Aftermath of the Trump Administration, June 2023


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


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

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


Thursday, 1 June 2023:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, June 2023:

Vice President Kamala Harris announces rule to tackle racial bias in home appraisals. Harris said Black and Latino families’ homes are more likely to be undervalued than those of other homeowners. NBC News, Katherine Doyle, Thursday, 1 June 2023: “The Biden administration is developing a rule to tackle racial bias in home [appraisals], Vice President Kamala Harris said Thursday. ‘Today, I’m proud to announce we are developing a rule that will require that financial institutions ensure that their appraisal algorithms are not biased, for example, that they do not produce lower valuations for homes owned by people of color,’ Harris said on a call with reporters. ‘We are also releasing the guidance to make it easier for consumers to appeal what they suspect to be a biased valuation.’ The move is part of an effort to ensure fair algorithms and increased transparency for home valuations, according to the White House. Harris described homeownership as among the most powerful ways for American families to build wealth and said Black and Latino families’ homes are more likely to be undervalued than those of other homeowners, raising the cost of a mortgage.” See also, Vice President Kamala Harris Says ‘Inequality Persists’ in Home Appraisals. The vice president announced new plans to prevent racial bias in home appraisals, following evidence of widespread discrimination against Black homeowners. The New York Times, Debra Kamin, Thursday, 1 June 2023: “Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday announced a series of new actions designed to root out racial bias from the home appraisal industry, including ensuring the data used in appraisal software doesn’t perpetuate discrimination and making information about home valuations and the race and ethnicity of homeowners available to the broader public. ‘For generations, many people of color have been prevented from taking full advantage of the benefits of homeownership,’ Ms. Harris said in her announcement. ‘Today that legacy of inequity persists in part in the home appraisal system.’ Ninety-seven percent of appraisers are white, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Allegations of lowballed values from Black homeowners have created a firestorm of criticism over the past three years, and the actions announced on Thursday build upon two years of work from the Biden administration to tackle the issue.”


Friday, 2 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Secretary of State Antony Blinken says U.S. ‘won’t let’ Putin impose his will on others; Kyiv shoots down drones, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Ellen Francis, Natalia Abbakumova, and Claire Parker, Friday, 2 June 2023: “The United States ‘won’t let President [Vladimir] Putin impose his will on other nations,’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday in Finland, where he delivered an address on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Blinken said the United States is committed to helping build Ukraine’s military strength and called for long-term investment. ‘Let me say directly to the Russian people: The United States is not your enemy,’ he said from the Finnish capital, Helsinki, as he was wrapping up a Nordic tour. ‘We cannot choose your future for you, and we won’t try to do so.’ In Ukraine, the army’s commander said air defenses shot down more than 30 missiles and drones in a new round of Russian air attacks overnight. Air raid sirens blared around the country early Friday, from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, to the Black Sea port of Odessa.

  • Blinken said Washington has worked to pursue stable relations with Moscow for decades, ‘because we believed that a peaceful, secure and prosperous Russia was in America’s interest.’ He added that proposals to impose cease-fires or territorial concessions to end the war in Ukraine would only encourage future assaults. Helsinki is his last stop on a trip that included a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Norway.
  • U.S. officials say they expect Sweden to join NATO soon, after the admission of Finland into the military alliance in April. President Biden, speaking at the Air Force Academy, said he expects Sweden to become the newest member ‘as soon as possible,’ while Blinken told reporters in Norway that Washington anticipates Sweden’s accession will happen by next month. Turkey and Hungary have held up Sweden’s bid to join NATO.
  • U.S.-led training for Ukrainians on the operation of U.S. Abrams tanks began in Germany last weekend, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told journalists at the start of a trip to France on Friday, the AP reported. Some 200 Ukrainian soldiers are taking the 12-week training course designed to teach them how to maneuver, fire and carry out combined arms operations with the tanks. The first 31 of the 70 Abrams tanks the Biden administration pledged to Ukraine are scheduled to arrive by the fall. Milley also said the United States was in talks with allies about plans for training Ukrainians on F-16 fighter jets.
  • A senior Chinese diplomat called for an end to the provision of weapons for the war in Ukraine to prevent the conflict from escalating, after concluding a tour of European capitals intended to position China as a potential mediator. Li Hui, China’s special representative for Eurasian affairs, acknowledged a ‘stalemated battlefield rife with uncertainty’ while underscoring China’s position that a political settlement can be reached. Beijing, one of Moscow’s closest diplomatic partners, initially kept a distance from the war, but Chinese diplomats have recently shifted into promoting a vision for a negotiated cease-fire.
  • British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told The Post that NATO member nations must increase their military spending if the alliance is to deter Russia effectively beyond the war in Ukraine and manage other security threats. Amid questions about who will become the next NATO secretary general this year, officials in the alliance have suggested Wallace as a possible contender.
  • The Biden administration wants to talk to Moscow about a future framework for nuclear arms control, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said at the Arms Control Association’s annual meeting on Friday, the Associated Press reported. ‘It is in neither of our countries’ interest to embark on opening the competition in the strategic nuclear forces,’ Sullivan said. Putin announced in February he was suspending Russia’s participation in New START, the only remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the United States and Russia, which is set to expire in 2026. The United States has called the suspension ‘legally invalid’ — and on Thursday, the State Department announced new countermeasures in response. In a Telegram post Friday, Russia’s foreign ministry said the countermeasures ‘will not affect the Russian position in any way.’
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spent Friday shoring up relations with counterparts in the BRICS alliance and ‘friends of BRICS’ countries. Ministers for the bloc — which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and has sought to position itself as a counterweight to Western dominance — met in Cape Town, South Africa, this week ahead of a summit planned for August. On the sidelines Friday, Lavrov held bilateral talks with foreign ministers from Brazil, Iran and the United Arab Emirates, according to Russia’s Foreign Ministry, which said in a Telegram post that “significant attention was paid to Brazilian efforts to find ways to resolve the situation in Ukraine.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Deaths of 2 Women and a Girl Outside a Locked Bomb Shelter Shake War-Weary Kyiv. Outside the children’s clinic-turned-bomb-shelter, residents asked the question haunting Ukraine’s capital: Who was responsible for the locked door that left women and children seeking safety exposed to a missile strike? The New York Times, Friday, 2 June 2023:

  • After deaths outside a bomb shelter, a question haunts Kyiv: Who locked the door?

  • Blinken finishes his Nordic trip with a focus on the war.

  • Ukraine’s counteroffensive promises to be deadly. These recruits signed up anyway.

  • A Belarusian tennis star avoids the press after pointed questions from a Ukrainian journalist.

  • Turn off public webcams, Ukraine’s intelligence agency pleads.

  • A Russian official says Ukrainian shelling has forced the evacuation of 2,500 people from his border region.

  • Here is what it takes to protect Kyiv from Russian bombardment.

Trump attorneys haven’t found classified document former president referred to on tape following subpoena, CNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins, Paula Reid, and Katelyn Polantz, Friday, 2 June 2023: “Attorneys for Donald Trump turned over material in mid-March in response to a federal subpoena related to a classified US military document described by the former president on tape in 2021 but were unable to find the document itself, two sources tell CNN. Prosecutors issued the subpoena shortly after asking a Trump aide before a federal grand jury about the audio recording of a July 2021 meeting at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. On the recording, Trump acknowledges he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran.” See also, Lawyers Unable to Find Document Trump Discussed in Recorded Conversation. Prosecutors issued a subpoena for a description of military options for Iran mentioned by the former president during an interview. But Mr. Trump’s legal team said they could find no such document. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 2 June 2023: “Shortly after learning that former President Donald J. Trump had been recorded discussing what appeared to be classified material describing military options for confronting Iran, federal prosecutors issued a subpoena to his lawyers seeking the return of all records that resembled the document he mentioned, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday. But Mr. Trump’s legal team has informed the Justice Department that it was unable to find any such records in his possession, the people said. It is unclear whether prosecutors have been able to track down the document themselves, leaving open the possibility that the material remains at large or that the famously blustery Mr. Trump incorrectly described it on the recording. The subpoena, which was issued in March, sought any and all records pertaining to Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and to Iran, including maps or invasion plans, according to the people familiar with the matter. As part of their investigation, prosecutors have been asking witnesses whether Mr. Trump showed people a map he took with him when he left office that contains sensitive intelligence information. The subpoena, which was reported earlier by CNN, mentioned General Milley because Mr. Trump brought up the classified document at a meeting as a way to rebut what he perceived as criticism from Mr. Milley about military decisions concerning Iran. The meeting, which took place in July 2021 at Mr. Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J., was between Mr. Trump and two people helping with a book being written by the final Trump White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.”

Two More Oath Keepers Members Receive Sentences for Sedition in January 6 Case. A federal judge veered toward leniency with more junior members of the group who were involved in the attack on the Capitol, issuing lighter sentences than prosecutors had sought. The New York Times, Zach Montague, Friday, 2 June 2023: “A federal judge sentenced two members of the Oath Keepers militia to less than four years in prison for seditious conspiracy on Friday, placing a brake on the government’s effort to impose lengthy terms on members of the group for roles in the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021. The two men, David Moerschel and Joseph Hackett, who traveled from Florida to join the Oath Keepers in Washington on Jan. 6, received terms of three years and three and a half years, respectively. Judge Amit P. Mehta, who has presided over three separate Oath Keepers trials that all have now concluded, diverged from federal guidelines in his decisions in Federal District Court in Washington this week. Prosecutors had requested 12 years for Mr. Moerschel and 10 years for Mr. Hackett.”

Model Prosecution Memo for Trump Classified Documents, Just Security, Andrew Weissmann, Ryan Goodman, Joyce Vance, Norman L. Eisen, Fred Wertheimer, Siven Watt, E. Danya Perry, Joshua Stanton, and Joshua Kolb, Friday, 2 June 2023: “This model prosecution memorandum assesses potential charges federal prosecutors may bring against former President Donald Trump. It focuses on those emanating from his handling of classified documents and other government records since leaving office on January 20, 2021. It includes crimes related to the removal and retention of national security information and obstruction of the investigation into his handling of these documents. The authors have decades of experience as federal prosecutors and defense lawyers, as well as other legal expertise. Based upon this experience and the analysis that follows, we conclude that Trump should–and likely will–be charged. Before indicting a case, prosecutors prepare a prosecution memo (or ‘pros memo’) that lays out admissible evidence, possible charges, and legal issues. This document provides a basis for prosecutors and their supervisors to assess whether the case meets the standard set forth in the Federal Principles of Prosecution, which permit prosecution only when there is sufficient evidence to obtain and sustain a conviction. Before a decision is made about bringing charges against Trump (and co-conspirators, if any), prosecutors will prepare such a memo. There is sufficient evidence to obtain and sustain a conviction here, if the information gleaned from government filings and statements and voluminous public reporting is accurate. Indeed, the DOJ is likely now, or shortly will be, internally circulating a pros memo of its own saying so. That DOJ memo will, however, be highly confidential, in part because it will contain information derived through the grand jury and attorney work product. Since it will not be publicly available, we offer this analysis. Ours is likely more detailed than what DOJ will prepare internally for explanatory purposes. But, given the gravity of the issues here, our memo provides a sense of how prosecutors will assemble and evaluate the considerations that they must assess before making a prosecution decision.”


Saturday, 3 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin says war is a warning for Asia; Kyiv promises to keep bomb shelters open, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Ellen Francis, and Justine McDaniel, Saturday, 3 June 2023: “U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin invoked Russia’s war on Ukraine as a reminder that security in Asia ‘can’t be taken for granted’ in a speech at defense talks in Singapore. ‘Russia’s shocking aggression’ shows ‘people everywhere how dangerous our world would become if big countries could just invade their peaceful neighbors with impunity,’ he said Saturday. In Kyiv, city officials pledged that shelters would be operational around-the-clock, after residents seeking cover from a Russian attack Thursday found a nearby shelter locked. Three of those residents were killed in the attack.

  • Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov’s presence in Singapore ‘reminds us that we can never take our peace and security for granted,’ Austin said at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue. He added that U.S. security policy in Asia remained primarily focused on deterrence and that ‘the whole world has a stake in maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.’ The invasion of Ukraine has renewed worries for many in Taiwan about threats from China, which claims the self-governed island of Taiwan as its own.
  • Of 4,800 shelters inspected Saturday, nearly a quarter were unusable or closed, the Ukrainian National Police Telegram page said, citing Internal Affairs Minister Ihor Klymenko. He said audits of shelters are ongoing. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko also said he inspected some of the city’s shelters Saturday, and he vowed to improve conditions. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused local officials of negligence this week after families said they were unable to enter the nearest basement to shelter from an attack. Nearly 12 people were injured in the missile attack Thursday.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held bilateral talks with foreign ministers from Brazil, Iran and the United Arab Emirates on Friday, according to Russia’s Foreign Ministry. The ministry said on Telegram that ‘significant attention was paid to Brazilian efforts to find ways to resolve the situation in Ukraine.’ Lavrov sought to shore up support at a summit of BRICs foreign ministers, and their allies, in Cape Town, South Africa. The bloc, in addition to Russia, includes Brazil, India, China and South Africa — countries that have largely described themselves as neutral in the conflict in Ukraine.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he opposed cease-fires or concessions of Ukrainian land in any ‘land for peace’ deals, which he said would amount to a ‘Potemkin piece.’ In Finland, Blinken laid out a long-term U.S. strategy for building up Ukraine’s military in a speech on Friday and said lasting peace requires Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
  • Indonesia’s Defense Minister put forward a plan calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities; mutual withdrawal by 15 kilometers by both parties to create a demilitarized zone; and referendums in disputed territory. ‘Let us not put blame on any side,’ Prabowo Subianto said at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. However, the proposal from Indonesia — which has engaged in shuttle diplomacy between Moscow and Kyiv during the war — would leave Russia in control of swaths of Ukrainian territory. Russian officials and Kremlin proxy leaders organized staged referendums in four partially occupied regions last year before illegally annexing them.
  • A Chinese official called for an end to the provision of weapons for the war in Ukraine to prevent escalation of the conflict, after concluding a tour of European capitals aimed at positioning China as a mediator. Li Hui, China’s special representative for Eurasian affairs, underscored China’s calls for a political settlement. Beijing’s diplomats have recently shifted into promoting its vision for a negotiated cease-fire after China, one of Moscow’s closest diplomatic partners, initially kept a distance from the war.

Trump Lawyer’s Notes Could Be a Key in the Classified Documents Inquiry. M. Evan Corcoran recorded recollections of his legal work last year for Donald Trump. The recording is now in the hands of prosecutors, unnerving some aides of the former president. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Ben Protess, and Maggie Haberman, Saturday, 3 June 2023: “Turning on his iPhone one day last year, the lawyer M. Evan Corcoran recorded his reflections about a high-profile new job: representing former President Donald J. Trump in an investigation into his handling of classified documents. In complete sentences and a narrative tone that sounded as if it had been ripped from a novel, Mr. Corcoran recounted in detail a nearly monthlong period of the documents investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter. Mr. Corcoran’s narration of his recollections covered his initial meeting with Mr. Trump in May last year to discuss a subpoena from the Justice Department seeking the return of all classified materials in the former president’s possession, the people said. It also encompassed a search that Mr. Corcoran undertook last June in response to the subpoena for any relevant records being kept at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club and residence in Florida. He carried out the search in preparation for a visit by prosecutors, who were on their way to enforce the subpoena and collect any sensitive material found remaining there.”

Federal Judge Finds Tennessee Law Aimed at Restricting Drag Shows Unconstitutional. The law, one of the first aimed at curbing drag performances in front of children, had been on hold for nearly two months as the legal battle went on. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Saturday, 3 June 2023: “A federal judge said late Friday that a law in Tennessee aimed at restricting drag shows was unconstitutional, saying it was overly broad and violated the First Amendment. The ruling is an initial victory for supporters of L.G.B.T.Q. rights after weeks of turmoil and confusion over the law’s language and how it would affect not only drag artists in the state, but also transgender, nonbinary and other gender-nonconforming people. Tennessee, which passed the law this year with the stated goal of protecting children, was among more than a dozen states that passed measures restricting L.G.B.T.Q. rights. Although only Shelby County, where the lawsuit was filed, is explicitly prevented from enforcing the law, the decision by Judge Thomas L. Parker of the Federal District Court in Memphis sent a clear signal about the statute that could affect enforcement of the law and lead to challenges elsewhere in Tennessee.” See also, Federal judge rules Tennessee drag ban is unconstitutional, The Washington Post, Caroline Anders, Saturday, 3 June 2023: “A federal judge struck down a first-of-its-kind Tennessee law that banned drag shows in public or where children could watch them, writing that the unconstitutional measure was passed ‘for the impermissible purpose of chilling constitutionally-protected speech.’ In his ruling issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker wrote that the law violates First Amendment freedom of speech protections and was ‘unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad.’ Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said in a statement that he expects to appeal the ruling ‘at the appropriate time.'” See also, Trump-appointed judge rejects Tennessee’s anti-drag law as too broad, too vague, Associated Press, Kimberlee Kruesi, Saturday, 3 June 2023: “Tennessee’s first-in-the-nation law designed to place strict limits on drag shows is unconstitutional, a federal judge says. The law is both ‘unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad’ and encouraged ‘discriminatory enforcement,’ according to the ruling late Friday by U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump. ‘There is no question that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. But there is a difference between material that is “obscene” in the vernacular, and material that is “obscene” under the law,’ Parker said. ‘Simply put, no majority of the Supreme Court has held that sexually explicit — but not obscene — speech receives less protection than political, artistic, or scientific speech,’ he said. The law would have banned adult cabaret performances from public property or anywhere minors might be present. Performers who broke the law risked being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony for a repeat offense.”


Sunday, 4 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Fighting intensifies in Belgorod; protesters detained across Russia, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Leo Sands, and Maham Javaid, Sunday, 4 June 2023: “Fighting is intensifying in Russia’s Belgorod region, where opposition forces have attacked government facilities and taken prisoners in support of Ukraine. The governor of the region said Sunday that he was willing to meet an opposition group that has taken his forces as prisoners, but the militia said he was a no-show. Elsewhere in Russia, dozens of people have been detained during protests held in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who turned 47 years old Sunday, according to independent Russian media.

  • NASA images show numerous ‘fire’ activities along the Russia-Ukraine border, where the Russian Defense Ministry reported an artillery strike Sunday. The images show fires near Novaya Tavolzhanka and Shebekino, both in the Belgorod region. Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Telegram that it was attacking Ukrainian forces that were trying to cross a river near Novaya Tavolzhanka in Belgorod.
  • A Russian opposition militia said the Belgorod governor skipped a meeting he’d offered Sunday. Vyacheslav Gladkov said earlier in the day that he would meet with the militants who had taken prisoners from his region, but according to the Russian Volunteer Corps, the governor did not show up. The Washington Post could not verify the group’s assertions. The Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom of Russia Legion have said they were in the area to disrupt Russia’s military operations and support Ukraine.
  • About 100 people were detained in 20 Russian cities during demonstrations supporting Navalny, according to the independent OVD-Info news outlet. He was jailed in 2021 on charges widely viewed as trumped up because of his opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a message thanking supporters before the detentions, Navalny said he was in high spirits. ‘I do not see my situation as a heavy burden or a yoke, but simply a job that must be done,’ he said.
  • Beijing is doing its best to mediate between Russia and Ukraine and is primarily focused on ‘promoting talks for peace,’ China’s defense minister said. Speaking Sunday at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual defense gathering in Singapore, Gen. Li Shangfu said: ‘China has taken an objective and impartial stance based on the merits of the issue.’ His comments come in the face of Western concerns that Beijing is aligning itself too closely with Moscow.
  • Although ‘Sweden has fulfilled its obligations’ for NATO membership, Turkey is impeding the European nation from joining the bloc, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday. Stoltenberg made the comment after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, a discussion that did not make a breakthrough on Sweden entering the defense alliance. Sweden has been trying to join NATO since the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine. The United States and Stoltenberg have urged Turkey and Hungary to withdraw their objections to Sweden joining the bloc. ‘Membership will make Sweden safer, but also NATO and Turkey stronger,’ Stoltenberg said.
  • NATO’s intentions are inherently defensive — not aggressive, as Russia alleges — Estonia’s leader said at the Shangri-La Dialogue. Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, one of the transatlantic alliance’s most vocal supporters of Ukraine, compared NATO to a home-security system and said it was only a threat if a neighbor is thinking about breaking in.
  • Tolerance is waning among Russian security officials for any perceived signs of internal dissent, including the display of blue and yellow, the colors that make up Ukraine’s flag, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Sunday. The ministry cited two cases in the past month of Russian civilians being arrested simply for wearing clothing in those colors, which it said shows Russian officials’ paranoia and uncertainty of what is and isn’t allowed ‘within an increasingly totalitarian system.’
  • Germany’s defense minister said a Russian victory would encourage other powers to use force, including in the Asia-Pacific region. ‘If Russia wins, the message to revisionist powers around the world will be that aggression and the unprovoked use of military force are acceptable,’ Boris Pistorius said at the Shangri-La Dialogue. Pistorius and Kallas are among the many European leaders in Singapore this weekend to rally support for Kyiv among Asian countries.
  • Indonesia’s defense minister, Prabowo Subianto, was criticized for suggesting a peace plan that would include referendums in occupied Ukrainian territory. Russian officials and Kremlin proxy leaders organized staged referendums in four partially occupied regions last year before illegally claiming to annex them. Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defense minister, said the proposal ‘sounds like a Russian plan,’ the Financial Times reported.


Monday, 5 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukrainian forces claim advances along front line; Russia says it repelled attack in Donetsk, The Washington Post, Isobel Koshiw, Samantha Schmidt, Niha Masih, Leo Sands, Missy Ryan, and Serhii Korolchuk, Monday, 5 June 2023: “Ukrainian troops carried out ‘offensive actions’ in multiple locations on the eastern front, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar wrote on Telegram, despite ‘stiff resistance and the enemy’s attempts to hold the occupied lines and positions.’ Ukraine’s forces advanced between 200 and 1,600 meters in the Donetsk region, near the town of Orikhovo-Vasylivka. Troops also advanced the same distance in Paraskoviivka, north of Bakhmut, and pushed between 100 and 700 meters in Ivanivske, also near Bakhmut, Maliar said. Earlier Monday, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said that Russia had thwarted a Ukrainian attack Sunday in the eastern Donetsk region. The attack targeted Russian positions along five sections of the front line in southern Donetsk, Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a video published by Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. His claims could not be verified, and it was unclear whether the attack was related to Ukraine’s expected counteroffensive. Ukraine reported clashes in Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk on Monday but denied Russia’s claim that Ukraine’s attack had been deterred. Tensions remain high in Russia’s western Belgorod region, where anti-Kremlin militias have carried out drone attacks and shelling in recent days. The governor reported a fresh drone attack overnight.

  • Some U.S. officials think the Ukrainian counteroffensive is underway, pointing to territorial gains north and south of Bakhmut, as well as strikes deep behind Russian lines that they see as part of a gradual launch of the operation. They note that a successful offensive may look very different from conventional operations involving armored columns that seek to penetrate enemy ground. It may involve, instead, what U.S. officials describe as modern maneuver warfare, something they say is already being enabled by recent Western training and arms supplies and which includes expanded artillery fire, probing attacks, and sabotage or partisan activity behind enemy lines. They hope such actions will force Russian troops to make mistakes and provide Ukrainian forces opportunities to advance.
  • Maliar, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, denied that the counteroffensive was underway, and said the country’s efforts were confined to an ongoing push around Bakhmut in a statement on Telegram Monday.
  • National Security Council spokesman John Kirby demurred when asked whether Ukraine’s counteroffensive had begun. ‘I’m not going to be talking for the Ukrainian military,’ Kirby said at a White House briefing. ‘Whether it’s starting now or starting soon or whenever they decide to step up and whatever they decide to do, the president’s confident that we did everything we could over the last six, eight months or more to make sure that they had all the equipment, the training, the capabilities to be successful.’
  • A Ukrainian official dismissed as ‘delusional’ Russia’s claim that its forces have blocked Kyiv’s long-anticipated counteroffensive in Donetsk. ‘In reality, when this starts, everyone will know about it,’ Serhiy Cherevatyi, the spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern command, told The Washington Post. Neither side’s claims could be independently verified.
  • Ukraine’s upcoming counteroffensive hinges on the element of surprise, Cherevatyi said. The operation will be like Ukraine’s attacks last fall in the Kharkiv region: ‘fast, effective and obvious to them and everyone else,’ he said. In September, Ukrainian forces launched a surprise lightning offensive to recapture Kharkiv from Russian control in days. In the buildup to the Kharkiv offensive, Ukrainian authorities steered attention elsewhere — toward their slow-burning push in the Kherson region.
  • At least one brigade in the southern Donetsk region is launching an offensive operation, according to a military official in the region, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to provide details. The units conducting offensive operations near Bakhmut and in southern Donetsk on Monday were not among the specialized brigades, some recently trained by NATO, that were expected to lead the counteroffensive, including as the so-called tip-of -the-spear. Ukrainian officials have cautioned repeatedly in recent days that there would be no single moment marking the start of the long-anticipated counterattack, nor an announcement. And other units were also expected to be part of the operation.
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Ukrainian troops around Bakhmut for what he characterized as their successful advances against Russian forces. ‘I am grateful to each of our soldiers, all our defenders … who on this day gave us exactly the news we expect. [Those in the] Bakhmut direction — well done, soldiers,’ said Zelensky in his nightly address on Monday, posted on Telegram.
  • In Belgorod, a power facility caught fire after a drone attack, regional Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said Monday on Telegram. Earlier, opposition militias that captured Russian troops had invited Gladkov for talks in exchange for the prisoners, but no meeting took place, they claimed. In the past day, Gladkov said more than 650 shells were fired at targets in the Russian region.
  • Belgium has launched an investigation into the use of its donated military equipment by anti-Kremlin militias in Belgorod, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced Monday. The Post reported over the weekend that the Russian militias opposed to President Vladimir Putin were armed with NATO-provided tactical vehicles and rifles during two cross-border attacks from Ukraine in the past two weeks. Western countries have repeatedly said that the donated equipment should be used only within Ukraine.
  • Turkey, Finland and Sweden will meet next week for NATO talks amid a stalemate over Turkey’s objections to Sweden joining the bloc. ‘Stockholm has taken significant, concrete steps to meet Turkey’s concerns,’ NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement after meeting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday. Turkey has objected to what it sees as Sweden’s support of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which Turkey considers a terrorist group.
  • A peace envoy from the Vatican traveled to Kyiv on Monday, tasked by Pope Francis with listening to Ukrainian officials on how to formulate a lasting peace plan. Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, the archbishop of Bologna, will spend two days in the Ukrainian capital, according to a statement from the Vatican. Last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to the Vatican and met with the pope, who has cast himself as a peacemaker in the conflict.
  • Russian forces launched more than 300 Iranian-made Shahed drones against Ukraine in May, Britain’s Defense Ministry said, calling it ‘its most intense use of the weapons system to date.’ Officials suggested Monday that Russia used the drones to force Ukraine to expend its valuable air defense missile stocks, although in practice, most of the drones were ‘neutralized’ by older stocks and electronic jamming.
  • Moscow welcomed a suggestion from Washington that the United States is ready to begin discussions on nuclear arms control. ‘Russia remains open to dialogue,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday. ‘But we need to first understand how this proposal is formulated,’ he added, referring to a statement last week from U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Earlier this year, the State Department accused Russia of violating the only remaining treaty that limits the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. Officials See Signs of a Counteroffensive in Ukraine. As Ukrainian attacks surge, the country’s deputy minister of defense says Kyiv’s forces are ‘moving to offensive actions.’ The New York Times, Monday, 5 June 2023:

  • The U.S. and Russia say that a major Ukrainian operation has begun.

  • Ukraine reports more fighting near Bakhmut.

  • Pro-Russian military bloggers describe a surge in Ukrainian attacks on the front line with urgency, but not panic.

  • A fake Putin speech calling for mobilization and martial law aired on some Russian outlets.

  • A Ukrainian counteroffensive would face tough terrain and dug-in Russian troops.

  • The pope is sending an envoy to Ukraine to explore potential paths to peace.

