through the U.S. Capitol. Before Jan. 6, 2021, that symbol of the proslavery Civil War rebels had never flown in the institutional heart of American democracy outside of being featured as part of another state’s flag. On Thursday, the man who brandished that flag during the Capitol riot, drywall installer Kevin Seefried, was sentenced to three years in prison for his actions. Judge Trevor McFadden called it ‘deeply offensive’ to ‘use a Confederate flag … as a weapon against an African American officer’ — Eugene Goodman of the Capitol Police, who stood alone against rioters as they entered the building and was chased by Seefried and others. ‘Even putting aside the racist connotations, which you said you did not intend,’ McFadden said, it was ‘appalling’ that a symbol of secessionism was used to threaten an officer protecting our democratic process.”


Friday, 10 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Moldovan premier resigns amid Ukraine war pressures, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Erin Cunningham, Adela Suliman, Amar Nadhir, Claire Healy, David L. Stern, and Anumita Kaur, Friday, 10 February 2023: “Amid high inflation, power-grid cuts and other pressures applied by Russia and spilling over from the war in Ukraine, Moldova’s government, which opposed the Russian invasion, resigned Friday. Pro-Western Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita had been in office since 2021. On Friday, Moldova’s president, Maia Sandu, named Dorin Recean, a former cabinet member who also backs European Union membership for Moldova, to succeed Gavrilita, subject to legislative approval. When Gavrilita took office, few foresaw ‘so many crises caused by Russian aggression in Ukraine,’ she said in the resignation announcement, the BBC reported. Earlier in the day, a Russian missile fired at Ukraine crossed over Moldova and came within 22 miles of Romania, a NATO member, the Romanian Defense Ministry said.

  • Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu maintained that the prime minister has not resigned because of instability resulting from the war. ‘The situation is under control, he said in an interview. ‘It’s not related to geopolitics.’ The key factor, said Viorel Ursu, Moldova’s ambassador in Washington, was ‘the need to accelerate the preparedness for E.U. accession.’
  • From London, to Paris, to Brussels, ‘Partners have heard our position, our arguments,’ Zelensky said in his nightly address Friday, reflecting on his ‘diplomatic marathon’ of the past week, during which he addressed the European Council in Brussels and the British Parliament in London, and met separately with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
  • In Moscow, the Kremlin confirmed Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin would deliver a high-profile address to the country’s Federal Assembly on Feb. 21. Under Russia’s Constitution, Putin is expected to make the speech annually, but he skipped it last year. He is expected to mention the war in Ukraine, which Russia dubs a ‘special military operation,’ as the anniversary of the invasion approaches.
  • President Biden is set to visit Poland on Feb. 20 for the first anniversary of the war, the White House announced Friday, where he will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda to discuss collective support for Ukraine. John Kirby, the coordinator for strategic communications for the National Security Council, said at a news briefing that Biden wants to send a message of U.S. and international resolve, and ‘make it very clear that the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.’
  • Ukraine uses specific coordinates provided or confirmed by U.S. military personnel for the majority of its rocket strikes, The Washington Post reported. The disclosure reveals that the Pentagon is playing a more significant role in the war than previously known.
  • The Pentagon is urging Congress to resume funding top-secret programs in Ukraine, current and former U.S. officials have told The Post. The programs were suspended ahead of Russia’s invasion last year and, if resumed, could allow U.S. Special Operations troops to employ Ukrainian operatives to observe Russian military movements and counter disinformation. Congressional officials say it is difficult to predict the outcome.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia Fires Scores of Missiles While Ramping Up Winter Offensive. Ukraine’s Air Force said Russia launched a ‘massive’ attack targeting the country’s already battered infrastructure, using drones and dozens of cruise missiles. The New York Times, Friday, 10 February 2023:

  • Russia fires missiles and drones in waves to evade air defense systems.

  • Biden plans to visit Poland for the anniversary of the start of the war.

  • Russia’s renewed assault has disrupted Ukraine’s nuclear plants, a U.N. agency says.

  • The next few months could be critical in the war. Here’s how each side might attack.

  • Ukraine’s call for an Olympic ban on Russians and Belarusians gains support from dozens of sports ministers.

  • Romania says a Russian missile didn’t enter its airspace, countering a Ukrainian claim.

  • Brazil says it won’t be sending weapons to Ukraine, despite a U.S. push for more support for Kyiv.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell slams Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott over plan to sunset Medicare and Social Security, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Friday, 10 February 2023: “In recent days, President Biden has been hammering Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) for his plan that would require Congress to reauthorize even popular programs such as Social Security and Medicare every five years to keep them operating. On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) joined in the criticism, suggesting that provisions in Scott’s plan could hurt him in his bid for reelection next year in Florida, a state with the greatest share of seniors in the nation. ‘That’s not a Republican plan. That was the Rick Scott plan,’ McConnell told longtime Kentucky radio host Terry Meiners when asked about the provision calling for the sunsetting of Social Security and Medicare every five years.”

Trump team turns over additional classified records and laptop to federal prosecutors, CNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins, Paula Reid, and Kristen Holmes, Friday, 10 February 2023: “Former President Donald Trump’s legal team turned over more materials with classified markings and a laptop belonging to an aide to federal prosecutors in recent months, multiple sources familiar with the investigation told CNN. The Trump attorneys also handed over an empty folder marked ‘Classified Evening Briefing,’ sources said. The previously undisclosed handovers – from December and January – suggest the protracted effort by the Justice Department to repossess records from Trump’s presidency may not be done. The Trump attorneys discovered pages with classified markings in December, while searching through boxes at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence. The lawyers subsequently handed the materials over to the Justice Department. A Trump aide had previously copied those same pages onto a thumb drive and laptop, not realizing they were classified, sources said. The laptop, which belonged to an aide, who works for Save America PAC, and the thumb drive were also given to investigators in January.”

Evan Corcoran, Trump Lawyer in Mar-a-Lago Search, Appeared Before Grand Jury. Corcoran went before Washington grand jury in January. Bloomberg, Sabrina Willmer and Zoe Tillman, Friday, 10 February 2023: “Evan Corcoran, one of Donald Trump’s lawyers, appeared before a federal grand jury last month as part of the special counsel investigation into whether classified information and other government records were mishandled at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate, according to people familiar with the matter. Corcoran has been representing Trump since early on in his dealings with the Justice Department over whether classified materials and other White House documents that should have been returned to the National Archives and Records Administration were at the Florida property.” See also, Trump attorney Evan Corcoran appeared before federal grand jury in Mar-a-Lago probe, CNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins and Katelyn Polantz, Friday, 10 February 2023: “Donald Trump attorney Evan Corcoran appeared last month to testify before a federal grand jury in Washington, DC, that’s looking at the former president’s handling of national security records at his Mar-a-Lago residence, a source confirmed to CNN. He was there for roughly four hours. Bloomberg first reported that he had appeared. Prosecutors asked Corcoran about what had occurred up until the August 8, 2022, search of Mar-a-Lago, which came after investigators found evidence that made them believe classified records kept at the Florida resort were moved and concealed – including questions about his interactions with Trump, another person familiar with the situation said. The disclosure of Corcoran’s testimony comes amid a steady drip of recent moves by special counsel Jack Smith to obtain grand jury testimony from very close contacts of Trump, in many cases about what Trump was told and what he said at the end of his presidency and afterward.” See also, Evan Corcoran, Trump Lawyer in Mar-a-Lago Search Appeared Before Grand Jury. It was not immediately clear under what circumstances Corcoran appeared, but he has had a key role in the case examining Mr. Trump’s handling of government documents. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Ben Protess, Friday, 10 February 2023: “A lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump appeared before a federal grand jury investigating his handling of sensitive government documents that he took to his Mar-a-Lago club and residence after he left office, two people briefed on the matter said on Friday. The lawyer, M. Evan Corcoran, a member of Mr. Trump’s legal team who handled his responses to the government over its repeated requests for the return of such records, could offer firsthand knowledge of the search the F.B.I. undertook in August and any insights into whether Mr. Trump knew that documents remained at the club. Mr. Corcoran did not respond to a request for comment. And it was not immediately clear when and under what circumstances he appeared. His appearance was reported earlier by Bloomberg News.”

F.B.I. Found One Classified Document After Searching Pence’s Home. Aides to former Vice President Mike Pence agreed to the search after discussions with the Justice department. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, Friday, 10 February 2023: “The F.B.I. found one classified document after searching the Indiana home of former Vice President Mike Pence for five hours on Friday, an adviser to Mr. Pence said. Mr. Pence and his aides had agreed to the search after they discovered a small number of classified documents there last month. The search, which the adviser described as ‘thorough and unrestricted,’ also yielded six additional pages without such markings. ‘The vice president has directed his legal team to continue its cooperation with appropriate authorities and to be fully transparent through the conclusion of this matter,’ Mr. Pence’s adviser, Devin O’Malley, added.”

Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Aiming at a Favorite Foil, Wants to Roll Back Press Freedom. The Florida governor and possible presidential candidate is the latest in a string of Republicans to target the Supreme court decision that has long protected journalists accused of defamation. The New York Times, Ken Bensinger, Friday, 10 February 2023: “When Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida convened a round-table discussion about the news media this week, he spared no effort to play the part, perching at a faux anchor’s desk in front of a wall of video screens while firing questions to his guests like a seasoned cable TV host. But the panel’s message was as notable as its slick presentation: Over the course of an hour, Mr. DeSantis and his guests laid out a detailed case for revisiting a landmark Supreme Court decision protecting the press from defamation lawsuits. Mr. DeSantis is the latest figure, and among the most influential, to join a growing list of Republicans calling on the court to revisit the 1964 ruling, known as The New York Times Company v. Sullivan. The decision set a higher bar for defamation lawsuits involving public figures, and for years it was viewed as sacrosanct. That standard has empowered journalists to investigate and criticize public figures without fear that an unintentional error will result in crippling financial penalties. But emboldened by the Supreme Court’s recent willingness to overturn longstanding precedent, conservative lawyers, judges, legal scholars and politicians have been leading a charge to review the decision and either narrow it or overturn it entirely. Mr. DeSantis, a likely Republican presidential candidate, put the effort at the center of his war against the mainstream media.”


Saturday, 11 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Peace talks ‘out of the question’ Ukrainian official says; Zelensky fires deputy commander of National Guard, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Erin Cunningham, Adela Suliman, Nick Parker, and Kyle Rempfer, Saturday, 11 February 2023: “Peace talks with Russia remain ‘out of the question,’ a senior Ukrainian official said Saturday. Only a Ukrainian victory would end ‘the war in Europe,’ presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said, as he accused Russia of being unwilling to leave territory it had occupied or take responsibility for the almost year-long conflict. A top Ukrainian official was also sacked on Saturday. Ruslan Dziuba was fired from his post as the deputy commander of the National Guard, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky. A brief statement published on the presidential website did not outline the reasons for Dziuba’s dismissal. Earlier in the evening, Zelensky spoke of his efforts to clean up the government. In his nightly address Saturday, Zelensky said he had held several meetings with representatives of the defense sector and law enforcement agencies to discuss ‘the strengthening of the public institutions.’ The meetings also focused on the ‘protection of institutions from any attempts from outside or inside to reduce their effectiveness and efficiency,’ Zelensky said.

  • President Biden plans to visit NATO ally Poland on Feb. 20, shortly before the first anniversary of the conflict. He will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda to discuss ‘our collective efforts to support Ukraine and bolster NATO’s deterrence,’ the White House said in a statement on Friday, as well as reaffirm ‘how we will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes.’
  • Ukraine said Russia launched more than 100 missiles on Friday. ‘The threat of strikes by the Russian federation on civilian targets across Ukraine remains high,’ the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in an update Saturday, adding that Russia had also used Shahed-type drones. Local officials reported that civilian infrastructure was hit, stripping much of the country of power and heat.
  • Zelensky visited the Turkish Embassy in Kyiv on Saturday to mourn the more than 25,000 people killed by an earthquake that shook Turkey and Syria this week. ‘Eternal memory to the deceased,’ Zelensky said on Telegram. ‘We wish those who suffered a quick recovery.’
  • Zelensky has pushed for a ban of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Zelensky made a passionate plea to a group of 35 international sports and government ministers, urging them to push the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban the athletes, amid a simmering debate on the issue. ‘The Russian state has chosen the path of terror and that is why it has no place in the civilized world,’ he said Friday.
  • Moldova appointed a new prime minister shortly after a Russian missile violated its airspace. Dorin Recean will replace outgoing leader Natalia Gavrilita, who resigned Friday. Nearby Romania, a NATO member, confirmed Russian targets did not pass through its airspace, despite reports to the contrary by Ukrainian officials.
  • Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is looking to broker peace between Russia and Ukraine, he told CNN on Friday during a visit to the United States. Lula said that Ukraine had the right to defend itself ‘because the invasion was a mistake on the part of Russia’ but that Brazil would not give Ukraine ammunition. ‘I don’t want to go join the war. I want to end the war,’ he said. He has proposed setting up a ‘peace club’ of countries that could mediate an end to the war and has repeatedly rejected calls from Western countries to support Kyiv with weapons.
  • Ukraine has submitted a request for F-16 fighter jets to the Netherlands, Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said. ‘We need to discuss the availability of F-16s with the Americans and other allies,’ Ollongren told local media.
  • Russia is to cut its oil production by 500,000 barrels a day from next month in response to price caps imposed by the United States and Europe on its fuel exports, said Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak. The move will effectively reduce Russia’s output by about 5 percent. Analysts have said the decision could lead to higher gasoline prices globally. Senior members of JPMorgan met with Zelensky on Saturday to discuss ‘attracting private capital to rebuild Ukraine,’ according to the presidential website. Zelensky also took part via video link in an annual investment summit organized by JPMorgan. ‘I understand very well that doing business and investing cannot be beneficial to only one party. We want you to invest in Ukraine and earn money,’ Zelensky said.

Trump campaign paid researchers to prove 2020 election fraud but kept findings secret. An outside firm’s work was never released publicly after researchers uncovered no evidence that the election had been rigged for Joe Biden. The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Saturday, 11 February 2023: “Former president Trump’s 2020 campaign commissioned an outside research firm in a bid to prove electoral fraud claims but never released the findings because the firm disputed many of his theories and could not offer any proof that he was the rightful winner of the election, according to four people familiar with the matter. The campaign paid researchers from Berkeley Research Group, the people said, to study 2020 election results in six states, looking for fraud and irregularities to highlight in public and in the courts. Among the areas examined were voter machine malfunctions, instances of dead people voting and any evidence that could help Trump show he won, the people said. None of the findings were presented to the public or in court. About a dozen people at the firm worked on the report, including econometricians, who use statistics to model and predict outcomes, the people said. The work was carried out in the final weeks of 2020, before the Jan. 6 riot of Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol…. ‘They looked at everything: change of addresses, illegal immigrants, ballot harvesting, people voting twice, machines being tampered with, ballots that were sent to vacant addresses that were returned and voted,’ said a person familiar with the work who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private research and meetings. ‘Literally anything you could think of. Voter turnout anomalies, date of birth anomalies, whether dead people voted. If there was anything under the sun that could be thought of, they looked at it.'”

Sunday, 12 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kyiv optimistic for Western Fighter jets; defense officials to meet this week, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Leo Sands, Nick Parker, and Ben Brasch, Sunday, 12 February 2023: “Kyiv appears to be optimistic that its Western allies will grant its requests for fighter jets. ‘Let’s wait and see. That’s what we heard about tanks,’ Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s ambassador to Britain, told the BBC on Sunday, referring to apprehension from military backers before an agreement on tanks was made. Prystaiko’s comments came after Poland’s president cast doubt on sending Ukraine F-16s. This week, Ukraine-allied defense minsters are expected to discuss Kyiv’s ongoing requests for more weapons, including fighter jets.

  • Zelensky announced sanctions for 200 people working for the Russian nuclear industry in his nightly address. He did not describe what the sanctions would entail. Shelling of the area surrounding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine has long troubled nuclear watchdogs. ‘Russia’s radiation blackmail of the world must be punished,’ he said. ‘This is also something we will be discussing at various diplomatic levels next week.’
  • Prystaiko’s comments about Kyiv’s request for jets came after Polish President Andrzej Duda said sending F-16s was a ‘very serious decision.’ Poland has fewer than 50 of the advanced warplanes, so it would require ‘many’ replacements if it were to donate any to Ukraine, Duda said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked European Union and British leaders for warplanes during his trip to Western Europe last week.
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is scheduled to lead a meeting Tuesday of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, attended by senior military officials from more than 50 nations backing Ukraine with weapons and other supplies. Beyond Kyiv’s requests for more military aid, the allied defense officials are expected to discuss concerns that the West’s own stocks of weapons are depleted after a year of supplying Kyiv and that manufacturing is needed to replenish them. Immediately after the meeting, held in Brussels, NATO foreign ministers will hold a two-day meeting there.
  • Zelensky named Ukraine’s security and defense agencies as the next targets of his promised zero-tolerance approach to corruption after high-profile dismissals in recent weeks related to his probe. The comments in Zelensky’s nightly address follow his visit with E.U. leaders; stamping out corruption is a key requirement of Kyiv’s aspiration to join the bloc.
  • In a separate decree Saturday, Zelensky said he was firing a top official, Ruslan Dziuba, who was deputy commander of the National Guard. No reason was provided in the brief statement about Dziuba’s dismissal.
  • Electricity is not expected to be limited in some major metropolitan areas of Ukraine on Monday, a sign of resilience amid months of Russian attacks on infrastructure. On its Telegram account, utility Ukrenergo said it did not plan to meter power in Kyiv, Odessa or the Dnipropetrovsk region. Much of Ukraine has rationed electricity because of Russia’s disabling attacks. Officials reacted with cautious excitement. Zelensky in his nightly address said there will still be some restrictions in places where the damage is too great but said he was heartened that there’s still power.
  • Jens Stoltenberg will not seek a fourth extension as NATO’s secretary general when his mandate expires in October, a spokesperson for the alliance said in a statement. It followed a German newspaper report that the alliance’s members were hoping to retain the former Norwegian prime minister at its helm for several more months as the Russian invasion rages on.
  • Representatives from the International Monetary Fund are set to meet with Ukrainian officials in Poland this week, as Kyiv pushes for a multibillion-dollar borrowing package to help fund its budget deficit and the cost of critical repairs to its war-damaged infrastructure, Reuters reported.
  • Senior members of JPMorgan met with Zelensky to discuss ‘attracting private capital to rebuild Ukraine,’ according to the presidential website. Zelensky also took part via video link in an annual investment summit organized by JPMorgan.
  • Ukrainian rescuers have pulled 12 people from the rubble in Turkey since the earthquakes last week, according to the Ukrainian emergency services. Zelensky visited the Turkish Embassy in Kyiv this weekend to mourn the more than 33,000 people killed in Turkey and Syria. Russia also has sent rescue crews to both quake-hit nations.

Jack Smith, Special counsel for Trump Inquiries, Steps Up the Pace. Named less than three months ago to oversee investigations into Donald Trump’s efforts to hold onto power and his handling of classified documents, the special counsel is moving aggressively. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush, and Alan Feuer, Sunday, 12 February 2023: “Did former President Donald J. Trump consume detailed information about foreign countries while in office? How extensively did he seek information about whether voting machines had been tampered with? Did he indicate he knew he was leaving when his term ended? Those are among the questions that Justice Department investigators have been directing at witnesses as the special counsel, Jack Smith, takes control of the federal investigations into Mr. Trump’s efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss and his handling of classified documents found in his possession after he left office. Through witness interviews, subpoenas and other steps, Mr. Smith has been moving aggressively since being named to take over the inquiries nearly three months ago, seeking to make good on his goal of resolving as quickly as possible whether Mr. Trump, still a leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, should face charges. Last week, he issued a subpoena to former Vice President Mike Pence, a potentially vital witness to Mr. Trump’s actions and state of mind in the days before the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. His prosecutors have brought a member of Mr. Trump’s legal team, M. Evan Corcoran, before a federal grand jury investigating why Mr. Trump did not return classified information kept at his Mar-a-Lago residence and private club in Florida. Justice Department officials have interviewed at least one other Trump lawyer in connection with the documents case.”


Monday, 13 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Moldova says Russia is planning ‘violent action’ against it, The Washington Post, Emily Rauhala, Leo Sands, Rachel Pannett, Dan Lamothe, and Nick Parker, Monday, 13 February 2023: “Moldova’s president on Monday accused Russia of trying to destabilize her government, stop its bid for European Union accession and use it for the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. The plan involved Russian agents ‘with military training, camouflaged in civilian clothes, who would undertake violent action, carry out attacks on buildings of state institutions or even take hostages,’ President Maia Sandu said Monday. ‘Violent actions, masked as protests of the so-called opposition, would force a change of power in Chisinau,’ she said. Earlier Monday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Ukraine’s allies should urgently provide it with more weapons as Russia embarks on a new offensive in the country’s east. The fresh fighting has already caused big losses for Russian forces, he said, but is also ‘putting pressure on Ukraine.’