  • Shocks, beatings, mock executions: Inside Kherson’s detention centers.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kiev won’t say when its counteroffensive has begun, NPR, Alex Leff, Monday, 5 June 2023: “Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: Reports of heavy fighting in Ukraine fueled speculation of whether it could be part of an anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive, but there’s no confirmation from Kyiv. Ukraine also would not confirm Russia’s assertion it thwarted a major Ukrainian offensive and killed hundreds of troops in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. President Biden has a busy week hosting the Danish prime minister on Monday and the British prime minister on Thursday. The war in Ukraine will feature on the agenda for both visits. Countries on NATO’s eastern flank, known as the Bucharest Nine, will hold a summit in Slovakia on Tuesday. The group has strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called Russia ‘the most significant and direct’ security threat. NATO’s chief hopes to bring Sweden into the military alliance this month, but has yet to persuade Turkey and Hungary to approve the Nordic country’s bid. The European Commission looks set to extend a ban on some farm imports from Ukraine within five countries in central and Eastern Europe. What happened last week: Russia kept up its assault on Kyiv. Ukraine’s air defenses shot down many of the drone and missile strikes over its capital, but some caused damage and casualties. Ukrainian officials said the last weekend in May saw the largest drone attack in Kyiv since the invasion began in 2022, lasting more than five hours and killing one person. A missile attack in Kyiv on Thursday left two women and a child dead. Fighters backed by Ukraine have been waging a guerrilla-style campaign in southern Russia‘s Belgorod region. Drone strikes targeted Moscow, lightly damaging several apartment buildings. Ukrainian authorities rejoiced but avoided claiming responsibility for the attack. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly argued Ukraine ‘has a right’ to strike outside its bordersThe remark conveyed a harder stance than what the U.S. has said: The Biden administration publicly opposes Ukrainian attacks inside Russia. Dmitry Medvedev, a senior Russian official and former president, reacted to Cleverly by warning any British ‘officials could be considered as a legitimate military target.’ Europe has mixed views on Ukraine’s bid to join NATO. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Ukraine’s ‘rightful place’ is in NATO, and France is pushing for a clear path for Ukraine to join the alliance. But Germany put a damper on things, saying this is not the time to talk about it in the midst of war in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has lobbied for his country to become part of NATO, also acknowledged it would be ‘impossible’ to join during the war.”

Trump attorneys meet with special counsel Jack Smith at the Justice Department amid documents investigation, CBS News, Robert Costa, Robert Legare, Andres Triay, Monday, 5 June 2023: “Attorneys representing former President Donald Trump — John Rowley, James Trusty and Lindsey Halligan — met with special counsel Jack Smith and federal prosecutors at the Justice Department at around 10 a.m. Monday, according to two people familiar with the matter. The meeting took place weeks after Trump’s lawyers had requested a meeting with top federal law enforcement officials. The attorneys for the former president spent just under two hours inside the Main Justice building and declined to comment on their meeting as they left. CBS News cameras captured Trump’s legal team walking into the Justice Department. The former president’s lawyers did not speak as they entered the building in Washington. A person familiar with the meeting between the three attorneys and the department said that Attorney General Merrick Garland did not attend.” See also, Trump Lawyers Visit the Justice Department as Classified Documents Inquiry Nears End. Three lawyers representing the former president spent nearly two hours there after requesting a meeting to discuss their concerns about the department’s handling of the investigation. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush, and Jonathan Swan, Monday, 5 June 2023: “Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump met on Monday at the Justice Department with officials, including the special counsel Jack Smith, two weeks after requesting a meeting to discuss their concerns about Mr. Smith’s investigations into Mr. Trump, according to two people familiar with the matter. The meeting did not include Attorney General Merrick B. Garland or Lisa O. Monaco, the deputy attorney general, and it is unclear what precise subjects were discussed. But the visit came amid indications that prosecutors in the special counsel’s office were approaching the end of their inquiry into the former president’s handling of classified documents. It also came at a time when Mr. Trump’s advisers have concluded that there might not be much more time to stave off charges, the people said.” See also, Trump lawyers ask the Justice Department not to charge Trump in classified documents case. The high-stakes meeting included special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading an investigation of Trump’s conduct and possible obstruction. The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Spencer S. Hsu, Devlin Barrett, and Josh Dawsey, Monday, 5 June 2023: “Attorneys for Donald Trump went to the Justice Department on Monday morning to make their case that the government should not charge the former president in connection with his possession of classified documents after leaving office, according to people familiar with the matter. Trump lawyers Lindsey Halligan, John Rowley and James Trusty spent about two hours at the Justice Department and left without speaking to reporters. They met with Justice Department personnel including special counsel Jack Smith and a senior career official, but not Attorney General Merrick Garland or Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, said people familiar with the matter, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a closed-door proceeding. The Justice Department declined to comment. While it is not uncommon in high-profile cases for defense lawyers to get such a meeting with Justice Department officials toward the end of an investigation, current and former officials say such presentations rarely change prosecutors’ minds.”

Mar-a-Lago pool flood raises suspicions among prosecutors in Trump classified documents case, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Jeremy Herb, and Kaitlan Collins, Monday, 5 June 2023: “An employee at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence drained the resort’s swimming pool last October and ended up flooding a room where computer servers containing surveillance video logs were kept, sources familiar with the matter told CNN. While it’s unclear if the room was intentionally flooded or if it happened by mistake, the incident occurred amid a series of events that federal prosecutors found suspicious. At least one witness has been asked by prosecutors about the flooded server room as part of the federal investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents, according to one of the sources.”

Oklahoma Approves First Religious Charter School in the U.S. The school will offer online, Roman Catholic instruction funded by taxpayers. Its approval is certain to tee off a legal battle over the separation of church and State. The New York Times, Sarah Mervosh, Monday, 5 June 2023: “Oklahoma approved what would be the nation’s first religious charter school on Monday, handing a victory to Christian conservatives but opening the door to a constitutional battle over whether taxpayer dollars can directly fund religious schools. The online school, St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School, is to be run by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa, with religious teachings embedded in the curriculum. But as a charter school — a type of public school that is independently managed — it would be funded by taxpayer dollars…. The decision sets the stage for a high-profile legal fight over the barrier between church and state in education, at a time when other aspects of public education are being challenged. Seizing on debates over parents’ rights, Republican lawmakers, including in Oklahoma, have increasingly pushed for alternatives to public schools, such as vouchers and tax credits, which offer subsidies to parents to help pay for private tuition, often at religious schools. While some government money already goes to religious schools — for example, Hasidic schools in New York City receive public money through various programs while also charging tuition — St. Isidore would be fully paid for by the government.” See also, Oklahoma school board approves what would be the 1st taxpayer-funded religious school in the US, Associated Press, Sean Murphy, Monday, 5 June 2023: “A state school board in Oklahoma voted Monday to approve what would be the first publicly funded religious school in the nation, despite a warning from the state’s attorney general that the decision was unconstitutional. The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board voted 3-2 to approve the application by the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma to establish the St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Charter School. The online public charter school would be open to students across the state in kindergarten through grade 12. Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond had warned the board that such a decision clearly violated the Oklahoma Constitution. ‘The approval of any publicly funded religious school is contrary to Oklahoma law and not in the best interest of taxpayers,’ Drummond said in a statement shortly after the board’s vote. ‘It’s extremely disappointing that board members violated their oath in order to fund religious schools with our tax dollars. In doing so, these members have exposed themselves and the state to potential legal action that could be costly.’ The Archdiocese of Oklahoma said in the ‘vision and purpose of the organization’ section of its application that: ‘The Catholic school participates in the evangelizing mission of the Church and is the privileged environment in which Christian education is carried out.'”

Texas  sheriff files criminal charges over Florida’s transport of migrants from San Antonio to Massachusetts. The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office didn’t say who it has accused of unlawful restraint in connection with last year’s flight to Martha’s Vineyard paid for by Florida. On Monday, California announced it’s investigating similar flights from El Paso to Sacramento. The Texas Tribune, Uriel J. Garcia, Monday, 5 June 2023: “The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office says it has completed its investigation into the transport of 49 migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard last September by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration and filed criminal charges with the local district attorney. A statement from the sheriff’s office says it has filed several counts of unlawful restraint, both misdemeanors and felonies. The sheriff’s office didn’t name any individual suspects and didn’t specify when the investigation was turned over to the Bexar County district attorney.”


Tuesday, 6 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia and Ukraine trade blame for destruction of Kakhovka dam, power plant, The Washington Post, Ellen Francis, Adela Suliman, Rachel Pannett, Claire Parker, Miriam Berger, Sammy Westfall, Eve Sampson, and Ben Brasch, Tuesday, 6 June 2023: “Ukraine and Russia on Tuesday accused the other of attacking a major dam and hydroelectric power plant in southern Ukraine, which unleashed flooding near the front lines. Officials on both sides ordered residents to evacuate as water gushed from the rupture in the Kakhovka dam on the Dnieper River, which separates Ukrainian and Russian forces. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of ‘ecocide,’ while a White House spokesman said the Biden administration is closely monitoring the effects of the breach but has not made a determination about who or what caused it.

  • Russia and Ukraine have previously accused each other of plotting to destroy the dam, which is in the hands of Russian forces and is the source of a canal delivering water south to the Crimean Peninsula. On Tuesday, Zelensky accused Russian forces of ‘deliberate destruction’ of the dam; the Kremlin denied this and blamed ‘Ukrainian sabotage.’
  • The world’s atomic energy watchdog warned the warring sides not to undermine the safety of the nearby nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia but said there was ‘no immediate risk’ to it.
  • Ukraine’s authorities said Tuesday afternoon that 17,000 people need to be evacuated from the right bank and 25,000 from the Russian-occupied left bank because of the risk of flooding from the dam breach. The figures could not be independently verified. 

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Critical Dam Destroyed on Front Line in Southern Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia Blamed each other for the attack on the Russian-held facility, which came a day after U.S. officials said it appeared a Ukrainian counteroffensive had begun. Hundreds of residents are evacuating under the threat of flooding. The New York Times, Tuesday, 6 June 2023: “A critical dam along the front line in southern Ukraine was destroyed on Tuesday, sending cascades of water pouring through the breach and putting thousands of people downstream at risk. Ukraine and Russia each accused the other of blowing up the dam, which held back a body of water the size of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the destruction of the Kakhovka dam and electric plant, which lies along the Dnipro River and is held by Russian forces. As water levels rose south of the dam, residents in the town of Antonivka, about 40 miles downstream, described watching in horror as roiling floodwaters swept past carrying trees and debris from washed-out houses.”

Mark Meadows Testified to Grand Jury in Special Counsel Investigation of Trump. Mr. Meadows, the final White House chief of staff under Donald Trump, is seen as a potentially key witness in the documents and January 6 inquiries. The New York Times, Jonathan Swan, Michael S. Schmidt, and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 6 June 2023: “Mark Meadows, the final White House chief of staff under President Donald J. Trump and a potentially key figure in inquiries related to Mr. Trump, has testified before a federal grand jury hearing evidence in the investigations being led by the special counsel’s office, according to two people briefed on the matter. Mr. Meadows is a figure in both of the two distinct lines of inquiry being pursued by the special counsel appointed to oversee the Justice Department’s scrutiny of Mr. Trump, Jack Smith. One inquiry is focused on Mr. Trump’s efforts to cling to power after losing the 2020 election, culminating in the attack by a pro-Trump mob on the Capitol during congressional certification of the Electoral College results on Jan. 6, 2021. The other is an investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of hundreds of classified documents after he left office and whether he obstructed efforts to retrieve them.” See also, Mark Meadows testified to federal grand jury in special counsel investigation of Trump, CNN Politics, Kristen Holmes, Katelyn Polantz, and Hannah Rabinowitz, Wednesday, 7 June 2023: “Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s former chief of staff, has testified to a federal grand jury as part of special counsel Jack Smith’s ongoing investigation into the former president, according to one source familiar with the matter. Meadows was asked about the former president’s handling of classified documents as well as efforts to overturn the 2020 election, another source familiar with the matter said. George Terwilliger, a lawyer representing Meadows, said in a statement that ‘Without commenting on whether or not Mr. Meadows has testified before the grand jury or in any other proceeding, Mr. Meadows has maintained a commitment to tell the truth where he has a legal obligation to do so.'”

Grand Jury in Florida Hints at Unknown Complexities in Trump Documents Inquiry. Prosecutors have started calling witnesses to a federal grand jury in Miami after months in which activity in the investigation was centered on a separate grand jury in Washington. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, and Ben Protess, Tuesday, 6 June 2023: “The latest twist in the inquiry into former President Donald J. Trump’s handling of classified documents is the surprise revelation that a previously unknown federal grand jury in Florida has recently started hearing testimony in the case. The grand jury in Florida is separate from the one that has been sitting for months in Washington and has been the center of activity for prosecutors as they investigate whether Mr. Trump mishandled classified documents after leaving office or obstructed efforts to retrieve them. Among those who have appeared before the Washington grand jury in the past few months or have been subpoenaed by it, people familiar with the investigation said, are more than 20 members of Mr. Trump’s Secret Service security detail. But there are indications that the Washington grand jury — located in the city’s federal courthouse — may have stopped hearing witness testimony in recent weeks, according to three people familiar with its workings. As for the Florida grand jury, which began hearing evidence last month, only a handful of witnesses have testified to it or are scheduled to appear before it, according to the people familiar with its workings. At least one witness has already testified there, and another is set to testify on Wednesday. It is an open question why prosecutors impaneled the Florida grand jury — which is sitting in Federal District Court in Miami — and whether it is now the only one hearing testimony. This uncertainty, which is largely due to the secret nature of grand juries, serves to underscore how much about the management of the documents case by the special counsel Jack Smith remains out of public view.” See also, Witness to face Miami grand jury in Trump classified-documents investigation, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Barrett, Tuesday, 6 June 2023: “A witness is expected to appear Wednesday before a federal grand jury in Miami as part of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into whether former president Donald Trump mishandled classified documents or obstructed government efforts to retrieve them after leaving office, according to a person familiar with the investigation. At least one other witness appeared before the same grand jury last month, as well, said two people familiar with the situation, who like others interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door grand jury proceedings. The Miami grand jury appearances come after at least one federal grand jury panel in Washington has heard months of testimony in the Trump documents probe, which involves the question of whether the former president improperly kept classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home and private club, or obstructed government efforts to retrieve them. The reason for launching a parallel grand jury in Florida is not publicly known, though it could mean federal prosecutors are considering bringing charges there, instead of or in addition to Washington. Spokesmen for Smith, who was appointed special counsel in November, and for the Justice Department have refused to comment on the investigation because it is ongoing.”

Trump special counsel shifts focus of possible indictment to South Florida. People familiar with the matter said prosecutors want to base much of the case where most of the alleged misconduct happened. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, and Jacqueline Alemany, Tuesday, 6 June 2023: “Justice Department prosecutors are planning to bring a significant portion of any charges stemming from the possible mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, the home of former president Donald Trump, at a nearby federal court in South Florida, according to people familiar with the matter. The legal rationale for such a move is that the bulk of the conduct at issue in the investigation occurred in the southern district of Florida, in and around Trump’s Palm Beach residence and private club, even if much of the investigation — led by special counsel Jack Smith — has been handled by a grand jury in D.C., these people said. That approach by prosecutors does not rule out the possibility of some charges, such as perjury or false statements, being filed in Washington in connection with grand jury appearances or law enforcement interviews that took place there, according to these people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the internal discussions. A former aide to Trump, Taylor Budowich, appeared Wednesday before the federal grand jury in Miami. Other witnesses have appeared before the same grand jury in recent weeks, a person familiar with the matter said. If Trump is charged on his home turf, he could face a significantly different jury pool than the one in Washington. Such a move could also speed up the path to a trial, former federal prosecutor Randall D. Eliason said, because it could eliminate potential legal challenges about whether charges were being brought in the right place.”

Dozens of Secret Service agents have been subpoenaed or appeared before grand jury in Trump documents investigation. Special counsel Jack Smith has been investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents after government materials were retrieved from Mar-a-Lago in August. NBC News, Julia Ainsley, Tuesday, 6 June 2023: “About two dozen Secret Service agents have been subpoenaed or have appeared before a federal grand jury in Washington that’s looking into former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents, two sources familiar with the matter confirmed Tuesday. The sources said prosecutors have interviewed agents assigned to Trump’s security detail at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, about 24 of whom have been asked to testify before the grand jury. All complied, the sources said.”

Judge Sides With Families Fighting Florida’s Ban on Gender Care for Minors. A federal judge wrote that the plaintiffs suing to block the new law are ‘likely to prevail on their claim that the prohibition is unconstitutional.’ The New York Times, Rick Rojas and Azeen Ghorayshi, Tuesday, 6 June 2023: “A federal judge in Florida issued a scathing assessment on Tuesday of the state’s ban on gender transition care for minors, asserting in a ruling that the families with transgender children who sued the state are ‘likely to prevail on their claim that the prohibition is unconstitutional.’ Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Federal District Court in Tallahassee ruled specifically that three transgender children can be prescribed puberty blockers despite the new state law, which also adds new hurdles for adults who seek similar care. But as legal challenges have been mounted to new restrictions on transition care that have been enacted across the country, Judge Hinkle’s ruling exemplifies the kind of chilly reception that the bans may receive from judges. ‘Gender identity is real,’ Judge Hinkle wrote, adding that ‘proper treatment’ can include mental health therapy followed by puberty blockers and hormone treatments. ‘Florida has adopted a statute and rules that prohibit these treatments even when medically appropriate.'” See also, US judge blocks Florida ban on trans minor care in narrow ruling, says ‘gender identity is real,’ Associated Press, Brendan Farrington, Tuesday, 6 June 2023: “A federal judge temporarily blocked portions of a new Florida law championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that bans transgender minors from receiving puberty blockers, saying in a Tuesday ruling that gender identity is real and the state has no rational basis for denying patients treatment. Judge Robert Hinkle issued a preliminary injunction, saying three transgender children can continue receiving treatment. The lawsuit challenges the law DeSantis signed shortly before he announced a run for president. ‘Gender identity is real. The record makes this clear,’ Hinkle said, adding that even a witness for the state agreed. Transgender medical care for minors is increasingly under attack — Florida is among 19 states that have enacted laws restricting or banning treatment. But it has been available in the United States for more than a decade and is endorsed by major medical associations.” See also, Federal judge rips into Florida’s ban on gender-affirming care for children. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s 44-page ruling called the decision to pursue the ban on puberty blockers and hormonal treatment a political decision and not a ‘legitimate state interest.’ Politico, Gary Fineout, Tuesday, 6 June 2023: “A federal judge delivered a stinging rebuke to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature over rules and a new state law that banned minors from receiving ‘puberty blockers’ and other types of gender-affirming care. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle on Tuesday blocked the state from applying the ban to three minors whose parents are part of an ongoing lawsuit, saying they would ‘suffer irreparable harm’ if they were not allowed to continue access to hormones and other types of treatment.”


Wednesday, 7 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Floods engulf swath of Ukraine after dam breach, The Washington Post, Niha Masih, Adela Suliman, and Sarah Dadouch, Wednesday, 7 June 2023: “A vast stretch of southern Ukraine remained underwater on Wednesday after damage to the Soviet-era Kakhovka dam caused a reservoir to overflow and inundate communities downstream on the Dnieper River. Russian and Ukrainian officials said they began cleanup operations and evacuated thousands of people in areas they control in the Kherson region, but they noted that the intensity of flooding was decreasing. The United Nations said the destruction unleashed is ‘monumental.’ Moscow and Kyiv have traded blame for the dam’s collapse, which poses strategic challenges to both sides, experts say. The United States said it has not determined what happened. Humanitarian relief efforts are underway on the Ukrainian-controlled side of the river, where local and international organizations are assisting authorities in evacuating residents by train or small dinghies. The population that had remained in the area largely consists of elderly people and those with disabilities, posing challenges for rescuers, said Selena Kozakijevic, Ukraine area manager for the international aid nonprofit CARE. She and her team were forced to leave Kherson city by midafternoon, as hostilities increased.

  • More than 1,800 people in the Ukrainian-controlled Kherson region were evacuated from their homes by authorities, with the flood reaching nearly 15,000 homes in the Russia-controlled parts of the Kherson region, local officials said on Wednesday. The head of Kherson’s Russian occupation administration, Vladimir Saldo, estimated that as many as 40,000 people were affected. Ukraine’s state hydroelectric company, Ukrhyroenergo, said Wednesday on Telegram that water levels in the Kakhovka reservoir were still decreasing but that the ‘peak of water spillage’ has passed. It warned of chemical substances and pathogens from latrines, landfills and cemeteries contaminating wells and drinking water.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of orchestrating an attack on the dam on the Dnieper River, calling it a ‘crime of ecocide.’ ‘We cannot yet predict how much of the chemicals, fertilizers and oil products stored in the flooded areas will end up in the rivers and sea,’ he said. At the same time, Moscow blamed Kyiv. The destruction of the dam was ‘sabotage by the Ukrainian side’ aimed at cutting off the water supply to Russian-held Crimea, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
  • The United States cannot conclusively say what led to the breach of the dam, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at a briefing on Tuesday. NATO and the European Union cast blame on Russia’s invasion, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz came the closest to accusing Moscow. ‘By all accounts, this is aggression by the Russian side,’ Scholz told reporters Wednesday. Germany is also sending aid such as tents, generators and filters, officials announced.
  • The full extent of the catastrophe in Kherson will be clear only in the coming days, said Martin Griffiths, the United Nations’ emergency relief coordinator. The dam breach will have ‘grave and far-reaching consequences’ for thousands of people in Russian-held and Ukrainian territories, he told the U.N. Security Council.
  • International Atomic Energy Agency officials are set to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant next week to assess the plant’s condition after catastrophic damage to the dam, the nuclear watchdog agency said in a statement. ‘There is no immediate risk to the safety of the plant,’ said Rafael Mariano Grossi, the IAEA’s director general. The dam is about 90 miles southwest of the nuclear plant, which borders the Kakhovka reservoir.
  • The United States learned of a Ukrainian military plan to carry out a covert attack on the Nord Stream gas pipeline, leaked military documents say. The previously undisclosed documents, first leaked on the chat platform Discord, suggest that details about the plan collected by a European intelligence service were shared with the CIA in June 2022, The Washington Post reported. An attack on the undersea network, which supplied gas from Russia to Western Europe, occurred in September and remains disputed.
  • Russian ally Belarus lost its bid for a temporary spot on the U.N. Security Council, the Associated Press reported. While five countries were elected unopposed, Slovenia beat Belarus, which received 38 votes to Slovenia’s 153. The council tasked with maintaining international peace has 15 members. Five are permanent with veto powers.
  • China and Russia conducted a joint air patrol over the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan — also known as the East Sea — rattling South Korea and Japan, Reuters reported. This was the sixth such exercise by the two nations since 2019, the report said, adding that it prompted South Korea to scramble fighter jets.
  • The devastation caused by the Kakhovka dam breach is likely to lead to long-term environmental consequences for the region, The Post reports. The damage could dry up the agriculturally rich area of southern Ukraine, pollute water systems and change ecosystems surrounding the reservoir, experts said, adding that it could take months or years to understand the consequences.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Flood Rescuers Press On in Southern Ukraine After Dam Disaster. As residents sought safety from engulfed communities, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that hundreds of thousands could lack drinking water. The New York Times, Wednesday, 7 June 2023: “Thousands of people escaped inundated homes in southern Ukraine on Wednesday, including many rescued from rooftops, a day after the destruction of the Kakhovka dam gave rise to another humanitarian disaster along the front lines of the 15-month war. Floodwaters engulfed streets and houses and sent residents fleeing with what meager belongings they could carry from dozens of communities on both sides of the Dnipro River, which divides the warring armies in much of southern Ukraine. As the debris-choked waters began to peak on Wednesday, reports indicated that some 4,000 people had been evacuated in Russian- and Ukrainian-controlled areas, according to officials on both sides, a fraction of the roughly 41,000 residents who Ukraine estimates were at risk from the flooding. The U.S. State Department estimated that about 20,000 people would have to be resettled. It was still unclear what caused the dam’s failure. Experts said a deliberate explosion inside the dam, which has been under Russian control since early in the war, most likely caused the massive structure of steel-reinforced concrete to crumble. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said Russian forces, who have consistently used the destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure as a tactic of war, had blown up the dam to ‘use the flood as a weapon.’ Russian officials blamed Ukrainian shelling for damaging the facility, but experts said that was very unlikely to cause it to collapse. A State Department spokesman, Vedant Patel, said the United States could not say who was behind the dam’s failure.”

The Nova Kakhovka Dam in Ukraine, Thinking About…, Timothy Snyder, Wednesday, 7 June 2023: “The Nova Kakhovka Dam in Ukraine, controlled by Russia, has been destroyed. One consequence is a humanitarian disaster that, had it not taken place within a war zone, would already have drawn enormous international assistance. Thousands of houses are flooded and tens of thousands of people are in flight or waiting for rescue. Another consequence is ecological mayhem, among other things the loss of wetland and other habitats. A third is the destruction of Ukrainian farmland and other elements of the Ukrainian economy. So much is happening at once that the story is hard to follow. Here are a few thoughts about writing responsibly about the event. 1.  Avoid the temptation to begin the story of this manmade humanitarian and ecological catastrophe by bothsidesing it.  That’s not journalism.  2.  Russian spokespersons claiming that Ukraine did something (in this case, blow a dam) is not part of a story of an actual event in the real world.  It is part of different story: one about all the outrageous claims Russia has made about Ukraine since the first invasion, in 2014.  If Russian claims about Ukrainian actions are to be mentioned, it has to be in that context. 3.  Citing Russian claims next to Ukrainian claims is unfair to the Ukrainians.  In this war, what Russian spokespersons have said has almost always been untrue, whereas what Ukrainian spokespersons have said has largely been reliable.  The juxtaposition suggests an equality that makes it impossible for the reader to understand that important difference. 4.  If a Russian spokesman (e.g. Dmitri Peskov) must be cited, it must be mentioned that this specific figure has lied about every aspect of this war since it began.  This is context.  Readers picking up the story in the middle need to know such background. 5.  If Russian propaganda for external consumption is cited, it can help to also cite Russian propaganda for internal consumption.  It is interesting that Russian propagandists have been long arguing that Ukrainian dams should be blown, and that a Russian parliamentarian takes for granted that Russia blew the dam and rejoices in the death and destruction that followed. 6.  When a story begins with bothsidesing, readers are being implicitly instructed that an object in the physical world (like a dam) is really just an element of narrative.  They are being guided into the wrong genre (literature) right at the moment when analysis is needed.  This does their minds a disservice. 7.  Dams are physical objects.  Whether or how they can be destroyed is a subject for people who know what they are talking about.  Although this valuable NYT story exhibits the above flaws, it has the great merit of treating dams as physical rather than narrative objects.  When this exercise is performed, it seems clear that the dam could only have been destroyed by an explosion from the inside. 8.  Russia was in control of the relevant part of the dam when it exploded.  This is an elemental part of the context.  It comes before what anyone says.  When a murder is investigated, detectives think about means.  Russia had the means. Ukraine did not. 9.  The story doesn’t start at the moment the dam explodes.  Readers need to know that for the last fifteen months Russia has been killing Ukrainian civilians and destroying Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, whereas Ukraine has been trying to protect its people and the structures that keep them alive. 10.  The setting also includes history.  Military history offers an elemental point.  Armies that are attacking do not blow dams to block their own path of advance.  Armies that are retreating do blow dams to slow the advance of the other side.  At the relevant moment, Ukraine was advancing, and Russia was retreating. The pursuit of objectivity does not mean treating every event as a coin flip, a fifty-fifty chance between two different public statements.  Objectivity demands thinking about all the objects — physical objects, physical placement of people — that must be in the story, as well as all of the settings — contemporary and historical — that a reader would need in order to come away from the story with greater understanding.”

Prosecutors Tell Trump’s Legal Team He Is a Target of Investigation. The notice from the office of the special counsel Jack Smith suggested that an indictment was on the horizon in the investigation into the former president’s handling of classified documents. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, William K. Rashbaum, and Glenn Thrush, Wednesday, 7 June 2023: “Federal prosecutors have informed the legal team for former President Donald J. Trump that he is a target of their investigation into his handling of classified documents after he left office, according to two people familiar with the matter. The notification to Mr. Trump’s team by prosecutors from the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, was the clearest signal yet that the former president is likely to face charges in the investigation. It remained unclear when Mr. Trump’s team was told that he was a target of the special counsel’s inquiry, but the notice suggested that prosecutors working for Mr. Smith had largely completed their investigation and were moving toward bringing an indictment.” See also, Trump notified that he is the target of ongoing criminal investigation. He is under investigation for concealing reams of classified information at his private estate and orchestrating a scheme to prevent federal authorities from finding them. Politico, Alex Isenstadt, Kyle Cheney, and Josh Gerstein, Wednesday, 7 June 2023: “Federal prosecutors have notified former President Donald Trump in a letter that he is the target of a criminal investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter. That notification is the clearest signal yet that special counsel Jack Smith is on the verge of a charging decision in his probe of the former president. Trump is under investigation for concealing reams of classified documents at his private estate and orchestrating a scheme to prevent federal authorities from finding them…. In recent weeks, Smith has hauled in several figures in Trump’s inner circle before the grand jury investigating the documents case — including one of his attorneys, Evan Corcoran, after a legal battle over attorney-client privilege. A former Trump spokesperson, Taylor Budowich, acknowledged Wednesday that he spent the morning in front of a related grand jury impaneled in Florida.”

Possible Charges Loom as Testimony Continues in Trump Documents Case. Tensions were running high among the former president’s aides amid indications that federal prosecutors could soon decide whether to issue an indictment. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 7 June 2023: “A federal grand jury in Miami continued hearing from witnesses on Wednesday in the investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s possession of hundreds of classified documents as tensions ran high among his aides that charges might soon be filed against him. Among those who appeared for questions before the grand jury was Taylor Budowich, a former spokesman to Mr. Trump who now is a top adviser at the super PAC supporting Mr. Trump’s presidential candidacy. A few hours after Mr. Budowich left the grand jury, the conservative writer John Solomon published an article claiming that federal prosecutors had notified the former president that he was a target of their investigation and was likely to be indicted ‘imminently.’ Mr. Solomon also serves as one of Mr. Trump’s representatives to the National Archives. Mr. Trump said it was ‘not true’ that he had been told he would be indicted. But when asked by The New York Times if he had been told he was a target of a federal investigation, Mr. Trump did not respond directly, saying “you have to understand” that he is not in direct touch with prosecutors. He repeated that “it’s not true” that he was told he would be indicted. A short time later, Mr. Trump, who was at his club in Bedminster, N.J., posted a message denying Mr. Solomon’s claim on his social media platform.” See also, Former Trump aide Taylor Budowich appears before grand jury in classified documents investigation, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Wednesday, 7 June 2023: “Taylor Budowich, who has worked as a spokesman for Donald Trump, has arrived at the federal courthouse in Miami to appear before a grand jury as part of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the former president’s handling of classified documents. Budowich testified for less than an hour, a source familiar with his appearance tells CNN. Still aligned closely with the former president, Budowich now runs a super PAC backing Trump called MAGA, Inc.”

Former Trump White House aide Alyssa Farah Griffin interviewed by federal prosecutors in January 6 investigation, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen and Paula Reid, Wednesday, 7 June 2023: “Alyssa Farah Griffin, a former White House communications director during the Trump administration who is now a CNN political commentator, voluntarily met with federal prosecutors in recent weeks, sitting for a formal interview as part of the ongoing special counsel probe related to January 6 and the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. The interview was focused primarily on former President Donald Trump, his state of mind and what he knew about the baseless claims of widespread election fraud he was pushing leading up to the January 6 attack, the sources said. One of the sources told CNN that Farah Griffin was surprised by how much prosecutors were focused on Trump’s mindset after the election.”

Trump ally Steve Bannon subpoenaed in special counsel Jack Smith’s January 6 grand jury investigation, NBC News, Jonathan Dienst, Laura Jarrett, and Ryan J. Reilly, Wednesday, 7 June 2023: “Former Trump White House official Steve Bannon has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., in connection with special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Jan. 6 and former President Donald Trump’s efforts to stay in office, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The subpoena, for documents and testimony, was sent out late last month, the sources said. The grand jury investigating Trump’s actions surrounding the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, and in connection with efforts to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power is separate from the grand jury in Miami that heard testimony Wednesday about his handling of classified documents.”

Mike Pence Delivers Strong Rebuke to Trump in Campaign Announcement. The former vice president–and now rival–to Donald Trump gave his most aggressive criticism of his former boss, portraying him as unfit to be president. The New York Times, Jonathan Swan, Wednesday, 7 June 2023: “Former Vice President Mike Pence announced his presidential campaign in Iowa on Wednesday with a repudiation of Donald J. Trump, portraying his former boss — and now rival — as unfit for the presidency and going further than ever before in condemning the character and values of the man he loyally served for four years. Before a crowd of several hundred on the campus of the Des Moines Area Community College, Mr. Pence focused on something that many in his party have tried to desperately avoid: Mr. Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021. ‘Jan. 6 was a tragic day in the life of our nation,’ Mr. Pence said. ‘But thanks to the courage of law enforcement, the violence was quelled, we reconvened the Congress. The very same day, President Trump’s reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol.’… ‘The Republican Party must be the party of the Constitution of the United States,’ Mr. Pence said to applause. ‘Anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States,’ he said. ‘And anyone who asks someone else to put them over the Constitution should never be president again.'”


Thursday, 8 June 2023:


Trump Is Indicted


Trump Is Charged in Classified Documents Inquiry. He is the first former president in U.S. history to face federal charges. The seven counts against the former president include conspiracy to obstruct, willful retention of documents, and false statements, according to people familiar with the indictment. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, William K. Rashbaum, and Ben Protess, Thursday, 8 June 2023: “The Justice Department on Thursday took the legally and politically momentous step of lodging federal criminal charges against former President Donald J. Trump, accusing him of mishandling classified documents he kept upon leaving office and then obstructing the government’s efforts to reclaim them. Mr. Trump confirmed on his social media platform that he had been indicted. The charges against him include willfully retaining national defense secrets in violation of the Espionage Act, making false statements and a conspiracy to obstruct justice, according to two people familiar with the matter. The Justice Department made no comment and did not immediately make the indictment public. The indictment, handed up by a grand jury in Federal District Court in Miami, is the first time a former president has faced federal charges. It puts the nation in an extraordinary position, given Mr. Trump’s status not only as a one-time commander-in-chief but also as the current front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination to face President Biden, whose administration will now be seeking to convict his potential rival of multiple felonies. Mr. Trump is expected to surrender to the authorities on Tuesday, according to a person close to him and his own post on his social media platform, Truth Social. ‘The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been indicted,’ Mr. Trump wrote, in one of several posts around 7 p.m. after he was notified of the charges.” See also, Indictment Brings Trump Story Full Circle. The former president assailed Hillary Clinton for her handling of sensitive information. Now, the same issue threatens his chances of reclaiming the presidency. The New York Times, Peter Baker, Thursday, 8 June 2023: “There was a time, not that long ago really, when Donald J. Trump said he cared about the sanctity of classified information. That, of course, was when his opponent was accused of jeopardizing it and it was a useful political weapon for Mr. Trump. Throughout 2016, he castigated Hillary Clinton for using a private email server instead of a secure government one. ‘I’m going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information,’ he declared. ‘No one will be above the law.’ Mrs. Clinton’s cavalier handling of the sensitive information, he said, ‘disqualifies her from the presidency.’ Seven years later, Mr. Trump faces criminal charges for endangering national security by taking classified documents when he left the White House and refusing to return all of them even after being subpoenaed. Even in the what-goes-around-comes-around department of American politics, it is rather remarkable that the issue that helped propel Mr. Trump to the White House in the first place now threatens to ruin his chances of getting back there. The indictment handed up by a federal grand jury at the request of the special counsel Jack Smith effectively brings the Trump story full circle. ‘Lock her up,’ the crowds at his campaign rallies chanted with his encouragement. Now he may be the one locked up if convicted on any of the seven reported counts that include conspiracy to obstruct justice and willful retention of documents.” See also, Trump charged in classified documents case, second indictment in months. Former president, first ever to face federal criminal charges, posts on social media that he must appear in court in Miami on Tuesday. The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Perry Stein, and Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 8 June 2023: “Former president Donald Trump said Thursday night that he’s been charged by the Justice Department in connection with the discovery that hundreds of classified documents were taken to his Mar-a-Lago home after he left the White House — a seismic event in the nation’s political and legal history. A seven-count indictment has been filed in federal court naming the former president as a criminal defendant, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a case that has yet to be unsealed. The charges include willful retention of national defense secrets, obstruction of justice and conspiracy, which carry the potential of years in prison if Trump is found guilty. Trump, who is the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, will appear in federal court in Miami for an arraignment on Tuesday at 3 p.m. The willful retention charge is a violation of a section of the broad Espionage Act, though spying is not among the charges against the former president. It is the second time he has been criminally charged since March, when he was indicted in state court in New York on 34 counts of falsifying business records related to hush money payments from 2016. Trump, who has denied wrongdoing in both cases, is the only former president ever charged with a crime. ‘I have been indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax,’ Trump wrote on the social media site Truth Social. He claimed he was being treated unfairly. ‘I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former President of the United States,’ he said in a lengthy post that ended: ‘I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!'” See also, 4 takeaways from Trump’s federal indictment, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Thursday, 8 June 2023. See also, Trump indicted in case of alleged mishandling of government secrets, NPR, Carrie Johnson, Thursday, 8 June 2023: “Former President Donald Trump has been indicted on federal charges for storing dozens of classified documents at his Florida resort and refusing to return them to the FBI and the National Archives. He faces seven counts including willful retention of information related to national defense, at least one false statements charge and at least one charge related to obstruction, according to a source with knowledge of the charges. Charging documents from a federal grand jury in Miami have not been made public.”

Former White House official told federal prosecutors Trump knew of proper declassification process and followed it while in office, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen and Paula Reid, Thursday, 8 June 2023: “A key former White House official was interviewed earlier this year by special counsel prosecutors investigating the handling of classified materials by both former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, CNN has learned. The former career official, who was in charge of advising the Trump and Obama administrations on the declassification process, is the only known witness to be interviewed by both teams of prosecutors investigating Trump and Biden…. Speaking to CNN on condition of anonymity, the former official said he told federal prosecutors that Trump knew the proper process for declassifying documents and followed it correctly at times while in office. The interview with the former official, which has not been previously reported, is the latest indication that prosecutors are seeking evidence suggesting Trump understood the process for declassifying documents. That could undercut Trump’s claims that he automatically declassified everything he took with him to Mar-a-Lago.”

Supreme Court Rejects Voting Map That Diluted Black Voters’ Power. Voting rights advocates had feared that the decision about redistricting in Alabama would further undermine the Voting Rights Act, which instead appeared to emerge unscathed. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Thursday, 8 June 2023: “The Supreme Court, in a surprise decision, ruled on Thursday that Alabama had diluted the power of Black voters in drawing a congressional voting map, reaffirming a landmark civil rights law that had been thought to be in peril. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who has often voted to restrict voting rights and is generally skeptical of race-conscious decision making by the government, wrote the majority opinion in the 5-to-4 ruling, stunning election-law experts. In agreeing that race may play a role in redistricting, the chief justice was joined by Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and the court’s three liberal members, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson. Voting rights advocates had feared that the decision would further undermine the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a central legislative achievement of the civil rights movement whose reach the court’s conservative majority has eroded in recent years. Instead, the law appeared to emerge unscathed from its latest encounter with the court. The case concerned a voting map redrawn by Republican lawmakers after the 2020 census, leaving only one majority Black congressional district in a state with seven districts and a Black voting-age population that had grown to about 26 percent. The impact of the decision, which required the Legislature to draw a second district in which Black voters have the opportunity to elect representatives of their choice, will not be limited to Alabama. Other states in the South, notably Louisiana and Georgia, may also have to redraw their maps to bolster Black voting power, which could, among other things, help Democrats in their efforts to retake the House.” See also, Supreme Court: Alabama’s voting maps are unfair to Black Residents, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Thursday, 8 June 2023: “A divided Supreme Court said Thursday that the Alabama legislature drew congressional districts that unlawfully diluted the political power of its Black residents, an unexpected decision from a court that recently has been more skeptical of the Voting Rights Act’s protections. The 5-4 decision, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., bucked the court’s recent trend of rulings that weakened provisions of the landmark 1965 act. He was joined by fellow conservative Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and the court’s three liberals, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson. They upheld a decision by a three-judge panel that threw out Alabama’s maps for its seven congressional districts, which included only one with a majority of Black voters even though African Americans make up more than a quarter of the state’s population…. The decision likely means a second Democrat could be elected from the state — its delegation is now one Black Democrat and six White Republicans. And it will likely boost challenges of maps drawn by Republican-led legislatures elsewhere; federal judges in Georgia and Louisiana have found similar violations in maps from those states.” See also, Supreme Court unexpectedly upholds provision prohibiting racial gerrymandering, NPR, Nina Totenberg, Thursday, 8 July 2023: “The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday stepped back from the brink of totally gutting the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act. By a 5-to-4 vote, a coalition of conservative and liberal justices reaffirmed the court’s 1986 precedent interpreting how legislative districts must be drawn under the landmark voting rights act, as amended in 1982. The court said that in Alabama, a state where there are seven congressional seats and one in four voters is black, the Republican-dominated state legislature had denied African American voters a reasonable chance to elect a second representative of their choice. The decision could reverberate across other states, with reconsideration of how congressional lines are drawn in areas with significant Black populations. Chief Justice John Roberts, who authored or joined prior decisions that gutted key parts of the voting law, on Thursday wrote for the court majority to preserve the way the voting rights law has been applied for nearly 40 years in redistricting cases. He was joined by fellow conservative Brett Kavanaugh and the courts three liberal justices — Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson.” See also, Supreme Court rules in favor of Black Alabama voters in unexpected defense of Voting Rights Act, Associated Press, Mark Sherman, Thursday, 8 June 2023: “The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a surprising 5-4 ruling in favor of Black voters in a congressional redistricting case from Alabama, with two conservative justices joining liberals in rejecting a Republican-led effort to weaken a landmark voting rights law. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh aligned with the court’s liberals in affirming a lower-court ruling that found a likely violation of the Voting Rights Act in an Alabama congressional map with one majority Black seat out of seven districts in a state where more than one in four residents is Black. The state now will have to draw a new map for next year’s elections. The decision was keenly anticipated for its potential effect on control of the closely divided U.S. House of Representatives. Because of the ruling, new maps are likely in Alabama and Louisiana that could allow Democratic-leaning Black voters to elect their preferred candidates in two more congressional districts. The outcome was unexpected in that the court had allowed the challenged Alabama map to be used for the 2022 elections, and in arguments last October the justices appeared willing to make it harder to challenge redistricting plans as racially discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.” See also, Supreme Court orders voting maps redrawn in Alabama to accommodate Black voters in surprise ruling, CNN Politics, Ariane de Vogue, Thursday, 8 June 2023: “The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered Alabama officials to redraw the state’s congressional map to allow an additional Black majority district to account for the fact that the state is 27% Black. The decision – that affords additional opportunities for minority voters to elect the candidate of their choice – comes as a surprise given the conservative majority on the court. Alabama currently has seven congressional districts, with six represented by Republicans. Supporters of voting rights had feared that the court was going to make it harder for minorities to challenge maps under Section 2 of the historic Voting Rights Act. Chief Justice John Roberts penned the opinion for a 5-4 majority, siding with the court’s three liberals. Justice Brett Kavanaugh agreed with the key parts of the holding, providing the fifth vote. ‘We are content to reject Alabama’s invitation to change existing law,’ Roberts said. The fact that Roberts penned the decision is a surprise given that 10 years ago, the chief justice effectively gutted a separate section of the Voting Rights Act that required states with a history of discrimination to obtain federal approval before changing election laws.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine launches counteroffensive against Russia, The Washington Post, Samantha Schmidt, Adela Suliman, Leo Sands, Rachel Pannett, Claire Parker, Sarah Dadouch, Isobel Koshiw, and Ben Brasch, Thursday, 8 June 2023: “The Ukrainian military’s long-anticipated counteroffensive against occupying Russian forces has begun, opening a phase in the war aimed at restoring Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty and retaining Western support. Ukraine’s troops intensified their attacks on the front line in the country’s southeast, according to four individuals in the country’s armed forces who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the battlefield developments.

  • The Ukrainian troops include specialized attack units armed with Western weapons and trained in NATO tactics. The attacks in the country’s southeast mark a significant push into Russian-occupied territory.
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Ukrainian forces tried to break through the lines of the Russian army in the Zaporizhzhia region, using up to 1,500 troops and 150 armored vehicles. Shoigu’s claim could not be immediately verified. The Zaporizhzhia region has long been seen as the most strategic and likely location of the new Ukrainian campaign.
  • The offensive, which Ukrainian officials previously said they would not mark with an announcement and would not have a clear beginning, is expected to unfold over months and to serve as a test of a U.S.-led strategy to prepare Ukrainian forces with increasingly advanced weapons and tactics. 

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Mounts Major Offensive Against Russian Lines in South. A senior U.S. official said that fighting appeared to be a main thrust in Kyiv’s long-awaited counteroffensive to retake land captured by Russia. The New York Times, Thursday, 8 June 2023:

  • Recent attacks suggest Ukrainian forces are increasingly on the offensive.

  • Kherson is hit by Russian shelling hours after a Zelensky visit.

  • Biden and Sunak vow that their countries will continue to support Ukraine.

  • In a call, Putin and the leader of South Africa affirm diplomatic ties and talk Ukraine.

  • The Kakhovka dam’s destruction isn’t expected to affect Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

  • ‘It is apocalyptic, but we are alive’: A Kherson resident says he has no intention of leaving.

  • Ukraine condemns pro-Russian authorities over a claim that children from flooded areas are being taken to camps.


Friday, 9 June 2023:


Trump Indicted: Special Counsel Unveils Case Against Trump. The special counsel, Jack Smith, released an indictment describing how the former president hoarded documents concerning nuclear programs and attack plans after leaving the White House. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess, and Glenn Thrush, Friday, 9 June 2023: “Federal prosecutors laid out their case against former President Donald J. Trump in a 38-count indictment on Friday, saying he mishandled classified documents — including some involving sensitive nuclear programs and others that detailed the country’s potential vulnerabilities to military attack — after leaving office, then obstructed the government’s efforts to reclaim them. Jack Smith, the special counsel who is bringing the case, cast the investigation as a defense of national security in brief remarks on Friday, urging the public to understand the ‘scope and gravity’ of the charges. ‘We have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone,’ he said. The investigation was being conducted with utmost integrity, he added, and promised to seek a speedy trial. He did not take questions. The indictment gives the clearest picture yet of the files that Mr. Trump took with him when he left the White House. It said he had illegally kept hold of documents concerning ‘United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.’ The indictment names one of his personal aides, Walt Nauta, as a co-conspirator who assisted in obstructing the investigation into the former president’s retention of sensitive defense documents at his residence and resort in Florida. Prosecutors presented evidence that Mr. Trump shared a highly sensitive ‘plan of attack’ against Iran to visitors at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., in July 2021 — and was recorded on tape describing the material as ‘highly confidential’ and ‘secret,’ while admitting it had not been declassified. In another incident in September 2021, he shared a top secret military map with a staffer at his political action committee who did not have a security clearance. The filing includes many pictures of what appear to be bankers’ boxes, some containing highly sensitive national documents, which were haphazardly moved by Mr. Nauta and other aides at Mr. Trump’s behest. Some of the boxes appear to be sagging — and on Dec. 7, 2021, Mr. Nauta found that one of the boxes had toppled and spilled its contents on the floor. The files that splayed on the carpet included the designation “SECRET/REL TO USA, FVEY” — which meant that they were meant to be seen by officials from the U.S., Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada with high-level security clearances.” See also, The Trump Classified Documents Indictment, Annotated. The Justice Department on Friday unveiled an indictment charging former President Donald J. Trump with 37 criminal counts. They relate to Mr. Trump’s hoarding of sensitive government documents after he left office and his refusal to return them, even after being subpoenaed for all remaining records in his possession that were marked as classified. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Friday, 9 June 2023. See also, Where Documents Were Found at Mar-a-Lago, The New York Times, Eleanor Lutz, Charlie Smart, and Mika Gröndahl, Friday, 9 June 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump stored classified documents not only in a storage room, but also in a shower, an office, a bedroom and a ballroom, according to the indictment unsealed on Friday. It describes how Mr. Trump moved dozens of boxes containing sensitive documents out of the White House and into Mar-a-Lago, his home and private club in Palm Beach, Fla.” See also, What We Learned From the Trump Indictment. The indictment said the former president had illegally kept documents concerning ‘United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.’ The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush, Alan Feuer, and Ben Protess, Friday, 9 June 2023: “Indictments against former President Donald J. Trump and a personal aide, Walt Nauta, unsealed Friday reveal a host of embarrassing and potentially devastating new details about a yearlong investigation previously cloaked in secrecy. The 49-page indictment, containing 37 counts and seven separate charges against the former president and one against his aide, gave the clearest picture yet of the breadth of sensitive materials Mr. Trump removed from the White House, the comically haphazard way he and his staff handled documents — and, most significantly, what prosecutors described as a pattern of obstruction and false statements intended to block the F.B.I. and grand jury.” See also, Donald Trump Should Never Again Be Trusted With the Nation’s Secrets, The New York Times, The Editorial Board, Friday, 9 June 2023: “It is hard to overstate the gravity of the criminal indictment issued against Donald Trump late Thursday by a federal grand jury. For the first time, a former president has been charged with violating federal laws, laws that he swore to uphold just over six years ago. It is the first time a former leader of the executive branch has been charged with obstructing the very agencies he led, and the first time a former commander in chief has been charged with endangering national security by violating the Espionage Act. The indictment, unsealed on Friday, accuses Mr. Trump of 37 crimes. The majority of them — 31 of the counts — are for willful retention of national defense information, each a violation of the Espionage Act. There is one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, in which Mr. Trump is accused of conspiring with his personal aide, Walt Nauta, to hide classified documents from the F.B.I. and the grand jury investigating the case. The other charges involve withholding documents, corruptly concealing documents and making false statements to law enforcement authorities. The potential prison sentences for Mr. Trump add up to as much as 420 years, even though conviction almost never results in the maximum sentence. But this indictment confronts the country with the harrowing prospect of a former president facing years behind bars, even as he runs to regain the White House. Mr. Trump and his Republican allies are already trying to politicize the indictment, insisting that the charges issued by 23 randomly chosen residents of South Florida were an attempt by President Biden to demolish his rival. But the evidence compiled by the government is so substantial that it is clear the Justice Department had no choice but to indict. The indictment says that Mr. Trump not only took from the White House classified documents that he was not authorized to possess but also that he showed them to visitors and political cronies at his country club. One of the documents involved a potential attack on another country, which The New York Times has reported was Iran. ‘Isn’t it amazing?’ he asked one visitor, brandishing the document. During that conversation Mr. Trump acknowledged that he knew the document was ‘a secret,’ the indictment said.” See also, Trump criminal indictment is unsealed, shows he faces 37 charges, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Mariana Alfaro, Devlin Barrett, Jacqueline Alemany, John Wagner, and Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Friday, 9 June 2023: “Former president Donald Trump faces 37 counts in connection with keeping hundreds of classified documents in his possession after leaving the White House. The bulk of the charges in the 49-page indictment, unsealed Friday afternoon, relate to willful retention of national defense information — a violation of the Espionage Act that pertains to whether individuals broke the rules for the handling of classified documents. The charges also include conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, concealing a document in an investigation, scheming to conceal, and false statements. Trump aide Walt Nauta also was charged. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

  • ‘Our laws that protect national defense information are critical to the safety and security of the United States, and they must be enforced,’ special counsel Jack Smith said in his first remarks on the indictment.
  • The evidence leading to the indictment by a federal grand jury in Miami includes an audio recording from 2021 in which he talks about an apparently secret document and says, ‘As president, I could have declassified it, but now I can’t,’ a person familiar with a transcript of the remarks said Friday.
  • Two of Trump’s top lawyers said Friday they were quitting his legal team, moments after the newly indicted former president said he would be bringing on new lawyers.
  • The federal case against Trump for alleged obstruction and mishandling of classified documents is expected to be overseen at least initially by Judge Aileen M. Cannon — the federal judge in Florida who last year appointed a special master in the case.

See also, Here are the 37 charges against Trump and what they mean. The Washington Post, Rachel Weiner, Friday, 9 June 2023: “A court on Friday unsealed the federal indictment against Donald Trump and an aide over classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago home and the men’s alleged efforts to keep the government from finding the materials. Here’s what we know about the charges against the former president, brought by special counsel Jack Smith.” See also: Trump faces 37 federal counts in the grand jury’s indictment, NPR, Friday, 9 June 2023: “The indictment unsealed early Friday afternoon shows that a grand jury indicted Trump on 37 counts, including 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information and making false statements.

Here’s what we’re following:

Exclusive: Donald Trump admits on tape he didn’t declassify ‘secret information,’ CNN Politics, Paula Reid and Jeremy Herb, Friday, 9 June 2023: “Former President Donald Trump acknowledged on tape in a 2021 meeting that he had retained ‘secret’ military information that he had not declassified, according to a transcript of the audio recording obtained by CNN. ‘As president, I could have declassified, but now I can’t,’ Trump says, according to the transcript. CNN obtained the transcript of a portion of the meeting where Trump is discussing a classified Pentagon document about attacking Iran. In the audio recording, which CNN previously reported was obtained by prosecutors, Trump says that he did not declassify the document he’s referencing, according to the transcript.” See also, Trump was recorded saying he knew he had a classified document. The recording, confirmed by a person briefed on the matter, is expected to be a critical piece of evidence in the case against him that the special counsel Jack Smith brought this week. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Friday, 9 June 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump declared at a meeting in July 2021, six months after leaving the White House, that a document in front of him was ‘classified’ and ‘highly confidential,’ according to a person briefed on the matter. That meeting, with people helping his former chief of staff with a book, has been previously reported but new details of Mr. Trump’s specific comments appear to demonstrate explicitly that he was aware that materials he had taken with him from the White House included classified information. The recording is expected to be a key piece of evidence in the case against him that the special counsel Jack Smith brought this week, with seven counts related to his possession of reams of classified material. Mr. Trump also indicated he couldn’t show the document to the people in front of him — many if not all of whom didn’t have security clearances that would allow them to see sensitive government material — and added, ‘As president, I could have declassified them, now I can’t,’ according to the person briefed on the matter, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Mr. Trump then said the document was ‘classified,’ and a woman in the room replied, ‘Now we have a problem,’ according to the person familiar with the recording. Many details of what is said on the recording were reported earlier by CNN, which also first reported on the existence of the recording.”

Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, is assigned to oversee his case. Cannon faced scrutiny for her prior role in the investigation. ABC News, Katherine Faulders, Alexander Mallin, and Lucien Bruggeman, Thursday, 9 June 2023: “The summons sent to former President Donald Trump and his legal team late Thursday indicates that U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon will be assigned to oversee his case, at least initially, according to sources briefed on the matter. Cannon’s apparent assignment would add yet another unprecedented wrinkle to a case involving the first federal charges against a former president: Trump appointed Cannon to the federal bench in 2020, meaning that, if Trump is ultimately convicted, she would be responsible for determining the sentence – which may include prison time – for the man who elevated her to the role. A federal grand jury voted to indict Trump on at least seven federal charges late Thursday as part of an investigation into his handling of classified documents, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News. The indictment comes after more than 100 documents with classified markings were found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in August 2022. Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and claimed again late Thursday that he was innocent. Cannon is no stranger to the case. The 42-year-old judge appointed a ‘special master’ last year to review those materials seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Legal experts accused Cannon of handing Trump a series of head-scratching victories over the course of those proceedings.” See also, Trump-Appointed Judge Aileen Cannon Is Said to Be Handling Trump Documents Case. It was not clear whether Cannon would remain assigned for the entirety of the case. A higher court criticized some of her rulings in the investigation. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, William K. Rashbaum, Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush, and Charlie Savage, Thursday, 9 June 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump’s criminal indictment on charges stemming from his handling of classified documents will be overseen — at least initially — by a federal judge whom a higher court criticized for a series of rulings that were unusually favorable to Mr. Trump during the early stages of the investigation, according to five people familiar with the matter. The judge, Aileen M. Cannon, who Mr. Trump appointed to the bench in 2020, is scheduled — at least for now — to preside over the former president’s first appearance in Federal District Court in Miami on Tuesday, the people said. But it was not clear whether Judge Cannon would remain assigned for the entirety of Mr. Trump’s case. Judge Cannon’s involvement was earlier reported by ABC News…. Last fall, she presided over an unusual and highly contentious legal battle between the Justice Department and Mr. Trump’s lawyers over whether to pause the documents investigation so that an outside arbiter could review thousands of records seized by the F.B.I. from Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club and residence in Florida. Ruling for Mr. Trump, Judge Cannon effectively froze a significant portion of the government’s inquiry, barring prosecutors from using the materials seized from Mar-a-Lago for any ‘investigative purpose’ connected to the case against Mr. Trump until the work of the arbiter, known as a special master, was finished. An appeals court sitting in Atlanta ultimately overruled Judge Cannon, scrapped the special master’s review and allowed the investigation of Mr. Trump to resume unhindered.”

Trump aide Walt Nauta indicted in classified documents case, CNN Politics, Evan Perez, Sara Murray, Tierney Sneed, and Jeremy Herb, Friday, 9 June 2023: “An aide to former President Donald Trump has been indicted in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the mishandling of classified documents from the Trump White House. Walt Nauta’s indictment is the second in the special counsel’s investigation. Trump has been indicted on 37 counts, which include charges relating to the willful retention of national defense information, according to the indictment, which was unsealed on Friday. Nauta faces six counts, including several obstruction- and concealment-related charges stemming from the alleged conduct. Prosecutors allege that Nauta lied to investigators when he was interviewed by the FBI in May 2022, according to the indictment. He allegedly falsely said he was not aware of boxes being brought to Trump’s residence for his review before Trump provided 15 boxes to the National Archives in 2022. But Nauta himself had helped move boxes from the storage room to Trump’s residence, according to the indictment. ‘When asked whether he knew where Trump’s boxes had been stored, before they were in Trump’s residence and whether they had been in a secure or locked location, Nauta falsely responded, I wish, I wish I could tell you. I don’t know. I don’t – I honestly just don’t know,’ the indictment states.”