  • Sandu credited Kyiv for sharing intelligence about the alleged Russian plot that ‘involves the use of foreign nationals for violent actions.’ This fall, the Kremlin planned to cause Moldovan discontent by cutting energy supplies, Sandu said in a Monday news conference, and it has since plotted to send military-trained disrupters into the country. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the European Council last week that he had given Sandu intelligence about the alleged plot.
  • There are concerns that the West’s own stocks of weapons are being depleted after a year of supplying Kyiv. ‘The war in Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of ammunition,’ Stoltenberg said before a gathering of NATO defense ministers scheduled for Tuesday in Brussels. ‘This puts our defense industries under strain.’ The current rate of ammunition consumption is higher than the current rate of production. As such, he argued, allies must ramp up production and invest in production capacity.
  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will host a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which is made up of senior military officials from more than 50 nations that have been providing Ukraine with weapons and other aid. While many members of the group represent NATO-aligned nations, it is not affiliated with the military alliance.
  • The group will address Ukraine’s request for fighter jets, Stoltenberg said, adding that the conversation about NATO countries sending jets to Ukraine ‘will take time.’ But Western jets are unlikely to arrive in Ukraine soon.
  • Russian intelligence services will pose the greatest threat to Norway in 2023, the Nordic country’s police security agency (PST) said Monday in its annual threat assessment. Relations between Russia and Norway ‘have deteriorated significantly,’ the agency said. Because Norway is an energy supplier to Europe, PST ‘expects that in 2023, Russia will try to gather intelligence about most aspects of Norway’s oil, gas and energy sector,’ the report said.
  • Austria’s foreign minister responded to a controversy over his country’s issuing visas to a number of sanctioned Russian politicians to attend an upcoming meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Alexander Schallenberg told The Post that Austria has an obligation by international law to permit delegations of member countries to enter.
  • Elon Musk responded to claims that Starlink satellite services had been restricted in Ukraine. ‘Starlink is the communication backbone of Ukraine, especially at the front lines, where almost all other internet connectivity has been destroyed,’ he tweeted, but added that ‘we will not enable escalation of conflict that may lead to WW3.’ He said that ‘SpaceX commercial terminals, like other commercial products, are meant for private use, not military, but we have not exercised our right to turn them off.’ SpaceX previously accused Ukraine’s military of using Starlink to power drones.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Tells Aid Groups to Leave Bakhmut. As Russia’s monthslong campaign to seize the strategic city in eastern Ukraine intensifies, Kyiv’s forces said the danger to aid workers had become too great. The New York Times, Monday, 13 February 2023:

  • The order for aid groups to leave Bakhmut could be a prelude to a Ukrainian withdrawal.

  • Volunteers have taken great risks to keep working in Bakhmut.

  • A visit to Belarus upends attempts at isolation by Hungary’s fellow E.U. nations.

  • As Ukraine awaits more Western weapons, it wants to stop Iran from bolstering Russia’s arsenal.

  • Ukrainian troops showed off their training on new German tanks in Poland.

  • Biden plans to visit Poland for the anniversary of the start of the war.

  • The mayor of Kherson isn’t giving up, even as Russia shells her city relentlessly.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Updates on Russia’s war and a look ahead, NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 13 November 2023: “Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: NATO defense chiefs are set to meet Tuesday and Wednesday in Brussels, including a gathering of the U.S.-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group. Also Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to address an annual gathering of judges, including those in military courts. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the World Government Summit in the United Arab Emirates the same day. And Yale University will release a report that afternoon on the Russian government’s alleged kidnapping of thousands of Ukrainian children. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will give a foreign policy address to parliament on Wednesday. Also Wednesday, U.N. agencies will launch Ukraine refugee and humanitarian response plans. Next week will mark one year since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. What happened last week: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a surprise Europe tourmeeting leaders in London, Paris and Brussels, and reiterating his call for allies to send fighter jets to Ukraine. Russian forces began their next major offensive in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, attacking Ukrainian defensive lines and making marginal advances, according to the Institute for the Study of War. Analysts at the Atlantic Council also said Russian forces are pushing to encircle Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region. Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova attended President Biden’s State of the Union speech, for the second year in a row, but the war in Ukraine received far less attention in the address this time. There’s ‘strong indication’ Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the go-ahead to supply anti-aircraft weapons to separatists in Ukraine, according to the international team investigating the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014. Russia launched killer drones, cruise missiles and bombers across Ukraine on Friday, targeting the country’s energy infrastructure. A British defense intelligence assessment said Russia had suffered its highest rate of casualties since the start of the war.”

Judge orders partial release of Georgia grand jury report on possible 2020 election crimes. The release will include a special grand jury’s report that focuses on whether former President Trump broke state law by pressuring local officials to change the 2020 presidential election results. Politico, Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, Monday, 13 February 2023: “A judge in Georgia has ordered public release on Thursday of a special grand jury’s report that focuses on whether former President Donald Trump broke state law by pressuring local officials to change the 2020 presidential election results. However, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said he doesn’t plan–for now–to release the bulk of the grand jury’s work, including the parts that address potential criminal liability for Trump or other individuals. In an order released Monday morning responding to requests from media organizations for access to the special grand jury’s report, McBurney said he intends to put the introduction and conclusion to the summation on the public record this week, along with a portion of the report’s discussion about potential false statements made to the grand jury under oath. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis indicated last month that decisions on whether to charge any subjects of her investigation are ‘imminent.’ Her year-long probe into whether Trump violated Georgia election law — in part by urging Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to ‘find’ enough votes to reverse the outcome — featured extensive efforts to compel testimony from some of Trump’s top White House and campaign advisers, as well as his outside lawyers. Despite Willis’ preferences on timing, McBurney said he had to prioritize the public’s right to know about at least the general findings of the probe into alleged efforts to tamper with the 2020 election results.” See also, Parts of Georgia grand jury report on Trump and 2020 election aftermath to be made public, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Sara Murray, and Jason Morris, Monday, 13 February 2023: “A judge in Fulton County, Georgia, will make public some parts of a report from a special grand jury that investigated Donald Trump’s actions after the 2020 election in the state, but not specific charging recommendations. In his order on Monday, Judge Robert C.I. McBurney said that the special grand jury’s introduction and conclusion as well as concerns the panel had about witnesses lying under oath will made be public on Thursday. Some of the information in those sections still may be redacted, the judge noted. Prosecutors in Georgia have aggressively investigated whether Trump or any of his associates broke the law while trying to overturn his 2020 election defeat in the closely contested state.” See also, Georgia Judge Will Release Parts of Report on Trump Election Inquiry. Releasing the introduction and conclusion of a special grand jury report could shed light on the extent to which Mr. Trump and others might face legal jeopardy in the case. The New York Times, Danny Hakim and Richard Fausset, Monday, 13 February 2023: “A Georgia judge said on Monday that he would disclose parts of a grand jury report later this week that details an investigation into election interference by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies, though he would keep the jury’s specific recommendations secret for now. In making his ruling, the judge, Robert C.I. McBurney of Fulton County Superior Court, said the special grand jury raised concerns in its report ‘that some witnesses may have lied under oath during their testimony.’ But the eight-page ruling included few other revelations about the report, the contents of which have been carefully guarded, with the only physical copy in the possession of the district attorney’s office. The ruling does, however, indicate that the special grand jury’s findings are serious. The report includes ‘a roster of who should (or should not) be indicted, and for what, in relation to the conduct (and aftermath) of the 2020 general election in Georgia,’ Judge McBurney wrote. For the last two years, prosecutors in Atlanta have been conducting a criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump and his allies interfered in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, which he narrowly lost to President Biden. Much of the inquiry — including interviewing dozens of witnesses — was conducted before the special grand jury, which under Georgia law had to issue a final report on its findings, which in this case includes charging recommendations. Special grand juries do not have the power to issue indictments. It will be up to Fani T. Willis, the local district attorney, to decide what, if any, charges she will bring to a regular grand jury.”


Tuesday, 14 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia ‘preparing for more war,’ NATO chief says; Moldova accuses Moscow of plotting coup, The Washington Post, Karen DeYoung, Claire Parker, Andrew Jeong, and Ellen Francis, Tuesday, 14 February 2023: “Moscow is ‘preparing for more war’ and Ukraine’s allies should send more ammunition to help Kyiv fight off the assault, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday in Brussels, where member nations’ defense ministers were meeting to discuss Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘made two big strategic mistakes: He underestimated the strength and the bravery of the people of Ukraine and its armed forces, and he underestimated the unity and resolve of NATO and partners,’ Stoltenberg said. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also traveled to Brussels to host a gathering of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which includes more than 50 nations. He echoed the NATO chief’s calls to help Ukraine ‘meet this crucial moment in the course of the war.’

  • Washington and allies have ‘a lot to get done’ to position Ukrainian troops to use advanced weapon systems promised by the West ahead of Russia’s offensive, Austin said. ‘It’s a monumental task to bring all those systems together, get the troops trained on those platforms, make sure we have sustainment for all those systems and get those systems into the fight,’ he said at a news briefing Tuesday.
  • Officials focused heavily on getting ammunition to Ukraine. E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters Tuesday he will propose to the bloc’s foreign ministers next week a plan to jointly procure ammunition, Bloomberg reported. Austin said the United States and its partners are doing ‘everything we can’ to give Ukraine ‘as much ammunition as quickly as possible.’
  • Norway will provide eight Leopard tanks for the war effort, according to Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, joining other European nations that have pledged to send tanks from their stocks to the battlefield.
  • Moldovan President Maia Sandu accused Russia of plotting a coup in her country to install a pro-Kremlin administration and put the Eastern European nation at the disposal of Moscow’s war in Ukraine, citing intelligence provided by neighboring Ukraine. The alleged plot involved sending agents toundertake violent action, carry out attacks on buildings of state institutions or even take hostages,’ she said. Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the allegations ‘baseless and unsubstantiated claims’ in an emailed statement.
  • Moldova briefly closed its airspace on Tuesday after a small, balloon-like object was detected in its airspace, the country’s civil aviation authority said. It reopened the airspace after determining people in Moldova were not in danger.
  • Dutch fighter jets intercepted three Russian military aircraft near Poland, the Netherlands’ defense ministry said late Monday. The Russian aircraft approached Poland airspace from Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania, the ministry said. Two Dutch F-35s, which are housed in Poland, escorted the planes — one reconnaissance aircraft and two fighter aircraft — out of the area.
  • U.S. officials on Tuesday said that Iran was supplying Russia with lethal drones for use in Ukraine and that Iran hoped to become a more dominant supplier on the global stage. ‘Iran clearly views this as a great marketing opportunity to find other actors who may be interested in purchasing these,’ said a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst at a briefing in London. The agency published declassified intelligence on Tuesday, which builds on previous U.S. claims about Russia’s use of Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle, or drones, in Ukraine.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. Says Restocking Ukraine with Ammunition Is Urgent to Allies. Ukrainian officials are telling the remaining civilians to leave Bakhmut, another sign of a possible retreat from a city that has been the focus of fighting in the east. The New York Times, Tuesday, 14 February 2023:

  • The U.S. vows allies will get more ammunition to Ukraine ‘as quickly as possible.’

  • Western allies will support Ukraine in a spring offensive against Russia, the U.S. defense chief says.

  • Moldova briefly closed its airspace, raising tensions in a country shaken by the war.

  • Ukraine wants bigger cargo ships for grain as a backlog grows longer.

  • The NATO leader suggests Sweden’s and Finland’s applications to join could be separated.

In Trump investigation, US seeks to pierce attorney-client privilege, Associated Press, Eric Tucker, Tuesday, 14 February 2023: “Justice Department prosecutors investigating the mishandling of classified documents at Donald Trump’s Florida estate are seeking to pierce the attorney-client privilege and want to again question one of the former president’s lawyers before a grand jury, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday night. The privilege protects lawyers from having to tell prosecutors about confidential conversations their clients have with them. But prosecutors can get around that privilege if they can convince a judge that the communications they want information about were made in furtherance of a crime — a principle known as the crime-fraud exception. Prosecutors have already questioned M. Evan Corcoran before a grand jury, but he repeatedly invoked attorney-client privilege in declining to answer certain questions, according to the person who spoke with The Associated Press and insisted on anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. They’re seeking to question him again, and want to be able to move past attorney-client privilege, the person said.” See also, Prosecutors Seek Testimony From Trump Lawyer Evan Corcoran, Suggesting Evidence of Crime. The Justice Department cited the crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege in demanding testimony from a lawyer representing former President Donald Trump in his classified documents case. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, and Ben Protess, Tuesday, 14 February 2023: “Federal prosecutors overseeing the investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s handling of classified documents are seeking to pierce assertions of attorney-client privilege and compel one of his lawyers to answer more questions before a grand jury, according to two people familiar with the matter, adding an aggressive new dimension to the inquiry and underscoring the legal peril facing Mr. Trump. The prosecutors have sought approval from a federal judge to invoke what is known as the crime-fraud exception, which allows them to work around attorney-client privilege when they have reason to believe that legal advice or legal services have been used in furthering a crime. The fact that prosecutors invoked the exception in a sealed motion to compel the testimony of the lawyer, M. Evan Corcoran, suggests that they believe Mr. Trump or his allies might have used Mr. Corcoran’s services in that way. Among the questions that the Justice Department has been examining since last year is whether Mr. Trump or his associates obstructed justice in failing to comply with demands to return a trove of government material he took with him from the White House upon leaving office, including hundreds of documents with classified markings.” See also, Special counsel seeks to force Trump lawyer to testify, reports say. The federal prosecutor is trying to defeat claims of attorney-client privilege by arguing that the privilege has been voided because the lawyer was being used to carry out a crime or fraud. Politico, Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, Tuesday, 14 February 2023: “A Justice Department prosecutor is asking a federal judge to force a lawyer for former President Donald Trump to give additional testimony to a grand jury investigating how scores of documents with classification markings wound up at Trump’s Florida home, according to several news outlets. Special counsel Jack Smith is trying to defeat attorney-client privilege claims from Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran by arguing that the privilege has been voided because Corcoran was being used to carry out a crime or fraud, The Associated Press and other news outlets reported on Tuesday night, citing unidentified sources familiar with the situation.”

Mike Pence to fight special counsel subpoena on Trump’s 2020 election denial. The former vice president is prepared to raise a novel claim of legislative privilege to challenge a bid for his testimony in the 2020 election investigation. Politico, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, Tuesday, 14 February 2023: “Mike Pence is preparing to resist a grand jury subpoena for testimony about former President Donald Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election, according to two people familiar with the former vice president’s thinking. Pence’s decision to challenge Special Counsel Jack Smith’s request has little to do with executive privilege, the people said. Rather, Pence is set to argue that his former role as president of the Senate — therefore a member of the legislative branch — shields him from certain Justice Department demands. Pence allies say he is covered by the constitutional provision that protects congressional officials from legal proceedings related to their work — language known as the ‘speech or debate’ clause. The clause, Pence allies say, legally binds federal prosecutors from compelling Pence to testify about the central components of Smith’s investigation. If Pence testifies, they say, it could jeopardize the separation of powers that the Constitution seeks to safeguard.” See also, Mike Pence to Oppose Subpoena Seeking Testimony in January 6 Inquiry. The former vice president is said to be planning to invoke the Constitution’s ‘speech or debate; clause, saying his role as president of the Senate should insulate him from grand jury questions. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, Tuesday, 14 February 2023: “Former Vice President Mike Pence is planning to fight a federal grand jury subpoena compelling him to testify in the investigation into President Donald J. Trump’s actions leading up to the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to a person familiar with Mr. Pence’s plans. Mr. Pence is expected to argue that the vice president’s role as the president of the Senate means that he is protected from legal scrutiny of his official duties by the Constitution’s ‘speech or debate’ clause, intended to protect the separation of powers. Such an approach would be novel and a departure from the more traditional argument that a vice president’s interactions with a president would be subject to executive privilege. Mr. Pence’s plans were first reported by Politico.” See also, Mike Pence to fight special counsel subpoena on Trump’s 2020 election denial. The former vice president will argue that his onetime role as president of the Senate affords him the protection of the Constitution’s ‘speech or debate’ clause. The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Devlin Barrett, Tuesday, 14 February 2023: “Former vice president Mike Pence will fight a subpoena from special counsel Jack Smith in his investigation of former president Donald Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election, a person familiar with the matter said, escalating an unprecedented judicial battle. Pence’s team is expected to argue that his role as president of the Senate during his time in office means that, under the Constitution’s ‘speech or debate clause,’ he does not have to testify, said the person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Pence’s team had been in negotiations with Smith for potentially limited cooperation before being served last week with the subpoena, which Pence’s side is said to have viewed as a surprise. Pence also did not testify before the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, even though he has written a book dealing with his experiences that day and publicly discussed them. Many of his close advisers during his vice presidency, including his chief of staff and chief counsel, have relayed their experiences to the Justice Department.”

Ron DeSantis Did Not Start This Fight. Black History Has Always Been Under Fire. As African American studies faces resistance, a conversation about the continued relevance of Carter G. Woodson’s 1933 book. The Mis-education of the Negro. The Atlantic, Ibram X. Kendi, Tuesday, 14 February 2023: “In 1925, teachers at the Negro Manual and Training High School of Muskogee, Oklahoma, made what they thought was an appropriate choice of textbook: The Negro in Our History, by the Harvard-trained Black historian Carter G. Woodson. Woodson had written this ‘history of the United States as it has been influenced by the presence of the Negro’ to supply the ‘need of schools long since desiring such a work,’ as he wrote in the book’s preface. Upon learning of this textbook choice, White segregationists on the school board sprang immediately into action. They decreed that no book could be ‘instilled in the schools that is either klan or antiklan,’ insinuating that Woodson’s Black history textbook was ‘antiklan.’ The school board banned the book. It confiscated all copies. It punished the teachers. It forced the resignation of the school’s principal. ‘It’s striking how similar that feels and sounds to the contemporary moment,’ the Harvard education historian Jarvis R. Givens told me. A century ago, white segregationists were banning anti-racist books and ‘Negro studies’ as well as punishing and threatening anti-racist educators all over Jim Crow America.”

Russia deports thousands of Ukrainian children. Investigators say that’s a war crime. NPR, Deborah Amos, Tuesday, 14 February 2023: “The Russian government is operating a systematic network of at least 40 child custody centers for thousands of Ukrainian children, a potential war crime, according to a new report by Yale University researchers in a collaboration with the U.S. State Department in a program to hold Russia accountable. The report, ‘Russia’s Systematic Program for the Re-Education and Adoption of Ukrainian Children,’ describes a system of holding facilities that stretch from the Black Sea coast to Siberia. ‘This is not one rogue camp, this is not one rogue mayor or governor,’ says Nathaniel Raymond, executive director of the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab. ‘It is a massive logistical undertaking that does not happen by accident.’ Raymond’s team of researchers is tackling one of the most explosive issues of the war. Ukrainian officials say Russia has evacuated thousands of Ukrainian children without parental consent.”

According to a new survey, more than half of Republicans support Christian nationalism, NPR, Ashley Lopez, Tuesday, 14 February 2023: “Long seen as a fringe viewpoint, Christian nationalism now has a foothold in American politics, particularly in the Republican Party — according to a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution. Researchers found that more than half of Republicans believe the country should be a strictly Christian nation, either adhering to the ideals of Christian nationalism (21%) or sympathizing with those views (33%). Robert P. Jones, the president and founder of the nonpartisan PRRI, has been surveying the religious world for many years now. Recently, Jones said his group decided to start asking specifically about Christian nationalism. ‘It became clear to us that this term “Christian nationalism” was being used really across the political spectrum,’ he said. ‘So not just on the right but on the left and that it was being written about more by the media.’ Christian nationalism is a worldview that claims the U.S. is a Christian nation and that the country’s laws should therefore be rooted in Christian values. This point of view has long been most prominent in white evangelical spaces but lately it’s been getting lip service in Republican ones, too.”


Wednesday, 15 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: NATO talks focus on weapons production; U.S. General Mark A. Milley says Russia has ‘lost strategically, operationally, and tactically,’ The Washington Post, Emily Rauhala, Kelsey Ables, Ellen Francis, Erin Cunningham, Natalia Abbakumova, and Sammy Westfall, Wednesday, 15 February 2022: “NATO countries and Western allies on Wednesday announced more weapons and ammunition for Ukraine, moving to boost Kyiv’s military capabilities as Russia escalated attacks in the east. The alliance’s defense chiefs had gathered in Brussels to coordinate a long-term response to the Russian invasion, which has united NATO but also depleted ammunition stocks in allied countries. ‘Even as we rush to support Ukraine in the critical months ahead, we must all replenish our stockpiles to strengthen our deterrence and defense for the long term,’ Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday as the meetings concluded. Despite Austin’s assurances, a new poll found that support among Americans for providing weapons to Ukraine has dropped, from 60 percent last spring to 48 percent in January.