Judge required Mike Pence to answer most of special counsel Jack Smith’s questions. ‘The bottom line is that conversations exhorting Pence to reject electors on January 6th are not protected,’ D.C.’s federal district court’s chief judge wrote in April. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Friday, 9 June 2023: “The figures pressuring Mike Pence to reject Joe Biden’s electoral votes on Jan. 6 were asking him to act ‘unlawfully,’ the chief judge of Washington D.C.’s federal district court ruled in a secret April decision. U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg’s 19-page opinion — which the judge partially unsealed Friday at the urging of media organizations — cleared the way for special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecutors to question the former vice president about his conversations with a wide array of figures who leaned on him to reject Biden’s electors, possibly including Donald Trump. ‘The bottom line is that conversations exhorting Pence to reject electors on January 6th are not protected,’ Boasberg wrote in the ruling, dated March 27, adding, ‘There is no dispute in this case that Pence lacked the authority to reject certified electoral votes.’ Pence appeared for that closed-door testimony on April 27 and answered questions for more than six hours. The substance of the questions and answers remain almost entirely shielded from public view but nevertheless marked a historic moment in Smith’s unprecedented criminal probe of Trump and his allies’ efforts to subvert the 2020 election. Boasberg’s newly unsealed ruling reveals that he required Pence to answer nearly every category of questions prosecutors intended to pose, including about the pressure by those who asked him to simply throw out or refuse to count Biden’s electors.” See also, Judge ruling requiring Mike Pence to testify to grand jury about January 6 unsealed, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Friday, 9 June 2023: “A federal judge on Friday unsealed a potentially landmark ruling that compelled former vice president Mike Pence to testify earlier this year before a grand jury investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack and efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Pence had initially fought the subpoena from special counsel Jack Smith. But in March, Pence hailed what he called a historic decision by Chief U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg of Washington, agreeing that Pence could remain silent on topics that dealt specifically with his role in Congress on Jan. 6, when he presided over the Senate in a joint session to confirm results of the presidential election, which was interrupted by a violent pro-Trump mob. Pence called Boasberg’s ruling the first to lay out how a vice president also qualifies for constitutional protection enjoyed by lawmakers from being compelled to testify even in criminal investigations. Boasberg’s ruling and reasoning had remained secret until now because grand jury rules generally bar anyone other than witnesses from discussing them. News organizations asked the judge to unseal them, and on Friday he granted their request. Boasberg said repeated discussions and revelations by Pence and his lawyers removed the need for secrecy. Boasberg’s 18-page opinion, issued in March, reveals that the court allowed Pence the privilege to avoid testifying only in response to very specific questions. In particular, prosecutors are believed to have wanted to ask Pence about Trump and others’ failed efforts to pressure him, the Trump Justice Department and officials in key swing states to overturn the election. That includes attempts by Trump’s lawyers to substitute allies for certified electors from some states Joe Biden won. Boasberg did not appear to rule out such questions.”

Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Presidential Records and the Presidential Records Act, Press Release from, Friday, 9 June 2023: “Recent media reports have generated a large number of queries about Presidential records and the Presidential Records Act (PRA), 44 U.S.C. 2201-2209. The PRA requires that all records created by Presidents (and Vice-Presidents) be turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) at the end of their administrations. Below is additional information about how NARA carries out its responsibilities under the PRA. Please note that the PRA treats the records of the President and those of the Vice President in almost the same manner such that, in most cases below, President and Vice President can be used interchangeably.”

Exclusive: Department of Justice investigating conservative-backed efforts in Wyoming to infiltrate the Democratic National Committee ahead of 2020 election, CNN Politics, Kara Scannell, Friday, 9 June 2023: “Federal prosecutors are investigating conservative-backed efforts in Wyoming to infiltrate the Democratic National Committee ahead of the 2020 election, according to people familiar with the matter. Prosecutors have subpoenaed Richard Seddon, a former British intelligence official, and Susan Gore, a Republican donor and heiress to the Gore-Tex fortune, as part of the investigation, the people said. The investigation appears to stem from a 2021 New York Times article that, citing interviews and documents, detailed ‘an undercover operation by conservatives to infiltrate progressive groups, political campaigns, and the offices of Democratic as well as moderate Republican elected officials during the 2020 election cycle.’ One of the subpoenas, which was sent in the past two weeks, seeks documents and communications from January 2018 through the present involving numerous limited liability companies and individuals, including Gore; Seddon; Erik Prince, the security contractor and brother to former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; and James O’Keefe, the former head of Project Veritas. The people familiar with the investigation said prosecutors are looking into whether any campaign finance laws were violated. No one has been accused of any wrongdoing.” See also, F.B.I. Investigating Spy Ring’s Political Contributions. Prosecutors are scrutinizing a series of campaign contributions made by right-wing operatives who were part of a political spying operation based in Wyoming. The New York Times, Adam Goldman and Mark Mazzetti, Friday, 9 June 2023: “Federal prosecutors are investigating possible campaign finance violations in connection with an undercover operation based in Wyoming that aimed to infiltrate progressive groups, political campaigns and the offices of elected representatives before the 2020 election, according to two people familiar with the matter and documents related to the case. As part of the operation, revealed in 2021 by The New York Times, participants used large campaign donations and cover stories to gain access to their targets and gather dirt to sabotage the reputations of people and organizations considered threats to the agenda of President Donald J. Trump. In recent days, prosecutors have issued subpoenas for at least two of the people The Times identified as being part of the operation, including Richard Seddon, a former British spy, and Susan Gore, a Wyoming heiress to the Gore-Tex fortune, the people said. The subpoenas were reported earlier by CNN.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky claims ‘step-by-step’ progress in counteroffensive; Putin says Kyiv hasn’t achieved its goals, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Victoria Bisset, Adam Taylor, and Isobel Koshiw, Friday, 9 June 2023: “Ukrainian officials have reported fierce fighting on the front lines after their military launched its long-anticipated counteroffensive. President Volodymyr Zelensky said that ‘very tough battles’ were raging in the eastern Donetsk region and that Ukrainian forces were seeing ‘step-by-step’ results. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday offered his first remarks acknowledging the counteroffensive, telling reporters that the Kremlin could say with ‘absolute certainty’ that the campaign had begun but that Ukraine had not achieved its goals. Ukraine has not made an official announcement on the counteroffensive — and has previously cautioned that no single action would mark the start of the campaign. However, Ukrainian troops intensified strikes in the southeast this week, according to four service members, The Washington Post reported. The offensive is expected to unfold over months and serve as a test of months-long efforts by the United States and Ukraine’s other Western backers to train its forces and equip them with increasingly sophisticated weapons.

  • Intense fighting has been reported in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, long seen as the likely focal point for Ukraine’s counterattack. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Friday that Russia is ‘conducting defensive operations’ in the area. The head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, said on Telegram that an attack on a hospital in Huliapole, a town near the region’s front line, killed two staff members. If Ukraine retakes Zaporizhzhia, it could disrupt critical Russian supply lines by cutting off the land route connecting Russian-occupied Crimea to the Russian mainland.
  • Putin pointed to the use of ‘strategic reserves’ as evidence that the counteroffensive had begun. ‘On none of the sectors of the front line did the Ukrainian troops achieve the tasks assigned to them,’ he said at a meeting of leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Sochi, Russia. Putin said Ukraine was suffering heavy losses but that it still retained ‘offensive potential.’
  • A senior Western intelligence official told The Post that, for now, Ukraine appeared to be holding back its most significant firepower, noting that the larger blow ‘hasn’t landed yet.’ The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.
  • Ukraine’s military is armed with a potent U.S. arsenal. Washington has committed 90 Stryker personnel carriers and more than 100 Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The Strykers and Bradleys are generally faster, more advanced and better protected than the aging Soviet and Russian vehicles that the Ukrainians operate, but they are more technically challenging to maintain in the field. The United States has also pledged 31 Abrams tanks, but they will not be ready until September at the earliest.
  • The situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant remains ‘precarious,’ according to Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. There have been concerns over safety at the Russian-occupied plant after the collapse of the nearby Kakhovka dam reduced water levels in the reservoir used to supply cooling water to the plant. For now, the plant is continuing to pump cooling water from the reservoir, but it is not clear when and at what level the reservoir will stabilize, Grossi said.
  • While assessments of the dam collapse were still underway, the senior Western intelligence official pointed to several factors that suggested Russian culpability, namely that Russia controlled the section of dam where the hydropower unit fits into the overall structure — a vulnerable point that could have been exploited to destroy the dam, which was otherwise believed to be structurally sound. ‘If you have access to the inside of the dam, as they did, you can potentially exploit that vulnerability in a way someone else could not,’ the official said.
  • Ukrainian security services on Friday released a recording of a phone conversation that they said provided evidence that Russia had sabotaged the plant. ‘It wasn’t them,’ a voice, described by the Ukrainians as a Russian soldier, says on the recording, using an expletive to refer to the destruction of the dam. ‘It was our [guys].’ A second soldier says, ‘[Our] sabotage group was there. They wanted to scare [people] with this dam. It didn’t go according to plan. It was more than they had planned.’ The United States has not publicly issued any determination about what happened at the dam on Tuesday, or who — if anyone — was responsible, while Russia has claimed without evidence that Ukraine attacked the dam.
  • Iceland will suspend operations of its embassy in Moscow starting Aug. 1, Iceland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs announced Friday. ‘At the moment, commercial, cultural or political relations with Russia are at an all-time low,’ the statement reads. ‘Hence, maintaining operations of the embassy of Iceland in Moscow is no longer justifiable.’ The statement notes that the suspension of embassy operations does not mean Iceland is severing diplomatic relations with Russia.
  • The United States announced an additional $2.1 billion in long-term military assistance for Ukraine. The package includes additional munitions for the Patriot and Hawk air defense systems, artillery rounds and Puma unmanned aerial systems. The supplies will be provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, so they will need to be procured from the defense industry and then sent to Ukraine.
  • Putin met with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi. While Russian forces in Belarus made a failed attempt to capture Kyiv at the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, Lukashenko has said he will send his troops to Ukraine only if his country is attacked.
  • Britain and Sweden scrambled jets to intercept Russian warplanes flying close to NATO and Swedish airspace, the British Royal Air Force said. The Russian aircraft were not complying with international norms, but they remained in international airspace and flew in a professional manner, it added.
  • The British Defense Ministry accused Russia of hindering grain exports despite the renewal of the Black Sea grain deal last month. In its daily update Friday, the ministry said Russia is slowing inspections and blocking some vessels. Only one or two ships are being inspected per day, compared with between six and eight during the fall — with the probable goal of forcing concessions on the reopening of an ammonia export pipeline.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Battle Escalates in South as Zelensky and Putin Each Claim Upper Hand. Russia and Ukraine are presenting divergent accounts of fighting in the Zaporizhzhia region, where analysts warn that Kyiv faces a difficult battle against Moscow’s entrenched forces. The New York Times, Friday, 9 June 2023:

  • Battle rages in Ukraine’s southeast as Zelensky and Putin each claim the upper hand.

  • A top U.N. official defends the organization’s response to flooding in Ukraine.

  • The U.S. announces another $2.1 billion in weapons to Ukraine.

  • Ukrainian drones strike cities across the Russian border, governors say.

  • Russia erected by far the most fortifications in the Zaporizhzhia region, a report finds.

  • A U.S. official says spy satellites detected an explosion just before the dam collapsed.

  • Two are killed in Russian shelling in the flood zone, Ukrainian officials say.


Saturday, 10 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky confirms counteroffensive; Kyiv reports small gains, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Isobel Koshiw, Helier Cheung, Claire Parker, and Justine McDaniel, Saturday, 10 June 2023: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed his country’s counteroffensive during a visit by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Kyiv on Saturday, according to news reports from Ukraine. Trudeau, whose visit to the capital was not publicized beforehand, announced new military funding to fight Russia’s invasion and pledged aid for those affected by this week’s Kakhovka dam explosion. Ukraine made marginal gains on the front lines, advancing nearly a mile near Bakhmut and forcing several dozen Russian troops in the eastern village of Arapivka to flee their positions, according to Ukrainian officials. Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged the counteroffensive for the first time Friday, and he said his forces had prevented Ukraine from achieving its goals ‘in all combat sectors,’ according to the Russian Defense Ministry. The ministry also said it had repelled enemy attacks across the front, without addressing the Ukrainian reports of gains.

  • Zelensky said Ukraine’s top generals were in a positive mood as the counteroffensive began, Interfax reported, in the president’s first public confirmation that the effort had begun. Zelensky, speaking at a news conference in Kyiv after meeting with Trudeau, said he would not detail what stage the counteroffensive is in. The Washington Post reported this week that the Ukrainian counteroffensive had begun.
  • Ukraine’s military reported ‘heavy battles’ in Luhansk and Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine. In the past day, Russian and Ukrainian forces engaged in 34 ‘combat clashes’ in those areas, the armed forces said in an update Saturday. Ukrainian forces advanced near Bakhmut by about three-quarters of a mile, or 1.2 kilometers, Col. Serhiy Cherevaty, spokesman for Ukraine’s military in the east, told Ukrainian media. He said that gain had occurred as part of a ‘defensive operation that has been going on for many months.’
  • There were also marginal gains about three miles south of Velyka Novosilka, a town in southeastern Ukraine, the Washington think tank Institute for the Study of War reported, citing geolocated footage. ‘Significant’ Ukrainian operations have taken place in the last 48 hours in the eastern and southern parts of the country, the British Ministry of Defense said in an update on Saturday. They ‘likely made good progress and penetrated the first line of Russian defense’ in some areas, but were ‘slower’ in others, it said, adding that there were ‘increased reports of Russian casualties as they withdraw through their own minefields.’
  • Putin said he had ‘absolute certainty’ that Ukraine’s counteroffensive had begun, and that the Ukrainian army had started using its ‘strategic reserves.’ Putin told reporters on Friday that Ukrainian troops still had ‘offensive potential,’ even as he argued that ‘all counteroffensive attempts made so far have failed.’ The Institute for the Study of War described this as a change from previous Russian attempts to downplay Ukrainian counteroffensives, and it suggested the Kremlin could have changed its approach after Ukrainian offensives in 2022 were successful.
  • Meanwhile, there is nervousness among some Russian elites over Ukraine’s Western weapons, insiders told The Post, driving fears that Moscow’s control of the Ukrainian land bridge to Crimea could be severed. One Russian billionaire also told The Post that, the longer the war goes on, the more the conflict ‘is turning into a personal matter for Russians,’ which could make the withdrawal of Russian forces more difficult.
  • In Kyiv, Trudeau announced $375 million (500 million Canadian) in ‘new funding for military assistance,’ along with $7.5 million (10 million Canadian) in new funding to help with the humanitarian response to the collapse of the Kakhovka dam. Trudeau, on his second visit to Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion began, also pledged Canada’s help with a multinational effort to train Ukrainian fighter pilots and said the country would continue its military training program for Ukraine until 2026, the prime minister’s office said in a statement. Canada has contributed about $6 billion to Ukraine to support the war effort and displaced civilians.
  • Through sanctions, the Canadian government has also ordered the seizure of a Russian-registered cargo aircraft that has been grounded in Toronto, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement; if it is forfeited to the government, Canada will give it to Ukraine. The cargo aircraft, an Antonov 124, is believed to be owned by a subsidiary of Volga-Dnepr Airlines LLC and Volga-Dnepr Group, the Canadian government stated. Both entities were sanctioned by Canada over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • A rocket-and-drone attack killed three people and injured 36 in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa, Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern command, told national news. Debris from an Iranian-supplied Shahid drone crashed into a residential building, causing a fire in which three people were killed and 26 injured. In the Odessa region, an additional 10 people were injured from blast waves, Humeniuk said.
  • Just 15 percent of Kyiv’s bomb shelters are in suitable condition, Ukraine’s strategic industry minister, Oleksandr Kamyshin, said on Telegram. He said his team had finished an audit of the city’s shelters, a little more than a week after families rushing to take cover during a Russian attack found a shelter locked and prompted calls for inspections. Kamyshin, who said his team had visited more than 100 shelters, did not say how the government would respond to the findings.
  • Rescue efforts continued in the Kherson region, which was hit by flooding after the collapse of the Russian-controlled Kakhovka dam. Nearly 40 villages and towns in Ukrainian-controlled parts of Kherson have been ‘severely affected’ by flooding, and 700,000 people lack safe drinking water, according to the United Nations. Water continues to flow out of the reservoir, spreading to a larger area, a spokesperson for UkrHydroEnergo, Ukraine’s state hydroelectric company, told The Post on Saturday. Footage shared by Ukraine’s border guard service Saturday showed large pieces of debris that border guards said were dislodged in the flooding and had washed up in Odessa. ‘The sea turns into a garbage dump and a cemetery for animals,’ they wrote, accusing Russia of ‘ecocide.’
  • The United Kingdom pledged an additional $20 million (16 million pounds) in aid for people affected by the flooding, according to a news release from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Most of that money will go to the Red Cross, the news release said, and will be added to the $277 million already allocated to humanitarian aid in Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian security services said they had evidence that Russia had sabotaged the Kakhovka dam. On Friday, they released a recording of a phone conversation that purported to show a Russian soldier saying a Russian sabotage group was behind the destruction of the dam. The Post could not independently verify the authenticity of the recording. Russia has claimed without evidence that Ukraine attacked the dam, while a senior Western intelligence official told The Post several factors suggested Russian culpability.
  • The United Nations outlined a three-step plan for aiding people affected by the flooding. The first phase includes continuing to rescue people from flood zones and deliver medical supplies and food aid, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said in a news release Friday. ‘I understand the President’s frustration,’ Griffiths said in response to criticism from Zelensky, who said humanitarian organizations were slow to respond. U.N. agencies are ‘trying to get the response moving as quickly as possible,’ Griffiths said, adding that he also sought permission from Russian authorities on Friday to cross the front line and provide aid.
  • Residents of the flooded areas in southern Ukraine under Russian occupation are being allowed to evacuate only if they have Russian passports, Ukraine’s military said Saturday, without providing any evidence. Both sides have accused each other of shelling people fleeing the floods — regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin said on Saturday morning that Russian forces had shelled the Korabel district of Kherson city, wounding two volunteers helping to evacuate residents. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that there were ‘fatalities’ due to Ukrainian shelling, without giving a number. Zelensky said Saturday afternoon that ‘over 3,000 people have already been evacuated in Kherson and Mykolaiv regions. But again, it is only a free territory under our control.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky Gives Strongest Confirmation Yet That Counteroffensive Has Begun. The United States and Russia have indicated for days that Ukraine has started a major push to take back territory, but Kyiv has been mostly tight-lipped about its plans, aiming to keep Moscow guessing. The New York Times, Saturday, 10 June 2023:

  • Ukrainian forces go on the attack near Bakhmut, the military says.

  • With water scarce, engineers shut down the last reactor still producing power at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

  • Trudeau visits Kyiv and promises more military aid.

  • Southern Ukraine, reeling from floods, faces twin crises of war and humanitarian catastrophe.

  • The dam’s destruction leaves extensive swaths of Ukrainian farmland hurting for water.

  • Ukrainian drones strike cities across the Russian border, governors say.

Clerk Says Trump Appointee Aileen Cannon Will Remain Judge in Documents Case. The chief clerk of the courts for the Southern District of Florida added that Cannon had been randomly assigned to the case. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Saturday, 10 June 2023: “The criminal case against President Donald J. Trump over his hoarding of classified documents was randomly assigned to Judge Aileen M. Cannon, a court official for the Southern District of Florida said on Saturday. The chief clerk of the federal court system there, Angela E. Noble, also confirmed that Judge Cannon would continue to oversee the case unless she recused herself. The news of Judge Cannon’s assignment raised eyebrows because of her role in an earlier lawsuit filed by Mr. Trump challenging the F.B.I.’s search of his Florida club and estate, Mar-a-Lago. In issuing a series of rulings favorable to him, Judge Cannon, a Trump appointee, effectively disrupted the investigation until a conservative appeals court ruled she never had legitimate legal authority to intervene. Under the district court’s procedures, new cases are randomly delegated to a judge who sits in the division where the matter arose or a neighboring one, even if it relates to a previous case. That Judge Cannon is handling Mr. Trump’s criminal indictment elicited the question of how that had come to be. Asked over email whether normal procedures were followed and Judge Cannon’s assignment was random, Ms. Noble wrote: ‘Normal procedures were followed.'”

Trump indictment largely based on insider accounts of life at Mar-a-Lago. Much of the evidence used to charge Donald Trump–material including text messages and notes from his own attorney–came from those hired to serve him. The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany, Saturday, 10 June 2023: “Text messages. Phone records. Photos. The 37-count federal indictment of former president Donald Trump unsealed Friday provides a vivid account of Trump’s actions at his homes in South Florida and New Jersey, and is based on information from a coterie of close aides, household staffers and lawyers hired to serve Trump in his post-presidency. The account from Trump insiders in the 49-page indictment provides a thorough rebuttal to many claims made by Trump about his handling of classified material, including that he may have kept some material by accident or may have considered the material declassified by him. A secretary — identified in the indictment as ‘Trump Employee 2’ — told prosecutors that Trump himself had been packing and looking through boxes, contrary to assertions from his own lawyers. A young political aide, referred to as ‘the PAC representative’ in the indictment, told prosecutors that Trump showed him a classified map about a military operation in a foreign country and told him to stand back because it was a secret document. At a recent CNN town hall, Trump said he did not remember doing such a thing. Key parts of the indictment are based on one of his lawyer’s detailed notes about Trump’s wishing to obstruct justice by not responding to a subpoena — contradicting the 45th president’s claims that he was always cooperative with the Justice Department and the National Archives and Records Administration. And Trump’s valet was indicted alongside him, after prosecutors obtained the aide’s text messages and accused him of lying about moving boxes at Trump’s request.” See also: These are the key players in the latest Trump indictment, The Washington Post, Caroline Anders, Saturday, 10 June 2023: “Donald Trump, the only former U.S. president to face criminal charges, has been indicted for the second time this year. The federal government says Trump took classified information from the White House, stored it at his Florida resort, then lied to the FBI and others to avoid having to give the documents back. Trump faces 37 charges for his alleged conduct, which is documented in the indictment unsealed Friday. He has denied wrongdoing. Trump isn’t the only person referenced in the indictment. To better understand the charging document and the case as it winds its way through the legal system, here’s a rundown of the people mentioned in the indictment and some other need-to-know names.”

Trump’s Documents Case Puts the Justice System on Trial, in a Test of Public Credibility. The former president’s efforts to defend against multiple felony counts by discrediting law enforcement pose a grave challenge to democracy. The New York Times, Peter Baker, Saturday, 10 June 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump has a lot at stake in the federal criminal case lodged against him. He could, in theory, go to prison for years. But if he winds up in the dock in front of a jury, it is no exaggeration to suggest that American justice will be on trial as well. History’s first federal indictment against a former president poses one of the gravest challenges to democracy the country has ever faced. It represents either a validation of the rule-of-law principle that even the most powerful face accountability for their actions or the moment when a vast swath of the public becomes convinced that the system has been irredeemably corrupted by partisanship. Mr. Trump, his allies and even some of his Republican rivals have embarked on a strategy to encourage the latter view, arguing that law enforcement has been hijacked by President Biden and the Democrats to take out his strongest opponent for re-election next year. Few if any of them bothered to wait to read the indictment before backing Mr. Trump’s all-caps assertion that it was merely part of the ‘GREATEST WITCH HUNT OF ALL TIME.’ It is now an article of faith, a default tactic or both. Jack Smith, the special counsel, and his prosecutors knew that defense was coming and have labored to avoid any hint of political motivation with a by-the-book approach, securing the assent of judges and grand jurors along the way. Moreover, their indictment laid out a damning series of facts based on security camera video, text messages and testimony from within Mr. Trump’s own team; even some who have defended him in the past say it will be harder to brush aside the evidence in a courtroom than in the court of public opinion. In the public arena, though, it may be a one-sided fight. Mr. Trump and his allies can scream as loudly as they can that the system is unfair, but prosecutors are bound by rules limiting how much they can say in response. To the extent that Democrats defend prosecutors, it may only buttress the point Mr. Trump is trying to make to the audience he is trying to reach.”

‘This Is the Final Battle’: Trump Casts His Campaign as an Existential Fight Against His Critics. Trump delivered his first post-indictment public remarks on Saturday at the state Republican conventions in Georgia and North Carolina, as his federal indictment dominates the political landscape. The New York Times, Jonathan Swan, Maggie Haberman, and Nicholas Nehamas, Saturday, 10 June 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump on Saturday cast both his indictments by prosecutors and his bid for the White House as part of a ‘final battle’ with ‘corrupt’ forces that he maintained are destroying the country. The apocalyptic language came in Mr. Trump’s first public appearance since the 38-count federal indictment against him and a personal aide was unsealed — and in a state where he may soon face additional charges for his efforts to pressure Georgia election officials to overturn his 2020 election loss there. It was Mr. Trump’s second indictment in less than three months. ‘This is the final battle,’ Mr. Trump said in the speech to several thousand activists, delegates and members of the media who gathered in Columbus, Ga., at a brick building that was once an ironworks that manufactured mortars, guns and cannons for the Confederate Army in the Civil War. Mr. Trump spoke about the threats to the nation. But his escalating language also showed something more fundamental was in increasing jeopardy: his own freedom. ‘Either the Communists win and destroy America, or we destroy the Communists,’ the former president said in Georgia, seeming to refer to Democrats. He made similar remarks about the ‘Deep State,’ using the pejorative term he uses for U.S. intelligence agencies and more broadly for any federal government bureaucrat he perceives as a political opponent. He railed against ‘globalists,’ ‘warmongers’ in government and ‘the sick political class that hates our country.’ Mr. Trump also described the Justice Department as ‘a sick nest of people that needs to be cleaned out immediately,’ calling the special counsel, Jack Smith, ‘deranged’ and ‘openly a Trump hater.’ And he attacked by name Fani Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., who is weighing criminal charges against Mr. Trump, calling her ‘a lunatic Marxist’ and accusing her of ignoring violent crime and instead spending all of her time ‘working on getting Trump.'” See also, Trump delivers fiery post-indictment speech: ‘They’re coming after you.’ In his first remarks since he was indicted in the federal classified documents investigation, he warned Georgia activists that the ‘deep state’ was coming for them, too. NBC News, Matt Dixon, Saturday, 10 June 2023: “Donald Trump’s legal defense did not start in a courtroom. It began on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. After his historic federal indictment, the former president stepped onstage Saturday in front of more than 2,000 people packed into a convention center here to once again declare his innocence and deliver a grievance-laced takedown of what he said was a biased federal law enforcement apparatus. ‘In the end, they’re not coming after me. They’re coming after you — and I’m just standing in their way,’ Trump said.” See also, Trump stares down criminal jeopardy with bluffs and bluster. The freshly indicted former president received a hero’s welcome at a Georgia Republican convention, even as some supporters begin to acknowledge the seriousness of the mounting allegations against him. The Washington Post, Isaac Arnsdorf and Hannah Knowles, Saturday, 10 June 2023: “Donald Trump, whose rise has long defied the laws of political gravity, is testing his ability to do the same with criminal indictments, using his first campaign speech since becoming the only former president who has faced federal charges to stake out a defense based on falsehoods. He made fun of the 37-count indictment accusing him of mishandling sensitive government secrets, saying sarcastically, ‘I got a box.’ He suggested a photo released by the Justice Department showing the spilled contents of a box proved that no one could see a classified document it held, when in reality prosecutors redacted that document to obscure classified information. Trump claimed the Presidential Records Act absolves him because it’s not a criminal statute, when in fact other criminal provisions cover the handling of classified materials. He suggested it’s more problematic for President Biden to have retained classified documents when he was vice president than it is for a president, though the laws treat the records the same. Turning to another looming legal threat — an ongoing criminal probe by an Atlanta-area district attorney into Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn the 2020 election results in the state — Trump falsely claimed no one objected to his ‘perfect phone call’ urging Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to change the outcome, when a recording shows that Raffensperger and his lawyer repeatedly pushed back on his unsubstantiated claims. And he continued to repeat his most infamous lie of all: ‘I had every right to complain that the election in Georgia was, in my opinion, rigged,’ he said. ‘They say I lost. We didn’t lose. We won by a lot.’ See also, Trump campaigns after indictment unsealed, Associated Press, Saturday, 10 June 2023.

The Ultimate Deal. Trump’s hoarding of official secrets is both breathtakingly careless and utterly calculated. The New York Review of Books. Fintan O’Toole, Saturday, 10 June 2023: “Secrets are a kind of currency. They can be hoarded, but if kept for too long they lose their value. Like all currencies, they must, sooner or later, be used in a transaction—sold to the highest bidder or bartered as a favor for which another favor will be returned. To see the full scale of Donald Trump’s betrayal of his country, it is necessary to start with this reality. He kept intelligence documents because, at some point, those secrets could be used in a transaction. What he was stockpiling were the materials of treason. He may not have known how and when he would cash in this currency, but there can be little doubt that he was determined to retain the ability to do just that. Before the publication of the grand jury’s indictment, it was possible to believe that Trump’s retention of classified documents was reckless and stupid. The indictment reveals that recklessness and stupidity are the least of his sins. With Trump, it’s always a mistake to equate anarchy with purposelessness or to think that the farce is not deadly serious. Trump’s hoarding of official secrets is both breathtakingly careless and utterly calculated. At the heart of that calculation is a cold resolve to not give up the power that access to highly restricted information had given him…. It all seems random and haphazard, an impression greatly magnified by the knowledge that Mar-a-Lago, in the eighteen months after Trump took the documents from the White House, was, as the indictment states, the venue for ‘more than 150 social events, including weddings, movie premieres and fundraisers that together drew tens of thousands of guests.’ The New York Times has published photographs, scraped from social media, of people in party dresses or casual summer clothes around the Mar-a-Lago pool. We can see that, behind them, the door that leads to the storeroom, which was packed with boxes of official papers, is wide open. In those boxes, when the FBI opened them in August 2022, were eleven documents marked Top Secret, thirty-six marked Secret, and twenty-eight marked Confidential. It would have been the least thrilling spy thriller ever made. No James Bond high-tech gadgets or George Smiley ingenuity—just turn up in a cocktail dress, slip through an open door, and help yourself to the US military’s contingency plans for invading Iran. Yet this ludicrous vulnerability to foreign spies is both remarkable and somewhat beside the point. The slapdash storage of classified papers is shocking—but also misleading. It defines the scandal as, in the words of Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman in The New York Times, ‘Mr. Trump’s indifference toward the country’s most sensitive secrets.’ But this is not a tale of indifference. Trump cared a great deal about the value of the documents. He cared enough, per the indictment, to suggest that his attorney lie to the FBI and a grand jury about what papers he did or did not have. Even Trump does not engage in a criminal conspiracy purely for its own sake. The retention of those boxes mattered to him because he understood the market value of what they contained.”


Sunday, 11 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky says counteroffensive commanders are in ‘positive mood’; Moscow detains U.S. citizen, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Annabelle Timsit, Maham Javaid, Isobel Koshiw, and Ben Brasch, Sunday, 11 June 2023: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says his military commanders are in a ‘positive mood’ as a long-anticipated counteroffensive gets underway. Official details on the counteroffensive are scant; Ukraine’s military has repeatedly said it wants to preserve the element of surprise. Analysts said Ukraine appears to be attacking on several fronts, including Velyka Novosilka in the Donetsk region and Orikhiv in the Zaporizhzhia region. In Moscow, a U.S. citizen has been taken into custody, according to a court statement.

  • Zelensky publicly confirmed the start of Ukraine’s counteroffensive for the first time, but he would not reveal details about what stage the fight is in. He said Saturday that he is in daily contact with military commanders on the front lines. ‘Appropriate counteroffensive and defensive actions are taking place in Ukraine,’ he said. ‘I believe we will certainly feel all this.’
  • A U.S. citizen was taken into custody in Moscow on Saturday, according to a Telegram statement from Moscow’s courts of general jurisdiction. The Khamovniki District Court of Moscow identified the man as Michael Travis Leek. (CNN reported that his name is Travis Leake.) He is accused of dealing drugs, according to the court, and will remain in custody until at least Aug. 6. The State Department said it was aware of an American being detained, but it declined to confirm anything about the case.
  • Russia’s Defense Ministry said Ukraine attacked a ship that is part of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. The ministry said in a statement Sunday that Ukrainian forces ‘made an unsuccessful attempt’ to attack the Priazovye about 1:30 a.m. local time, using six unmanned surface vehicles, or drone boats. The ship is tasked with monitoring pipelines that bring gas from Russia to Turkey, the ministry said. The Washington Post could not independently verify the claim, and Ukrainian officials have not spoken publicly about the allegation.
  • Two devices believed to be drones crashed in Russia’s Kaluga region early Sunday, its governor, Vladislav Shapsha, said on Telegram. One drone crashed in the Zhukovsky district, damaging two houses, and another device presumed to be a drone crashed in a forest in the Medynsky district, he said. No one was injured, Shapsha added. Kaluga is about 125 miles southwest of Moscow.
  • The leader of an international nuclear watchdog wants access to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant to ensure water levels are properly cooling the six reactors there, according to a Sunday statement. Rafael Mariano Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said water levels have been ‘dropping rapidly’ since the wartime destruction of the nearby Kakhovka reservoir last week. Grossi is expected to visit Kyiv and the plant this upcoming week, per the statement.
  • Russia’s detention of an American follows those of journalist Evan Gershkovich and security executive Paul Whelan, who have been accused of espionage; the U.S. government has called those accusations baseless. WNBA star Brittney Griner was released from Russian prison in December 2022, in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Arrested days before Russia invaded Ukraine, she later received a 9½-year prison sentence for possessing a vape cartridge with less than a gram of cannabis oil.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron called on his Iranian counterpart, Ebrahim Raisi, to put an end to drone deliveries that are supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine. Macron made the plea in a 90-minute phone call Saturday, Reuters reported. In its own readout of the talks, Tehran said Raisi declared that Iran has a ‘firm policy of opposing war’ and considers diplomacy ‘the best solution.’
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced about $375 million in new military aid during a surprise visit on Saturday to the Ukrainian capital, along with about $7.5 million to help with the humanitarian response to the collapse of the Kakhovka dam. Separately, Ottawa said it was seizing a Russian-registered cargo plane at the Toronto airport as part of sanctions against Moscow. It also unveiled new sanctions against 24 people ‘in direct response to Russia’s attempts to destroy Ukraine’s cultural sites, institutions and identity.’
  • Britain committed about $20 million in aid for people affected by flooding from the dam collapse, according to a news release. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is sending boats, community water filters, water pumps and waders to Ukraine to help with rescue efforts.

Trump Indictment Shows Critical Evidence Came From One of His Own Lawyers. M. Evan Corcoran, who was hired to represent the former president after the Justice Department issued a subpoena for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, could be a key witness in the trial. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Alan Feuer, and Ben Protess, Sunday, 11 June 2023: “The two indictments filed so far against former President Donald J. Trump — one brought by the Manhattan district attorney, the other by a Justice Department special counsel — charge him with very different crimes but have something in common: Both were based, at least in part, on the words of his own lawyers. In the 49-page federal indictment accusing him of retaining classified documents after leaving the White House and scheming to block government efforts to retrieve them, some of the most potentially damning evidence came from notes made by one of those lawyers, M. Evan Corcoran. Mr. Corcoran’s notes, first recorded into an iPhone and then transcribed on paper, essentially gave prosecutors a road map to building their case. Mr. Trump, according to the indictment, pressured Mr. Corcoran to thwart investigators from reclaiming reams of classified material and even suggested to him that it might be better to lie to investigators and withhold the documents altogether. Earlier this year, over Mr. Trump’s objections, the special counsel overseeing the investigation, Jack Smith, obtained the notes through an invocation of the crime-fraud exception. That exception is a provision of the law that allows prosecutors to work around the normal protections of attorney-client privilege if they have reason to believe and can demonstrate to a judge that a client used legal advice to further a crime.”

Why Trump was charged on secret documents and Clinton and Pence were not. The former president does not face illegal-retention charges for the classified documents he returned to the National Archives. The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Sunday, 11 June 2023: “When Donald Trump was indicted last week on charges of willful retention of classified documents, many Republicans, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, cried foul, arguing that the Justice Department was treating the 45th president differently than it has Democrats who’ve been investigated over possible mishandling of national security secrets. But the Trump indictment itself helps explain the difference between his case and other high-profile probes, like those of Hillary Clinton, President Biden and former vice president Mike Pence — not for what it charges, but for what it doesn’t… Notably,… the indictment does not charge Trump with the illegal retention of any of the 197 documents he returned to the archives. That shows that if Trump had simply returned all the classified documents he had, he probably never would have been charged with any crimes, said Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor.”

William Barr says Trump may be ‘toast’ after ‘very damning’ indictment. Former attorney general who has largely broken with Trump is ‘shocked by the degree of sensitivity’ of the documents. The Guardian, Maya Yang, Sunday, 11 June 2023: “Donald Trump’s former attorney general William Barr believes that the former president may be ‘toast’ as he faces a sweeping indictment of 37 federal criminal charges over his alleged mishandling of classified documents. Speaking to Fox News on Sunday following the release of the indictment, Barr, who served as the US attorney general under Trump from 2019 to 2020, said that he was ‘shocked by the degree of sensitivity at these documents and how many there were. I do think we have to wait and see what the defense says and what proves to be true. But I do think … if even half of it is true, then he’s toast … It’s a very detailed indictment and it’s very damning,’ said Barr. Barr has largely broken with Trump since he left office. His comments stand in stark contrast to Trump’s tirade against federal prosecutors who he said are pursuing him as part of a ‘witch-hunt.’ Barr added: ‘The government’s agenda was to … protect those documents and get them out and I think it was perfectly appropriate to do that. It was the right thing to do.’ Barr went on to push back against Trump’s narrative that he is the victim of a broader government ‘hoax’, saying: ‘Presenting Trump as a victim here, the victim of a witch-hunt, is ridiculous.'”


Monday, 12 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kyiv claims gains in counteroffensive; U.S. musician arrested on drug charges in Russia, The Washington Post, Niha Masih, Jennifer Hassan, and Sarah Dadouch, Monday, 12 June 2023: “Ukraine said it liberated seven villages in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions over the past week, according to a statement shared by Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar on Telegram, in what may be the country’s first gains in its long-anticipated counteroffensive. The Washington Post could not confirm whether Russian troops remain in either area. Russia has arrested an American expatriate on drug charges, according to the U.S. State Department.

  • Four of the villages in Donetsk — Neskuchne, Storozheve, Blahodatne and Makarivka — are about 80 miles north of the long-occupied city of Mariupol, which witnessed near-destruction after heavy Russian bombing last year. Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed in a statement to have repelled attacks in the area; Ukraine made no mention of losses that were inevitably incurred as part of the advance. The other communities — Lobkove, Levadne and Novodarivka — are in Zaporizhzhia.
  • The Institute for the Study of War confirmed Ukraine’s territorial gain but noted this was not yet a ‘breakthrough’ in an analysis Sunday. Ukrainian military officials have repeatedly refused to share details to maintain the element of surprise. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in confirming the start of the counteroffensive, said last week that his military commanders were in a ‘positive mood.’
  • The American detained in Moscow was identified as Michael Travis Leake, a State Department spokesperson said, adding that embassy officials were present for his arraignment over the weekend. Leake is reportedly a musician and is accused of selling drugs, a Russian court document said. His detention follows the recent detentions of journalist Evan Gershkovich of the Wall Street Journal and basketball player Brittney Griner, who was later released.
  • Representatives of the International Criminal Court visited the Kherson region following last week’s collapse of the Kakhovka dam, Zelensky said in his nightly address. Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for the dam’s rupture. Ukraine has asked the ICC to investigate what the government has described as an ‘ecocide.’
  • A meeting between President Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has been pushed to Tuesday, alongside other events scheduled for Monday that were postponed after Biden experienced discomfort following a root canal performed over the weekend. On the official agenda is support for Ukraine and the upcoming NATO summit in Lithuania. The meeting comes amid jockeying for Stoltenberg’s successor; [Stoltenberg’s] second four year term ended last September but was extended after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged ‘full support and solidarity’ to Moscow on Monday, Russia’s national day. In a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kim expressed hope that the two countries would continue to strengthen ties. ‘Justice is sure to win and the Russian people will continue to add glory to the history of victory,’ the message read. Last year, the White House accused the North Korean government of covertly funneling artillery shells to aid Russia in its war in Ukraine.
  • At a meeting in Paris on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Polish President Andrzej Duda discussed the question of NATO membership for Ukraine. Ahead of an annual NATO summit in July, Ukrainian officials and some European countries have pushed for a clearer path to membership, while other countries prefer to focus on short- and medium-term security support — leaving the membership debate for later. In recent weeks, the Biden administration and NATO allies have been sketching out plans for military support beyond the current offensive, with talk of bilateral or multilateral security pacts of some sort.
  • ‘It is of fundamental importance for Europe’s security that Russian imperialism be extinguished,’ tweeted the account of the office of the Polish president after the meeting.
  • An investigation is underway at Radio New Zealand after several news stories on the public broadcaster’s website were apparently edited to present pro-Russian sentiment. Paul Thompson, the company’s chief executive, said he was disappointed that ‘pro-Kremlin garbage has ended up in our stories.’ The company said Monday that the journalist, who has since been placed on leave, may have been altering stories for years before being detected last week.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Claims Further Small Gains in Early Stages of Counteroffensive. Kyiv says it has retaken another village in eastern Ukraine, as the campaign to push back Russian forces takes shape. The New York Times, Monday, 12 June 2023:

  • Ukraine claims it has recaptured another village in the east.

  • The latest U.S. aid package for Ukraine will include more armored fighting vehicles.

  • The leaders of France, Germany and Poland discuss more support for Ukraine.

  • NATO nations begin their biggest air force drills since the end of the Cold War.

  • Residents of a Ukrainian city are asked to cut water use by nearly half.

  • More than 2,500 Ukrainians have returned home in prisoner exchanges so far.

  • A Ukrainian refugee has won 500,000 euros in a Belgian lottery.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: The counteroffensive is on, and so is massive flooding, NPR, Alex Left, Monday, 12 June 2023: “Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: Ukraine’s counteroffensive to recapture territory from Russian forces is being closely watched. NATO’s kicking off a two-week military exercise called Air Defender 23, which host-country Germany bills as ‘the largest deployment exercise of air forces in NATO’s history.’ Russia is celebrating Russia Day, with President Vladimir Putin saying at a ‘difficult time’ for the country, patriotism unites society in support of their troops fighting in Ukraine. The White House had to reschedule a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House and other planned meetings because President Biden had a root canal. Rafael Mariano Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is on his way to Ukraine to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and visit the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Officials from Turkey and Sweden are due for talks this week on the Swedish bid to join NATO. NATO member states’ defense chiefs will meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. A meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission is scheduled for Thursday. What happened last week: Ukraine launched its much awaited counteroffensive, hitting different points of Russia’s defensive lines with newly NATO-supplied weaponry and retaking some villages. Russia’s government said its forces were mainly holding their ground and inflicting a significant toll on Ukrainian troops and tanks. Ukraine’s Kakhovka Dam burst, flooding areas with homes and farms and leading to major potential environmental and food problems. Russia and Ukraine blame each other for the dam’s destruction, while Ukraine’s leader called for an international investigation. Seismic stations picked up activity indicating an explosion at the dam. Another American was detained in Russia. A court in Moscow accused Michael Travis Leake, a musician based in Russia, of engaging in drug dealing with young people. Russia and Ukraine announced a prisoner swap of almost 100 captives on each side. President Biden hosted British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the White House and discussed their countries’ historic levels of security aid to Ukraine. Earlier in the week, the White House also hosted Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen.”

Trump Has Options for Fighting Charges, but They Might Face Challenges. The former president has already tested a variety of arguments to challenge his indictment in the classified documents case. They could be hard to sustain in court. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, and Ben Protess, Monday, 12 June 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump and his advisers have been scrambling down to the wire to assemble a legal team for his first scheduled court appearance on Tuesday after being charged with mishandling classified documents and obstructing the government’s efforts to retrieve them. But even when Mr. Trump figures out who will represent him, the lawyers will face a more significant challenge: how to rebut the charges in a criminal case in which their options may be limited. While no one knows precisely how Mr. Trump will go about attacking the most serious charges he has faced, his options for using the legal system to delay the case, turn it into a political circus or paint himself as a victim of federal prosecutors are numerous and varied. Even before his indictment, Mr. Trump, his allies and his lawyers had hinted at some of the arguments they could raise. They include asserting that Mr. Trump had a right to take the documents from the White House and that he had declassified them before leaving office. They could accuse the prosecutors of misconduct or try to show that he was a victim of selective prosecution. And they could seek to have potentially damning evidence excluded from the trial or try to force the government to disclose classified material that it wants to keep secret. But all of those claims could be difficult to sustain in court.” See also, How Trump Plans to Beat His Indictment, Politically. The former president keeps consolidating Republican support, but the legal peril is the greatest he has ever faced and adds to his challenges with independent voters. The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Maggie Haberman, and Jonathan Swan, Monday, 12 June 2023: “Donald J. Trump will make his first appearance in federal criminal court on Tuesday. But the former president has been pleading his case for days in a far friendlier venue — the court of Republican public opinion, where he continues to dominate the 2024 field. For Mr. Trump and his team, there has been a sense of familiarity, even normalcy, in the chaos of facing a 37-count indictment in the classified documents case. After two House impeachments, multiple criminal investigations, the jailing of his business’s former accountant, his former fixer and his former campaign manager, and now two criminal indictments, Mr. Trump knows the drill, and so do his supporters. The playbook is well-worn: Play the victim. Blame the ‘Deep State.’ Claim selective prosecution. Punish Republicans who stray for disloyalty. Dominate the news. Ply small donors for cash. His allies see the indictment as a chance to end the primary race before it has even begun in the minds of Republican voters by framing 2024 as an active battle with President Biden.”

Chris Christie Attacks Trump, Calling Conduct Detailed in Indictment ‘Awful.’ A former federal prosecutor, Chris Christie said he expected the government had much more evidence in its case against the former president. The New York Times, Katie Glueck and Maggie Astor, Monday, 12 June 2023: “Former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey laced into Donald J. Trump on prime-time television on Monday night, casting the former president as an ‘angry’ and ‘vengeful’ man who bears responsibility for thrusting the nation into another extraordinarily divisive moment, after Mr. Trump became the first former president in American history to face federal charges. During a roughly 90-minute CNN town hall in New York, a high-energy and often-polished Mr. Christie leaned on his background as a former federal prosecutor, saying he believed the indictment was ‘a very tight, very detailed, evidence-laden indictment, and the conduct in there is awful.’ Mr. Christie, who is running for president against Mr. Trump in a Republican primary field the former president dominates, said he believed prosecutors had more evidence than had been put forward so far. Mr. Trump faces 37 criminal counts related to issues including withholding national defense information and concealing possession of classified documents. ‘This is vanity run amok,’ Mr. Christie told the moderator, Anderson Cooper. ‘He is now going to put this country through this, when we didn’t have to go through it. He’s saying, I’m more important than the country,’ Mr. Christie said at another point, as he questioned why Mr. Trump had, according to prosecutors, refused to turn over critical government documents. He suggested the former president missed the ‘trappings of the presidency. We’re in a situation where there are people in my own party who are blaming D.O.J.,’ he said, referring to the Justice Department. ‘How about, blame him? He did it. He kept — he took documents he wasn’t supposed to take.'”


Tuesday, 13 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: 11 killed in missile attack on Zelensky’s hometown; Biden meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Annabelle Timsit, Adam Taylor, and Matt Viser, Tuesday, 13 June 2023: “At least 11 people were killed in an overnight missile attack on a residential building in the city of Kryvyi Rih, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown, Mayor Oleksandr Vilkul said. A few missiles were also directed at a warehouse storing bottled water, according to Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko. Zelensky said the strike was evidence of Russia’s war against ‘ordinary cities and people.’ President Biden met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday afternoon amid a host of issues confronting the alliance, including the ongoing war in Ukraine and potential membership for Sweden. The meeting, held in the Oval Office at the White House, precedes a summit in Lithuania next month during which NATO members are expected to discuss how to provide long-term security assistance to Ukraine.

  • Representatives of Zelensky’s administration supplied diplomats from ‘partnered’ countries with lists of ‘companies that supply Russia with components for murder,’ the Ukrainian president said in his evening address Tuesday. According to Zelensky, 50 components in one of the missiles that struck Kryvyi Rih could be traced to companies outside of Russia. ‘Every way of circumventing sanctions should be appropriately punished at the global level as well,’ Zelensky said. ‘Export controls over critical components must be tightened as much as possible.’
  • The Russian strike in Kryvyi Rih also injured 36 people, 12 of whom were hospitalized, some in critical condition, Vilkul said. The mayor said rescue operations were continuing as of 1 p.m. local time. He also announced a day of mourning on Wednesday.
  • Some 6,000 people were without power early Tuesday as a result of the strike against Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine’s government said. Workers were trapped in three mines as a result of the power outage but were later rescued, the government said.
  • The Biden administration said Tuesday it would send Ukraine another $325 million in military supplies from U.S. stockpiles. The package includes 25 armored vehicles, possibly to replace those destroyed as fighting intensifies, plus additional Javelin missile launchers and other weapons for targeting Russian tanks, more artillery and air defense munitions, and millions of small-arms rounds and grenades.
  • Four lawmakers sent a letter to Biden administration officials expressing concern about South Africa’s apparent support of Russia in its war against Ukraine. In the letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post, the lawmakers — Sens. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and James E. Risch (R-Idaho), as well as Reps. Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) — urge the White House to relocate an upcoming summit on African economic growth from South Africa, saying that keeping that location might serve as an ‘implicit endorsement of South Africa’s damaging support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.’ The letter accuses South Africa of ‘covertly [supplying] Russia with arms and ammunition,’ citing ‘intelligence’ on the matter.
  • Russia directed cruise missiles at Kyiv overnight, the city’s military administration said. No one was killed or injured, and Ukrainian air defenses managed to destroy all the missiles, the administration said. ‘Another night of Russian missiles, another morning of shattered homes,’ tweeted U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A. Brink.
  • Biden reiterated U.S. commitment to the defense of all NATO territory at the start of his meeting with Stoltenberg, saying, ‘we see our joint strength in modernizing relationships within NATO, as well as providing … defense capabilities to Ukraine.’ Biden added: ‘We’ve strengthened NATO’s eastern flank, made it clear we’ll defended every inch of NATO territory[.] … At our summit in Lithuania next month, we’re going to be building on that momentum.’
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday he expects NATO will commit to a ‘robust package’ of both political and practical support for Ukraine at next month’s summit in Lithuania. The top U.S. diplomat made the remarks ahead of his meeting at the State Department with Stoltenberg, who praised the U.S. for its support for Ukraine while insisting that ‘European allies are also doing their part’ by providing tens of billions of dollars of economic and military support to Ukraine.
  • Stoltenberg said Ukraine is ‘making advances’ and ‘gaining ground’ in its latest counteroffensive, in remarks made before his meeting with Blinken. ‘This is still early days, but what we all know is that the more land the Ukrainians are able to liberate, the stronger their hand will be at the negotiating table,’ the secretary general said.
  • Belarus’s president said ‘everything is ready’ for the delivery of tactical nuclear weapons from Russia. In comments to the state-run news agency BelTA published Tuesday, Alexander Lukashenko said that in a few days, ‘we will have what we asked for. And even a little bit more.’ He did not give further details. Allies Russia and Belarus signed an agreement last month for the transfer of nuclear warheads to Belarusian territory, drawing international condemnation. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the deployment would happen next month.
  • The author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ said she is halting the publication of her new book, set in Siberia, after receiving backlash from Ukrainians. Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘The Snow Forest’ was scheduled for release in February. But in a video Monday, Gilbert said she was ‘removing the book from its publication schedule’ after receiving a ‘massive outpouring of reactions and responses from my Ukrainian readers, expressing anger, sorrow, disappointment and pain about the fact that I would choose to release a book into the world right now, any book, no matter what the subject of it is, that is set in Russia.’ Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive of the free-speech advocacy group PEN America, lamented the decision. ‘The idea that, in wartime, creativity and artistic expression should be preemptively shut down to avoid somehow compounding harms caused by military aggression is wrongheaded,’ she said.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia Strikes Back in South in Areas Ukraine Said It Had Retaken. One village at the center of the fighting, Makarivka, was reduced to ruins, a Ukrainian military spokesman said. The New York Times, Tuesday, 13 June 2023:

  • Russians open counterattack in a southern village that Ukraine said it had recaptured.

  • Putin addresses the war in an unusual talk with Russian journalists.

  • NATO leader says Western aid is making a difference early in Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

  • In Kryvyi Rih, the Ukrainian president’s hometown, rescuers dig victims out of the rubble after Russia’s latest strike.

  • U.N.’s atomic watchdog says he will cross the front line to check the safety of the Ukrainian nuclear plant.

  • International aid teams still cannot reach flood-hit areas under Russia’s control.

Trump Arraignment: Trump Pleads Not Guilty in Documents Case. Donald Trump, the first former president to be charged with federal crimes, was arraigned on 37 counts related to his handling of classified documents. After his court appearance in Miami, he spoke to supporters at his golf club in Bedminster. N.J. The New York Times, Glenn Thrush, Nicholas Nehamas, and Eileen Sullivan, Tuesday, 13 June 2023: “Donald J. Trump, twice impeached as president and now twice indicted since leaving the White House, surrendered to federal authorities in Miami on Tuesday and was arraigned on charges that he had put national security secrets at risk and obstructed investigators. Mr. Trump was booked, fingerprinted and led to a courtroom on the 13th floor of the Federal District Court, where his lawyer entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf. Sitting among the spectators about 20 feet away was Jack Smith, the special counsel overseeing the investigation that led to the 38-count indictment of Mr. Trump and his personal aide, Walt Nauta, who was also present for the proceedings but did not enter a plea. Mr. Trump, who spent much of the arraignment with his arms folded and a grim expression, and Mr. Smith, a flinty former war crimes prosecutor rarely seen in public since taking charge of the case, did not talk to each other at the hearing, or even exchange glances. The 50-minute hearing, both mundane and momentous, marked the start of what is sure to be at least a monthslong process of bringing Mr. Trump to trial against the backdrop of a presidential race in which he is the front-runner for the Republican nomination.” See also, Trump arraigned, pleads not guilty to 37 classified documents charges. After scowling through a court hearing, the former president tries to fundraise and hype his candidacy, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, David Ovalle, Devlin Barrett, and Perry Stein, Tuesday, 13 June 2023: “Donald Trump pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal charges that he broke the law dozens of times by keeping and hiding top-secret documents in his Florida home — the first hearing in a historic court case that could alter the country’s political and legal landscape. ‘We most certainly enter a plea of not guilty,’ Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche said at the arraignment in a small but packed courtroom, where Trump sat at the defense table scowling and with his arms folded for much of the hearing. Flanked by two of his lawyers, Blanche and Christopher Kise, the former president listened impassively as U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman said he planned to order the former president not to have any contact with witnesses in the case — or his co-defendant, Waltine ‘Walt’ Nauta — as the case proceeds. Trump did not speak except to whisper to Blanche, seated to his right, and Kise on his left. Blanche objected to the judge’s proposal, saying that Nauta and a number of witnesses are members of Trump’s staff or security detail who rely on him for their livelihood. The facts of the case, Blanche said, revolve around ‘everything in President Trump’s life.’ The judge relented somewhat, saying that Trump should not speak to Nauta or witnesses about the facts of the case. As to which Trump employees might be affected by the restriction, the judge instructed the prosecution team to provide a list.” See also, Trump pleads not guilty to federal charges that he illegally kept classified documents, Associated Press, Eric Tucker, Alanna Durkin Richer, and Adriana Gomez Licon, Tuesday, 13 June 2023: “Donald Trump became the first former president to face a judge on federal charges as he pleaded not guilty in a Miami courtroom Tuesday to dozens of felony counts accusing him of hoarding classified documents and refusing government demands to give them back. The history-making court date, centered on charges that Trump mishandled government secrets that as commander-in-chief he was entrusted to protect, kickstarts a legal process that will unfold at the height of the 2024 presidential campaign and carry profound consequences not only for his political future but also for his own personal liberty. Trump approached his arraignment with characteristic bravado, posting social media broadsides against the prosecution from inside his motorcade en route to the courthouse and insisting — as he has through years of legal woes — that he has done nothing wrong and was being persecuted for political purposes. But inside the courtroom, he sat silently, scowling and arms crossed, as a lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf in a brief arraignment that ended without him having to surrender his passport or otherwise restrict his travel. The arraignment, though largely procedural in nature, was the latest in an unprecedented reckoning this year for Trump, who faces charges in New York arising from hush money payments during his 2016 presidential campaign as well as ongoing investigations in Washington and Atlanta into efforts to undo the results of the 2020 race.” See also, Trump pleads not guilty in classified documents case. The Former president appeared in court in Miami to face charges that he jeopardized military secrets after he left the White House. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Josh Gerstein, and Andrew Atterbury, Tuesday, 13 June 2023: “Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal criminal charges that he hoarded classified military secrets at his estate in Mar-a-Lago and hindered the government’s attempts to get the documents back. ‘Your honor, we most certainly enter a plea of not guilty,’ Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche told the federal magistrate judge who presided over Trump’s 48-minute arraignment. After the hearing, Trump was released on his own recognizance. Prosecutors did not ask for any significant pretrial conditions, such as restrictions on his travel or the surrender of his passport. The magistrate judge, Jonathan Goodman, did order Trump not to discuss the case with potential witnesses outside the presence of his lawyers.” See also, Donald Trump pleads not guilty to classified documents charges, CNN Politics, Tierney Sneed, Hannah Rabinowitz, Jeremy Herb, Holmes Lybrand, and Katelyn Polantz, Tuesday, 13 June 2023: “Former President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 37 charges related to alleged mishandling of classified documents. Trump’s lawyers asked for a jury trial during the former president’s arraignment Tuesday at a federal courthouse in Miami. ‘We most certainly enter a plea of not guilty,’ Trump attorney Todd Blanche told the judge. During the hearing, Trump sat hunched over with his arms crossed and a scowl on his face. He did not speak. Trump’s aide and co-defendant, Walt Nauta, was also arrested, fingerprinted and processed. He had an initial appearance Tuesday but will not be arraigned until June 27. Here’s what else happened at Tuesday’s hearing, which ended after roughly 45 minutes:

  • Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman ruled that Trump could not communicate with Nauta about the case. The judge also told prosecutors to make a list of potential witnesses that Trump can’t communicate with about the case – except through counsel.
  • The judge did not, however, place any travel restrictions on either defendant.
  • The Justice Department recommended that both Trump and Nauta be released with no financial or special conditions. Prosecutor David Harbach said that ‘the government does not view either defendant as a flight risk.’
  • Goodman began the hearing thanking ‘the entire law enforcement community’ for their work on Tuesday.
  • Before the arraignment hearing, deputy marshals booked the former president and took electronic copies of his fingerprints. They did not take a mugshot of Trump since he is easily recognizable. The booking process took about 10 minutes.