  • Western nations pledged 48 Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine while the Netherlands plans to send 20,000 rounds of tank ammunition, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said. Sweden also promised Archer artillery cannons, infantry fighting vehicles and anti-tank weapons for Ukrainian forces. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said that the arms package would ‘make a significant contribution to Ukraine’s combat power,’ the Associated Press reported.
  • Ukraine shot down several small Russian balloons over Kyiv on Wednesday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said in a statement posted to Telegram. The balloons appeared to be decoy targets meant to divert attention and waste ammunition, the statement said.
  • Russia has ‘lost strategically, operationally and tactically,’ Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said after meetings in Brussels with defense chiefs from countries supporting Kyiv.
  • The head of Russia’s Wagner Group said that ‘for a long time’ he ran the internet troll farm that faced U.S. sanctions over charges of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Yevgeniy Prigozhin, whose mercenary forces are fighting alongside Russia in Ukraine, said on Telegram that he created and managed the Internet Research Agency to ‘protect the Russian information space from the boorish aggressive propaganda of anti-Russian assertions from the West.’
  • The European Union’s latest sanctions package against Russia also targets Iran, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday in a statement. The move seeks to stop Iran from providing drones for Russia’s war in Ukraine, she said. The package, which requires approval from the 27 E.U. nations, includes export bans worth 11 billion euros ($11.7 billion dollars) on critical technology and goods such as electronics, specialized vehicles and spare parts for trucks and jet engines.
  • Most Americans still think the United States should play at least some role in the war effort, but support for specific U.S. interventions — such as providing weapons to Ukraine or imposing economic sanctions against Russia — has declined, according to a new AP-NORC poll.
  • The United Nations said Wednesday it was appealing for $5.6 billion to help millions of people in Ukraine and countries that have taken in refugees by providing food, health care and other aid needs.
  • China is trying to ‘have it both ways’ by offering to mediate talks to end the war while also committing to its ‘no limits partnership’ with Russia, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Wednesday. ‘We are concerned about this growing relationship, just as we are concerned about Iran’s growing relationship with Russia,’ Sherman said at an event at the Brookings Institution.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kyiv Says It Shot Down Russian Balloons. A spokesman for Ukraine’s air force Said Russia is using balloons ‘for reconnaissance or to confuse air defense systems.’ The New York Times, Wednesday, 15 February 2023:

  • Russian balloons floating over Kyiv were shot down, city officials say.

  • A Ukrainian military official said his forces ‘fought back decently’ in Vuhledar.

  • As Russia and Ukraine expend ammunition at a staggering rate, the race to rearm takes on added urgency.

  • Russia’s losses around Vuhledar renew questions about its ability to sustain a fresh offensive.

  • Ukraine’s defense minister says he will remain in his post at Zelensky’s request.

  • Russia has relocated 6,000 Ukrainian children to camps in Russian territory, a report finds.

  • Russia threatens to cut off water supplies to parts of the south, Ukraine’s prime minister says.

Exclusive: Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows subpoenaed by special counsel in January 6 investigation, CNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins, Wednesday, 15 February 2023: “Donald Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows has been subpoenaed by the special counsel investigating the former president and his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection, a source familiar with the matter told CNN. Special counsel Jack Smith’s office is seeking documents and testimony related to January 6, and Meadows received the subpoena sometime in January, the source said. An attorney for Meadows declined to comment. The Justice Department did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on the subpoena. The move to subpoena one of Trump’s most senior aides – in addition to the recent subpoena of former Vice President Mike Pence, as CNN reported last week – marks the latest significant step in the special counsel’s investigation into Trump’s role in seeking to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election. Smith also is simultaneously investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents after leaving office. While the subpoena is related to January 6, Meadows also may be of interest in the documents investigation. He was one of Trump’s designees to the National Archives and played a role in discussions around returning government records in his possession. The special counsel’s subpoena could set up a clash with the Justice Department and Meadows over executive privilege. The former White House chief of staff, citing executive privilege, previously fought a subpoena from a special grand jury in Georgia that was investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. A judge later ordered Meadows to testify, finding him ‘material and necessary to the investigation.'”

World Bank President David Malpass, Dogged by Climate Questions, Will Step Down Early. Malpass, under fire for months by critics who accused him of climate change denialism, said he would resign in June, a year before his term ends. The New York Times, David Gelles, Wednesday, 15 February 2023: “David Malpass, the embattled president of the World Bank, said on Wednesday that he would step down by June, roughly a year before his term expires. Mr. Malpass, who was nominated in 2019 for a five-year term by President Donald J. Trump, has overseen an organization that lends billions of dollars each year to poor countries grappling with health crises, hunger, conflict and a warming planet. But last September he came under fire for his own views on climate change. When asked if he accepted the overwhelming scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels was causing global temperatures to rise, he demurred. ‘I’m not a scientist,’ he said. The exchange, during a live interview at a New York Times event, set off a slow-motion public relations crisis for Mr. Malpass that came to a head on Wednesday when he said he would resign from his role by June 30.” See also, Criticized for climate stances, World Bank president David Malpass will step down. The Biden administration and Malpass differed over the level of support needed to slow climate change. The Washington Post, Steven Mufson, Thursday, 15 February 2023: “World Bank President David Malpass announced plans to step down Wednesday, finishing his fourth year amid persistent criticism from Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen and White House climate adviser John F. Kerry over Malpass’s level of commitment to slowing climate change. It was not immediately clear who will replace Malpass at the World Bank, which lends billions of dollars to developing countries. He plans to step down June 30, even though his term runs until April 2024…. [T]he World Bank, which more than doubled its climate finance to developing nations to a record $32 billion last year, had failed to fund climate-related projects to the degree the Biden administration had hoped. With Congress unwilling to help Biden meet his commitments on assisting developing countries with climate aid, the White House has increasingly turned to global financial institutions to assist with reducing greenhouse gas emissions and bolstering adaptation defenses against a warming world. Less than a week ago, Yellen had pressed the World Bank to ‘expand its vision to include addressing global challenges’ and to do so ‘quickly.’ And late last year she had asked Malpass for a road map to outline the type and pace of change for the bank.”

Judge Says Trump’s Offer to Provide DNA in Rape Suit Is a Stalling Tactic. E. Jean Carroll has accused the former president of assaulting her in a department store dressing room decades ago. A trial is set for April. The New York Times, Hurubie Meko, Wednesday, 15 February 2023: “A federal judge on Wednesday rejected former President Donald J. Trump’s offer of DNA evidence, saying Mr. Trump’s legal team was trying to stall the upcoming trial in the rape case that the writer E. Jean Carroll brought against him last fall. The judge, Lewis A. Kaplan of U.S. District Court in Manhattan, noted that the offer last week came after a deadline to disclose evidence and one day after the parties had filed a joint order making clear that they would not call any DNA experts as witnesses. It was part of a pattern of tactics deployed by Mr. Trump the ‘effect and probable purpose of which’ has been to delay a trial set for April, he said. Judge Kaplan said the stalling was notable ‘in view of the fact that Ms. Carroll now is 79 years old,’ a point the judge has raised in the past, adding that ‘there is no justification for such a deal.'”


Thursday, 16 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Vice President Kamala Harris arrives in Munich for conference; Kyiv says 5 killed in Russian shelling in Bakhmut, The Washington Post, Niha Masih, Victoria Bisset, Natalia Abbakumova, and Andrea Salcedo, Thursday, 16 February 2023: “Russia on Thursday launched dozens of missiles targeting critical infrastructure across Ukraine, including the country’s largest oil refinery, officials said. At least five people were killed by Russian shelling in Bakhmut, Ukraine’s prosecutor-general said. The barrage came as Vice President Harris arrived in Germany on Thursday for an annual meeting of political, intelligence and defense leaders at the Munich Security Conference. Harris is expected to discuss U.S. support for Ukraine, as well as NATO membership for Sweden and Finland.

  • The United States and its allies are planning major new sanctions against Russia to coincide with the Feb. 24 anniversary of the start of the war, Victoria Nuland, the under secretary of state for political affairs, said Thursday. ‘You will see around the 24th a big new package of sanctions from both the US and all of our G7 partners,’ she told reporters. The package will include more banking restrictions, limit the flow of technology to Russia’s defense industry, and clamp down on sanctions evasion.
  • Germany’s armed forces are in a worse place than they were last year, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said in an interview with The Washington Post, despite boasting a huge boost in defense spending after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Germany is not the only one: Other allies who have supplied Ukraine’s military, including the United States, have expressed concerns about decreasing stock of defense supplies.
  • Israel’s foreign minister arrived in Kyiv on Thursday in the first visit by an Israeli minister since the war began. Eli Cohen tweeted that he would meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and reopen the Israeli Embassy on his trip. Israel has provided humanitarian support to Ukraine but it has not provided Kyiv with intelligence or weapons.
  • Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said his country will join Russia’s war only if Ukraine attacks Belarus. ‘I am ready to fight together with the Russians from the territory of Belarus only in one case so far: if a single soldier comes from there to the territory of Belarus to kill my people,’ he said Thursday. ‘If they commit aggression against Belarus, the answer will be the cruelest.’
  • Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was in Estonia on Thursday to meet with the country’s defense minister. Estonia, a Baltic nation of just 1.3 million people, has given the most government support to Ukraine as a percentage of its GDP. ‘You’ve made hard decisions to give Ukrainians the assistance that they need to defend themselves,’ Austin said at a joint press conference with Defense Minister Hanno Pekvur. ‘Estonia’s leadership reminds us that even small countries can make a big difference.’
  • The United States will provide the Czech Republic with $200 million for military upgrades and to help replace equipment the country has provided to Ukraine, the U.S. Embassy announced Thursday. According to Czech news agency CTK, the package comes in addition to the $106 million Washington pledged last year.
  • An estimated 1.1 million Ukrainians arrived in Germany last year, the German federal statistics office announced Thursday. Even after the return of 139,000 people to Ukraine, the figure still surpassed the number of Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi nationals who arrived in Germany between 2014 and 2016, at the height of the European migrant crisis, the office said.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia Attacks Infrastructure After Apparent Attempt to Distract Ukraine’s Air Defenses. Russia launched a predawn assault with missiles and drones. The attacks came hours after Moscow floated balloons over Kyiv, in what Ukrainian officials said was a tactic to ‘confuse’ defense systems. The New York Times, Thursday, 16 February 2023:

  • A predawn attack by Russia killed one person and targeted critical infrastructure in Ukraine.

  • Two Russian officials died this week under mysterious circumstances.

  • Putin says more Russians are applying to adopt Ukrainian children.

  • Belarusian leader outlines condition for joining Ukraine war before talks with Putin.

  • New Jersey’s governor makes an unannounced trip to Ukraine.

  • Some Russian assault units suffered up to 80 percent losses in the east, Ukraine says.

  • Russia lost about half of its tanks since invading Ukraine, a new report says.

Grand Jury in Georgia Trump Inquiry Sees Perjury by Witnesses, but No Vote Fraud. Excerpts from the jury’s report, however, provided no indication of who, if anyone, jurors believed should be charged for interfering in Georgia’s 2020 election results. The New York Times, Danny Hakim and Richard Fausset, Thursday, 16 February 2023: “A special grand jury that investigated election interference by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies in Georgia said it saw possible evidence of perjury by ‘one or more’ witnesses who testified before it, according to portions of the jury’s final report that were released on Thursday. The jurors also unanimously rebutted claims of widespread fraud made by Mr. Trump after the 2020 election. The investigation in Atlanta has been seen as one of the most significant legal threats to Mr. Trump, given his personal role in pressuring Georgia election officials to ‘find’ him enough votes to overturn his loss in the state. The Fulton County district attorney, Fani T. Willis, said recently that a decision on bringing charges was ‘imminent.’ The several pages of excerpts released by a judge, however, offered only a narrow window into the full scope of the jury’s conclusions, providing no indication of who it believed should be charged, or which violations of Georgia law, beyond perjury, may have taken place. The special grand jury, which met for nearly seven months in a courthouse in downtown Atlanta, was charged with investigating the actions of Mr. Trump and some of his allies in Georgia after the November 2020 elections, and recommending whether indictments should be pursued by prosecutors. The fact that the judge ordered extensive redactions of the special grand jury’s report to protect the due process rights of individuals under investigation indicated that the jurors had, in fact, recommended indictments.” See also, Read the Released Portions. A judge released on Thursday three portions of a report from a special grand jury investigating President Trump’s efforts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. The New York Times, Thursday, 16 February 2023. See also, Timeline of the investigation in Georgia. The events at the heart of the case took place in a matter of weeks after the 2020 election. The investigation into them has been running for two years. The New York Times, Thursday, 16 February 2023. See also, Georgia Grand Jury concludes ‘perjury may have been committed’ in Trump election investigation, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey, Thursday, 16 February 2023: “An Atlanta-area special grand jury investigating efforts by President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia concluded that some witnesses may have lied under oath during their testimony and recommended that charges be filed. But those witnesses were not identified in the five-page excerpt of the grand jury report made public Thursday. ‘A majority of the grand jury believes that perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses testifying before it,’ the report reads. ‘The grand jury recommends that the district attorney seek appropriate indictments for such crimes where the evidence is compelling.’ The unsealed document, released Thursday, offered no major clues about the grand jury’s other findings — although the panel pointedly noted that it unanimously agreed that Georgia’s 2020 presidential vote had not been marred by ‘widespread fraud,”’contrary to what Trump and many of his allies have claimed.” See also, The Georgia criminal investigation into Trump and his allies, explained, The Washington Post, Matthew Brown, updated on Thursday, 16 February 2023. See also, Georgia grand jury report on Trump election investigation says ‘one or more witnesses’ may have committed perjury. In ordering sections of the report unsealed, a Fulton County judge said this week that there was ‘compelling public interest’ in the grand jury’s proceedings. NBC News, Dareh Gregorian and Blayne Alexander, Thursday, 16 February 2023: “A special grand jury report on whether then-President Donald Trump and his allies tried to unlawfully interfere in the 2020 election results in Georgia says the grand jurors believe some witnesses may have lied under oath. ‘A majority of the grand jury believes that perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses testifying before it,’ said a section of the report released Thursday. ‘The grand jury recommends that the District Attorney seek appropriate indictments for such crimes where the evidence is compelling.’ The newly unsealed parts of the report also reveal new information about the scale of the investigation but do not shed light on who the grand jury believes should be charged and for what, besides perjury. The report says the grand jury ‘received evidence from or involving 75 witnesses during the course of this investigation, the overwhelming majority of which information was delivered in person under oath.’ It also says the panel ‘heard extensive testimony on the subject of alleged election fraud from poll workers, investigators, technical experts, and state of Georgia employees and officials, as well as from persons who still claim such fraud took place.’ ‘We find by a unanimous vote that no widespread fraud took place,’ it says.”

Fox News Stars Privately Expressed Disbelief About Trump’s False Claims That the 2020 Election Was Stolen From Him. ‘Crazy Stuff.’ The comments, by Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and others, were released as part of a defamation suit against Fox News by Dominion Voter Systems. The New York Times, Jeremy W. Peters and Katie Robertson, Thursday, 16 February 2023: “Newly disclosed messages and testimony from some of the biggest stars and most senior executives at Fox News revealed that they privately expressed disbelief about President Donald J. Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, even though the network continued to promote many of those lies on the air. The hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, as well as others at the company, repeatedly insulted and mocked Trump advisers, including Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani, in text messages with each other in the weeks after the election, according to a legal filing on Thursday by Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion is suing Fox for defamation in a case that poses considerable financial and reputational risk for the country’s most-watched cable news network. ‘Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane,’ Mr. Carlson wrote to Ms. Ingraham on Nov. 18, 2020. Ms. Ingraham responded: ‘Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy.’ Mr. Carlson continued, ‘Our viewers are good people and they believe it,’ he added, making clear that he did not. The messages also show that such doubts extended to the highest levels of the Fox Corporation, with Rupert Murdoch, its chairman, calling Mr. Trump’s voter fraud claims ‘really crazy stuff.'” See also, Off the air, Fox News stars blasted Trump’s election fraud claims that they peddled on the air, NPR, David Folkenflik, Thursday, 16 February 2023: “In the days and weeks after the 2020 elections, the Fox News Channel repeatedly broadcast false claims that then-President Donald Trump had been cheated of victory. Off the air, the network’s stars, producers and executives expressed contempt for those same conspiracies, calling them ‘mind-blowingly nuts,’ ‘totally off the rails’ and ‘completely bs’ – often in far earthier terms. The network’s top primetime stars – Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity – texted contemptuously of the claims in group chats, but also denounced colleagues pointing that out publicly or on television. Ingraham called Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell ‘a bit nuts.’ Carlson, who famously demanded evidence from Powell on the air, privately used a vulgar epithet for women to describe her. A top network programming executive wrote privately that he did not believe the shows of Carlson, Hannity and Jeanine Pirro were credible sources of news. Even so, top executives strategized about how to make it up to their viewers – among Trump’s strongest supporters – after Fox News’ election-night team correctly called the pivotal state of Arizona for Democratic nominee Joe Biden before other networks. A sense of desperation pervades the private notes from Fox’s top stars, reflecting an obsession with the erosion in ratings.” See also, Fox News hosts and executives privately doubted Trump’s 2020 election conspiracy claims shared on air. Rupert Murdoch called election conspiracy theories ‘really crazy stuff,’ according to new legal filings in Dominion’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit. The Washington Post, Jeremy Barr and Rachel Weiner, published on Friday, 17 February 2023: “Fox News’s most prominent hosts and top executives agonized behind the scenes in the weeks following the 2020 election as they watched allies of Donald Trump appear on their own airwaves promoting false conspiracy theories about a stolen election, according to internal emails, text messages and depositions excerpted in a new court filing. ‘Sidney Powell is lying,’ Tucker Carlson wrote to a producer about the Trump lawyer, who once claimed in a guest spot that voting technology companies ‘flipped’ Trump votes to Biden.  ‘Terrible stuff damaging everybody,’ wrote company founder Rupert Murdoch, about wild claims raised by Powell and fellow Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani. The recipient of his note, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott, agreed. In another message, Murdoch referred to the claims as ‘really crazy stuff’ and said that it was ‘very hard to credibly claim foul everywhere.’ And of Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, Fox’s prime-time roster seemed to share a common opinion during these fraught weeks. He’s ‘acting like an insane person,’ wrote Sean Hannity, star of the network’s 9 p.m. show, while his 10 p.m. colleague Laura Ingraham concurred: ‘Such an idiot.’ The messages are part of a cache of internal correspondence and deposition testimony released Thursday in a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the network filed by Dominion Voting Systems, one of the two election software companies at the center of the conspiracy theories.” See also, Compare the election-fraud claims Fox News aired with what its stars knew, NPR, Mary Yang, published on Saturday, 18 February 2023.

Proud Boys Seek to Subpoena Trump to Testify at January 6 Sedition Trial. The attempt to force Donald Trump to testify is a long-shot move that is almost certain to be fought by the former president–and perhaps by the judge in the case. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Thursday, 16 February 2023: “In a long-shot move, lawyers for five members of the Proud Boys facing sedition charges in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol are seeking to issue a subpoena demanding that former President Donald J. Trump appear as a witness at their trial. The lawyers are hoping to elicit testimony from Mr. Trump that could persuade the jury that he, rather than their clients, instigated the crowd that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Prosecutors have built their case against the five Proud Boys by arguing that they induced dozens of members of the far-right group and others in the mob that day into taking action against a joint session of Congress where lawmakers were certifying the results of the 2020 election. It remains unclear whether Judge Timothy J. Kelly, who is overseeing the case, will allow the subpoena, which was drafted over the weekend by the defense lawyers for the judge’s approval. If the subpoena is permitted, Mr. Trump is almost certain to try to quash it and avoid being placed under oath on the witness stand and questioned about his role on Jan. 6. His spokesman did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.”

Church Committee Aides Warn Republican Representative Jim Jordan, Chair of the Judiciary Committee, to Eschew Partisanship. Staff members from the panel viewed as the gold standard of congressional inquiry advised the top Republican to pursue a bipartisan inquiry and operate in good faith with Democrats. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Thursday, 16 February 2023: “As the new Republican-led panel tasked with investigating the weaponization of government continued to issue new subpoenas this week, those who orchestrated the inquiry that its leaders have claimed as a model are warning the chairman against allowing his work to veer into partisan territory. More than two dozen staff members from the panel formed in the 1970s that came to be known as the Church Committee sent an open letter on Wednesday to Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and its powerful new subcommittee. They offered advice for how he could follow in the footsteps of their panel, which uncovered decades of intelligence and civil liberties abuses under presidents of both parties and set the gold standard in Congress for scrutinizing the executive branch. The counsel is simple: Pursue a bipartisan inquiry, follow the facts, do not try to interfere with open investigations and operate in good faith.” See also, Read the Church Committee Open Letter, The New York Times, Thursday, 16 February 2023. See also, Real Church Committee Advises Jim Jordan’s ‘New Church Committee’ to Change Course, Slate, Dennis Aftergut, Norman Ornstein, and Stuart Gerson, Thursday, 16 February 2023: “Rep. Jim Jordan is one of the most powerful members of Congress. He chairs both the House Judiciary Committee and its new subcommittee on the ‘Weaponization of the Federal Government.’ House Republicans have declared that Jordan’s investigations are ‘modeled’ after the ‘Church Committee,’ the famed 1975-76 Select Committee on Intelligence Activities created after a series of scandals involving the CIA. On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 28 distinguished, former government officials who staffed the Church Committee wrote a letter describing how Jordan might be able to replicate that committee’s success, if that were his actual aim. Based on the subcommittee’s embarrassing first meeting on February 9, however, and Jordan’s statements and actions, it’s clear that he has no such intent. Indeed, the letter from those former Church Committee members elucidates the degree to which the Republican labeling campaign is a pathetic branding exercise. On Wednesday, Jordan issued his latest slew of subpoenas, this set going to CEOs of five Big Tech companies from Alphabet to Microsoft. The new subpoenas reaffirmed that he’s on a wholly partisan crusade to prove his crackpot theories that the Biden administration and the FBI censored pro-Trump messages and trampled on the First Amendment rights of conservatives. This is nothing like what the Church Committee sought to achieve. The Church Committee letter signers are quite remarkable in their backgrounds, breadth, and experience. They include former holders of a long list of important government positions.”