Trump’s Misleading Defenses in the Classified Documents Case. The former president drew misleading comparisons to others, misconstrued the classification process, and leveled inaccurate attacks at officials. The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Tuesday, 13 June 2023: “Hours after pleading not guilty in a federal court in Miami to charges related to his handling of classified documents, former President Donald J. Trump defended his conduct on Tuesday with a string of familiar falsehoods…. Here’s a fact check of claims Mr. Trump made related to the inquiry.”

Judge allows E. Jean Carroll to amend her defamation lawsuit to seek more damages against Trump, CNN Politics, Kara Scannell, Tuesday, 13 June 2023: “A federal judge will allow E. Jean Carroll to amend her original defamation lawsuit against former President Donald Trump to include comments he made at a CNN town hall. Carroll, a former magazine columnist, asked the judge for permission to amend the initial November 2019 lawsuit so she could try to seek additional punitive damages after Trump repeated statements a federal jury found to be defamatory. The allowance comes as Trump’s legal troubles have mounted in recent days. Also Tuesday, the former president was arraigned at a federal courthouse in Miami and pleaded not guilty to criminal charges related to alleged mishandling of classified documents in a case brought by the Justice Department. ‘We look forward to moving ahead expeditiously on E Jean Carroll’s remaining claims,’ Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, said Tuesday. Last month, a jury found in favor of Carroll in her second civil lawsuit, which went to trial. The jury found that Trump sexually abused Carroll and defamed her by denying the attack, saying she wasn’t his type and calling her allegations a hoax.”


Wednesday, 14 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Germany ahead of defense meetings; missile strike hits Odessa, Kyiv says, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Annabelle Timsit, Dan Lamothe, Loveday Morris, and Adam Taylor, Wednesday, 14 June 2023: “Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is at U.S. military headquarters in western Germany ahead of a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a gathering of leaders from dozens of countries assisting the government in Kyiv. A Russian missile strike hit a commercial area in Ukraine’s major southern port of Odessa overnight, killing at least three people and injuring 13, the Ukrainian army’s southern command said early Wednesday. More victims could be trapped under rubble, it said.

  • Austin toured U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, home of U.S. Army Europe and Africa, and met with U.S. and allied forces focused on supporting Ukraine. The Pentagon said in a statement that Austin spoke by phone with his Ukrainian counterpart, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. Their call came ahead of a Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting this month in Brussels, which the Pentagon said ‘will focus on bolstering Ukraine’s air defense and other near-term capability priorities, as well as training and sustainment to enhance Ukraine’s enduring strength over the long term.’
  • Russia fired four cruise missiles at Odessa from the Black Sea, three of which were shot down by air defenses, the Ukrainian air force said. One missile struck a civilian object, it said. The air force said Russia also launched 10 attack drones toward Ukraine’s southeast. The Ukrainians claimed that nine of them were shot down.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for tougher sanctions on manufacturers of missile components following a Russian attack on his hometown of Kryvyi Rih that killed 12 people and injured more than 30. Local officials declared Wednesday a day of mourning. Zelensky said some 50 components — mostly microelectronics — in one of the missiles that struck Kryvyi Rih were produced in countries outside Russia. It is less expensive, he said, to cut off the supply of components than to spend money on air defense.
  • Germany’s much-anticipated first national security strategy states that Russia is ‘for now the most significant threat to peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic area.’ The strategy, unveiled Wednesday, lays out Germany’s foreign policy and defense priorities in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but contains few concrete steps for achieving them. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described it as ‘not an end point but a starting point.’ It includes a written commitment to spend 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense, in line with Germany’s preexisting pledge to NATO, but qualifies that this would be ‘an average over a multi-year period.’
  • Russians are almost evenly split between those who think that the invasion of Ukraine has been beneficial or done more harm, according to a new poll by the Russian-based Levada Center in collaboration with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. There is more of a sense that it has been successful since Russia’s recent gains in Bakhmut, the survey found. Accurate measurements of public opinion are difficult in places like Russia, where authorities clamp down on any dissent.
  • A delegation of seven African countries will visit Ukraine and Russia to discuss a possible negotiated settlement to the war in Ukraine, Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said. Putin will meet the delegation on Saturday, Ushakov said. Beforehand, the delegation will visit Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian leaders, he added.
  • The U.N. refugee agency recorded its ‘largest ever increase’ in the year-on-year number of forcibly displaced people and said it was driven in large part by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Between late 2021 and late 2022, the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide — 108.4 million at the end of 2022 — increased by 19 million, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said in its yearly trends report. The war in Ukraine contributed to the increase by creating ‘the fastest displacement crisis, and one of the largest, since the Second World War,’ UNHCR said. Some 11.6 million Ukrainians remained displaced at the end of 2022, the agency said.
  • A top Republican is halting a $735 million U.S. arms sale to Hungary over the country’s refusal to approve NATO membership for Sweden. The move comes ahead of a NATO summit next month, where Ukraine will be leading the agenda. ‘For some time now, I have directly expressed my concerns to the Hungarian government regarding its refusal to move forward a vote for Sweden to join NATO,’ Sen. James E. Risch (Idaho) said in a statement to The Washington Post. ‘The fact that it is now June and still not done, I decided that the sale of new U.S. military equipment to Hungary will be on hold,’ he added. As the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Risch must approve the sale of the weapons before the process can move forward.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian Airstrikes Kill 6 Civilians as Kyiv’s Offensive Grinds on. A missile hit a warehouse in Odesa, killing at least three workers, while three more civilians were killed in the Donetsk region, Ukrainian officials said. The New York Times, Wednesday, 14 June 2023:

  • At least 6 people are killed in Russian strikes across Ukraine.

  • Lukashenko says Belarus has started receiving Russian nuclear weapons.

  • France says Russians put up fake websites to spread false information.

  • Talks in Turkey on Sweden’s bid to join NATO end with no progress reported.

  • The Russian military was behind cyberattacks in Ukraine before the invasion last year, Microsoft says.

  • Here is where the counteroffensive stands.

  • Navalny’s allies get years in prison as Russia cracks down on dissent.

Aileen Cannon, Judge in Trump Documents Case, Has Scant Criminal Trial Experience. Cannon, under scrutiny for past rulings favoring the former president, has presided over only a few criminal cases that went to trial. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 14 June 2023: “Aileen M. Cannon, the Federal District Court judge assigned to preside over former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case, has scant experience running criminal trials, calling into question her readiness to handle what is likely to be an extraordinarily complex and high-profile courtroom clash. Judge Cannon, 42, has been on the bench since November 2020, when Mr. Trump gave her a lifetime appointment shortly after he lost re-election. She had not previously served as any kind of judge, and because about 98 percent of federal criminal cases are resolved with plea deals, she has had only a limited opportunity to learn how to preside over a trial. A Bloomberg Law database lists 224 criminal cases that have been assigned to her, and a New York Times review of those cases identified four that went to trial. Each was a relatively routine matter, like a felon who was charged with illegally possessing a gun. In all, the four cases added up to 14 trial days. Judge Cannon’s suitability to handle such a high-stakes and high-profile case has already attracted scrutiny amid widespread perceptions that she demonstrated bias in the former president’s favor last year, when she oversaw a long-shot lawsuit filed by Mr. Trump challenging the F.B.I.’s court-approved search of his Florida home and club, Mar-a-Lago. In that case, she shocked legal experts across the ideological divide by disrupting the investigation — including suggesting that Mr. Trump gets special protections as a former president that any other target of a search warrant would not receive — before a conservative appeals court shut her down, ruling that she never had legitimate legal authority to intervene. ‘She’s both an inexperienced judge and a judge who has previously indicated that she thinks the former president is subject to special rules so who knows what she will do with those issues?’ said Julie O’Sullivan, a Georgetown University criminal law professor and former federal prosecutor.”

Fox News Chyron Calls Biden a ‘Wannabe Dictator’ Who Had ‘His Political Rival Arrested.’ The onscreen text appeared Tuesday beneath split-screen footage of President Biden and former President Trump, who had been charged with federal crimes hours earlier. The New York Times, Mike Ives, Wednesday, 14 June 2023: “A Fox News chyron appeared to refer to President Biden as a ‘wannabe dictator’ during footage of his remarks from the White House on Tuesday, the same day that former President Donald J. Trump was charged with federal crimes in a Miami courtroom. The onscreen text appeared briefly at the bottom of a split-screen broadcast that showed President Biden and Mr. Trump speaking from respective lecterns, at the White House and a Trump golf club in Bedminster, N.J. ‘Wannabe dictator speaks at the White House after having his political rival arrested,’ the chyron read. It did not refer to Mr. Biden by name, but the implication was clear. The alert appeared at the end of the 8 p.m. broadcast of ‘Fox News Tonight,’ a show that recently replaced one that had been hosted by Tucker Carlson, a popular prime-time host who was dismissed by the network in April. The footage of Mr. Biden showed him speaking on the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday at a holiday event.” See also, Fox News labels Joe Biden a ‘wannabe dictator’ during Trump speech. Fox was the only major cable news network to carry the former US president’s speech live following his arraignment hearing earlier in the day. The Guardian, Royce Kurmelovs, Wednesday, 14 June 2023: “Fox News labelled US president Joe Biden a ‘wannabe dictator’ who attempted to have ‘his political rival arrested’ during a live broadcast of Donald Trump’s post-arraignment speech. The network was the only major cable news network to carry Trump’s Tuesday evening speech live, with CNN and MSNBC choosing not to air the address. Towards the end of the speech, viewers were presented with a split screen carrying a separate speech from Biden at the White House. Below the image, the news chyron read: ‘wannabe dictator speaks at the White House after having his political rival arrested.'”

How to hold a public trial when the key evidence is classified. The case against Donald Trump will test the legal system’s ability to guard national secrets while guaranteeing a fair and open trial. Politico, Betsy Woodruff Swan and Erica Orden, Wednesday, 14 June 2023: “If the new criminal case against former President Donald Trump goes to trial, America’s enemies will be watching. That’s because the charges he faces hinge on documents that allegedly contain some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets. And while the U.S. intelligence community wants its secrets to stay secret, the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a public trial. The inherent tension between the Justice Department’s public-facing mission and the intelligence community’s secret work arises often in Espionage Act cases. When defendants — like Trump — are accused of illegally hoarding classified documents, those documents may be critical evidence, but admitting them into the public record poses obvious problems. In such cases, a 1980 federal law known as the Classified Information Procedures Act is supposed to balance the government’s interest in maintaining secrecy with a defendant’s right to a fair trial. CIPA will be key as the DOJ prosecutes Trump, experts on national security law told POLITICO.”

Jack Smith’s Backup Option. Donald Trump was indicted in Florida. Could he also face charges in New Jersey? The Atlantic, Rya Goodman and Andrew Weissmann, Wednesday, 14 June 2023: “Even before last Thursday’s indictment in United States v. Donald Trump, public speculation swirled about whether the former president had taken classified documents not just to Mar-a-Lago but also to his residence and golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The indictment answered that question with a bang while presenting a new puzzle about why Trump isn’t facing even steeper charges. According to the Justice Department and a taped recording of the former president, Trump took classified records from Mar-a-Lago to Bedminster, where he showed off the contents of such records to others. The indictment alleges that Trump showed a map to a political ally and also showed a writer and a publisher a secret military plan to attack Iran. These two episodes were arguably the most egregious allegations of criminal wrongdoing mentioned in the indictment; they allege not just the improper retention of our nation’s most highly classified information, but the intentional communication of such information. But these two allegations raise a question: Why did Special Counsel Jack Smith charge Trump with illegal retention of classified documents but not with dissemination of such materials? And is that decision final, or could dissemination charges still be in the works?”

They Are Trump’s Aides and Lawyers. Now They Could Be Trial Witnesses. The former president is surrounded by people who have provided testimony and evidence to federal investigators. He’s not supposed to discuss the case with any of them. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, and Glenn Thrush, Wednesday, 14 June 2023: “Throughout the inquiry into former President Donald J. Trump’s handling of classified material, his insular world at Mar-a-Lago was rife with intrigue, anxiety and competing motives as investigators sought testimony and evidence from some of his closest aides, advisers, lawyers and even members of his Secret Service detail. Now, with Mr. Trump under federal indictment and with people who currently, or used to, work for him seen as potential prosecution witnesses, the pressure on those around him — both at Mar-a-Lago in Florida and at his summer residence in Bedminster, N.J. — has only increased. Mr. Trump is in the position of waging a presidential campaign and preparing a defense at the same time. Complicating matters, he has been forbidden from discussing the latter with a number of people who could presumably help him with the former, some of whom are no doubt wondering who is saying what to the government as they go about their jobs. In court in Miami on Tuesday, the federal magistrate judge who handled Mr. Trump’s arraignment ordered the former president not to discuss the case with his co-defendant and personal aide, Walt Nauta, saying that any communications about it would have to go through their lawyers. The judge also made clear that he did not want Mr. Trump talking about the facts in his indictment with any potential witnesses, leading prosecutors to agree to provide him and his lawyers with a further list of people with whom he would have to be careful in conversation. As was the case with the House select committee’s investigation last year into Mr. Trump’s efforts to retain power after his election loss, much of the evidence in the documents inquiry has come from people in Mr. Trump’s inner circle, underscoring the costs and limits of loyalty to him.”


Thursday, 15 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hosts Kyiv’s backers in Brussels; Pentagon says the counteroffensive ‘is a marathon and not a sprint,’ The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Adela Sulliman, Sarah Dadouch, and Dan Lamothe, Thursday, 15 June 2023: “Speaking at a conference in Brussels, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday praised Ukrainian ‘resilience’ as senior Pentagon officials said they expect a lengthy and ‘very violent’ fight during Ukraine’s counteroffensive to drive out Russian troops. Austin said military equipment and training would continue to flow, ensuring that Kyiv can ‘prevail over [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s campaign of cruelty and conquest.’ He also met with his Ukrainian counterpart at a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which includes ministers from almost 50 countries assisting Kyiv’s war efforts. ‘Ukraine’s fight is a marathon and not a sprint,’ Austin noted in his opening remarks.

  • Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it would be ‘very premature’ to try to put an end date on the counteroffensive, noting that the battle will ‘likely take a considerable amount of time — and at high cost.’ Austin noted that photographs of Western combat vehicles damaged in battle have cropped up but said Ukrainian forces are able to recover and repair the equipment.
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that financial and military aid is making a difference on the battlefield as Ukraine’s highly anticipated counteroffensive begins. He said ‘fierce fighting’ is underway as the alliance moves to strengthen defense spending. Earlier this week, Stoltenberg met with President Biden in Washington to discuss the ongoing conflict.
  • ‘A significant amount of forces and resources’ have been concentrated in the east of the country, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on her Telegram channel. She cited progress on offensive fronts despite intensified Russian aerial bombardment and artillery and mortar attacks. ‘Our troops are dealing with strong enemy resistance and their superiority in numbers of men and weapons,’ she wrote. But she claimed that Ukrainian forces are ‘gradually but surely moving forward and inflicting significant losses on the enemy.’
  • Sweden has agreed to some form of fighter jet ‘testing’ for Ukraine, said Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, as part of a program that committed several countries to training Ukrainian pilots on advanced fighter jets. Speaking in Brussels at a gathering of defense officials of countries supporting Ukraine, Reznikov expressed excitement about the ‘so-called bird coalition,’ led by the Netherlands and Denmark. Sweden flies Swedish-made Gripen fighter jets, while the Netherlands and Denmark fly the U.S.-made F-16.
  • Norway and Denmark have agreed to send an additional 9,000 artillery rounds to Ukraine, Norway’s Defense Ministry said in a statement Thursday. ‘Ukraine has an urgent need for artillery ammunition,’ said Norwegian Defense Minister Bjorn Arild Gram. Both Scandinavian nations have previously sent artillery to support Kyiv. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted his gratitude for the ‘new joint defense assistance package.’
  • More than 2 million Ukrainian children have been forced to flee since the war began, according to UNICEF. The conflict has internally displaced an additional 1 million, the U.N. children’s agency said in a statement ahead of World Refugee Day. It said it was struggling to keep pace with the rising numbers and that its capacity to respond is under ‘serious strain.’
  • The Australian government passed legislation to curtail plans by Russia to build a new embassy in the capital, Canberra, near Parliament. ‘The government has received very clear security advice as to the risk presented by a new Russian presence so close to Parliament House,’ Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said at a news conference Thursday. The site has been subject to long-running litigation. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov criticized the decision, calling it ‘Russophobic hysteria.’
  • The United States has sent Air Force F-22 Raptors to the Middle East to counter what military officials described as increasingly ‘unsafe and unprofessional behavior’ by Russian aircraft in the region. ‘Their regular violation of agreed upon airspace deconfliction measures increases the risk of escalation or miscalculation,’ Gen. Michael ‘Erik’ Kurilla, commander of U.S. Central Command, said in a statement.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Reports Slow Progress at Start of Counteroffensive. For a third day, Kyiv did not claim to have retaken any villages, as Russian strikes and heavily mined fields pose obstacles. The New York Times, Thursday, 15 June 2023:

  • Ukrainian forces find it ‘very difficult to advance’ in the southeast.

  • Ukraine builds an ‘Army of Drones’ to drop explosives on the front lines.

  • NATO defense chiefs vow to stand by Ukraine, pledging more air defenses and training for fighter pilots.

  • A Russian antiwar activist dies in custody after claiming he had been tortured.

  • Grossi says the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has enough water for now.

  • Zelensky pleads with Switzerland to provide ‘vital’ weapons.

  • Russian missiles break through Ukraine’s air defenses in cities far from front lines.

  • The dam collapse in Ukraine flooded 19,000 buildings in just four cities, a report says.

Supreme Court Upholds Native American Adoption Law. At issue in the case was whether a law aimed at keeping Native American adoptees within tribes is constitutional. The New York Times, Abbie Van Sickle, Thursday, 15 June 2023: “The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a 1978 law aimed at keeping Native American adoptees with their tribes and traditions, handing a victory to tribes that had argued that a blow to the law would upend the basic principles that have allowed them to govern themselves for years. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, writing for the majority, affirmed the power of Congress to make laws about Native American tribes and child welfare. But the ruling did not resolve the question of whether the law, the Indian Child Welfare Act, discriminated against non-Native families based on race. The vote was 7 to 2, with Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissenting. The case pitted a white foster couple from Texas against five tribes and the Interior Department as they battled over the adoption of a Native American child. Under the act, preference is given to Native families, a policy that the couple said violated equal protection principles because it hinges on placement based on race. The tribes have said that they are political entities, not racial groups. Doing away with that distinction, which underpins tribal rights, they argued, could imperil nearly every aspect of Indian law and policy, including measures that govern access to land, water and gambling.” See also, Supreme Court rules native adoptions can give priority to tribal families, The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow and Robert Barnes, Thursday, 15 June 2023: “The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a federal law, intended to rectify past government abuses, that gives preference to the foster care and adoption of Native American children by their relatives and tribes. In a 7-2 decision, the court left in place the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which was passed to remedy what Congress said was a disgraceful history in which hundreds of thousands of Native American children were removed from their homes by adoption agencies and placed with White families or in group settings. ‘Congress’s power to legislate with respect to Indians is well established and broad,’ even when it impacts family law, an area that is primarily a state responsibility, Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote for the majority. ‘It is true that Congress lacks general power over domestic relations,’ Barrett added. ‘But the Constitution does not erect a firewall around family law.'” See also, Supreme Court preserves law that aims to keep Native American children with tribal families, Associated Press, Mark Sherman, Thursday, 15 June 2023: “The Supreme Court on Thursday preserved the system that gives preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings of Native children, rejecting a broad attack from some Republican-led states and white families who argued it is based on race. The court left in place the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, which was enacted to address concerns that Native children were being separated from their families and, too frequently, placed in non-Native homes. Tribal leaders have backed the law as a means of preserving their families, traditions and cultures and had warned that a broad ruling against the tribes could have undermined their ability to govern themselves. The ‘issues are complicated’ Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote for a seven-justice majority that included the court’s three liberals and four of its six conservatives, but the ‘bottom line is that we reject all of petitioners’ challenges to the statute.'” See also, The Supreme Court leaves Indian Child Welfare Act intact, NPR, Nina Totenberg and Meghanlata Gupta, Thursday, 15 June 2023: “In a major victory for Native American rights, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld key provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law enacted 45 years ago to remedy decades of past government abuse. By a 7-2 vote, the court ruled that the law does not impermissibly impose a federal mandate on traditionally state-regulated areas of power. Writing for the court majority, Justice Amy Coney Barrett pointed to two centuries of precedent that have established a broad congressional right to legislate on Indian affairs, including family law matters. ‘The Constitution does not erect a firewall around family law,’ she said. ‘On the contrary,’ she wrote, ‘we have not hesitated to find conflicting state family law pre-empted’ by federal law. While the tone of Barrett’s opinion was often technical, it is noteworthy that two of her seven children are adopted, as are Chief Justice John Robert’s children.”

Trump rejected lawyers’ efforts to avoid classified documents indictment. The former president was not interested in attempting to negotiate a settlement in the classified documents investigation. The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany, Thursday, 15 June 2023: “One of Donald Trump’s new attorneys proposed an idea in the fall of 2022: The former president’s team could try to arrange a settlement with the Justice Department. The attorney, Christopher Kise, wanted to quietly approach Justice to see if he could negotiate a settlement that would preclude charges, hoping Attorney General Merrick Garland and the department would want an exit ramp to avoid prosecuting a former president. Kise would hopefully ‘take the temperature down,’ he told others, by promising a professional approach and the return of all documents. But Trump was not interested after listening to other lawyers who urged a more pugilistic approach, so Kise never approached prosecutors, three people briefed on the matter said. A special counsel was appointed months later. Kise, a former solicitor general of Florida who was paid $3 million upfront to join Trump’s team last year, declined to comment. That quiet entreaty last fall was one of many occasions when lawyers and advisers sought to get Trump to take a more cooperative stance in a bid to avoid what happened Friday. The Justice Department unsealed an indictment including more than three dozen criminal counts against Trump for allegedly keeping and hiding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.”

The Radical Strategy Behind Trump’s Promise to ‘Go After’ Biden. Conservatives with close ties to Donald Trump are laying out a ‘paradigm-shifting’ legal rationale to erase the Justice Department’s independence from the president. The New York Times, Jonathan Swan, Charlie Savage, and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 15 June 2023: “When Donald J. Trump responded to his latest indictment by promising to appoint a special prosecutor if he’s re-elected to ‘go after’ President Biden and his family, he signaled that a second Trump term would fully jettison the post-Watergate norm of Justice Department independence. ‘I will appoint a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in the history of the United States of America, Joe Biden, and the entire Biden crime family,’ Mr. Trump said at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., on Tuesday night after his arraignment earlier that day in Miami. ‘I will totally obliterate the Deep State.’ Mr. Trump’s message was that the Justice Department charged him only because he is Mr. Biden’s political opponent, so he would invert that supposed politicization. In reality, under Attorney General Merrick Garland, two Trump-appointed prosecutors are already investigating Mr. Biden’s handling of classified documents and the financial dealings of his son, Hunter. But by suggesting the current prosecutors investigating the Bidens were not ‘real,’ Mr. Trump appeared to be promising his supporters that he would appoint an ally who would bring charges against his political enemies regardless of the facts. The naked politics infusing Mr. Trump’s headline-generating threat underscored something significant. In his first term, Mr. Trump gradually ramped up pressure on the Justice Department, eroding its traditional independence from White House political control. He is now unabashedly saying he will throw that effort into overdrive if he returns to power.”


Friday, 16 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin says he has ‘no doubt’ the counteroffensive will fail as African leaders meet in Kyiv, The Washington Post, Adela Suliman, Andrew Jeong, Eve Sampson, and Joyce Sohyun Lee, Friday, 16 June 2023: “Leaders of several African nations arrived in Ukraine on Friday on a diplomatic tour aimed at encouraging peace negotiations and highlighting the impact of the conflict on their continent. The group, led by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, traveled by train from Poland to Kyiv. He and officials from Senegal, Egypt, Zambia and the Comoros later toured the town of Bucha, visiting a church and the site of a mass grave. Ukrainian officials said in statements that Ukrainian forces shot down Russian missiles fired at Kyiv as the delegates arrived. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ramaphosa held a news conference, at which they agreed to continuing their ‘engagement.’ The delegation will travel to Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin on Saturday.

Putin, in an address to Russian business elites at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, said Ukraine was taking heavy losses in the counteroffensive it began this month and would ‘no doubt’ fail, even with the use of units held in strategic reserve. He also attacked Zelensky, calling him a ‘disgrace to Jewish people.’ Putin has long described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an effort to ‘denazify’ the country and has often repeated false claims about the prevalence of Nazi sympathies in Ukraine, as part of a message intended to sell the war to Russians. Zelensky is Jewish, and many of his relatives were killed by Nazis in the Holocaust.

  • In Europe, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other senior officials from NATO member nations held a second day of defense ministerial meetings in Brussels, as Ukraine continued its counteroffensive against Russian occupation forces. Austin cited the Ukraine war in pressing NATO allies to meet defense spending commitments. Speaking at a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, he urged NATO allies to invest in weapons and munitions, and replace those donated to Ukraine.
  • Russian forces likely fired on boats with aid workers in the flooded Ukrainian city of Kherson on Wednesday, injuring a Western aid worker, according to witnesses. Visuals shared on Twitter and with The Washington Post by American video journalist Dylan Burns show a group with two boats — one red and the other white — that are later seen coming under fire in a drone video.
  • The Post confirmed that the boats Burns had photographed before the attack were the same as those in the drone video based on physical markings and time stamps of the visuals provided by the journalist. The Telegram video was initially geolocated to a river running through Kherson, which was corroborated by The Post. John Jones, the aid worker, suffered injuries to his upper thigh and lower abdomen, Burns said, but is recovering in a hospital and plans on returning to his work once he is discharged.
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced Friday a potential NATO-Ukraine Council. Though the upgrade from “NATO-Ukraine Commission” would give Ukraine the ability to convene meetings and raise concerns, it still falls far short of the full NATO membership, which would confer mutual protection under Article 5 of the alliance’s charter.
  • The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog concluded a visit to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine late Thursday and said his team would continue monitoring the site to help prevent a ‘nuclear accident.’ Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the impact of flooding from a breach of the Kakhovka dam, which has reduced reservoir levels, remains a risk to the cooling of the Russian-controlled plant’s shutdown nuclear reactors and spent nuclear fuel. But he noted that the station could operate safely for ‘some time.’ He urged both sides not to attack the plant.
  • Sweden will probably not join NATO before the alliance’s gathering next month, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Jeff Flake, said in an interview with Axios. Turkey maintains its opposition to Sweden’s membership, saying Stockholm has been too lenient toward militant Kurdish groups, which Ankara views as threats. Flake, a former Republican senator from Arizona, said U.S. lawmakers have withheld the sale of F-16s to Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, to pressure Ankara to ease its demands against Sweden.
  • Ukraine accused Russia of continuing to deport children from occupied areas into Russia. The National Resistance Center of Ukraine, a government agency, said Thursday that 150 children in Luhansk were ‘illegally transported’ to the Kuban region of southern Russia this month. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused Russia of abducting 260,000 Ukrainian children, and in March, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued arrest warrants for Putin and his commissioner for children’s rights over the war crimes of ‘unlawful deportation’ and ‘unlawful transfer’ of children from occupied areas of Ukraine.
  • Russia is offering financial bonuses for the destruction of foreign-made tanks and equipment, according to its Defense Ministry. The ministry on Friday listed German-made Leopard tanks and NATO- or U.S.-supplied armored vehicles among its list of ‘enemy military equipment’ that Russian service members would receive ‘special payments’ for destroying. More than 10,000 service members have received payments since the war began, the ministry said.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin Plays Down Russia’s Isolation at Economic Forum. President Vladimir Putin used a speech to renew his false claims that he is ‘denazifying’ the country. The New York Times, Friday, 16 June 2023:

  • Putin again falsely claims that Nazis control Ukraine.

  • U.S. condemns Putin’s claim to have deployed nuclear weapons in Belarus.

  • Zelensky gives a cool reception to African delegation’s peace plan.

  • Steps are being taken to ensure safety at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Grossi says.

  • NATO seeks ways of moving closer to Ukraine but stops short of offering it membership.

  • Tracking Ukraine’s counteroffensive: Here’s the latest on the fighting.

Evidence in Trump Documents Case Hints at ‘Ongoing Investigations,’ Filing Says. Court papers from federal prosecutors in the case against Donald Trump suggested that other criminal cases could potentially emerge from the inquiry. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Friday, 16 June 2023: “The federal prosecutors overseeing the classified documents case against former President Donald J. Trump said in court papers on Friday that the evidence they are poised to give the defense as part of the normal process of discovery contained information about ‘ongoing investigations’ that could ‘identify uncharged individuals.’ The court papers — a standard request to place a protective order on the discovery material — contained no explanation about what those other inquiries might be or whether they were related to the indictment detailing charges against Mr. Trump of illegally retaining dozens of national defense documents and obstructing the government’s efforts to get them back. The papers also did not identify who the uncharged people were. Still, the reference to continuing investigations was the first overt suggestion — however vague — that other criminal cases could emerge from the work that the special counsel Jack Smith has done in bringing the Espionage Act and obstruction indictment against Mr. Trump in Miami last week. Mr. Smith is also overseeing the parallel investigation into Mr. Trump’s efforts to reverse his election loss in 2020 and the ensuing assault on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters on Jan. 6, 2021. Some witnesses close to Mr. Trump have been questioned by Mr. Smith’s team in connection with both the documents and election interference inquiries.”

Editorial: California should stop investing its retirement funds in fossil fuels. They’re risky and immoral. Los Angeles Times, Editorial Board, Friday, 16 June 2023: “California has some of the nation’s leading climate policies, with hard deadlines to slash greenhouse gas emissions, switch to zero-emission cars and trucks and get 100% of its electricity from carbon-free sources. But so far, its leaders have lagged behind other states, like Maine and New York, in using another important tool — the financial power of its massive public pension funds — to hasten the nation’s independence from fossil fuels. CalPERS and CalSTRS are the nation’s two largest public pension funds and have nearly $15 billion collectively invested in some of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies. That includes companies owned by the Chinese government, Saudi Arabia and multinational corporations such as Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Shell that are posting record profits as the planet increasingly burns, floods and bakes from the impacts of climate change and communities suffer. Helping to fund the destruction of our environment is insanity; profiting from it makes us complicit. We urge California lawmakers to pass SB 252, legislation by Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) requiring CalPERS and CalSTRS to shed their investments in the largest fossil fuel companies by 2031, and stop renewing or adding to existing investments starting next year.”


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: War Must end through diplomacy, South Africa’s president says on visit to Russia, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Victoria Bisset, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, and Kyle Rempfer, Saturday, 17 June 2023: “Leaders from African nations met with President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on Saturday with the hope of persuading the Russian leader to seek peace talks with Ukraine. The peace mission — which includes officials from Senegal, Egypt, Zambia, the Comoros, Egypt, Uganda and the Republic of Congo — met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Friday as the capital was hit by a Russian attack that combined ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and drones. The African leaders ended their visit to Russia on Saturday with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa calling for an end to the war in Ukraine ‘through negotiations’ and ‘diplomatic means. All sides want some guarantees, and we agree with that,’ Ramaphosa said Saturday night. ‘The prices of commodities have gone up, particularly grain and fertilizer, and the prices of fuel have also gone up. And this is a consequence of the war.’

  • The United States is ‘not going to make it easy’ for Ukraine to join NATO, President Biden told reporters Saturday as he boarded Air Force One. The comment comes days after Biden met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and ahead of next month’s NATO summit. Some members of the defense alliance are calling for Ukraine’s formal invitation to the membership process, though others worry that could draw Europe more directly into a military confrontation with Russia. Most NATO diplomats believe Ukraine still lacks the required political, social and military stability to join the alliance.
  • The Kremlin said the talks with African states on Saturday focused on ‘possible ways to reach settlement in Ukraine.’ The African leaders have expressed concerns about the lengthening war, due to the continent’s reliance on Ukraine and Russia for key food imports such as wheat. ‘We would like to call for the opening up of the movement of grains across the Black Sea,’ said Ramaphosa. ‘Whatever blockages there are should be opened up.’
  • The South African president also called for the release of prisoners of war on both sides, the return of children who have ‘been caught up in this conflict’ and the provision of humanitarian assistance to those ‘who are suffering.’
  • The Russian missile attack on Kyiv only made the African peace mission more important, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said before the Putin meeting. ‘It’s precisely this type of event that we saw today or witnessed or even experienced that makes us call for de-escalation,’ he said. Russia fired six Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missiles, six Kalibr cruise missiles and two self-destructing drones, Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv’s military administration, said on Telegram.
  • Russia does not appear likely to extend a deal that allowed Ukraine to export grain through the Black Sea, according to an interview with Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov cited by the state news service TASS. While he couldn’t make final predictions, Peskov said Saturday there is ‘no chance’ of the deal continuing. According to Reuters, the two sides agreed to extend the deal last month until July 17, so long as Russian food and fertilizer exports received support, which Moscow says has not materialized. The deal has helped Ukraine continue exporting grain to international markets, including in Africa.
  • Voice of America has cut ties with a host after investigating whether he promoted Russian propaganda. Journalists with the U.S. news service protested Garri ‘Harry’ Knyagnitskiy’s hiring this fall, saying he spread Russian disinformation. The federally funded outlet said Friday that it would not renew Knyagnitskiy’s contract, and it declined to explain its decision. It reinstated another reporter accused of the same thing.
  • Zelensky says negotiations could only happen once Russia withdraws its troops. ‘We need real peace, and therefore, a real withdrawal of Russian troops,’ he said.
  • The Ukrainian leader also appealed to the African delegation to ask Putin to free political prisoners from Crimea. His remarks came after Comoros President Azali Assoumani mentioned creating a ‘road map’ to peace, prompting Zelensky to request clarification and say he did not want ‘any surprises’ from the delegation’s meeting with Putin. ‘Would you please ask Russia to liberate the political prisoners?’ Zelensky said, according to the Associated Press. ‘Maybe this will be an important result of your mission, of your road map.’
  • NATO is working to establish a new NATO-Ukraine Council, which would give Ukraine the ability to convene meetings and raise concerns, Stoltenberg announced Friday. At a two-day meeting, NATO members also discussed renewing its regional plans for the first time since the Cold War, including how the alliance would respond to a Russian attack. These were not finalized, but NATO members said they would be discussed further at the Vilnius Summit in July. According to Reuters news agency, one diplomat blamed Turkey for blocking the plan, due to the wording of some geographical locations.


Sunday, 18 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Counteroffensive making ‘small advances’; U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in China, The Washington Post, Niha Masih, Jennifer Hassan, and Maham Javaid, Sunday, 18 June 2023: “Ukrainian fighters driving Kyiv’s counteroffensive operations are making ‘small advances’ in several areas, including the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions and around Bakhmut, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Sunday, noting that both sides are experiencing high casualties. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Beijing on Sunday for two days of high-stakes meetings.

  • Ukraine has claimed advances covering a little more than 40 square miles of territory in its counteroffensive. Russia occupies more than 800 times that amount, roughly 33,000 square miles, about half of which was seized before the February 2022 invasion.
  • During his visit to Beijing, Blinken will reiterate the U.S. expectation that China not provide lethal aid to Russia, officials said Sunday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic planning. Beijing secretly approved such aid to Moscow earlier this year and planned to disguise military equipment as civilian items, according to a U.S. intercept of Russian intelligence that was revealed in leaked secret documents.
  • St. Petersburg will host a second Russia-Africa summit, the Kremlin said Sunday. A Telegram post from the Foreign Ministry did not say when the summit would be held, but it would follow Saturday’s meeting between African leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He rebuffed their proposed measures for peace in Ukraine, according to Reuters. Kyiv wants Russia to withdraw all troops from all occupied territories, while Moscow wants Ukraine to accept Russia’s illegal claim to some Ukrainian territories.
  • Russia ‘has so far declined’ U.N. requests to access the areas under its military control that have been impacted by the Kakhovka Dam destruction, Denise Brown, a senior U.N. official, said Sunday. ‘Aid cannot be denied to people who need it,’ Brown said in a statement. ‘The U.N. will continue to do all it can to reach all people – including those suffering as a result of the recent dam destruction – who urgently need life-saving assistance, no matter where they are.’

Former Attorney General William Barr Says Documents Case Against Trump Is ‘Entirely of His Own Making.’ Barr, who has become a vocal critic of Donald Trump, was one of two people who served in the former president’s cabinet to question his judgment on Sunday. The New York Times, Chris Cameron, Sunday, 18 June 2023: “William P. Barr, who served as attorney general under President Donald J. Trump, excoriated his former boss on Sunday for ‘reckless conduct’ that led to Mr. Trump’s indictment on charges of mishandling classified documents, saying that the case was ‘entirely of his own making.’ Mr. Barr, in an interview with CBS News’s ‘Face the Nation,’ walked through the severity of the charges against Mr. Trump. He described the former president’s actions — laid out in a 49-page indictment — as harmful not only to the country, but also to the Republican Party and the conservative movement that Mr. Trump leads. Mr. Barr also attacked Mr. Trump’s character in extraordinary language, describing him as ‘a consummate narcissist’ and a ‘fundamentally flawed person’ who would always put his own ego ahead of everything else. He added that he believed Mr. Trump had lied to the Justice Department about the classified documents in his possession. ‘He’s like a defiant 9-year-old kid who is always pushing the glass towards the edge of the table, defying his parents from stopping him from doing it,’ Mr. Barr said, adding that ‘our country can’t be a therapy session for a troubled man like this.’ Mark T. Esper, who was a defense secretary in the Trump administration, also said on Sunday that the former president had committed an illegal act, and that his actions had put U.S. national security at risk. In an interview on CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ Mr. Esper laid out the risks of state secrets being held at Mr. Trump’s Florida estate, including in a bathroom, an office, a bedroom and a ballroom, according to the indictment. ‘Think about how that could be exploited, how that could be used against us in a conflict,’ Mr. Esper said, adding that ‘clearly, it was unauthorized, illegal and dangerous.'” See also, Former Attorney General William Barr slams Trump’s defense in documents case as ‘absurd’ and ‘wacky.’ The Washington Post, Robert Klemko and Mariana Alfaro, Sunday, 18 June 2023: “Former attorney general William P. Barr on Sunday compared his former boss, Donald Trump, to a ‘defiant, 9-year-old kid’ and continued his condemnation of the actions described in Trump’s recently unsealed federal indictment. Speaking to CBS News’s ‘Face the Nation,’ Barr, a Republican, pushed back on a number of his party’s talking points in excusing the former president’s alleged actions. ‘The legal theory by which he gets to take battle plans and sensitive national security information as his personal papers is absurd,’ Barr said. ‘It’s just as wacky as the legal doctrine they came up with for, you know, having the vice president unilaterally determine who won the election.’ Barr said that Trump did some good things as president but that he does not believe Trump should continue to be the Republican standard-bearer. ‘He will always put his own interests and gratifying his own ego ahead of everything else, including the country’s interests,’ Barr said. ‘This is a perfect example of that.'” See also, Trump’s Brazen and Breathtaking Defense. Trump claims that if he just calls a document personal–whether it plausibly is or is not–no one can even question him about it. The New Yorker, Amy Davidson Sorkin, Sunday, 18 June 2023: “[Trump] claims that if he just calls a document personal—whether it plausibly is or is not—no one can even question him about it. ‘Whatever documents a President decides to take with him, he has the right,’ Trump said. ‘It’s an absolute right. This is the law.’ It is not the law, and it would be absurd to think that the P.R.A. [Presidential Records Act], which was enacted after Watergate precisely to limit a President’s ability to hold on to official records, is actually a license to loot. By his own reasoning, Trump could take the original parchment Constitution, stash it in one of his boxes, and walk away with it.” See also, Former Trump Defense Secretary Mark Esper brands Trump a security threat. ‘It’s just irresponsible action that places our service members at risk, places our nation’s security at risk,’ Esper said. Politico, David Cohen, Sunday, 18 June 2023: “Painting him as a security risk, former Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday added his voice to those critical of former President Donald Trump for his handling of classified information after his presidency. Esper, who served in Trump’s Cabinet, said: ‘People have described him as a hoarder when it comes to these type[s] of documents. But clearly, it was unauthorized, illegal and dangerous.’… Esper outlined scenarios in which the mishandling of classified documents could cause trouble for the United States. ‘Imagine if a foreign agent, another country were to discover documents that outline America’s vulnerabilities or the weaknesses of the United States military,’ he said. ‘Think about how that could be exploited, how that could be used against us in a conflict, how an enemy could develop countermeasures, things like that. Or in the case of the most significant piece that was raised in the allegation about U.S. plans to attack Iran, think about how that affects our readiness, our ability to prosecute an attack.'”


Monday, 19 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Situation in the east is ‘difficult,’ says Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, The Washington Post, Sammy Westfall, John Hudson, Lyric Li, Niha Masih, and Annabelle Timsit, Monday, 19 June 2023: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday night dismissed Russia’s fortifications along a 900-mile-long front line that military experts say is slowing Ukraine’s offensive, saying there are ‘no such fortifications or reserves that will stop Ukraine. We have no lost positions,’ Zelensky said in his nightly address. ‘Only liberated ones.’ Ukrainian forces continued to make limited gains in at least four sectors, the Institute for the Study of War think tank said in an analysis. Ukraine’s deputy defense minister said the situation in eastern Ukraine is ‘difficult,’ with Russia conducting ‘hot battles’ in the region. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday during a trip to Beijing that he welcomes China playing a role toward a just and durable peace in Ukraine. He added that he and European leaders ‘received assurances from China’ that it will not provide lethal assistance to Russia in the invasion.

  • The United States remains concerned that ‘Chinese companies’ may be providing technology to help Russia’s war efforts in Ukraine, Blinken said during a Monday news conference, adding that he is continuing to discuss this issue with his Chinese counterparts. His visit to China comes amid high tensions between Washington and Beijing.
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the war in Ukrainewill take a long time’ and the world should be prepared. Scholz said Germany is adapting its policies for a long-term conflict and will ‘support Ukraine as long as it is necessary.’ NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, speaking with Scholz in Berlin, said that if Ukraine’s counteroffensive is successful, it will be in a stronger position in any eventual negotiations to end the conflict. On Tuesday, Stoltenberg will meet with German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius at the Jagel Air Base, which is partly hosting Air Defender 23, the largest air deployment exercise in NATO’s history.
  • Drone photos and information obtained by the Associated Press suggest that Russia had the means, motive and opportunity to blow up the Kakhovka dam, whose destruction has been catastrophic for residents and the local environment. Both Ukraine and Russia have blamed the other side for the disaster.
  • new trial began Monday in Russia for the country’s most prominent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, who is serving a sentence totaling more than a decade for charges widely viewed as trumped up. Held in a maximum-security penal colony, the latest trial focuses on extremism charges, which could extend his sentence by decades. Media and even Navalny’s parents were barred from the trial room. In a statement Monday, Navalny launched a mass ‘campaign’ that aims to turn Russian public opinion ‘against the war. And against Putin.’
  • The European Commission is set to state in a report this week that Ukraine has fulfilled two of seven conditions to begin E.U. membership talks, Reuters reported, citing two E.U. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Ukraine was granted E.U. candidate status in June 2022, and the seven conditions include those relating to judiciary reform, anti-corruption and media legislation.
  • NATO is ‘not discussing’ issuing a formal membership invitation to Ukraine at the alliance’s upcoming summit in Lithuania, Stoltenberg said Monday. However, ‘what we are discussing is how to move Ukraine closer to NATO,’ he said. Zelensky has called on NATO to greenlight Ukraine’s membership bid at the July summit, but as The Post has reported, the alliance is divided about what to offer Kyiv. While Stoltenberg has previously implied that a formal invitation will not be on the table at the Lithuania meeting, his Monday comment is more definite in tone.
  • Britain strengthened its sanctions regime against Russia on Monday, introducing legislation that allows it to continue sanctions until Moscow pays compensation to Ukraine. In a statement Monday, the British government said new regulations would allow sanctions to be ‘used for the express purpose of promoting the payment of compensation by Russia.’ It also announced a route for sanctioned Russians to voluntarily apply to donate their assets toward Ukrainian reconstruction. The measures ‘show the UK is ready and able to clear new paths to ensure Russian money reaches Ukrainian people,’ Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt said in the statement.
  • Zelensky spoke with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ahead of a conference for Ukraine in London. The two leaders spoke by phone Monday, as the British capital prepares to host the Ukraine Recovery Conference on Wednesday and Thursday. Sunak told Zelensky ‘that he believed NATO members would demonstrate a strong signal of support for Ukraine’ at the NATO summit next month, Downing Street said.
  • South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the leaders of Ukraine and Russia ‘agreed to further engagements’ following the visit of an African delegation to both countries last week. The delegation, made up of leaders and envoys from seven African countries, visited Kyiv and St. Petersburg and presented a proposal to end the conflict, Ramaphosa said in a statement. Putin rebuffed the delegation’s proposal over the weekend, Reuters reported. [Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry] Peskov said Monday that the ‘dialogue with Africans will continue,’ including at a Russia-Africa summit in July in St. Petersburg. ‘There are topics that can be implemented in the ideas proposed by the representatives of the delegations,’ he said.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Confirms Another Small Gain in the South. Ukraine said that it had recaptured a total of eight settlements over two weeks of ‘offensive actions.’ The New York Times, Monday, 19 June 2023:

  • Tracking Ukraine’s counteroffensive: Here’s the latest on the fighting.

  • Scholz says the war could last ‘a long time,’ but sees no NATO invitation for Ukraine.

  • Navalny appears in a Russian court to face new charges of extremism.

  • The U.S. worries about private Chinese companies aiding Russia, Blinken says.

  • Allies will grapple with questions about Ukraine’s postwar reconstruction.

  • Some of the weapons sent to Ukraine by other countries have been unusable.

  • Russia shifts battlefield tactics after mistakes.

FBI resisted opening investigation into Trump’s role in January 6 for more than a year. In the Department of Justice’s investigation of January 6, key justice officials also quashed an early plan for a task force focused on people in Trump’s orbit. The Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig and Aaron C. Davis, Monday, 19 June 2023: “A Washington Post investigation found that more than a year would pass before prosecutors and FBI agents jointly embarked on a formal probe of actions directed from the White House to try to steal the election. Even then, the FBI stopped short of identifying the former president as a focus of that investigation. A wariness about appearing partisan, institutional caution, and clashes over how much evidence was sufficient to investigate the actions of Trump and those around him all contributed to the slow pace. Garland and the deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco, charted a cautious course aimed at restoring public trust in the department while some prosecutors below them chafed, feeling top officials were shying away from looking at evidence of potential crimes by Trump and those close to him, The Post found.” See also, Takeaways from The Post’s examination of the Department of Justice’s January 6 investigation. Following the attack on the U.S. Capitol, more than a year elapsed before the federal agents began actively investigating efforts by Trump and those around him to steal the election. Here’s why. The Washington Post, Aaron C. Davis and Carol D. Leonnig, Monday, 19 June 2023.

How Classified Evidence Could Complicate the Trump Documents Case. Prosecutors and defense lawyers appear to be preparing for a pretrial fight over showing sensitive evidence to the jury and the public. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Monday, 19 June 2023: “Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump have told the judge overseeing his documents case that they have started the process of obtaining security clearances, the first step of what is likely to be a major fight over classified evidence before his trial. Mr. Trump is facing 31 counts of unauthorized retention of national security secrets under the Espionage Act, along with accusations that he obstructed the government’s efforts to retrieve sensitive files — including by defying a subpoena. Here is a closer look at the tricky legal issues raised by the role of classified evidence in the case.”


Tuesday, 20 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: 32 of 35 drones launched by Russia shot down overnight, says Ukrainian military, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Ellen Francis, David L. Stern, Miriam Berger, and Sammy Westfall, Tuesday, 20 June 2023: “In eastern Ukraine, residents are still grappling with water contamination and hundreds of flooded homes nearly two weeks after the collapse of the Kakhovka dam, which killed dozens and displaced thousands. As rescue personnel race to clean up the region, at least one Ukrainian worker was killed Tuesday and eight others were injured in a Russian strike on the flood-hit city of Kherson, Andriy Yermak, the head of the presidential office, said in a Telegram post. Among the environmental damage, Yermak warned, are at least 150 tons of oil pollutants floating along the Dnieper River. Early Tuesday, Russian forces launched ‘another massive air and missile attack’ mainly targeting the capital of Kyiv, the Ukrainian military’s general staff said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainian forces shot down more than 30 Iranian-made Shahed drones overnight. ‘These are hundreds of saved lives, saved infrastructure,’ he said in his nightly address Tuesday.

  • Air defense systems took down 32 of 35 Iranian-made drones launched by Russia overnight, the Ukrainian military’s general staff said. Kyiv’s military administration said that air raid sirens blared for at least three hours but that there were no reports of major damage.
  • Lviv’s mayor, Andriy Sadovyi, said that a drone attack hit infrastructure in the city but that public transportation facilities have been restored. There were no initial reports of casualties in the attack on the western city near the Polish border. Ukrainian officials said the region of Zaporizhzhia in the southeast was also shaken by an attack early Tuesday.
  • A new survey found that while 62 percent of Russians polled would support Putin ending the war this week, the exact same percentage would oppose it if Putin’s decision to end the war were dependent on returning annexed territory to Ukraine. The Chicago Council-Levada Center Russia’s May survey of 1,603 people across Russia found that 73 percent say that returning the illegally annexed territories of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia or Kherson to Ukraine is unacceptable under any circumstances; 82 percent say the same about Crimea.
  • The Pentagon has determined that it overrepresented the value of military equipment it sent to Ukraine by a combined $6.2 billion since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, the Biden administration said Tuesday, a significant error that will allow it to send more weapons before requesting additional funds from Congress. The error, first reported last month at about $3 billion, occurred because Pentagon officials erroneously calculated the totals using replacement values for the weapons, rather than their current values, said Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh. The Biden administration has sent more than $40 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion.
  • More than 800 houses remain flooded as a result of the dam collapse, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said. It said 31 people were still missing as of Monday. ‘We are looking for everyone,’ Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on Telegram. Ukraine has accused Russian forces of blowing up the dam, while Russia blames Ukraine for the damage.
  • There is ‘significant’ water contamination in areas affected by the dam collapseaccording to the Ukrainian Health Ministry. There are reports of salmonella, rotavirus and E. coli, among other contaminants, and people are prohibited from swimming or fishing in the Odessa, Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, it said.
  • NATO Secretary met with German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius on Tuesday at Schleswig-Jagel Air Base in Germany, one of the bases hosting Air Defender 23, the largest air deployment exercise in NATO history. The exercise is meant to send ‘a clear message that NATO is ready to defend every inch of Allied territory,’ said NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak by phone as London prepares to host the Ukraine Recovery Conference on Wednesday and Thursday. The conference will focus on ‘mobilizing international support for Ukraine’s economic and social stabilization and recovery from the effects of war,’ according to its website.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken met his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, in London on Tuesday. ‘We discussed next steps to bolster Ukraine’s counter-offensive capabilities, preparing the Vilnius summit deliverables on Ukraine’s NATO membership perspective, and growing the global support for the Peace Formula,’ Kuleba said in a tweet.
  • The European Commission is proposing a more than $50 billion E.U. aid package to Ukraine over the next four years, its president, Ursula von der Leyen, announced Tuesday. The funds will support Ukraine’s efforts to promote recovery, sustain financial stability and ‘modernise the country whilst implementing key reforms on its E.U. accession track,’ a E.U. statement said. The package still needs approval from the European Union as part of its budget review.
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he appealed to the Chinese government to influence Russia’s stance in the war. ‘It is important that China continues to not deliver weapons to the aggressor Russia,’ he said at a conference in Berlin alongside the Chinese prime minister. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday in Beijing that China reassured the United States and other governments that it has not provided and will not provide lethal assistance to Russia. ‘We have not seen any evidence that contradicts that,’ Blinken said.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine; Russia Presses Attack in East as Ukraine Pushes South to Recapture Territory. Russian forces are trying to seize more land in eastern Ukraine even as they fend off Kyiv’s counteroffensive, portending a long fight ahead, officials and military experts said. The New York Times, Tuesday, 20 June 2023:

  • Russia is still trying to advance despite Kyiv’s counteroffensive, Ukrainian officials say.

  • Zelensky urges donor nations to move ‘from vision to agreements.’

  • The E.U. proposes a $54 billion plan for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

  • Russia targets Kyiv and Lviv with dozens of attack drones.

  • With waterways polluted from the damaged dam, fishing in southern Ukraine comes to a halt.

  • None of the money from the sale of the Chelsea soccer team has gone to Ukraine war victims.