Friday, 17 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky pushes for more aid in Munich; White House says U.S. will support Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes,’ The Washington Post, Loveday Morris, Victoria Bisset, John Hudson, Kelsey Ables, Kate Brady, Claire Healy, and Dan Lamothe, Friday, 17 February 2023: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Western leaders Friday to ‘speed up’ their support for Kyiv in its fight against Russia. ‘There is no alternative to speed. Because it’s what saves lives,’ he said at the Munich Security Conference. ‘He’s a commander in chief in a time of war, a war he didn’t ask for,’ John Kirby, communications coordinator for the National Security Council, said at a briefing in response to Zelensky’s remarks. ‘And we know that the time is critical here, particularly the time in the wintertime now when the fighting is not quite as widespread across the country.’ Vice President Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken were also in Munich to attend the annual gathering of global political and defense leaders. Harris met Friday with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. ‘The Vice President reaffirmed that the United States would support Ukraine for as long as it takes,’ according to a White House readout of her meeting with Macron.

  • Kirby said Friday that ‘right now’ President Biden had no meeting scheduled with Zelensky on his trip to Poland next week. ‘Right now the trip will be to Warsaw,’ Kirby said. The president is expected to deliver remarks ahead of the Feb. 24 anniversary of the invasion. He will also meet with his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, and leaders of the Bucharest Nine, a group of nations including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Estonia, that was created after the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.
  • ‘We are prepared for a long-term conflict,’ Macron said in remarks at the conference, where he urged European partners to invest more in defense, rethink Europe’s security doctrine and create an ‘investment program for Europe that is ambitious.’ ‘This war is not only a war of Europeans, but a war that concerns the world as a whole,’ he said.
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called on Europe to ‘strategically pull together’ on an armaments policy. ‘We will continue to maintain the balance between providing the best possible support to Ukraine and avoiding an unintended escalation,’ Scholz said.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Belarusian counterpart on Friday in Moscow, where they discussed economic, political and security-related cooperation. At the meeting, Lukashenko said Belarus is prepared to produce Russian fighter jets for use in Ukraine. A day earlier, Lukashenko said his country would enter the conflict only if it is attacked by Ukraine.
  • The United States plans to directly warn companies in countries such as Turkey and the United Arab Emirates against evading U.S. sanctions on Russia over the war in Ukraine, a senior U.S. official said Friday. ‘We’re going to go directly to their companies and make very clear to their companies that you have a choice,’ Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told Reuters in an interview. ‘You can continue to do things that are going to benefit Russia and provide them material support, but then you bear the risk of losing access to the European economy, to the United States economy, to the UK economy — this is your choice,’ he said.
  • Russian spy agencies have sustained greater damage after a year of war in Ukraine than they have since the end of the Cold War, The Post reports. A campaign to catch Russian spies appears to have caught Moscow off-guard, blunting Russia’s ability to carry out espionage operations.
  • It was unclear if Blinken would meet with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, in Munich, amid tensions over the U.S. downing of Beijing’s suspected spy balloon over the coast of South Carolina. U.S. officials remain intent on trying to keep China on the sidelines of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Beijing has not provided direct military support to Russia, but Washington has accused Chinese state companies of providing assistance to Russia in recent weeks.
  • French retail group Auchan ‘has evolved into a full-fledged weapon of Russian aggression,’ Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter Friday, following the publication of an investigation into the company by French newspaper Le Monde. The report said photos and eyewitness accounts showed ‘tools, cigarettes and clothes’ sold by Auchan and French hardware company Leroy Merlin being supplied to Russian soldiers on the front lines of the war.
  • A former security guard at the British Embassy in Berlin has been sentenced to more than 13 years in prison after being convicted of spying for Russia. David Smith, 58, was motivated by ‘greed and a hatred of our country,’ an official from the British Crown Prosecution Service said after sentencing on Friday. Smith was arrested by German police in August 2021 and went on trial in Britain.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine’s Allies, Facing a ‘Prolonged Conflict,’ Pledge Unity. At a meeting of top political leaders and officials in Munich, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine calls for accelerated weapons deliveries, saying ‘there is no alternative to speed.’ The New York Times, Friday, 17 February 2023:

  • Western leaders pledge unity against Russia amid worries of ‘fatigue.’

  • A bipartisan group of lawmakers is urging Biden to supply F-16s to Ukraine.

  • Macron calls for intensified support for Ukraine but also eyes peace negotiations.

  • What is the Munich Security Conference?

  • The president of Belarus meets Putin amid speculation about the country’s role in the war.

  • The head of Russia’s Wagner group acknowledges the slow pace of the battle for Bakhmut.

Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott Drops Social Security and Medicare From His Plan as Republicans Retreat From Entitlement Cuts. The backtracking by the Florida Republican came after bipartisan criticism and signaled how completely the Republicans have pulled away from calls to overhaul the nation’s entitlement programs. The New York Times, Carl Hulse, Friday, 17 February 2023: “Senator Rick Scott of Florida finally recognized this week what leading figures in his party had been telling him for a year: Most Republicans no longer wish to discuss cutting Social Security and Medicare as a way to balance the federal budget and bring down the soaring debt. After decades of talk of scaling back the popular — and increasingly expensive — federal entitlement programs for older Americans, Republicans have for now abandoned that approach. It is an acknowledgment of the political risks of shrinking benefits relied on by millions of voters. The capitulation by Mr. Scott, who on Friday relented and explicitly walled off Social Security and Medicare from his proposal to terminate all federal programs every five years and subject them to congressional review, was the latest evidence that Republicans would be looking elsewhere for savings in a coming showdown with the White House and congressional Democrats.”

Tucker Carlson Tried to Get Fox News Reporter Fired for Fact-Checking Trump. Internal emails reveal the host’s motives for lying. New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait, Friday, 17 February 2023: ‘Dominion Voting Systems is suing Fox News for broadcasting lies that its machines rigged the 2020 election. Dominion obtained internal Fox News communications that reveal the network’s complete awareness that conspiracy theories targeting Dominion were false, along with a belief that they had to be given some measure of deference anyway in order to avoid alienating the network’s audience. Dominion’s objective in its filing is to establish a legal standard of actual malice that would allow it to obtain damages from Fox News, specifically that the network’s employees were “recklessly negligent in failing to check the accuracy of their coverage,” according to the New York Times. (Fox News accuses Dominion of cherry-picking messages.) But what is more interesting to the rest of us is what the filing reveals about Fox News’ ethics. The election result created a crisis for Fox News. Its journalists understood that Joe Biden won the election without having relied on vote fraud. Even Tucker Carlson understood full well that the conspiracy theories about election-stealing software were nonsense.”


Saturday, 18 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Netherlands closes St. Petersburg consulate as prime minister visits Kyiv, The Washington Post, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., John Hudson, Loveday Morris, Adela Suliman, Erin Cunningham, Andres Jeong, Nick Parker, and Drew Harwell, Saturday, 18 February 20223: “A day after The Washington Post reported that Western nations are clamping down on Kremlin espionage, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said it is closing its consulate in St. Petersburg. Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands, met with Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Saturday, the Ukrainian president said. They discussed military aid and potential penalties for Russia. Earlier Saturday, Vice President Harris accused Russia of committing ‘crimes against humanity.’ ‘I know firsthand the importance of gathering facts and holding them up against the law,’ she told an audience of global political and defense leaders at the Munich Security Conference. ‘In the case of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, we have examined the evidence, we know the legal standards, and there is no doubt: These are crimes against humanity.’

  • The Dutch government is limiting the number of Russian diplomats allowed in the Netherlands and closing the Russian trade office in Amsterdam, Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra tweeted Saturday afternoon. He cited ‘Russia’s continued attempts to place intelligence officers into the Netherlands under diplomatic cover.’
  • The United States has determined that Russia committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, also in Munich, said in a statement Saturday. He said the determination had been made on the basis of a ‘careful analysis of the law and available facts’ and thatmembers of Russia’s forces have committed execution-style killings of Ukrainian men, women, and children; torture of civilians in detention through beatings, electrocution, and mock executions; rape; and, alongside other Russian officials, have deported hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians to Russia.’
  • Harris accused Moscow of undertaking a ‘widespread and systemic attack against a civilian population,’ and she cited deadly attacks in Bucha and Mariupol as she vowed continued U.S. support for Ukraine. ‘Borders must not be changed by force,’ she added, warning that other nations might feel ’emboldened’ to follow Russia’s ‘violent example.’
  • The West is struggling to find the ammunition Ukraine needs to fight Russia, a consequence of decades of wishful thinking that war would not return to Europe, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said at the conference. Her acknowledgment follows a warning from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg this week that Ukraine is using ammunition far faster than its allies can provide it. Baerbock said Germany, which Washington has long said is underinvesting in its own defense, has learned from the Ukraine conflict and is building new ammunition production lines.
  • Meanwhile, China is considering providing ‘lethal support’ to Russia in its efforts against Ukraine, including weapons and ammunition, Blinken said in an interview with Face the Nation’s Margaret Brennan. Blinken recalled a past meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin that discussed a ‘partnership with no limits.’
  • China is looming large at the traditionally Eurocentric conference given the surprise announcement that Xi is planning to deliver a ‘peace speech’ on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. China will lay out its position on resolving the Ukraine conflict in a document underscoring that countries’ territorial integrity must not be violated, said China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, who spoke on a panel at the conference on Saturday. Wang said world powers need to start thinking ‘about what kinds of efforts we can make to stop this war’ and underscored that ‘nuclear wars must not be fought.’
  • The West is showing Russian President Vladimir Putin that Ukraine’s allies will not ‘lose our nerve,’ British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told the security conference. In his speech, Sunak urged allies to send more support, and he mentioned his nation’s vow to send longer-range missiles and other military aid. Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen ‘agreed on the importance of giving Ukraine the military momentum they need to secure victory against tyranny,’ according to a joint statement released Saturday.
  • White House officials said President Biden had no public meeting scheduled with Zelensky ‘right now.’ Biden is visiting Poland next week and is expected to deliver remarks ahead of the Feb. 24 anniversary of the invasion and meet with his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda. ‘The trip is going to be in Warsaw,’ Kirby said.
  • Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said the entry of his country and Sweden into NATO is ‘solely and exclusively’ in Turkey’s hands. Finnish lawmakers are expected to ratify NATO’s founding treaties Feb. 28. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed support for Finland’s bid but has been more equivocal about Sweden’s application.
  • Blinken met with Moldovan President Maia Sandu in Munich, days after she publicly accused Russia of trying to stage a coup in her country. ‘We have deep concern about some of the plotting that we’ve seen coming from Russia to try to destabilize the government,’ Blinken said after their meeting. Sandu said 2022 was ‘an incredibly difficult year for Moldova,’ citing economic, energy and security concerns arising in part from the war in neighboring Ukraine. Russia exercises considerable influence in the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria, which borders southwestern Ukraine.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Was Again Front and Center on Saturday as International Leaders Gathered in Munich for a Security Conference, The New York Times, Cassandra Vinograd, Saturday, 18 February 2023: “Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in the evening, State Department officials said, holding tense discussions after a breakdown in diplomacy that followed the Biden administration’s downing of a Chinese spy balloon over U.S. territory. In an address to the conference, Vice President Kamala Harris emphasized the Biden administration’s commitment to backing Ukraine and said that ‘there is no doubt’ that Russia had committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

Here are the latest developments:

  • On the second day of the security conference, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Munich for antiwar rallies and to show support for the Iranian uprising against the Islamic Republic; the Netherlands said it was closing a consulate in St. Petersburg, Russia; and the sense of a fractured world was the buzz.

  • Earlier in the day, Mr. Blinken appeared alongside Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, and expressed confidence that Ukraine would be victorious because “Ukrainians are fighting for their own country,” adding, ‘the Russians are not.’ He said that Western unity was ‘stronger than ever’ and that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would face a ‘day of reckoning.’ In a speech to the conference, Mr. Wang, of China, warned that ‘the Cold War mentality is back.’

  • Fighting continued in Ukraine, as a Russian missile strike injured two people and damaged buildings in western Ukraine, and Russian shelling killed one person and injured two others in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

Vice President Kamala Harris Accuses Russia of ‘Crimes Against Humanity’ in Ukraine. Harris warned China against providing Moscow with any kind of support during her appearance at the Munich Security Conference. The New York Times, Michael Crowley and David E. Sanger, Saturday, 18 February 2023: “Vice President Kamala Harris declared on Saturday that the United States had formally concluded that Russia has committed ‘crimes against humanity’ in its invasion of Ukraine, and warned China against providing any kind of support to Moscow’s war effort. Her comments at the Munich Security Conference came just three days before President Biden was scheduled to commemorate the anniversary of the war with a speech in Warsaw, and just as Russia is stepping up a new offensive to break through what has devolved into a war of attrition, with horrific casualties on both sides. Before Ms. Harris spoke, China’s top foreign affairs official mocked the U.S. response to a recent Chinese spy balloon overflight, calling the American actions ‘absurd and hysterical’ and an effort ‘to divert attention from its domestic problems.'” See also, Vice President Kamala Harris says Russian actions in Ukraine are ‘crimes against humanity,’ NPR, Jaclyn Diaz, Saturday, 18 February 2023: “Vice President Harris said Saturday that the U.S. has formally determined that the Russian military’s actions in Ukraine constitute war crimes and demanded that the perpetrators be held accountable by the international community. ‘In the case of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, we have examined the evidence. We know the legal standards and there is no doubt these are crimes against humanity,’ she said at the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany. Harris emphasized the importance of the global community standing up for Ukraine and continuing to keep pressure on Russia. ‘Let us be clear, Russian forces have pursued a widespread and systemic attack against a civilian population,’ she said. ‘Gruesome acts of murder, torture, rape, and deportation. Execution-style killings, beatings, and electrocution. Russian authorities have forcibly deported hundreds of thousands of people form Ukraine to Russia — including children.’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday issued a supporting statement saying the U.S. will work to hold those responsible to account, while emphasizing the importance of this designation. Blinken is attending the meeting.”


Sunday, 19 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Blinken warns China against giving ‘lethal support’ to Russia, as leaders meet in Munich, The Washington Post, Annabelle Timist, Rachel Pannett, Nick Parker, and Kyle Rempfer, Sunday, 19 February 2023: “U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is warning China against supporting Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine. Blinken said he told China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, that there would be ‘serious consequences’ if Beijing aids Moscow with munitions or helps the Kremlin evade sanctions when the two met on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. In television interviews that aired Sunday, Blinken said that China is considering providing ‘lethal support,’ including weapons and ammunition, to Russia — and that he told Wang of Washington’s concerns. Wang said at the Munich conference that world leaders need to think ‘about what kinds of efforts we can make to stop this war.’ Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to deliver a ‘peace speech’ Friday, the anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

  • Blinken said ‘we’ve made very clear’ to China that providing lethal support to Russia for its war ‘would cause a serious problem for us and in our relationship,’ he told CBS’s Margaret Brennan in an interview that aired Sunday. Washington’s concern ‘is based on information’ that indicates Chinese companies are considering boosting their aid to Russia from nonlethal to lethal, he said.
  • Blinken was in Turkey on an official visit Sunday. He was there to attempt to persuade Ankara to support Finland’s and Sweden’s bids to join NATO. Adding countries to the military alliance requires unanimity among its members, and Turkey is the main holdout. That decision is unlikely in the near term, a Turkey scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Washington Post on Sunday afternoon, because of the government’s limited bandwidth post-earthquake.
  • Russian forces are again stopping U.N. nuclear regulators from rotating out of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said Sunday. Fighting in the area around the nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, has prompted international concern that an accident could jeopardize the continent’s safety. The International Atomic Energy Agency did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment Sunday afternoon.
  • Russia’s ambassador to Washington responded after Vice President Harris accused Russia of committing ‘crimes against humanity’ in Ukraine in a speech at the Munich conference. Anatoly Antonov accused the Biden administration of attempting to ‘demonize’ Russia, and claimed Washington was trying to ‘justify its own actions to foment the Ukrainian crisis,’ according to a transcript published Sunday by Tass, a Russian state-owned news organization.
  • Russian bloggers are upset at reported plans by the Russian Ministry of Defense to consolidate the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics militias under its own force structure, according to the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War think tank. George Barros, an ISW analyst, said the bloggers, who are regularly critical of Russia’s performance in the war, feared that the Russian defense establishment planned to replace all commanders of the separatist militias with professional Russian officers. ‘Many Russian milbloggers met the news with discontent, disappointment, and outrage, stating that the DNR and LNR commanders have practical experience fighting Ukraine and are better than the “real” Russian commanders,’ an ISW report Saturday night reads.
  • Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki believes the West will eventually approve sending fighter jets to Ukraine, he told Brennan on “Face the Nation” on Sunday. ‘There were many things beyond our imagination at the beginning of the war, and then unimaginable became realizable,’ Morawiecki said. ‘And so it was with tanks, so it was with the Patriot anti-aircraft, anti-missile, anti-rocket system. And I believe that also with fighter jets, eventually, there will be fighter jets from the West, delivered to Ukraine.’ Poland has offered Soviet-era MiG jets to Ukraine, and the country’s ‘position is we can do this,’ Morawiecki said, ‘but only in combination with other NATO allies, and in particular, under the leadership of the United States.’
  • The European Union’s foreign policy chief expressed support for an Estonian proposal to jointly procure munitions to help arm Ukraine. Josep Borrell said in Munich that he ‘completely’ agrees with the proposal, outlined by Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, for E.U. member states to pool resources to buy artillery shells for Ukraine. ‘We are working on that and it will work,’ Borrell said.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron said that ‘crushing Russia’ has never been his country’s objective. Macron said in an interview with local media: ‘I do not think, as some people do, that we must defeat Russia completely, attack Russia on its own soil.’ Macron has long called for a diplomatic solution to the conflict, and was criticized in Kyiv when he previously called on the West not to ‘humiliate’ Russia. Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, noted on Telegram that France is a NATO member and has sent weapons and other aid to Ukraine.
  • The West is showing Russian President Vladimir Putin that Ukraine’s allies will not ‘lose our nerve,’ British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told the security conference. In his speech, Sunak urged allies to send more support, and he mentioned his nation’s vow to send longer-range missiles and other military aid.

Did Politics Scrub ‘Systemic’ From AP African American Studies Plan? Writing and editing the Advanced Placement course framework was a tense exercise in a polarized America. The Washington Post, Nick Anderson, Sunday, 19 February 2023: “A politically charged adjective popped up repeatedly in the evolving plans for a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies. It was ‘systemic.’ The February 2022 version declared that students should learn how African American communities combat effects of ‘systemic marginalization.’ An April update paired ‘systemic’ with discrimination, oppression, inequality, disempowerment and racism. A December version said it was essential to know links between Black Panther activism and ‘systemic inequality that disproportionately affected African Americans.’ Then the word vanished. ‘Systemic,’ a crucial term for many scholars and civil rights advocates, appears nowhere in the official version released Feb. 1. This late deletion and others reflect the extraordinary political friction that often shadows efforts in the nation’s schools to teach about history, culture and race. The College Board, which oversees the AP program, denies that it diluted the African American studies course in response to complaints from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) or his allies. But a senior College Board official now acknowledges the organization was mindful of how ‘systemic’ and certain other words in the modern lexicon of race in America would receive intense scrutiny in some places.”


Monday, 20 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Biden ends day in Warsaw after unannounced trip to Kyiv, The Washington Post, Missy Ryan Annabelle Timsit, Rachel Pannett, Justine McDaniel, Andrea Salcedo, and Ben Brasch, Monday, 20 February 2023: “President Biden landed in Poland’s capital late Monday, capping a day of cloak-and-dagger moves, a surprise Kyiv trip and an announcement that the United States would send $460 million worth of aid to bolster Ukraine’s defense against Russian invasion. On Tuesday, Biden is set to meet with leaders of former Soviet Union nations to discuss how the West can further help Ukraine fight off the Kremlin’s nearly year-long push to conquer Kyiv.

  • After Biden’s announcement of the financial commitment Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the $460 million in aid would include ammunition for U.S.-provided missile and tank systems, air surveillance radars and emergency assistance to keep Ukraine’s energy infrastructure up and running in the face of Russia’s relentless missile and drone attacks.
  • In Kyiv, Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at Mariinsky Palace, the official residence of the president, and told reporters that he traveled to Kyiv to show that the United States is ‘here to stay.’
  • Biden’s visit was shrouded in secrecy and required months of planning, according to White House officials, who characterized the trip as risky. As Biden and Zelensky walked around a monastery Monday, air raid sirens blared, providing a stark reminder of the war.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Amid Air Raid Sirens, Biden Makes Surprise Ukraine Visit. Arriving by train to Kyiv, President Biden announced more military aid for Ukraine and met with President Volodymyr Zelensky before returning to Poland. It was a dramatic show of U.S. support days before the anniversary of Russia’s invasion. The New York Times, Marc Santora, Vivek Shankar, and Anushka Patil, Monday, 20 February 2023: “President Biden returned to Poland Monday night after an unannounced visit to Kyiv, where he pledged the United States’ ‘unwavering commitment’ to supporting Ukraine in a brief but dramatic show of resolve almost one year into Russia’s full-scale invasion. Mr. Biden rode 10 hours by train from the Polish border to arrive in the Ukrainian capital on Monday morning. As air-raid sirens sounded, he strolled in the sunshine with President Volodymyr Zelensky and announced $500 million in additional military aid for Ukraine during a joint news conference at which he recalled the beginning of the invasion last Feb. 24. ‘One year later, Kyiv stands,’ Mr. Biden said. ‘And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands.’ Mr. Biden’s visit to Ukraine, his first since the war began, was shrouded in secrecy. The White House alerted Moscow about Mr. Biden’s travel plans several hours before the president arrived in Ukraine in an effort to ‘deconflict’ with Russian forces operating in the country, according to Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser.

  • Mr. Biden will give a speech on Tuesday in Warsaw and meet with President Andrzej Duda of Poland and leaders of other NATO allies in Eastern Europe.

  • The American president’s visit sets up an increasingly direct confrontation with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who is expected to deliver a state-of-the nation address in Moscow on Tuesday. After Mr. Biden’s visit to Ukraine, which Russian state television cast as a publicity stunt, Mr. Putin could take an ‘even tougher’ line on Ukraine in his speech, wrote Tatiana Stanovaya, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center.

  • The $500 million in military aid to Ukraine that Mr. Biden announced includes artillery ammunition, Javelin missiles and howitzers and will be released in the coming days. But he made no mention of the advanced arms that Ukraine has asked for, including long-range weapons and fighter jets, as it tries to hold off a renewed Russian offensive in the east.

  • Wang Yi, China’s top foreign policy official, arrived in Moscow on Monday, according to Russian state media. He could meet with Mr. Putin, the Kremlin’s spokesman said. China on Monday accused the Biden administration of spreading lies and defended its close partnership with Russia, a day after Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said that he had warned Mr. Wang when they spoke in Munich against ‘providing lethal support’ for Moscow’s war effort.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: The first anniversary of Russia’s invasion approaches, NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 20 February 2023: “This week will mark one year since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: On Monday, President Biden made a brief, unannounced visit to Kyiv, aimed at expressing solidarity with Ukrainians as Russia’s invasion of their country heads into a second year. Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and announced new aid as Russian forces make a new push to take control of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, which Russia illegally annexed last September. On Tuesday, President Biden is scheduled to meet Polish President Andrzej Duda and deliver remarks in Warsaw on the war in Ukraine. Also on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin will deliver his annual state of the nation address. On Wednesday, President Biden is set to meet Eastern European leaders in Warsaw. Also on Wednesday, the U.N. General Assembly holds a special session on Ukraine. The Security Council discusses Nord Stream pipelines at Russia’s request. And Russia’s parliament will hold extraordinary meetings. On Friday, the Security Council will discuss Ukraine on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion. What happened last week: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy opened the Munich Security Conference, speaking via video link to attendees including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Vice President Kamala Harris. The vice president later told the gathering that Russia had committed ‘crimes against humanity.’ Russia launched 36 cruise missiles across Ukraine in a single day, and Ukraine shot down 16. Most hit critical infrastructure, but Ukraine’s power grid operator said there were no electricity shortages. NATO defense ministers met in Brussels, where Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged a boost in ammunition to Ukraine, warning that the Kremlin is preparing for new offensives and attacks. Ukraine said it shot down 6 Russian balloons that appeared over Kyiv. The U.S. urged American citizens to leave Russia ‘immediately’ due to security risks. The Russian government is operating a systematic network of at least 40 child custody centers for thousands of Ukrainian children, a potential war crimea Yale University team reported.

US informed Russia of Joe Biden’s Kyiv visit hours before departure. Details emerge of how White House planned ‘unprecedented’ visit and meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky. The Guardian, Peter Beaumont and Julian Borger, Monday, 20 February 2023: “The White House notified the Kremlin of Joe Biden’s intention to visit Kyiv hours before he departed for Ukraine, it has been revealed, as the details began to emerge of how the US president pulled off his high-profile diplomatic coup. Meticulously planned over several months by a tight circle of key advisers, Biden’s visit was described as ‘unprecedented in modern times’ by his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, on the grounds that it was the first time a US president had visited ‘the capital of the country at war where the United States military does not control the critical infrastructure.’ ‘We did notify the Russians that President Biden will be travelling to Kyiv,’ Sullivan said. ‘We did so some hours before his departure for deconfliction purposes, and because of the sensitive nature of those communications I won’t get into how they responded or what the precise nature of our message was, but I can confirm that we provided that notice.’ The US informed Moscow to avoid any misunderstanding or misjudgment between the two nuclear-armed powers, according to accounts from Washington. Biden crossed into Ukraine at about 10pm on Sunday night, having quietly boarded a train in the Polish town of Przemyśl. His motorcade pulled up alongside his carriage allowing him to board unseen. His security detail took up most of the train’s eight carriages. According to a pool reporter on board, the journey through the night was uneventful with a few stops, at least one of which was to take on additional security guards. The train arrived at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station at 8am on Monday.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has given Fox News’ Tucker Carlson exclusive access to 41,000 hours of Capitol surveillance footage from the January 6 riot, Axios, Mike Allen, Monday, 20 February 2023: “Carlson TV producers were on Capitol Hill last week to begin digging through the trove, which includes multiple camera angles from all over Capitol grounds. Excerpts will begin airing in the coming weeks. Why it matters: Carlson has repeatedly questioned official accounts of 1/6, downplaying the insurrection as ‘vandalism.’ Now his shows — ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ on Fox News, and ‘Tucker Carlson Today’ and ‘Tucker Carlson Originals’ on the streaming service Fox Nation — have a massive trove of raw material.” See also, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gives Tucker Carlson exclusive access to January 6 riot footage, The Washington Post, Meryl Kornfield and Jacqueline Alemany, published on Tuesday, 21 February 2023: “House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has exclusively provided a massive trove of U.S. Capitol surveillance footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has downplayed the deadly violence that occurred that day and claimed it was a ‘false flag’ operation. McCarthy has declined to comment on the unprecedented move, but Carlson said Monday night on his program that his producers have been granted ‘unfettered’ access to security video when hundreds of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral college win. Five people died as a result of the attack, and 140 members of law enforcement were injured as the mob used flagpoles, bear spray, baseball bats and other weapons to bludgeon police. ‘So there’s about 44,000 hours, and we have — you may have read today — been granted access to that. … We believe we have secured the right to see whatever we want to see. We’ve been there about a week. Our producers, some of our smartest producers, have been looking at this stuff and trying to figure out what it means and how it contradicts or not the story we’ve been told for more than two years. We think already in some ways that it does contradict that story.’ Carlson said his producers would spend the rest of the week assessing the video and air what they found next week.” See also, Democrats Protest After House Speaker Kevin McCarthy Grants Tucker Carlson Access to January 6 Video. McCarthy’s decision to give the Fox News host access to thousands of hours of security footage prompted criticism that the release could put the Capitol at greater risk. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, published on Tuesday, 21 February 2023: “Democrats on Capitol Hill expressed outrage on Tuesday after Speaker Kevin McCarthy granted the Fox News host Tucker Carlson and his staff access to thousands of hours of security footage from Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. Mr. McCarthy, the newly elected Republican speaker, has been under intense pressure for weeks from his right flank to release the footage, which Mr. Carlson and other promoters of fringe theories allege is being hidden for nefarious reasons. Federal prosecutors, citing the Capitol Police, have argued that the release of certain footage would reveal security procedures, including camera angles and politicians’ escape routes, that could subject the building to greater risk. Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, condemned the release of the video in a letter to fellow Democrats saying that ‘extreme MAGA Republicans in the House have provided tens of thousands of hours of sensitive Capitol security footage to a Fox News personality who regularly peddles in conspiracy theories and pro-Putin rhetoric.'” See also, Kevin McCarthy’s apparent deal with Fox News Host Tucker Carlson to share January 6 footage surprised some top Capitol security officials. On Monday Carlson described his producers’ access as ‘unfettered.’ Politico, Kyle Cheney and Jordain Carney, Tuesday, 21 February 2023: “Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s apparent deal to grant Tucker Carlson access to thousands of hours of capitol security footage from January 6, 2021 came as a surprise to at least one official with oversight responsibility over those files: Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger. A person familiar with the matter said Manger told associates he didn’t learn of the arrangement between McCarthy and Carlson until it began publicly circulating Monday. Capitol Police have been extremely reluctant to share large swaths of their security footage, citing potential risks to lawmakers, aides, and officers tasked with protecting the building. House Sergeant at Arms William McFarland also told associates he learned about it around the same time Axios broke the news Monday, the person familiar [with the matter] said.”


Tuesday, 21 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Biden says in speech in Poland that Russia is guilty of ‘crimes against humanity;’ Moscow suspends role in arms control treaty New START, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Andrew Jeong, Adela Suliman, Ellen Francis, Claire Parker, Adam Taylor, and Sammy Westfall, Tuesday, 21 February 2023: “President Biden delivered on Tuesday a wide-ranging speech in Warsaw ahead of the Feb. 24 anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He began with a declaration of support for Ukraine: ‘Kyiv stands strong.’ ‘Autocrats only understand one word: no,’ Biden said. He used the speech to accuse Russia of crimes against humanity, such as ‘targeting civilians with death,’ using rape as ‘a weapon of war,’ stealing Ukrainian children, and targeting train stations, maternity wards, hospitals, schools and orphanages. His address echoed a speech delivered by Vice President Harris at the Munich Security Conference last week.

  • In his remarks, Biden lauded the NATO alliance. Russian President Vladimir Putin thought he would get the ‘Finlandization of NATO,’ Biden said, referring to the country’s status as a nonmember, which its government is seeking to reverse. ‘Instead, he got the NATO-ization of Finland.’
  • Putin announced Tuesday that Russia would suspend its participation in the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as New START, the last nuclear nonproliferation accord it has with the United States. Putin’s state of the nation address to Russia’s parliament was also an attack on the West, which Putin accused of exacerbating the conflict by providing weapons to Ukraine. Russia will not ‘withdraw’ completely from the treaty, which has been extended to run through Feb. 4, 2026, but he said that Russia would not allow NATO countries to inspect its nuclear arsenal.
  • NATO is ‘increasingly concerned that China may be planning to provide lethal support for Russia’s war,’ the alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said in an address alongside Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, in Brussels. China’s top diplomat arrived in Moscow on Tuesday, where he was greeted by top Russian officials who promised to support China’s foreign policy goals in the face of Western pressure.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: ‘We will not tire,’ Biden says of  support for Ukraine hours after Putin delivers defiant speech to Russians, The New York Times, Anton Troianovski, Valerie Hopkins, Shashank Bengali, and David E. Sanger, Tuesday, 21 February 2023: “President Biden vowed on Tuesday that the United States would ‘not tire’ in its support of Ukraine, describing the American commitment to NATO and Ukraine as a battle for freedom against autocracy in a speech delivered just hours after President Vladimir V. Putin presented a radically different account of the war. In his national address, Mr. Putin showed no sign that he would change course, instead signaling that Russians should prepare for a long war ahead. He accused the West of a ‘totalitarian’ project to control the world under the guise of spreading liberal values, and declared Russia was suspending the one remaining nuclear arms treaty with the United States. Mr. Biden, speaking in Warsaw, blamed Mr. Putin for the war, which he called a test of the United States, Europe and democracies everywhere. ‘Our support for Ukraine will not waver, NATO will not be divided, and we will not tire,’ he said. ‘President Putin’s craven lust for land and power will fail.’ The two speeches — three days before the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion — offered a rare moment in which leaders at opposing ends of the global order presented dueling visions of the world. And they come as Russia tries to escalate a new offensive in eastern Ukraine, and while Western allies are rushing tanks and armored vehicles to help Kyiv. In his address, Mr. Putin again falsely claimed that Western nations had ‘started the war’ in Ukraine — an assertion that Mr. Biden flatly rejected in Warsaw….

  • Russia’s decision to pull back from New START is ‘deeply unfortunate and irresponsible,’ Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken told reporters traveling with him in Athens, but the treaty has long been in trouble. The Biden administration said last month that Russia was not in compliance with the agreement, which does not cover the tactical nuclear weapons that Mr. Putin has at times threatened to use in Ukraine.

  • The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, accused the country’s defense minister and its most senior general of treason on Tuesday, asserting that they were withholding ammunition and supplies from his fighters. The assertion deepened the most high-profile dispute in the Russian forces since the war began.

Jury in Georgia Trump Inquiry Recommended Multiple Indictments, Forewoman Says. She would not discuss specific indictments in the special grand jury’s report but noted that its recommendations were ‘not going to be some giant plot twist.’ The New York Times, Danny Hakim, Tuesday, 21 February 2023: “A special grand jury that investigated election interference by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies in Georgia recommended indictments for multiple people on a range of charges in its final report, most of which remains sealed, the forewoman of the jury said on Tuesday. ‘It is not a short list,’ the forewoman, Emily Kohrs, said in an interview. Ms. Kohrs, 30, declined to name the people recommended for indictment, since the judge handling the case decided to keep those details secret when he made public a few sections of the report last week. But seven sections that are still under wraps deal with indictment recommendations, Ms. Kohrs said. Special grand juries in Georgia do not have indictment powers. Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., has led the investigation and will decide what charges to bring before a regular grand jury. Asked whether the jurors had recommended indicting Mr. Trump, Ms. Kohrs would not answer directly but said: ‘You’re not going to be shocked. It’s not rocket science.’ In the slim portions of the report that were released last week, the jurors said they saw possible evidence of perjury by ‘one or more’ witnesses who testified before them. ‘It is not going to be some giant plot twist,’ she added. ‘You probably have a fair idea of what may be in there. I’m trying very hard to say that delicately.’ The investigation in Atlanta has been seen as one of the most significant legal threats to Mr. Trump as he begins another run for the presidency.” See also, Georgia grand jury foreperson says Georgia grand jury recommended indictments for more than a dozen people in Trump investigation. Emily Kohrs told NBC News the panel’s recommendations include ‘some names you expect.’ Asked whether they included Trump, she said, ‘Potentially, it might.’ NBC News, Blayne Alexander and Dareh Gregorian, Tuesday, 21 February 2023: “The Georgia grand jury that investigated possible interference in the 2020 election by Donald Trump and his allies recommended indicting over a dozen people, the jury foreperson said Tuesday — a list she said ‘might’ include the former president. ‘There are certainly names that you will recognize, yes. There are names also you might not recognize,’ Emily Kohrs said in an interview that aired on NBC News’ ‘Nightly News.’ She said the list of recommended indictments is ‘not a short list.’ ‘There are definitely some names you expect,’ she said, declining to name any specific names in accordance with the instructions of the judge who presided over the grand jury.” See also, Foreperson on Georgia grand jury investigating Trump and the 2020 election: ‘I don’t think you will be shocked’ by the indictments, CNN Politics, Marshall Cohen, Katie Carver, and Devan Cole, Tuesday, 21 February 2023: “The foreperson of the Atlanta-based grand jury that investigated former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election told CNN on Tuesday that the panel is recommending multiple indictments and suggested ‘the big name’ may be on the list. ‘Can you imagine doing this for eight months and not coming out with a whole list’ of recommended indictments, Emily Kohrs told CNN. ‘It’s not a short list. It’s not.’ She continued, ‘There may be some names on that list that you wouldn’t expect. But the big name that everyone keeps asking me about – I don’t think you will be shocked.’ Kohrs declined later Tuesday to disclose exactly how many indictments the special grand jury recommended be brought as part of the investigation, saying only that she believes it is more than 12.” See also, The forewoman of a special grand jury in Georgia may have complicated an investigation into efforts by President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election by speaking bluntly about its findings in interviews this week, several legal experts said, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner and Matthew Brown, published on Wednesday, 22 February 2023: “Several legal experts said they were surprised and concerned by Kohrs’s unusually candid commentary, which included evaluation of witnesses, tidbits about jurors socializing with prosecutors and a stated hope that the investigation yields charges because of how much time she and others invested in the case. The remarks could cause additional challenges for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, whose investigation has come under scrutiny for what some have described as legal and ethical missteps. Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney effectively barred Willis from investigating Lt. Gov. Burt Jones (R), who served as one of Trump’s false electors in Georgia, after Willis hosted a fundraiser for his opponent.” See also, 5 takeaways from Georgia grand jury forewoman’s comments on Trump investigation, The Washington Post, Matthew Brown, published on Wednesday, 22 February 2023.

Trump Spent $10 Million From His PAC on His Personal Legal Bills Last Year. Now that the former president is a declared candidate again, there are questions about whether he can continue using donor funds to pay his lawyers. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 21 February 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump, who throughout his business career had a reputation for not paying lawyers, spent roughly $10 million from his political action committee on his own legal fees last year, federal election filings show. The money that went to Mr. Trump’s legal bills was part of more than $16 million that Mr. Trump’s PAC, Save America, spent for legal-related payments in 2021 and 2022, the filings show. Some of the $16 million appears to have been for lawyers representing witnesses in investigations related to Mr. Trump’s efforts to cling to power. But the majority of it — about $10 million — went to firms directly representing Mr. Trump in a string of investigations and lawsuits, including some related to his company, the filings showed…. The recent spending related to Mr. Trump is notable not just for the sheer volume — it represented about 19 percent of the PAC’s total expenditures outside of transfers to one of his other political committees and those backing other candidates — but also because Mr. Trump is now a declared candidate for president again. Some campaign finance experts are raising questions about whether, as a candidate, Mr. Trump can continue to use the PAC to pay for his personal legal bills. Those questions are arising as he faces legal challenges on various fronts as well as intense scrutiny by the Justice Department and prosecutors in Georgia and New York.”

The right fans a repulsive campaign to racialize the Ohio train disaster, The Washington Post, Greg Sargent, Tuesday, 21 February 2023: “The fiery derailment of a freight train carrying hazardous chemicals in eastern Ohio is coming to represent bigger societal failures. It’s a story about profit-driven rail companies underinvesting in safety, lobbyists weakening rail regulation, and the government’s failure to assure residents’ security from lingering toxins. But in certain right-wing media precincts, the disaster is about something else: A campaign of discrimination being waged against White people. ‘East Palestine is overwhelmingly White, and it’s politically conservative,’ Fox News’s Tucker Carlson recently said of the roughly 4,700 residents of the disaster zone. ‘That shouldn’t be relevant,’ he added, but ‘it very much is.’ It very much isn’t. But ever since the Feb. 3 disaster, Carlson and his comrades have sought to transform East Palestine’s plight into a tale about ‘woke’ Democrats abandoning White communities in the virtuous, forgotten heartland. What this illustrates is how the right uses race-baiting to deceive people into forgetting that Democrats are now the far more committed party when it comes to investing in such left-behind communities.”


Wednesday, 22 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Biden meets eastern NATO leaders; China and Russia hail ‘stable’ relationship, The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Dan Lamothe, Jennifer Hassan, Claire Parker, and Sammy Westfall, Wednesday, 22 February 2023: “President Biden pledged Wednesday that the United States would ‘defend literally every inch of NATO’ in the case of a Russian attack on NATO territory. Biden wrapped up a three-day diplomatic trip after meeting in Poland with leaders of the alliance’s easternmost countries, which are particularly concerned about Moscow’s aggression. The gathering follows Biden’s unannounced visit to Kyiv on Monday and comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the suspension of Russia’s participation in its last remaining nuclear pact with the United States as the two leaders underscored their growing division in dueling speeches. In Moscow, China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, met with Putin, as the first anniversary of the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine approaches. Wang hailed relations between the two countries on Wednesday, saying they remained strong and would ‘not be overpowered’ by ‘coercion or pressure’ from other parties. China has said it is neutral in the Russia-Ukraine war but has also regularly given diplomatic support to Russia. U.S. and NATO officials have expressed concern that China could start providing other support, including weapons, for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

  • Biden met with leaders of the Bucharest Nine, countries on NATO’s eastern flank. The group comprises Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. ‘You know better than anyone what’s at stake in this conflict, not just for Ukraine but for the freedom of democracies,’ Biden told the assembled leaders, adding that the United States considered Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty — which says an attack on any NATO member would be considered an attack on all — to be a ‘sacred commitment.’
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned B9 leaders that Putin is ‘not preparing for peace’ a year after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. ‘… So we must sustain and step up our support for Ukraine. We must give Ukraine what they need to prevail,’ he said. ‘We must break the cycle of Russian aggression.’
  • China-Russia relations had stood the test of an unstable international situation and remained ‘as stable as Mount Tai’ — a Chinese idiom for rock-solid — Wang said Wednesday during his meeting with Putin. Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to visit Russia this year.
  • Later Wednesday, Putin briefly addressed cheering, flag-waving Russians at a mass rally at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, extolling Russia’s military in an event designed to unite the nation around a long war against Ukraine. In the rare public appearance, Putin, wearing a bulky jacket and flanked by members of Russia’s armed forces, led the audience chanting, ‘Russia! Russia!’
  • Russia’s State Duma passed a law Wednesday suspending the country’s participation in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Putin announced a day earlier that Russia would be suspending its participation in New START, the only remaining arms control agreement between Russia and the United States.
  • Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said Russia would disappear if it lost its war in Ukraine. ‘If Russia stops the special military operation without winning, there will be no Russia; it will be torn apart,’ he wrote on Telegram on Wednesday, using the Kremlin-approved term for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing war. ‘If the U.S. stops supplying weapons to the Kyiv regime, the war is over.’
  • Russia recently notified the United States that it would carry out an intercontinental ballistic missile test, U.S. officials said Tuesday night. Moscow told Washington that it planned to carry out the test in accordance with the New START nuclear accord, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. U.S. officials said Wednesday that Russia attempted the test on Feb. 18, two days before Biden visited Ukraine.
  • Russia, China and South Africa began a trilateral naval exercise with an opening ceremony in the South African port of Richards Bay on Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a Telegram post. The commander in chief of Russia’s navy, Adm. Nikolai Evmenov, said the Russian navy is ‘deeply interested in strengthening naval cooperation between Russian, Chinese and South African sailors,’ the statement said.
  • Americans and Europeans are united in the belief that Russia is an ‘adversary’ or ‘rival,’ according to a new survey from the European Council on Foreign Relations. But only 4 percent in India and China said the same. About a quarter of those surveyed in India and Turkey — and more than 40 percent in China and Russia — said that Europe is supporting Ukraine to ‘defend Western dominance.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Biden Vows to Defend NATO Allies as Putin Courts China. President Biden’s visit to Europe ended with a show of support for NATO members on the alliance’s eastern flank. President Vladimir Putin of Russia welcomed China’s top diplomat to Moscow, seeking stronger ties. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Wednesday, 22 February 2023: “In a day of dueling efforts to shore up allegiances as the anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine approached, President Biden wrapped up a three-day trip to Europe with a promise of America’s commitment to its allies as President Vladimir V. Putin warmly welcomed China’s top diplomat to Moscow and rallied pro-war Russians. Mr. Biden met in Warsaw with leaders from NATO’s eastern flank, in a further display of trans-Atlantic unity against Russia, reminding them that they know ‘what’s at stake in this conflict, not just for Ukraine, but for the freedom of democracies throughout Europe and around the world.’ The meeting came shortly after Mr. Putin depicted the war as an existential battle for Russia, telling a flag-waving crowd of about 200,000 people who had been urged to gather at a Moscow stadium that ‘there is a battle underway on our historical borders, for our people.’ The increasingly direct confrontation between the U.S. and Russian leaders, some 700 miles apart, was unfolding as Ukrainian officials warned of more attacks on their cities. A barrage of Russian missiles struck Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, on Wednesday amid a nationwide air-raid alert.

  • Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat, met with Mr. Putin at the Kremlin, where the Russian leader passed along his ‘very best wishes’ to ‘my friend’ Xi Jinping, China’s leader. The meeting underscored how Beijing and Moscow have sought to show that they remain close, despite the hopes of some in the West that Mr. Xi would distance himself more.

  • Mr. Biden took off from Poland late Wednesday afternoon in Air Force One, heading back to the United States two days before the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine. The trip included a surprise trek by train on Monday to Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv, and a speech from the royal palace in Warsaw on Tuesday to declare the U.S. commitment to stand against Russian aggression.

  • Nearly a dozen explosions were reported overnight in Russian-held territory in Ukraine, including in the southern city of Mariupol. It was not clear what had caused the explosions, but they suggested that Ukraine had stepped up strikes on Russian positions deep behind the war’s front lines.

  • As Ukrainian forces battle Russian attacks and warn of a large-scale missile bombardment, Kyiv is also casting an anxious eye on Russian threats via Belarus and Moldova that officials say pose minimal immediate risks but cannot be ignored.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Subpoenaed in January 6 Investigation. The special counsel overseeing the inquiry into Donald Trump’s efforts to retain power after the 2020 election wants the former president’s daughter and son-in-law to testify to a grand jury. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Wednesday, 22 February 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have been subpoenaed by the special counsel to testify before a federal grand jury about Mr. Trump’s efforts to stay in power after he lost the 2020 election and his role in a pro-Trump mob’s attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to two people briefed on the matter. The decision by the special counsel, Jack Smith, to subpoena Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner underscores how deeply into Mr. Trump’s inner circle Mr. Smith is reaching, and is the latest sign that no potential high-level witness is off limits. The disclosure about the subpoena comes two weeks after it was revealed that Mr. Smith had subpoenaed former Vice President Mike Pence to testify before the grand jury. Mr. Pence plans to fight the subpoena, invoking his role as the president of the Senate to argue that it violates the ‘speech or debate’ clause of the Constitution.”

The Progress and Obstacles in 4 Criminal Inquiries Into Trump. The revelations from grand jury proceedings in Georgia are the latest signs that federal and local inquiries into the former president could reach key decision points in coming months. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Danny Hakim, and Ben Protess, Wednesday, 22 February 2023: “When the forewoman of a Georgia grand jury investigating allegations of election interference by former President Donald J. Trump and his advisers gave a series of highly public — and highly unusual — interviews this week, she suggested that the case might soon be headed toward indictment. Three other criminal inquiries involving Mr. Trump have also been progressing relatively quickly — if not quite as fast — in recent months, with the Justice Department pressing forward in Washington and a local prosecutor moving ahead in New York. No former president has ever confronted the barrage of legal threats that Mr. Trump now faces, all of which appear to be heading toward decision points by the authorities in coming months. Heightening the stakes, the inquiries have intensified just as Mr. Trump has started ramping up his third campaign for the White House. Beyond the Georgia case, Mr. Trump is under investigation by a special counsel in Washington for his role in seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election and for his potential mishandling of classified documents. At the same time, local authorities in New York are looking into whether Mr. Trump authorized and was involved in falsely accounting for hush money payments to a pornographic film actress who said she had an affair with him. Even though much about the inquiries seems straightforward — ‘It’s not rocket science,”’the forewoman in Georgia, Emily Kohrs, told The New York Times — each of the cases is layered with its own array of legal complexities that make predicting an outcome difficult. And that is to say nothing about the potential complications of bringing charges in the midst of a presidential campaign against a pugnacious figure like Mr. Trump, who has long assailed attempts by the authorities to hold him accountable as hoaxes and politically motivated witch hunts.”

Arizona’s top prosecutor Mark Brnovich concealed records debunking election fraud claims. Newly released documents show how Republican Mark Brnovich publicized an incomplete account of his office’s probe of the 2020 election in Maricopa County. The Washington Post, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Wednesday, 22 February 2023: “Nearly a year after the 2020 election, Arizona’s then-attorney general, Mark Brnovich, launched an investigation into voting in the state’s largest county that quickly consumed more than 10,000 hours of his staff’s time. Investigators prepared a report in March 2022 stating that virtually all claims of error and malfeasance were unfounded, according to internal documents reviewed by The Washington Post. Brnovich, a Republican, kept it private. In April, the attorney general — who was running in the GOP primary for a U.S. Senate seat — released an ‘Interim Report’ claiming that his office had discovered ‘serious vulnerabilities.’ He left out edits from his own investigators refuting his assertions. His office then compiled an ‘Election Review Summary’ in September that systematically refuted accusations of widespread fraud and made clear that none of the complaining parties — from state lawmakers to self-styled ‘election integrity’ groups — had presented any evidence to support their claims. Brnovich left office last month without releasing the summary. That timeline emerges from documents released to The Post this week by Brnovich’s successor, Kris Mayes, a Democrat. She said she considered the taxpayer-funded investigation closed and, earlier this month, notified leaders on Maricopa County’s governing board that they were no longer in the state’s crosshairs. The records show how Brnovich used his office to further claims about voting in Maricopa County that his own staff considered inaccurate. They suggest that his team privately disregarded fact checks provided by state investigators while publicly promoting incomplete accounts of the office’s work. The innuendo and inaccuracies, circulated not just in the far reaches of the internet but with the imprimatur of the state’s attorney general, helped make Arizona an epicenter of distrust in the democratic process, eroding confidence in the 2020 vote as well as in subsequent elections.” See also, Ex-Attorney General Mark Brnovich in Arizona Buried Report Refuting Voter Fraud Claims. Under Mark Brnovich, a Republican who left office in January, a 10,000-hour review did not see the light of day. His His Democratic successor, Kris Mayes, released investigators’ findings. The New York Times, Neil Vigdor, published on Thursday, 23 February 2023: “Mark Brnovich, a Republican who served as Arizona’s attorney general until January, buried the findings of a 10,000-hour review by his office that found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, newly released documents reveal. The documents were released on Wednesday by Mr. Brnovich’s successor, Kris Mayes, a Democrat who took office last month as the top law enforcement official in the battleground state, which remains at the forefront of the election denial movement. The sweeping review was completed last year after politicians and other conspiracy theorists aligned with former President Donald J. Trump inundated Mr. Brnovich’s office with election falsehoods. They claimed baselessly that large numbers of people had voted twice; that ballots had been sent to dead people; and that ballots with traces of bamboo had been flown in from Korea and filled out in advance for Joseph R. Biden Jr., who won Arizona by a little over 10,000 votes. But investigators discredited these claims, according to a report on their findings that was withheld by Mr. Brnovich. (The Washington Post reported earlier on the findings.)”

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) of jeopardizing lawmakers’ security by handing Fox News host Tucker Carlson hours of footage from the deadly January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, The Washington Post, Mariana Alfaro, Wednesday, 22 February 2023: “In a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter sent to lawmakers on Wednesday, Schumer said McCarthy is ‘needlessly exposing the Capitol complex to one of the worst security risks since 9/11’ by sharing the footage with Carlson. ‘The footage Speaker McCarthy is making available to Fox News is a treasure trove of closely held information about how the Capitol complex is protected and its public release would compromise the safety of the Legislative Branch and allow those who want to commit another attack to learn how Congress is safeguarded,’ Schumer said.”

In Sharing Video With Fox Host Tucker Carlson, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy Hits Rewind on January 6. In granting exclusive access to January 6 Capitol surveillance footage to a cable news host bent on rewriting the history of the attack, the speaker effectively outsourced a politically toxic re-litigation of the riot to someone who has circulated conspiracy theories about the assault. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Jonathan Swan, Wednesday, 22 February 2023: “Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s decision to grant the Fox News host Tucker Carlson exclusive access to thousands of hours of security footage from inside the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack was his latest move to appease the right wing of his party, this time by effectively outsourcing a bid to reinvestigate the riot to its favorite cable news commentator, who has circulated conspiracy theories about the assault. The most conservative Republican members of Congress — many of whom have worked to downplay or deny the reality of the Jan. 6 attack — have been pushing Mr. McCarthy for weeks to release the video after he promised to do so during his campaign for speaker. Mr. McCarthy has shown little appetite for the kind of aggressive public re-litigation of what happened that day that some of his colleagues have called for, but he is sensitive to the dangers of angering his hard-core base by seeming to drop or disregard the matter. That is where Mr. Carlson comes in. ‘I promised,’ Mr. McCarthy said on Wednesday in a brief phone interview in which he defended his decision to grant Mr. Carlson exclusive access to the more than 40,000 hours of security footage. ‘I was asked in the press about these tapes, and I said they do belong to the American public. I think sunshine lets everybody make their own judgment.’ Still, the sunshine Mr. McCarthy referred to will, for now, be filtered through a very specific prism — that of Mr. Carlson, a hero of the hard right who has insinuated without evidence that the Jan. 6 attack was a ‘false flag’ operation carried out by the government. After Mr. Carlson has had his way with the video, Mr. McCarthy said he planned to make the footage more widely available. His team has had internal conversations about providing the footage to other media outlets after Mr. Carlson has had his ‘exclusive’ first airing, according to a source familiar with the deliberations who insisted on anonymity to speak about them. For now, however, Mr. McCarthy has given a large head start to a purveyor of conspiracy theories about the attack.”

Trump Visits East Palestine, Ohio, Seeking to Draw Contrast With Biden. The former president has attacked the administration’s handling of the train derailment, even as his own environmental policies while in office have been criticized. The New York Times, Jazmine Ulloa, Maggie Haberman, and Mark Walker, Wednesday, 22 February 2023: “It was evocative of the former president’s time in office: an at-times meandering address, punctated by self-promotion — his brand-name Trump Water — and an undercurrent of grievance. But as he visited the small Ohio town of East Palestine on Wednesday, former President Donald J. Trump sought to hammer home a message just by showing up — that his successor and the man he’s seeking to replace, President Biden, had been ineffective in responding to a domestic crisis after a train derailed and spewed toxic chemicals early this month. Mr. Trump had arrived on the ground before either Mr. Biden or the transportation secretary to a train derailment many Republicans have turned into a referendum on a lack of federal concern with the needs of red-state America…. In reality, the Biden administration has had officials from key agencies on the ground since the derailment, the president has spoken to the governor and the Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the railroad to perform a cleanup and cover expenses. But no major official, or the president, had visited, which Mr. Trump and Republicans have seized on.” See also, Trump’s visit to Ohio derailment gives Biden’s team some breathing room. His planned appearance near the scene of this month’s toxic derailment has Democrats pointing to his past record of rolling back regulations on both rail safety and hazardous chemicals, Politico, Tanya Snyder, Alex Guillen, and Adam Wren, Wednesday, 22 February 2023: “Donald Trump’s visit to the site of a toxic train derailment in Ohio is offering a political opening to battered Biden administration officials — by calling new attention to the former president’s record of rolling back regulations on both rail safety and hazardous chemicals. Trump’s administration withdrew an Obama-era proposal to require faster brakes on trains carrying highly flammable materials, ended regular rail safety audits of railroads, and mothballed a pending rule requiring freight trains to have at least two crew members. He also placed a veteran of the chemical industry in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s chemical safety office, where she made industry-friendly changes to how the agency studied health risks.”

Star U.S. government witness says Proud Boys took ‘reins’ and led January 6 riot by example. ‘We made this happen,’ Jeremy Bertino confided to Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio as rioters stormed the Capitol, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Tom Jackman, Wednesday, 22 February 2023: “The sole member of the Proud Boys to plead guilty to seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 attack testified Wednesday that members believed they had to ‘take the reins’ and lead a new American revolution to keep President Donald Trump in office and claimed credit for the storming of the Capitol. In dramatic testimony during the trial of longtime Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio, star government witness Jeremy Bertino, 43, of Belmont, N.C., implicated his former friend, saying the extremist group acted as the ‘tip of the spear’ that day and led a mob by example by being among the first to confront police, topple barricades and break into the building. ‘We influenced people, the normies, enough to stand up for themselves to take back their country and take back their freedom,’ Bertino testified.”


Thursday, 23 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.N. votes for resolution calling on Russia to leave Ukraine; G-7 leaders and Zelensky to talk Friday, The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham, Niha Masih, Jennifer Hassan, and Adam Taylor, Thursday, 23 February 2023: “The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday voted in favor of a resolution demanding Russia withdraw its forces from Ukraine. The resolution is nonbinding but was supported by 141 members of the assembly. It calls for an immediate halt to attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure and highlights the need for accountability for war crimes. ‘Today’s vote was really historic,’ Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. representative to the United Nations, said after the session. ‘You saw one year after Russia’s illegal, unprovoked, full-scale invasion into Ukraine where the countries of the world stand. We showed where we stand – with Ukraine.’ The resolution’s approval comes ahead of the anniversary of the start of the invasion. On Friday, President Biden and G-7 leaders will meet virtually with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to coordinate support efforts for Ukraine, according to a White House statement.

  • Russia’s U.N. ambassador criticized the peace resolution. ‘Moscow is ready for a solution,’ Vasily Nebenzya said. ‘The draft resolution submitted here will not help this at all. It will rather encourage the West, which will continue its militaristic line, using the U.N. as a cover.’
  • Though Russia lost the vote, it did pick up a new supporter at the U.N. Mali voted with Russia for the first time, the latest sign of partnership between the West African nation and Moscow. Earlier this month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited the country where Russian mercenaries have been used to help fight an Islamist insurgency.
  • The war in Ukraine has exposed a deep global divide. While Western countries have rallied against Moscow and united in support of Kyiv — with President Biden hailing the Western alliance as a ‘global coalition’ — a closer look beyond the West suggests the world is far from united on the issues of the war, The Washington Post reports.
  • Russia this year will put on combat duty its first launchers equipped with the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, which can carry a large nuclear payload, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.
  • The war in Ukraine could rage on for another year, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told LBC radio Thursday, saying of Putin: ‘I think he’s not going to stop.’ Wallace noted clear signs that Moscow’s invasion has failed. Putin’s ‘three-day offensive is turned into his 365-day offensive, and he has still not captured or held a single one of the objectives.’
  • Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez arrived in Kyiv on Thursday, saying in a tweet that Spain will stand with Ukraine ‘until peace returns to Europe.’
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping could visit Russia soon, Putin suggested in a meeting in Moscow with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi. ‘We are expecting the President of the People’s Republic of China in Russia — we have agreed on his visit earlier,’ Putin said, according to a Kremlin statement.
  • Ukraine’s grain export initiative has sent 22 million tons of food in seven months to 43 countries, Zelensky said in his nightly address, hailing it as a significant contribution by Ukraine to global food security.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.N. General Assembly Calls for Lasting Peace Deal in Ukraine. The assembly overwhelmingly adopted a resolution calling for a peace agreement that guarantees Ukraine’s sovereignty. Several of Russia’s key allies abstained, including China, Iran, and India. The New York Times, Thursday, 23 February 2023: “The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday adopted a resolution calling for a lasting peace in Ukraine and the withdrawal of Russia’s troops. It passed with a two-thirds majority of member states present and voting. Among Russia’s allies, China, Iran and India abstained from the vote. In Ukraine, residents braced for new attacks timed to the anniversary of the invasion on Friday. President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that Russia is plotting a symbolic ‘revenge’ attack around the one-year mark of the invasion, and on the streets of Kyiv, people expressed a mix of resilience and fear as the anniversary loomed. ‘Hope is the last thing to die,’ said Liudmyla Danilenko, 79, as she waited for a trolley to take her to work, adding that the war had caused her ceaseless anxiety. Schools across Ukraine have been advised to switch to remote learning through Friday by the country’s education minister, Serhiy Shkarlet, who said that Russia’s history of striking schools and other civilian gathering centers such as residential buildings and hospitals put classrooms at risk. In the southern Ukrainian port city of Kherson, which Kyiv’s forces retook in November, the authorities advised residents to avoid unnecessary trips outside and asked humanitarian groups not to encourage large gatherings.

  • Russian official in eastern Ukraine accused Kyiv of planning ‘provocations’ starting on Thursday. Vladimir Rogov, an official in the Russian Army’s occupation administration in Zaporizhzhia, claimed that Ukrainian forces were preparing ‘shelling or even terrorist attacks.’

  • Russian forces pounded residential areas near the front lines, killing at least three people and leaving two buried in the rubble of a building, Ukrainian officials said.

  • Poland said on Thursday that it is close to finalizing a deal to buy additional American-made HIMARS rocket launchers and related equipment worth up to $10 billion.

  • Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said on Thursday that Chinese efforts to provide support to Russia were a ‘very serious concern’ and warned China not to help Russia evade U.S. sanctions. She spoke at a news conference as finance ministers from the Group of 20 nations, which include Russia and China, convened for two days of meetings in southern India.

Special Counsel Jack Smith Seeks to Force Mike Pence to Testify Before January 6 Grand Jury. Prosecutors have asked a federal judge to set aside any claims of executive privilege that former Vice President Mike Pence might raise to avoid answering questions. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 23 February 2023: “The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to force former Vice President Mike Pence to testify fully in front of a grand jury investigating former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, seeking to cut short any attempt by Mr. Trump to use executive privilege to shield Mr. Pence from answering questions, two people familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The request — amounting to a pre-emptive motion to compel Mr. Pence’s testimony — came before the former vice president had even appeared in front of the grand jury, and before any privilege claims had actually been raised in court. The sealed motion, filed in recent days in Federal District Court in Washington, is the latest step in a long-running behind-the-scenes struggle, first by the Justice Department and now by the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, to cut through the various assertions of privilege that witnesses close to Mr. Trump have repeatedly raised in an effort to avoid answering questions. The privilege disputes have been handled by Judge Beryl A. Howell, the chief federal judge in Washington, who oversees all of the district’s grand jury matters, which as a rule are conducted in secret. Judge Howell is expected to step down from her position next month and be replaced by another chief judge. Also on Thursday, Judge Howell rejected a request by reporters at The New York Times and Politico to unseal her rulings and associated filings about legal fights ancillary to the material presented to the Jan. 6 grand jury itself, such as hidden wrangling over whether Mr. Trump’s former aides could lawfully decline to answer questions based on executive privilege.”

U.S. judge denies news media bid to unseal Trump January 6 grand jury filings. The ruling keeps secret Trump’s efforts to prevent top aides from testifying before a grand jury. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Thursday, 23 February 2023: “A federal judge on Thursday rejected requests from news organizations to unseal the scope of Donald Trump’s legal efforts to prevent top aides from testifying before a grand jury as the Justice Department investigates efforts to overturn the 2020 election. While expected, the ruling by Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of D.C. upholding grand jury secrecy rules deals a blow to long-standing efforts by journalists and historians to open such proceedings citing public interest in cases of historic importance. Politico and the New York Times had sought to unseal proceedings into what they called ‘urgent matters of national significance’ concerning Trump’s attempt to prevent cooperation with the investigation into efforts to unlawfully interfere with the transfer of power from him to Joe Biden after the 2020 election. The probe includes the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and efforts by supporters, including some of Trump’s attorneys, to substitute Trump allies for certified electors from some states Biden won. Howell opened her 32-page opinion with citations to a litany of court precedents upholding transparency as critical to the integrity and legitimacy of the judicial system and decrying the creation of ‘secret law’ as anathema to democracy. But Howell said a controversial 2019 decision by the federal appeals court in Washington greatly reducing judges’ authority to disclose grand jury matters in favor of prosecutors meant Trump matters would remain secret ‘for now, and perhaps forever.’ ‘If public interest in a significant and historical event or high-level government officials could serve as the sole ground to justify disclosure of grand jury materials in exceptional circumstances, petitioners’ case here would be exceptionally strong,’ Howell wrote. ‘Unfortunately for petitioners, that is not the standard for disclosure.’

Trump may be questioned in lawsuits by ex-FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The two former senior employees who allege they were targeted for retribution after FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation may question Trump and Director Christopher Wray, a judge ruled. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Thursday, 23 February 2023: “A federal judge on Thursday ordered that former president Donald Trump and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray can be questioned under oath by attorneys for two former senior FBI employees who allege in separate lawsuits that they were illegally targeted for retribution after the FBI investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The decision by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington came in consolidated lawsuits against the FBI and Justice Department by former senior FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who exchanged politically charged text messages criticizing Trump while they were having an affair. Strzok seeks reinstatement and back pay over what he alleges was his unfair termination. Page alleges officials unlawfully released the trove of messages to reporters. Jackson issued her ruling in the four-year-old lawsuits after attorneys for Strzok and Page showed they had completed interviews of lower-ranking officials and exhausted potential sources of information other than the former president and FBI director. ‘The Court authorized the plaintiffs to conduct depositions of each witness that do not exceed two hours and are limited to the narrow set of topics specified,’ Jackson ruled in a short court notice posted after a closed-door hearing Thursday.”


Friday, 24 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky says there are no negotiations in sight; Biden rules out fighter jets for Ukraine ‘for now,’ The Washington Post, Missy Ryan, Erin Cunningham, Andrew Jeong, Ellen Francis, Adela Suliman, Claire Parker, and David L. Stern, Friday, 24 February 2023: “Ukraine on Friday marked one year since Russia launched its attack, ending decades of relative stability in Europe. The invasion was ‘the hardest day of our modern history,’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, pledging victory over Russia. In a news conference, he downplayed the possibility of near-term peace talks, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘is no longer the same person’ he once was. The United States and other allies rallied behind Ukraine, and the Biden administration announced some $10 billion in financial assistance, in addition to $2 billion in military aid. In an interview with ABC News on Friday, President Biden said he has ruled out ‘for now’ sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to help its forces fend off a Russian assault.

  • China is considering sending Russia lethal military aid in the form of artillery shells as Putin’s army rapidly depletes its supply of ammunition a year into his invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials said, a prospect that has alarmed those in the Biden administration who believe Beijing has the ability to transform the war’s trajectory.
  • Zelensky said Friday he plans to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to discuss outstanding issues between their two countries. Kyiv is focused on ensuring that Beijing doesn’t provide weapons to Moscow, he said — a possibility over which Western leaders have expressed concern in recent days.
  • Ukrainian forces rebuffed Russia’s early attempt to conquer Kyiv and have since recaptured a host of towns and cities. But a year in, Russia controls about a fifth of Ukraine’s territory, including parts of the four regions Putin illegally ‘annexed’ in 2022.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: On War’s Anniversary, Allies Support Ukraine with Words and Weapons. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said that his country could win the war this year as long as its allies remain united ‘like a fist’ and continue delivering weapons. The New York Times, Cassandra Vinograd and Matt Surman, Friday, 24 February 2023: “President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine vowed on Friday that his country would defeat Russia, as the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion prompted shows of solidarity from around the world and a mix of anxiety and resolve in Ukraine. ‘We will be victorious,’ Mr. Zelensky of Ukraine told reporters at a lengthy news conference in Kyiv. He said that Ukraine could win the war this year as long as its allies remain united ‘like a fist’ and continue delivering weapons. There will be no negotiations with Russia, Mr. Zelensky said, until Moscow stops bombing Ukrainian cities and killing Ukrainian people. ‘Go ahead and stop doing all of that, and only after that we’ll tell you what form will be used to diplomatically put an end to it,’ Mr. Zelensky told reporters, on a day when allies rallied around Ukraine with new pledges of weapons and shows of support. Even as leaders in Ukraine and around the world commemorated the anniversary with ceremonies and speeches, the fighting continued much as it has for the past year. The war has already done untold damage: Tens of thousands have been killed on both sides, millions of Ukrainians have been made homeless, and Ukraine has sustained tens of billions of dollars worth of damage that has left cities flattened and people around the country grappling with dark and cold. But Ukrainians have also found strength in shared sacrifice, and hope in the setbacks their country’s forces have dealt Russia on the battlefield. Ukraine has largely stopped the offensives of its much larger and better-armed neighbor and has regained swaths of captured land, aided by the United States and its European allies, which have remained united, funneling billions of dollars of weapons to Kyiv.

  • The United States announced new economic sanctions on more than 200 individuals and entities in Russia and other countries that are helping to support Russia’s invasion. And the Pentagon said on Friday that it would spend $2 billion to supply the Ukrainian military with new drones and anti-drone systems, as well as additional ammunition for artillery and long-range rocket systems to repel Moscow’s attacks.

  • Russian opposition groups in more than 100 cities in 44 countries around the world — from Berlin to Seoul to Los Angeles — are noting the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine with three days of demonstrations.

  • NATO and European leaders dismissed a position paper issued by Beijing that called for an end to fighting while avoiding demands, or words like invasion, that could hurt its ties with Russia. But Mr. Zelensky took a more restrained approach, saying, “I think that China spoke its mind on the matter.”

  • The Treasury secretary, Janet L. Yellen, confronted senior Russian officials at a meeting of the finance ministers of the Group of 20 nations in India on Friday, calling them complicit in Mr. Putin’s war and saying they had a ‘moral imperative’ to end the conflict.

  • As The Times covers the first anniversary of the war, we invite readers to share their thoughts and observations here. Here is a selection of excerpts from readers’ comments.

  • The war has reverberated around the globe, reshaping and strengthening alliances, and affecting everything from grain prices to energy policy. But even though Russia has found itself more isolated from the West, sanctions have failed to bring the country to its knees, and much of the rest of the world has continued to provide economic or diplomatic support to Moscow.

12 States Sue F.D.A., Seeking Removal of Special Restrictions on Abortion. The suit argues that rules applying to mifepristone unnecessarily limit patients’ access to medication abortion. The New York Times, Pam Belluck, Friday, 24 February 2023: “The attorneys general of a dozen Democratic-controlled states sued the Food and Drug Administration on Friday, asking a judge to remove special restrictions that the federal agency has long applied to the first of two drugs used in medication abortion. The suit, filed in a Federal District Court in Washington State, comes at a tense moment in the battle over the legal status of abortion pills, which are used in more than half of abortions in the United States. A federal judge in Texas is expected to issue an order soon in a case filed by anti-abortion groups that seeks to overturn the F.D.A.’s approval of the same abortion pill, mifepristone, and have it taken off the market. The potential consequences of the Texas case have set the reproductive health community on edge out of concern that the judge, a Trump appointee who is politically conservative and wrote an article that was critical of Roe v. Wade, could issue an order effectively blocking access to mifepristone across the country. Such a ruling would immediately be appealed, but if it ultimately stands, it would have far-reaching implications, affecting states where abortion is legal, not just states where abortion is already restricted. The new lawsuit filed by the 12 states does not address the possible outcomes of the Texas case, but it requests that the judge’s ruling in the Washington case include orders that would effectively contravene steps that might be imposed by the Texas judge. While the Washington case primarily asks the court to order the F.D.A. to eliminate a framework of extra restrictions applied to mifepristone, the suit also asks the judge to declare that the F.D.A.’s ‘approval of mifepristone is lawful and valid’ and to enjoin the F.D.A. ‘from taking any action to remove mifepristone from the market or reduce its availability.'” See also, 12 states sue FDA to make abortion pill more accessible, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, published on Saturday, 25 February 2023: “Twelve Democratic state attorneys general have sued the Food and Drug Administration in an attempt to loosen restrictions on the distribution of mifepristone, a pill used in medication abortions that has been at the center of the reproductive health debate after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The lawsuit accuses the FDA of ‘singling out’ and imposing ‘particularly burdensome’ limitations on the distribution of mifepristone, which blocks the progesterone hormone that helps the body maintain a pregnancy. The legal challenge, led by the attorneys general for Washington and Oregon, was filed Thursday in a U.S. District Court in Washington state. Mifepristone is the first part of a two-drug procedure that has become increasingly popular, as medication abortions (also known as medical abortions) now account for more than 50 percent of pregnancy terminations in the United States. Abortion rights supporters say the pills — which can be taken virtually anywhere and are transported easily — are key at a time when reproductive health care is increasingly hard for many Americans to access. Some physicians said they saw a surge in demand for abortion pills from a popular distributor after the overturn of Roe, which had established a fundamental right to abortion nationwide.”

Judge rejected Perry’s bid to shield thousands of emails from January 6 investigators. The Pennsylvanian representative’s phone was seized and imaged by the FBI as part of the 2020 election investigation. Politico, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, Friday, 24 February 2023: “The chief judge of the federal district court in Washington, D.C., secretly rejected Rep. Scott Perry’s bid to shield more than 2,000 messages relevant to Justice Department investigators probing efforts by Donald Trump to subvert the 2020 election, according to newly unsealed court filings. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell unsealed her extraordinary Dec. 28 decision on Friday evening, determining that the ‘powerful public interest’ in seeing the previously secret opinion outweighed the need for continued secrecy. Perry, a Republican lawmaker from Pennsylvania, had urged Howell to block the Justice Department from accessing 2,219 documents stored on his phone, which was seized and imaged by the FBI last August as part of the 2020 election investigation. He claimed that the records reflected his efforts to research potential legislative decisions — like whether to vote to challenge election results on Jan. 6, 2021 — and therefore should be protected from disclosure by the Constitution’s speech or debate clause, a provision meant to safeguard lawmakers from pressure or intimidation by the executive branch. But Howell said Perry had taken an ‘astonishing view’ of his immunity that would effectively put members of Congress above the law and free of political consequences for their actions. She ordered him to disclose 2,055 of the documents he sought to withhold — including all 960 of his contacts with members of the executive branch, which she said are entitled to no constitutional protection at all. Some 161 items, she said, were proper to withhold.” See also, Fight over Pennsylvania Representative Scott Perry’s phone has prevented review of 2,200 documents in January 6 investigation. Six months after the FBI seized Perry’s phone, a U.S. appeals court is reviewing Judge Beryl A. Howell’s order that 90 percent of Perry’s messages fall outside the congressman’s immunity from criminal investigation. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, published on Saturday, 25 February 2023: “A secret legal fight over the cellphone of Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) has prevented the Justice Department for more than six months from reviewing more than 2,200 documents in the criminal investigation of former president Donald Trump and supporters’ efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, a federal judge disclosed Friday evening. Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court in D.C. released a number of previously sealed opinions after finding that the ‘powerful public interest’ outweighed the need for secrecy in the constitutional battle over Perry’s claims and the historic investigation.”

News outlets demand release of January 6 footage given to Tucker Carlson, The Washington Post, Anumita Kaur, Friday, 24 February 2023: “Scores of news organizations — including The Washington Post — on Friday demanded congressional leaders release a trove of surveillance footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that the House speaker provided exclusively to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has downplayed the violence. Attorney Charles Tobin sent a letter on behalf of CBS News, CNN, Politico, ProPublica, ABC, Axios, Advance, Scripps, the Los Angeles Times and Gannett, arguing that the footage should be available to other groups as well. ‘Without full public access to the complete historical record, there is concern that an ideologically-based narrative of an already polarizing event will take hold in the public consciousness, with destabilizing risks to the legitimacy of Congress, the Capitol Police, and the various federal investigations and prosecutions of Jan. 6 crimes,’ the letter stated. The Post is part of another coalition of news outlets, which includes the Associated Press and the New York Times, that sent a letter to McCarthy seeking access to the material.”

Mike Pence’s Dangerous Ploy, The New York Times, J. Michael Luttig, Friday, 24 February 2023: “Former Vice President Mike Pence recently announced he would challenge Special Counsel Jack Smith’s subpoena for him to appear before a grand jury in Washington as part of the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and the related Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Mr. Pence claimed that ‘the Biden D.O.J. subpoena’ was ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘unprecedented.’ He added, ‘For me, this is a moment where you have to decide where you stand, and I stand on the Constitution of the United States.’ Mr. Pence vowed to take his fight all the way to the Supreme Court. A politician should be careful what he wishes for — no more so than when he’s a possible presidential candidate who would have the Supreme Court decide a constitutional case that could undermine his viability in an upcoming campaign. The former vice president should not want the embarrassing spectacle of the Supreme Court compelling him to appear before a grand jury in Washington just when he’s starting his campaign for the presidency; recall the unanimous Supreme Court ruling that ordered Richard Nixon to turn over the fatally damning Oval Office tapes. That has to be an uncomfortable prospect for Mr. Pence, not to mention a potentially damaging one for a man who — at least as of today — is considered by many of us across the political spectrum to be a profile in courage for his refusal to join in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election in the face of Donald Trump’s demands. And to be clear, Mr. Pence’s decision to brand the Department of Justice’s perfectly legitimate subpoena as unconstitutional is a far cry from the constitutionally hallowed ground on which he stood on Jan. 6.” See also, Conservative former judge J. Michael Luttig blasts Mike Pence plan to defy subpoena, CNN Politics, Tierney Sneed and Jamie Gangel, Friday, 24 February 2023: “In a stern rebuke of former Vice President Mike Pence, the conservative former judge who advised Pence on how to handle the January 6, 2021, election certification vote is now warning of both the legal and political consequences of Pence’s plan to fight the grand jury subpoena by special counsel Jack Smith. ‘We can expect the federal courts to make short shrift of this “Hail Mary” claim and Mr. Pence doesn’t have a chance in the world of winning his case in any federal court and avoiding testifying before the grand jury,’ former Judge J. Michael Luttig says in an op-ed published in The New York Times on Friday. Luttig calls Pence’s vow to resist the subpoena a ‘dangerous gambit’ and one that will invite an embarrassing spectacle. ‘No prosecutor, least of all Mr. Smith, will abide this political gambit for long,’ Luttig says.”


Saturday, 25 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Biden says no F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv ‘for now;’ Belarus president Aleksandr Lukashenko to visit China, The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham, Niha Masih, Ellen Francis, Andrea Salcedo, and Anumita Kaur, Saturday, 25 February 2023: “President Biden ruled out sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine ‘for now,’ saying the U.S. military deemed other military support such as tanks and air defense more crucial at this stage. Kyiv has ramped up pleas for fighter jets since the United States and European countries pledged to send heavy tanks, but as Ukraine’s allies rallied to mark one year of war, Biden told ABC News that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ‘doesn’t need F-16s now.’ Zelensky didn’t comment on Biden’s remarks during his evening address Saturday. Instead, he focused on other kinds of support the West has provided by praising a ‘powerful’ set of sanctions against Russia that the European Union approved Friday. ‘Sanctions against Russia will continue to be introduced so that nothing remains of the potential of Russian aggression,’ Zelensky said. The package marked the body’s 10th round of sanctions against Russia since the start of the war. It includes measures against Russian disinformation, tighter export restrictions for advanced technology and measures against individuals and entities supporting the war.

  • Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko will visit China next week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Saturday. Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, will make the trip at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the ministry said. U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, have said China is considering sending artillery shells to Russia, but there is no evidence the weapons transfer has occurred.
  • Biden said that Ukraine’s defense needs could change in the future, but that the U.S. military determined there currently is no rationale for sending fighter jets to Kyiv. ‘I am ruling it out for now,’ he told ABC News. Biden’s comments on fighter jets have met skepticism at the Pentagon, where some officials noted that the administration had refused then relented on Ukrainian requests, including for M1 Abrams tanks.
  • An American veteran fighting in Ukraine was killed in action on Feb. 16, his family told The Washington Post. Andrew Peters, 28, arrived in Ukraine in November to join the International Legion of Territorial Defence, said his father, John Peters. Andrew Peters had served as a U.S. Army infantryman in Afghanistan in 2014, his father said Saturday. ‘He wanted to go over there and make a difference,’ John Peters said of his son’s Ukraine service.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described Feb. 24, 2022, as ‘the hardest day of our modern history.’ In a news conference marking one year since the Russian invasion, Zelensky minimized the possibility of near-term peace talks and said Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘is no longer the same person’ he once was.
  • Wagner Group financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin criticized Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu over his son-in-law’s alleged Instagram likes of antiwar posts, according to the Institute on the Study of War think tank. There has been ongoing friction between the infamous Wagner mercenary group boss and the Russian Minister of Defense.
  • Russia has stopped sending oil to NATO member Poland, according to Orlen CEO Daniel Obajtek. Russian-provided oil made up about 10 percent of the raw materials for Poland’s refineries, Obajtek tweeted Saturday. Poland and other European nations have largely moved away from Russian energy imports — many of which are not part of punitive sanctions — since the war began.
  • The Group of 20 did not release a summit-ending statement denouncing Russia’s war in Ukraine despite condemnation from many of the 20 wealthiest nations. ‘Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed that it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy,’ according to the chair’s summary of this week’s meeting in Bangalore, India. China and Russia were the two nations dissenting against that statement.
  • The G-20 chair’s summary also called ‘essential’ the upholding of ‘international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians and infrastructure in armed conflicts. The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.’ China and Russia did not agree to that statement either.
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged the United States and its allies to renew their resolve to help Ukraine, tacitly pushing back against members of his party who have become loudly skeptical of Ukraine’s fight as the conflict passes the one-year mark. ‘America and our friends need to finish waking up from our holiday from history,’ he said in a statement Friday, shortly before appearing alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in Helsinki.

What Fox News Hosts Said Privately vs Publicly About Voter Fraud, The New York Times, Stuart A. Thompson, Karen Yourish, and Jeremy W. Peters, Saturday, 25 February 2023: “Two days after the 2020 election, Tucker Carlson was furious. Fox News viewers were abandoning the network for Newsmax and One America News, two conservative rivals, after Fox declared that Joseph R. Biden Jr. won Arizona, a crucial swing state. In a text message with his producer, Alex Pfeiffer, Mr. Carlson appeared livid that viewers were turning against the network. The message was among those released last week as part of a lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox. Dominion, an elections technology company, has sued Fox News for defamation. At the same time, Mr. Carlson and his broadcasting colleagues expressed grave doubts about an unfounded narrative rapidly gaining momentum among their core audience: that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by Democrats through widespread voter fraud. The belief was promoted by then-President Trump and a coalition of lawyers, lawmakers and influencers, though they produced no evidence to support their assertions. Many hosts, producers and executives privately expressed skepticism about those claims, even as they gave them significant airtime, according to private messages revealed last week by Dominion. What they said in those messages often differed significantly from what Fox hosts said in public, though they weren’t always contradictory.”

Arizona governor Katie Hobbs seeks ethics review of former attorney general Mark Brnovich. The complaint to the State Bar of Arizona follows new details about how Mark Brnovich withheld records debunking claims of election fraud. The Washington Post, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Saturday, 25 February 2023: “Arizona’s Democratic governor, Katie Hobbs, is seeking a review of what her office alleges was ‘likely unethical conduct’ by the state’s former attorney general, Mark Brnovich. A letter sent Friday from the governor’s office to the State Bar of Arizona follows the disclosure on Wednesday of records showing that Brnovich, a Republican, withheld findings by his own investigators refuting claims of fraud in the 2020 election and mischaracterized his office’s probe of voting in the state’s largest county. The letter, signed by Hobbs’s general counsel, Bo Dul, calls the conduct ‘harmful to our democracy, our State, and the legal profession itself.'”


Sunday, 26 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin claims West is trying to dismantle Russia; Zelensky vows not to forget Crimea, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Leo Sands, Natalia Abbakumova, and Marisa Iati, Sunday, 26 February 2023: “As his invasion of Ukraine enters its second year, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed without providing evidence that the West is trying to dismantle Russia and establish control over its constituent parts, and he suggested that his actions are motivated by defensive interests. ‘They have one goal: to scatter the former Soviet Union and its main part, the Russian Federation,’ Putin said of the West in a television interview. Nine years after Russia illegally annexed Crimea, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to return the peninsula to Ukrainian control. ‘It is logical that by liberating Crimea, we will put a historic end to any attempts by Russia to ruin the lives of Ukrainians,’ he said in his nightly address. A U.S. State Department spokesman said Sunday that Crimea belongs to Ukraine. The same day, however, the U.S. national security adviser declined to say whether the United States would support Ukraine retaking the peninsula militarily.

  • Putin claimed, again without giving evidence, that the West is trying to threaten the survival of the Russian nation, saying in an interview with the state-owned Rossiya 1 channel: ‘We are forced to respond to it.’ Putin has increasingly framed the war in Ukraine as an existential battle between Russia and the West.
  • China is set this week to host Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Putin’s, amid increasing international scrutiny of Beijing’s stance on the war in Ukraine and warnings from Washington that it could be gearing up to supply Moscow with lethal aid. While Western countries have lined up to support Ukraine, Beijing insists it is neutral in the conflict. The visit will start Tuesday and end Thursday. Lukashenko and Xi will discuss how to enhance economic and geopolitical cooperation between their countries, Belarusian state-owned media reported.
  • The United States hopes to deter China from supplying Russia with lethal weaponry, CIA Director William J. Burns said in a television interview. ‘We’re confident that the Chinese leadership is considering the provision of lethal equipment,’ Burns told CBS News’s ‘Face the Nation,’ adding that intelligence officials had not yet seen evidence of equipment being shipped and did not believe a final decision had been made.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently communicated to his Chinese counterpart the potential consequences if China provides lethal aid to Russia, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday. ‘At present, China has not moved forward, as far as we can discern,’ Sullivan said. ‘And I would prefer to keep our messages to China on this question — what the consequences would be — in the private, high-level diplomatic channels.’
  • Putin said any negotiations to resume the New START accord should take into account Britain’s and France’s nuclear arsenals, as well as those of the United States and Russia. Last week, Moscow said it was ‘suspending’ its participation in New START, the only remaining nuclear arms control pact it has with Washington — which London and Paris are not parties to. Putin suggested in his interview with Rossiya 1 that discounting the French and British arsenals was unfair to Russia.
  • Chinese and Russian diplomats refused to sign a statement condemning Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, meaning a two-day gathering of Group of 20 finance ministers in India ended without the usual joint communique. Chinese and Russian officials refused to approve two paragraphs in the statement: one urging a complete and unconditional Russian withdrawal from Ukraine and the second restating the signatories’ commitment to upholding international law during armed conflicts.
  • Zelensky wants to talk directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping about a potential peace plan, Sullivan said Sunday. China’s current suggested plan was constructed without input from Ukraine, he added. ‘The Chinese have talked to the Russians a lot, but at the most senior levels, they have not talked to the Ukrainians, and it’s very difficult to advance any kind of peace initiative when there’s that kind of one-sided diplomacy going on,’ Sullivan told NBC News’s ‘Meet the Press.’
  • Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s minister of foreign affairs, met with Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials in Kyiv on Sunday. The talks formalized a pledge by Saudi Arabia to send $400 million in aid to Ukraine, said Andriy Yermak, head of Ukraine’s presidential office. The visit was also the first time that Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has traveled to Ukraine since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1993.
  • Belarus could mobilize 1.5 million of its citizens in the event of war, Secretary of the Belarusian Security Council Alexander Volfovich said, according to state-run Belta news. Belarus has a population of about 9.4 million. Earlier this month, Lukashenko, who has allowed his country to be used as a staging ground for Russia’s war, said he would send troops to Ukraine only if Belarus is attacked.
  • About 10,000 people turned out in Berlin to protest the West’s provision of weapons to Ukraine, as Russia’s invasion enters its second year. ‘Negotiating does not mean surrendering,’ the organizers of the demonstration said on their website, calling on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to ‘stop the escalation in arms deliveries’ and lead cease-fire and peace talks.

They are just kids–and they are being sent to Russia from Ukraine, The Washington Post, Editorial Board, Sunday, 26 February 2023: “One of the most appalling consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine is the suffering of Ukraine’s children. Aside from the death and destruction they have experienced, a new report documents a different trauma: the systematic transfer of Ukrainian children for ‘reeducation’ in Russia, in what amounts to cultural brainwashing. This could be a war crime. Previously, Ukrainian officials have expressed concern about this practice, but the scope was unclear. Daria Herasymchuk, Ukraine’s top children’s rights official, estimated that nearly 11,000 Ukrainian children had been taken by Russia without their parents. The Post reported in December that Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree easing procedures for adoption of Ukrainian children and that the policy is being ‘vigorously pursued’ by Russia’s children’s rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, who advocates stripping children of their Ukrainian identities. She has been sanctioned by the United States. Now, the Humanitarian Research Lab of Yale University’s School of Public Health, part of the Conflict Observatory supported by the State Department to document war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine, reports that Russia has transferred from Ukraine at least 6,000 children, ages four months to 17 years old, and the total ‘is likely significantly higher.’ The report shows that at least 43 facilities hold these children; all but two of them were preexisting summer camps in Russian-occupied Crimea and in Russia. Twelve camps are clustered around the Black Sea; seven in Crimea; and 10 around Moscow, Kazan and Yekaterinburg. Eleven of the camps are more than 500 miles from Ukraine’s border with Russia. The ‘primary purpose’ of this archipelago of camps ‘appears to be political reeducation,’ the group concluded. Thirty-two of them ‘appear engaged in systematic reeducation efforts that expose children from Ukraine to Russian-centric academic, cultural, patriotic, and/or military education.”


Monday, 27 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Yellen visits Kyiv; U.N. Human Rights Council condemns Russian aggression, The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Leo Sands, Adam Taylor, and Sammy Westfall, Monday, 27 February 2023: “Russia’s invasion has unleashed ‘widespread death, destruction and displacement,’ U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said during Monday’s session of the Human Rights Council, which investigates and sets priorities around human rights abuses. Since the war began, U.N. officials have documented hundreds of violations, including the disappearance of civilians and acts of sexual violence against men, women and children, Guterres said. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen arrived Monday in Kyiv, where she met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other officials. ‘We both know that effective military resistance on the front lines of this fight requires a functioning economy and government,’ she said in prepared remarks. ‘That’s what our economic assistance has been focused on over the last year.’

  • China defended its position on the Ukraine war as ‘consistent’ after Zelensky appealed to Beijing not to supply Russia with weapons and suggested a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. When asked about Zelensky’s appeal, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said China ‘has maintained communication with all involved parties including Ukraine.’
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said China’s 12-point proposal to end the war deserves considerationThe plan, which was unveiled Friday by Beijing, calls on the West to ease pressure on Russia and end the use of unilateral sanctions — and does not make any explicit demands for a Russian withdrawal. ‘Any attempts to come up with plans that will help move the conflict into a peaceful direction deserve attention,’ Peskov said Monday, referring to the proposal.
  • ‘Crimea is Ukraine,’ U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement marking the ninth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the territory. But he demurred when asked whether the United States would support Ukraine in retaking Crimea. ‘What ultimately happens with Crimea in the context of this war and a settlement of this war is something for the Ukrainians to determine, with the support of the United States,’ he said in an interview on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’
  • Russia has supplied Belarus with an Iskander short-range ballistic missile system and an S-400 air-defense missile system, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said. ‘It is a serious weapon,’ Lukashenko said of the S-400 system at a meeting in Minsk on Monday, state-run media reported. Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to supply Belarus with the Iskander missile systems — which can be armed with nuclear warheads — in June, Reuters reported at the time.
  • Lukashenko is expected to start a three-day visit to China on Tuesday. Lukashenko, one of Putin’s closest allies, recently said that Belarusian soldiers would join Russia’s fight against Ukraine if his nation were to come under attack. He will be visiting at the invitation from Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese state media reported.
  • Turkey will resume talks with Sweden and Finland on March 9 about their bids to join NATO, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters Monday. Both countries applied to join the military alliance after Russia launched its invasion, but the bids have stalled as Ankara refuses to ratify them. The standoff over Sweden’s potential membership deepened last month after a copy of the Quran was burned outside Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Visits Kyiv, Reaffirming U.S. Support. Yellen made an unannounced visit to the capital of Ukraine, which has used billions in aid from the United States to keep operating over the past year. The New York Times, Marc Santora and Alan Rappeport, Monday, 27 February 2023: “One week after President Biden visited Kyiv to reaffirm enduring support against the Russian invasion, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen visited the Ukrainian capital on Monday to emphasize the United States’ commitment to providing the money Ukraine needs to operate its government as the war enters a second year. The trip — during which Ms. Yellen announced the transfer of $1.25 billion in economic and budget assistance to Ukraine — is part of a concerted diplomatic push by the Biden administration to show support for Ukraine while maintaining pressure on Russia. The secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, will visit two former Soviet republics this week and is expected to urge them to maintain their distance from Russia as well as China. U.S. officials are closely watching the relationship between Moscow and Beijing, which the Biden administration has warned is considering sending lethal military assistance to Russia. China this week will host a state visit from the president of Belarus, a key Kremlin ally.

Here are other developments we’re covering:

  • Ms. Yellen, who arrived in Kyiv as air raid sirens rang out overnight, stayed in the capital for roughly 12 hours. She met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, attended a wreath-laying ceremony and visited a school that was rebuilt with U.S. aid money.

  • The visit came amid an intensifying public debate in the United States over whether the country can afford to continue to provide billions of dollars to Kyiv. Mr. Zelensky thanked the United States for ‘powerfully supporting’ Ukraine since the invasion began, not just with weapons but with financial aid. ‘We really appreciate it,’ he said after meeting with Ms. Yellen.

  • Ukraine’s military said early Monday that Russia had launched 14 Iranian-made attack drones at targets across the country overnight. The strikes left at least two people dead in the western city of Khmelnytskyi, according to local officials. Eleven of the 14 drones were shot down by air defenses, Ukrainian officials said.

  • China’s Foreign Ministry said the United States was being ‘hypocritical’ with its warnings against sending weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine. President Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said on Sunday that Western allies were sending a ‘clear message’ to China that it would be a mistake to give Russia weapons because they would be used to attack civilians.

  • Mr. Blinken was traveling on Monday to Central Asia, where he will visit Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan before heading to India for a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of 20 nations. It is unclear whether Russia and China will send top diplomats to the G20 meeting, and, if so, whether they and Mr. Blinken will meet.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: As Russia’s war starts its second year, eyes are on China, NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 27 February 2023: “Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: The United States and its allies are trying to press China not to provide weapons to Russia, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said. Belarus’ leader Alexander Lukashenko, a close Kremlin ally, will head to Beijing to meet with China’s leader Xi Jinping. Finland’s parliament will vote on Tuesday whether to ratify the country’s accession to NATO. Also Tuesday, U.S. lawmakers will attend hearings about the Ukraine war in both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House subcommittee on defense appropriations. On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is due to attend a meeting with his counterparts of the Group of 20 nations in New Delhi. Friday, President Biden hosts German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House. What happened last week: The world marked one year since Russia invaded Ukraine. In the lead-up, President Biden made an unannounced visit to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and later to Poland. Some Russians defied the Kremlin’s rule by protesting against the war in several cities, with one independent Russian outlet reporting more than 50 people were detained at different demonstrations where they picketed, laid flowers and wrote messages. China called for a cease-fire and peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, in a position paper released on the anniversary of the invasion. Earlier in the week, Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s top diplomat met in Moscow and pledged to strengthen ties. Putin suspended Russia’s participation in New START, the last remaining arms control treaty with the United States. Russian forces conducted ground attacks in eastern Ukraine, near Svatove and Kreminna, Western security analysts said. A meeting of G-20 finance chiefs in India failed to reach consensus on the war in Ukraine, with China refusing to condemn Russia’s invasion.

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of the Conservative Media Empire That Owns Fox News, Acknowledges Fox News Hosts Endorsed Election Fraud. Murdoch spoke under oath last month in a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox by Dominion Voting Systems. The New York Times, Jeremy W. Peters and Katie Robertson, Monday, 27 February 2023: “Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the conservative media empire that owns Fox News, acknowledged in a deposition that several hosts for his networks promoted the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald J. Trump, and that he could have stopped them but didn’t, court documents released on Monday showed. ‘They endorsed,’ Mr. Murdoch said under oath in response to direct questions about the Fox hosts Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, according to a legal filing by Dominion Voting Systems. ‘I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it in hindsight,’ he added, while also disclosing that he was always dubious of Mr. Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud. Asked whether he doubted Mr. Trump, Mr. Murdoch responded: ‘Yes. I mean, we thought everything was on the up-and-up.’ At the same time, he rejected the accusation that Fox News as a whole had endorsed the stolen election narrative. ‘Not Fox,’ he said. ‘No. Not Fox.’ Mr. Murdoch’s remarks, which he made last month as part of Dominion’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox, added to the evidence that Dominion has accumulated as it tries to prove its central allegation: The people running the country’s most popular news network knew Mr. Trump’s claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election were false but broadcast them anyway in a reckless pursuit of ratings and profit. Proof to that effect would help Dominion clear the high legal bar set by the Supreme Court for defamation cases. To prevail, Dominion must show not only that Fox broadcast false information, but that it did so knowingly. A judge in Delaware state court has scheduled a monthlong trial beginning in April.” See also, Rupert Murdoch admits some Fox hosts ‘were endorsing’ election falsehoods. ‘I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it, in hindsight,’ the 91-year-old media mogul says in a deposition for a defamation suit filed by Dominion Voting Systems. The Washington Post, Jeremy Barr, Sarah Ellison, and Rachel Weiner, Monday, 27 February 2023: “Rupert Murdoch, chairman of Fox News’s parent company, acknowledged in a deposition that ‘some of our commentators were endorsing’ the baseless narrative that the 2020 presidential election was stolen — and that he wishes the network did more to challenge those conspiracy theories. ‘I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it, in hindsight,’ Murdoch said in testimony made public on Monday as part of Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the network. Asked if Fox News host Jeanine Pirro endorsed the claims, Murdoch replied, ‘I think so.’ He said that former host Lou Dobbs did so ‘a lot,’ and that prime-time host Sean Hannity did so ‘a bit.’ The 91-year-old media mogul emerged as a major character in the latest filing by the election technology company, which claims that the network gravely hurt its business prospects when it allowed two lawyers for President Donald Trump, Sidney Powell and Rudolph Giuliani, to air wild claims of fraud on Fox programs.”

Biden Administration Plans Crackdown on Migrant Child Labor. The move came days after a Times investigation showed children were working in dangerous jobs throughout the United States. The New York Times, Hannah Dreier, Monday, 27 February 2023: “The Biden administration on Monday announced a wide crackdown on the labor exploitation of migrant children around the United States, including more aggressive investigations of companies benefiting from their work. The development came days after The New York Times published an investigation into the explosive growth of migrant child labor throughout the United States. Children, who have been crossing the southern border without their parents in record numbers, are ending up in punishing jobs that flout child labor laws, The Times found. The White House laid out a host of new initiatives to investigate child labor violations among employers and improve the basic support that migrant children receive when they are released to sponsors in the United States. Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, called the revelations in The Times ‘heartbreaking’ and ‘completely unacceptable.’ As part of the new effort, the Department of Labor, which enforces these laws, said it would target not just the factories and suppliers that illegally employ children, but also the larger companies that have child labor in their supply chains. Migrant children often use false identification and find jobs through staffing agencies that do not verify their Social Security numbers. Companies have escaped fines in the past by blaming those agencies or other subcontractors when violations are discovered.”


Tuesday, 28 February 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warns China against lethal support for Russia as battle over Bakhmut intensifies, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Erin Cunningham, Leo Sands, Adam Taylor, John Hudson, and Sammy Westfall, Tuesday, 28 February 2023: “Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the United States would impose sanctions on Chinese companies or individuals if they provide lethal support to Russia’s war effort in Ukraine or ‘violate our sanctions.’ The top U.S. diplomat, who has been vague about what consequences China might face if it provides weapons to Russia, said Washington would ‘not hesitate’ to act if Beijing moves beyond the nonlethal support he said Chinese state-owned companies are providing Russia and begins supplying lethal equipment. Blinken made the remarks to reporters during a visit to Kazakhstan — which has a close relationship with Russia — where he met with foreign ministers of the ‘C5+1 group,’ made up of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. When asked about China’s proposed peace plan for the conflict, Blinken said Beijing ‘can’t have it both ways.’ Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko — one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies — has arrived in China for a three-day trip. He is due to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping as part of the state visit, which comes as Washington and Beijing exchange tense messages over China’s position on the war. State Department spokesman Ned Price accused China of being anything ‘but an honest broker’ in the conflict.

  • The battle for the besieged city of Bakhmut has intensified, with a top Ukrainian military commander saying Tuesday that Russian forces have deployed specialized Wagner Group mercenary units to break through the eastern city’s defenses. In comments shared by Ukrainian outlets, Col. Gen Oleksandr Syrsky described the situation in the city — a top symbolic target for Moscow that experts say is of limited strategic value — as ‘extremely tense.’
  • The Pentagon’s senior policy official told Congress that Ukraine doesn’t see F-16s as a top priority now. The fighter aircraft are ‘not in the top three’ of Ukraine’s requests, which are air defense, artillery and armor, Defense Undersecretary Colin Kahl said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing. Delivery timeline, even for older models, is a minimum of 18 months, Kahl said, and training would take the same amount of time. ‘Does it make sense to spend $2-$3 billion for something that would arrive a year and a half from now?… That’s the trade-offs we’re making at the moment.’
  • NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg restated his support for admitting Ukraine to the Western military alliance in the ‘long term,’ speaking at a joint news conference with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Tuesday. ‘NATO allies have agreed Ukraine will become a member of our alliance,’ Stoltenberg said, while also emphasizing that in the immediate term he is more focused on helping Ukraine defend its sovereign territory. Russia vehemently opposes Ukraine joining NATO, viewing it as a threat to its own borders.
  • International Criminal Court top prosecutor Karim Khan is on a return trip to Kyiv to investigate Russian attacks on energy and civilian infrastructure. Meeting with Zelensky on Tuesday, Khan said the president’s leadership has helped spotlight the importance of the ICC and the rule of law. ‘Without the rule of law, we will have a society dominated by those with the biggest amount of weapons,’ Khan told him. Zelensky also emphasized the importance of opening a Ukrainian office of the ICC, which he said in his nightly address is ‘approaching.’
  • Russia will not resume its participation in the New START nuclear arms pact until Washington is ready to listen to Moscow’s concerns, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview published Tuesday by Russia’s Izvestia newspaper. Putin announced last week that Russia would suspend its role in the only remaining nuclear arms-control treaty between the United States and Russia, a move criticized by President Biden and multiple U.S. officials.
  • The war in Ukraine is likely to loom over discussions at the meeting of Group of 20 foreign ministers, to be held Wednesday and Thursday in India. Last weekend, finance chiefs from the world’s most powerful economies ended a meeting without issuing their usual communique after failing to achieve consensus on sections that condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. China and Russia declined to sign the document. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov — who walked out on discussions at a G-20 meeting in Bali last year that denounced the invasion — will attend the latest gathering, according to Russia’s Foreign Ministry.
  • Russian officials temporarily closed large swaths of airspace above St. Petersburg on Tuesday morning as part of a military training drill, the Russian Defense Ministry said. Fighter planes ‘made sorties to practice interception and identify the conditional target of the intruder,’ according to the ministry. Earlier in the day, airspace within a 124-mile radius of the city’s Pulkovo international airport was closed, state-owned Tass news reported.
  • Putin gave U.S. actor Steven Seagal a state decoration for his work as a special representative of Russia’s Foreign Ministry, according to the Associated Press. Seagal publicly backed Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea and in 2017 was banned from entering Ukraine for five years.
  • The Finnish Border Guard on Tuesday began constructing a pilot border fence less than two miles long on the country’s eastern Imatra crossing point into Russia. Finland shares a roughly 800-mile border with Russia and has said it plans to build a barrier fence of about 43 miles.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken Presses Central Asian Nations for Help in Enforcing Russian Sanctions. Blinken is meeting with his counterparts from five Central Asian countries on a two-day trip to the region. The New York Times, Tuesday, 28 February 2023:

  • A U.S. diplomatic push arrives in the heart of the former Soviet sphere.
  • Concerns about the cost of sending weapons to Kyiv intensify in Congress.
  • Zelensky says the situation in Bakhmut is ‘getting more and more difficult.’
  • Russian officials accuse Ukraine of launching several attack drones over its territory.
  • The leader of Belarus, a Kremlin ally, arrives in China.
  • Finland begins reinforcing its border with Russia to deter illegal migration.
  • Satellite imagery shows possible damage to a Russian surveillance plane in Belarus.





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.

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