  • Russian shelling kills a flood rescue worker in Kherson, Ukrainian officials say.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Took Luxury Fishing Vacation With Republican Billionaire Paul Singer Who Later Had Cases Before the Court. Alito never recused himself. ProPublica, Justin Elliott, Joshua Kaplan, and Alex Mierjeski, Tuesday, 20 June 2023: “In early July 2008, Samuel Alito stood on a riverbank in a remote corner of Alaska. The Supreme Court justice was on vacation at a luxury fishing lodge that charged more than $1,000 a day, and after catching a king salmon nearly the size of his leg, Alito posed for a picture. To his left, a man stood beaming: Paul Singer, a hedge fund billionaire who has repeatedly asked the Supreme Court to rule in his favor in high-stakes business disputes. Singer was more than a fellow angler. He flew Alito to Alaska on a private jet. If the justice chartered the plane himself, the cost could have exceeded $100,000 one way. In the years that followed, Singer’s hedge fund came before the court at least 10 times in cases where his role was often covered by the legal press and mainstream media. In 2014, the court agreed to resolve a key issue in a decade-long battle between Singer’s hedge fund and the nation of Argentina. Alito did not recuse himself from the case and voted with the 7-1 majority in Singer’s favor. The hedge fund was ultimately paid $2.4 billion. Alito did not report the 2008 fishing trip on his annual financial disclosures. By failing to disclose the private jet flight Singer provided, Alito appears to have violated a federal law that requires justices to disclose most gifts, according to ethics law experts.” See also, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Defends Private Jet Travel to Luxury Fishing Trip. In an opinion essay in The Wall Street Journal, the justice disputed a ProPublica report [before the report had even been published], saying he was not required to disclose the trip or to recuse himself from his benefactor’s cases. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, published on Wednesday, 21 June 2023: “Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. took the unusual step late Tuesday of responding to questions about his travel with a billionaire who frequently has cases before the Supreme Court hours before an article detailing their ties had even been published. In an extraordinary salvo in a favored forum, Justice Alito defended himself in a pre-emptive article in the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal before the news organization ProPublica posted its account of a luxury fishing trip in 2008. His response comes as the justices face mounting scrutiny over their ethical obligations to report gifts and to recuse themselves from cases involving their benefactors. The latest revelations are sure to intensify calls for the court to adopt more stringent ethics rules.” See also, Justice Samuel Alito: ProPublica Misleads Its Readers. The publication levels false charges about Supreme Court recusal, financial disclosures, and a 2008 fishing trip. Wall Street Journal, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Tuesday, 20 June 2023: “Editor’s note: Justin Elliott and Josh Kaplan of ProPublica, which styles itself ‘an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism with moral force,’ emailed Justice Alito Friday with a series of questions and asked him to respond by noon EDT Tuesday. They informed the justice that ‘we do serious, fair, accurate reporting in the public interest and have won six Pulitzer Prizes.”’Here is Justice Alito’s response: ProPublica has leveled two charges against me: first, that I should have recused in matters in which an entity connected with Paul Singer was a party and, second, that I was obligated to list certain items as gifts on my 2008 Financial Disclose Report. Neither charge is valid.” See also, ProPublica asked about Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s travel. He replied in the Wall Street Journal. Questioned about an undisclosed fishing trip hosted by a Republican billionaire, Alito instead shared his rebuttal in a rival media outlet–before the investigative journalists could publish their scoop. The Washington Post, Paul Farhi and Robert Barnes, published on Wednesday, 21 June 2023: “Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. took issue with questions raised by the investigative journalism outlet ProPublica about his travel with a politically active billionaire, and on Tuesday evening, he outlined his defense in an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal. Yet Alito was responding to a news story that ProPublica hadn’t yet published. Alito’s Journal column, bluntly headlined ‘ProPublica Misleads Its Readers,’ was an unusual public venture by a Supreme Court justice into the highly opinionated realm of a newspaper editorial page. And it drew criticism late Tuesday for effectively leaking elements of ProPublica’s still-in-progress journalism — with the assistance of the Journal’s editorial page editors. An editor’s note at the top of Alito’s column said ProPublica reporters Justin Elliott and Josh Kaplan had sent questions to Alito last week and asked for a response by Tuesday at noon. The editor’s note doesn’t mention that ProPublica hadn’t yet published its story — nor does it mention that Alito did not provide his answers directly to ProPublica…. ProPublica published its story on Alito just before midnight on Tuesday, about five hours after the Journal published Alito’s column.” See also, With focus on Alito trip, Senate Democrats vow action on ethics bill. ProPublica reports Justice Samuel Alito took a free luxury fishing trip in 2008 and did not disclose flight on billionaire’s plane. The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and John Wagner, published on Wednesday, 21 June 2023:”Scrutiny of the Supreme Court intensified Wednesday after Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. took the extraordinary step of writing an op-ed column to defend a luxury fishing trip to Alaska years ago that was partially financed by a politically active billionaire. Senate Democrats said the revelation of the trip, by the news organization ProPublica, was one more reason they would move forward on legislation to tighten ethics rules for the justices. Although there appears to be little interest in the Republican-led House in forcing changes upon the high court, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said his panel would consider legislation after the Senate returns from its Fourth of July recess. ‘The highest court in the land should not have the lowest ethical standards. But for too long that has been the case with the United States Supreme Court. That needs to change,’ Durbin said in a joint statement with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who chairs a subcommittee with jurisdiction over the federal judiciary. Whitehouse has pushed legislation that would require the court to adopt a code of conduct and establish clear rules dictating when justices must recuse themselves from cases. A separate bipartisan bill by Sens. Angus King (I-Maine), who caucuses with the Democrats, and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) would force the Supreme Court to establish an ethics code and require it to appoint an official to examine potential conflicts and public complaints. Legislation introduced by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) would require the Judicial Conference of the United States, the policymaking body for the federal courts, to issue an ethics code that would apply to the court. It was not immediately clear which provisions might be considered in July.”

Trump Real Estate Deal in Oman Underscores Ethics Concerns. Details of Trump’s agreement to work with a Saudi firm to develop a hotel and golf complex overlooking the Gulf of Oman highlight the ways his business and political roles intersect. The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Tuesday, 20 June 2023: “On a remote site at the edge of the Gulf of Oman, thousands of migrant laborers from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan are at work in 103-degree heat, toiling in shifts from dawn until nightfall to build a new city, a multibillion-dollar project backed by Oman’s oil-rich government that has an unusual partner: former President Donald J. Trump. Mr. Trump’s name is plastered on signs at the entrance of the project and in the lobby of the InterContinental Hotel in Muscat, the nearby capital of Oman, where a team of sales agents is invoking Mr. Trump’s name to help sell luxury villas at prices of up to $13 million, mostly targeting superrich buyers from around the world, including from Russia, Iran and India. Mr. Trump has been selling his name to global real estate developers for more than a decade. But the Oman deal has taken his financial stake in one of the world’s most strategically important and volatile regions to a new level, underscoring how his business and his politics intersect as he runs for president again amid intensifying legal and ethical troubles. Interviews and an examination by The New York Times of hundreds of pages of financial documents associated with the Oman project show that this partnership is unlike any other international deal Mr. Trump and his family have signed.”

US judge orders Trump lawyers not to release evidence in documents case, Reuters, Douglas Gillison and Kanishka Singh, Tuesday, 20 June 2023: “A U.S. judge in Florida on Monday ordered defense lawyers for former President Donald Trump not to release evidence in the classified documents case to the media or the public, according to a court filing. The order from U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart also put strict conditions on Trump’s access to the materials. ‘The Discovery materials, along with any information derived therefrom, shall not be disclosed to the public or the news media, or disseminated on any news or social media platform, without prior notice to and consent of the United States or approval of the Court,’ the order filed on Monday said.”


Wednesday, 21 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. pledges $1.3B more in aid at war recovery conference in London, The Washington Post, John Hudson, Ellen Francis, Andrew Jeong, Robyn Dixon, and Eve Sampson, Wednesday, 21 June 2023: “The United States is set to give an additional $1.3 billion to help rebuild Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday in London, where a two-day conference aims to rally international and private-sector support for postwar recovery. European countries pledged billions of dollars in new recovery assistance for Ukraine as it mounts a counteroffensive in a bid to recapture swaths of the country from Russia. The conference on rebuilding a nation still at war comes as fighting rages in the east and drone attacks target cities from the capital, Kyiv, to Lviv in the west.

  • Britain promised a financial package that would unlock $3 billion worth of World Bank loans to help boost Ukraine’s economic stability and would support public services, including the cost of running schools and hospitals. ‘We’ll stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,’ British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said at the start of the Ukraine Recovery Conference on Wednesday — the second such event during the conflict, which Britain and Ukraine are co-hosting.
  • The European Union plans to provide $54.5 billion in aid for 2024 through 2027, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. While the new pledges add to the unprecedented Western backing for Kyiv, Ukraine is estimated to need $411 billion to rebuild, according to the World Bank. In a video feed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke at the event and thanked his country’s allies for the support.
  • A significant accounting error led the Pentagon to overvalue the amount of military equipment sent to Ukraine during the war — by $6.2 billion. A Pentagon spokesman described this as ‘valuation errors,’ and it will allow for sending more weapons to Ukraine before requesting more money from Congress, The Post reports. The error, which was first reported last month at a lower amount, about $3 billion, occurred because Pentagon officials erroneously calculated the totals using replacement values for the weapons, rather than their current values, said spokeswoman Sabrina Singh. The Biden administration has sent more than $40 billion in security assistance to Ukraine during the conflict.
  • E.U. countries have approved an 11th round of sanctions targeting Russia, according to a tweet from the Swedish presidency of the Council of the E.U. Von der Leyen added on Twitter that the package, intended to prevent sanctions circumvention, ‘will prevent Russia from getting its hands on sanctioned goods.’
  • The Russian Defense Ministry said three drones targeting facilities near Moscow were intercepted and crashed on Wednesday without causing damage or casualties. Moscow regional governor Andrey Vorobyov said two aerial vehicles had been approaching military depots when they fell. ‘Debris was found, there was no damage or casualties,’ he said on Telegram. The Washington Post could not immediately verify the claim.
  • The Russian prosecutor general’s office banned from the country the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a nongovernmental environmental groupcalling the international organization ‘undesirable’ and ‘a cover for the implementation of projects that form security threats in the economic sphere.’ In March, Russia listed WWF as a foreign agent, a label the Kremlin attaches to organizations it deems political. The move comes amid an ongoing crackdown on NGOs, including environmental advocacy group Greenpeace, which was labeled ‘undesirable’ in May.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky’s Defense of Slow Gains Underscores Battlefield Realities. With the enemy entrenched in unforgiving terrain, Ukraine’s forces face a tough fight. The New York Times, Wednesday, 21 June 2023:

  • Ukraine’s counteroffensive grapples with miles of defensive lines.
  • The Ukrainian leader warns that new battlefield gains will take time.
  • Zelensky urges donor nations to move ‘from vision to agreements.’
  • An 11th round of E.U. sanctions explores new ways to punish Russia and countries helping it.
  • Ukraine’s soccer fans team up to support the war effort.
  • More than 100 people are still missing after the Kakhovka dam disaster, Ukraine says.
  • The huge costs of rebuilding prompt calls to use frozen Russian assets.

Man Who Assaulted Officer on January 6 Is Sentenced to More Than 12 Years. Daniel Rodriguez, whom the judge called a ‘one-man army of hate,’ received one of the stiffest sentences so far in the Justice Department’s investigation of the Capitol riot. The New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Alan Feuer, Wednesday, 21 June 2023: “A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a rioter who savagely assaulted an officer defending the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to more than 12 years in prison, calling him a ‘one-man army of hate’ whose severe punishment might act as a deterrent to future acts of political violence. The 151-month sentence, handed down at a two-and-a-half-hour hearing in Federal District Court in Washington, was one of the stiffest so far in the Justice Department’s sprawling investigation of the Capitol attack. It stemmed from one of the most wrenching episodes of the day, an assault on a District of Columbia police officer with a Taser-like weapon that left him unconscious and unable to return to his duties. The defendant, Daniel Rodriguez, 40, who had previously admitted to driving from California to Washington to do armed battle on behalf of former President Donald J. Trump, expressed some regret for his actions as he asked the judge for leniency. But after receiving his sentence, Mr. Rodriguez smiled and let out a defiant shout of ‘Trump won!’ before being led out of the room by federal marshals. The judge, Amy Berman Jackson, rejected defense arguments that Mr. Rodriguez was the product of a difficult upbringing and that he had been a mostly law-abiding retail and warehouse worker before he became radicalized by what she called Mr. Trump’s ‘irresponsible and knowingly false claims that the election was stolen.'”

Trump receives first batch of evidence against him in classified documents case, including audio tapes, CNN Politics, Tierney Sneed and Katelyn Polantz, Wednesday, 21 June 2023: “Special counsel Jack Smith has begun producing evidence in the Mar-a-Lago documents case to Donald Trump, according to a Wednesday court filing that hints that investigators collected for the case multiple recordings of the former president – not just audio of an interview Trump gave at Bedminster for a forthcoming Mark Meadows memoir. Prosecutors in the filing used the plural ‘interviews’ to describe recordings of Trump – made with his consent – obtained by the special counsel that have now been turned over to his defense team. It is unclear what the additional recordings may be of or how relevant they will be to the Justice Department’s case against the former president, though the recordings include the Bedminster tape where Trump speaks about a secret military document to a writer and others, the prosecutors said in the filing. The prosecutors’ update to the court on Wednesday night marks another swift move toward trial, which the Justice Department has said should happen quickly, and captures at least some of the extent of the evidence investigators secured to build their historic case against Trump.”

Former F.B.I. Analyst Goes to Prison for Taking Classified Documents. Like former President Trump, the former analyst was accused of violating the Espionage Act, taking home hundreds of classified documents and being unhelpful. The New York Times, Adam Goldman and Traci Angel, Wednesday, 21 June 2023: “A former F.B.I. intelligence analyst from Kansas received nearly four years in prison on Wednesday in a case that bears parallels to that of former President Donald J. Trump, including the same charge of willful retention of national security secrets. The analyst, Kendra Kingsbury, 50, was accused of improperly removing and unlawfully taking home about 386 classified documents to her personal residence in Dodge City, Kan. She pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the Espionage Act…. Some of the documents would have revealed the ‘government’s most important and secretive methods of collecting essential national security intelligence,’ prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo, adding that she removed sensitive documents during the more than 12 years she worked in the F.B.I.’s office in Kansas City. Her case and punishment, and others like it involving violations of the Espionage Act, reflect how seriously the government takes such charges and offer a glimpse of how aggressively the Justice Department might pursue its case against Mr. Trump.”

Few of Trump’s Republican Rivals Defend Justice Department Independence. The evolution of the Republican Party under the influence of former President Donald Trump calls into question a post-Watergate norm. The New York Times, Jonathan Swan, Maggie Haberman, Charlie Savage, and Jonathan Weisman, Wednesday, 21 June 2023: “Donald J. Trump has promised that if he wins back the presidency he will appoint a special prosecutor to ‘go after’ President Biden and his family. But he’s not the only Republican running for president who appears to be abandoning a long-established norm in Washington — presidents keeping their hands out of specific Justice Department investigations and prosecutions. Mr. Trump, who leads the G.O.P. field by around 30 percentage points in public national polls, wields such powerful influence that only a few of his Republican rivals are willing to clearly say presidents should not interfere in such Justice Department decisions. After Mr. Trump’s vow to direct the Justice Department to appoint a ‘real’ prosecutor to investigate the Bidens, The New York Times asked each of his Republican rivals questions aimed at laying out what limits, if any, they believed presidents must or should respect when it comes to White House interference with federal law enforcement decisions. Their responses reveal a party that has turned so hard against federal law enforcement that it is no longer widely considered good politics to clearly answer in the negative a question that was once uncontroversial: Do you believe presidents should get involved in the investigations and prosecutions of individuals? Mr. Trump’s closest rival, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, has flatly said he does not believe the Justice Department is independent from the White House as a matter of law, while leaving it ambiguous where he stands on the issue of presidents getting involved in investigation decisions.”


Thursday, 22 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian court rejects Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich’s appeal; Kyiv expects invite to NATO at summit, The Washington Post, Ellen Francis, Robyn Dixon, and Lyric Li, Thursday, 22 June 2023: “A Moscow court rejected American journalist Evan Gershkovich’s appeal Thursday against his pretrial detention, upholding an earlier decision to keep him in custody until August. The Wall Street Journal reporter has been held for nearly three months, as press advocates worldwide call for his release. In Kyiv, the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said Ukraine expects to receive an invitation to NATO with an ‘open date, but with concrete signal’ at a summit of the military alliance’s leaders, which will be held next month in Vilnius, Lithuania.

  • Britain would be ‘very supportive’ of giving Ukraine a path to joining NATO that would speed up its entry into the military alliance, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said at a Ukraine war recovery conference, which concludes Thursday in London. That would mean lifting the requirement for Ukraine to go through the membership action plan — a stage in which candidate countries receive assessments and advice as they look to meet NATO criteria on defense and other matters.
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged NATO leaders to focus on strengthening Ukraine’s combat power as it fights to recapture swaths of the country. He said Kyiv’s backers are working on ‘effective and long-term security guarantees.’ Scholz said support for Ukraine is vital, ‘and at the same time, we should take a sober look at the current situation.’ In an address to the Bundestag on Thursday, he added: ‘The Ukrainian government itself has stated that joining NATO is out of the question while Russia is waging war against Ukraine.’
  • The United States and European countries announced billions of dollars in aid at the Ukraine Recovery Conference. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States would give an additional $1.3 billion to help rebuild. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Union would provide $54.5 billion for 2024 through 2027, while South Korea pledged an additional $130 million this year.
  • Gershkovich appeared in a Moscow court Thursday to appeal his continued detention. The 31-year-old reporter was arrested in Russia on spying charges during a reporting trip in March — charges that the Journal has vehemently denied. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow has received another request for U.S. Embassy officials to see Gershkovich, whom Washington deems ‘wrongfully detained.’ ‘There is no decision yet, but it is under consideration,’ Ryabkov said.
  • India is ‘completely ready to contribute in any way we can to restore peace’ between Russia and Ukraine, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during a news conference alongside President Biden. ‘From the very beginning of the events in Ukraine, India has laid emphasis on resolution of dispute through dialogue and diplomacy.’
  • Zelensky accused Russian forces of planning a ‘terrorist act’ at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plantas officials in Moscow said the head of the global nuclear watchdog, Rafael Mariano Grossi, would travel to Russia for meetings Friday. The Kremlin rejected the allegation as ‘another lie.’ Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has held meetings with leaders in Kyiv and Moscow about the safety of nuclear sites in Ukraine, including the Zaporizhzhia facility, which is held by Russian forces.
  • The International Olympic Committee said there is ‘plenty of time’ to decide whether Russian and Belarusian athletes can participate in the 2024 summer games in Paris, Reuters reported. The IOC sanctioned Russia and its ally Belarus earlier in the war but has suggested this year that those athletes be allowed to return to international competition as neutrals.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Bridge to Russian-Occupied Crimea Is Damaged. A Russian-backed official blamed Ukraine for a strike on a bridge to the peninsula, a region vital to Moscow’s war effort. The New York Times, Thursday, 22 June 2023:

  • Crimea is increasingly the target of strikes.

  • Kremlin officials exude confidence, even with Ukraine’s main counteroffensive push yet to come.

  • A donors’ conference in London wraps up with pledges of nearly $66 billion for Ukraine’s recovery.

  • A Russian court upholds a Wall Street Journal reporter’s detention.

  • Workers are addressing the ‘extremely fragile’ situation at the Zaporizhzhia power plant, the U.N. nuclear agency says.

  • Ukraine’s counteroffensive grapples with miles of defensive lines.

  • Charts show how India is benefiting from its neutrality in the war in Ukraine.


Friday, 23 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Wagner chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin accuses Russian military of attack, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Ellen Francis, Adam Taylor, Robyn Dixon, and Karen DeYoung, Friday, 23 June 2023: “Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin said Friday that a Wagner camp in Ukraine had been attacked ‘from the rear,’ resulting in ‘many victims,’ and accused the Russian military of carrying out the strike. Writing on Telegram, Prigozhin suggested this was the start of direct conflict between Wagner and the Russian Ministry of Defense. ‘Those who destroyed today our guys, who destroyed tens, tens of thousands of lives of Russian soldiers, will be punished,’ the Russian oligarch said. The Ministry of Defense denied the accusations on Telegram, calling them a ‘provocation.’ In an emergency Russian state television broadcast just after 1:30 a.m. the presenter stated that the video that Prigozhin released claiming an alleged Russian military strike on the Wagner camp appeared to have been staged. The presenter cited official statements on the crisis from Russian military and security officials. The U.S. National Security Council is monitoring the events in Russia and consulting with allies and partners, a spokesman said Friday evening.

  • Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, has opened a criminal case on incitement to armed rebellion following comments by Prigozhin about leading a ‘march of justice’ against his enemies in Russia’s Ministry of Defense. ‘The statements disseminated on behalf of Yevgeniy Prigozhin have no basis,’ reads a statement from Russia’s national anti-terrorist committee, shared with Russia’s state-run Tass news service. ‘We demand to immediately stop illegal actions.’ In recent statements, Prigozhin categorically denied that he was carrying out a coup.
  • Gen. Sergei Surovikin, the deputy commander of Russia’s forces in Ukraine, appealed to Prigozhin and Wagner fighters in a video message, calling on them to return to order. ‘Together with you we have went through very difficult things,’ Surovikin said. ‘We fought together, took risks, suffered losses, won together. We are of the same blood. We are warriors. I urge you to stop.’ He added that Wagner fighters should stop and ‘obey the will and order of the popularly elected president’ before it was too late.
  • Earlier in the day, Prigozhin undermined President Vladimir Putin’s central pretext for invading Ukraine in a blistering video. He said the war was designed and orchestrated by a ‘bunch of scumbags’ who claimed there was ‘insane aggression from the Ukrainian side’ before the Feb. 24 invasion last year. In fact, Prigozhin said, ‘nothing extraordinary’ was occurring at the time. Prigozhin, who is loyal to Putin but constantly criticizes Russia’s military command, said that ‘the war was not needed to return our Russian citizens,’ nor to ‘demilitarize and denazify Ukraine.’
  • The deputy head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff accused Prigozhin of a ‘state coup.’ Gen. Vladimir Alekseyev urged Prigozhin to ‘Come to your senses.’ He said, ‘This is a stab in the back of the country and the president. Only the president has the right to appoint the military leadership, and you are trying to attack his authority.’
  • Russian and U.S. officials attended nuclear risk reduction talks early this month, the State Department said, despite the virtual collapse of their bilateral nonproliferation agreements. A State Department spokesperson did not provide details of the talks, but described them as ‘professional and useful.’ According to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after the meeting that Russia had delivered a diplomatic communication called a démarche objecting to pending Western transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine that are capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
  • Moscow accused Kyiv of striking a bridge connecting Russian-held territory in southern Ukraine to Crimea. A Crimean official who initially said the bridge known as the ‘Gate to Crimea’ would be quickly restored to normal operations later reversed his position, saying Friday that the damage was more extensive than originally thought. Kyiv has not confirmed any involvement in the attack, although a Ukrainian regional official in Kherson, Yuriy Sobolevsky, described the incident as a blow to Russian military logistics.
  • U.S. officials are keeping an eye on events in Russia after Prigozhin’s claims, said National Security Council spokesman Adam Hodge. ‘We are monitoring the situation and will be consulting with allies and partners on these developments,’ Hodge said in a statement.
  • Australian officials said reports of a Russian diplomat squatting on the site of Moscow’s proposed embassy would not stand in the way of the government’s bid to seize the site. A suspected Russian man appears to be squatting on the land after Australia scrapped Russia’s plan to build its new embassy there, citing security grounds because of its proximity to Parliament, Australian media reported. But Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australian officials remain confident of their legal position: ‘A bloke standing in the cold on a blade of grass in Canberra is not a threat to our national security,’ he was quoted as saying.
  • A court in Moscow has rejected U.S. reporter Evan Gershkovich’s appeal against his continued detention, upholding an earlier decision to keep him in custody until August. Washington deemed the 31-year-old ‘wrongfully detained’ after he was arrested during a reporting trip in Russia. He has been held for nearly three months on spying charges that his employer, the Wall Street Journal, and colleagues describe as bogus.
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged NATO to prioritize Ukraine’s combat power. He said Thursday that Ukraine’s allies are working on ‘effective and long-term security guarantees,’ after a Ukrainian official said Kyiv expects an invitation to NATO with ‘an open date’ at a summit of the military alliance’s leaders next month.
  • A Ukrainian gas company says it has filed a lawsuit in a District of Columbia court to compel Russian company Gazprom to pay it a $5 billion penalty. ‘A full-scale war with Russia continues on land, in the sky and at sea. And we continue the fight against the Russian Federation in international courts, in particular for the implementation of the arbitration decision in The Hague,’ Naftogaz said in a statement, referring to an international legal ruling that found the company should be compensated for the loss of property in Crimea, illegally occupied by Russia since 2014, and other losses. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian Generals Accuse Mercenary Leader Yevgeny Prigozhin of Trying to Mount a Coup. Russia sent armored vehicles into the streets of Moscow and a city near Ukraine. Russia’s main security agency urged Wagner mercenaries to detain their leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, after he accused Russian forces of attacking them. The New York Times, Friday, 23 June 2023: “Russian generals late on Friday accused Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the outspoken mercenary tycoon, of trying to mount a coup against President Vladimir V. Putin, as the Russian authorities opened an investigation into Mr. Prigozhin for ‘organizing an armed rebellion.’ The long-running feud between Mr. Prigozhin and the Russian military over the war in Ukraine has now escalated into an open confrontation, setting up the biggest challenge to Mr. Putin’s authority since he launched his invasion of Ukraine 16 months ago.”

Exclusive: Special counsel trades immunity for fake elector testimony as January 6 investigation heats up, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Sara Murran, Zachary Cohen, and Casey Gannon, Friday, 23 June 2023: “Special counsel Jack Smith has compelled at least two Republican fake electors to testify to a federal grand jury in Washington in recent weeks by giving them limited immunity, part of a current push by federal prosecutors to swiftly nail down evidence in the sprawling criminal investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The testimony, described to CNN by people familiar with the situation, comes after a year of relative dormancy around the fake electors portion of the investigation and as a parade of related witnesses are being told to appear before the grand jury with no chance for delay. That activity could signal that investigators are nearing at least some charging decisions in a part of the 2020 election probe, sources added. It also comes just as the special counsel’s office filed charges against former President Donald Trump for his handling of classified documents.”

Former Trump Campaign Official Is in Talks to Cooperate in January 6 Inquiry. The office of the special counsel is negotiating with Michael Roman, who was closely involved in the efforts to create slates of pro-Trump electors in states won in 2020 by Joseph R. Biden Jr. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 23 June 2023: “Michael Roman, a top official in former President Donald J. Trump’s 2020 campaign, is in discussions with the office of the special counsel Jack Smith that could soon lead to Mr. Roman voluntarily answering questions about a plan to create slates of pro-Trump electors in key swing states that were won by Joseph R. Biden Jr., according to a person familiar with the matter. If Mr. Roman ends up giving the interview — known as a proffer — to prosecutors working for Mr. Smith, it would be the first known instance of cooperation by someone with direct knowledge of the so-called fake elector plan. That plan has long been at the center of Mr. Smith’s investigation into Mr. Trump’s wide-ranging efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The talks with Mr. Roman, who served as Mr. Trump’s director of Election Day operations, were the latest indication that Mr. Smith is actively pressing forward with his election interference investigation even as attention has been focused on the other case in his portfolio: the recent indictment of Mr. Trump in Florida on charges of illegally keeping hold of classified documents and then obstructing the government’s repeated efforts to retrieve them.”

Infowars Host Owen Shroyer Pleads Guilty to January 6 Capitol Riot Charge. The longtime sidekick of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones pleaded guilty to entering and remaining on restricted grounds. HuffPost, Sebastian Murdock, Friday, 23 June 2023: “A host of the conspiracy network Infowars pleaded guilty Friday to one misdemeanor charge related to his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. Owen Shroyer changed his plea to guilty in a Washington, D.C., courtroom Friday morning for a charge of entering and remaining on restricted grounds. Prosecutors agreed to drop three other misdemeanor charges against him in exchange for the plea, according to court records.”

Supreme Court Revives Biden Immigration Guidelines. The guidelines, setting priorities for which unauthorized immigrants should be detained, were blocked by a federal judge in Texas. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 23 June 2023: “The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Biden administration could set priorities for which undocumented immigrants to arrest and which to leave alone, rejecting a challenge from two conservative states that pressed for more aggressive enforcement and handing a major victory to President Biden. The dispute was part of a larger battle between Mr. Biden, who has struggled to balance control of the southern border with humane treatment of immigrants, and Republican-led states, which have repeatedly sought to quash the administration’s immigration agenda by contesting policy after policy in the courts. In allowing the administration leeway in deciding whom to arrest, the Supreme Court acknowledged the difficulty of the problem and the leading role the executive branch must play in solving it. In ruling that the states, Texas and Louisiana, lacked standing to sue, the majority, by an 8-to-1 vote, also signaled skepticism of challenges to immigration measures brought by states in an area that has largely been the federal government’s domain. More generally, the ruling set new limits on partisan lawsuits filed by states to challenge federal programs, which have surged in the last decade.” See also, Supreme Court says White House can continue to set deportation priorities, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Maria Sacchetti, Friday, 23 June 2023: “The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday boosted President Biden’s authority to focus the government’s immigration enforcement policies on those who are a threat or recently entered the country, and said states generally lacked the legal standing to challenge the federal government’s priorities on whom to arrest or prosecute. It was the court’s second decision in a year that affirmed the executive branch’s power in matters of immigration. In this case, the justices said the Department of Homeland Security has the authority to focus on arresting recent border crossers and those who commit violent crimes, rather than the millions of other noncitizens who have lived here for years. The Biden administration policy is a departure from that of the Trump administration, which said anyone in the country illegally could be targeted for deportation.”


Saturday, 24 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kremlin says charges against Wagner chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin will be dropped, The Washington Post, Robyn Dixon, Dalton Bennett, Mary Ilyushina, Victoria Bisset, Justine McDaniel, Claire Parker, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, and Tamia Fowlkes, Saturday, 24 June 2023: “About 24 hours after an apparent rebellion began, mercenaries halted their travel toward Moscow, Wagner Group leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin said Saturday in an audio message, a statement that appeared to end the immediate crisis. The Kremlin will not prosecute Prigozhin for the troop advancement, and the Wagner boss will go to Belarus, presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Saturday. The guarantee that Prigozhin will be able to go to Belarus is based on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word, according to Peskov. Pro-Kremlin media also reported that 15 Russian servicemen were killed in clashes with Wagner forces, though no official figures on casualties have been released. The Washington Post could not independently verify the casualties. Prigozhin said his forces came within 200 kilometers, or about 124 miles, of Moscow. Russian news outlets later reported that Prigozhin was leaving Rostov on Saturday evening, though The Post could not immediately verify his whereabouts.

  • The agreement for Prigozhin’s forces to turn around was brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who spoke with Putin before negotiating with Prigozhin, according to Belarusian state-owned news agency Belta and Peskov.
  • Wagner forces that did not join what Putin had called a ‘rebellion’ will not be prosecuted and will join the Russian Defense Ministry, Peskov said. Earlier, Putin had threatened punishment for those who joined the move on Moscow.
  • Prigozhin had called for Russians to join Wagner’s campaign late on Fridaafter claiming that a Wagner camp in Ukraine had been attacked ‘from the rear’ by Russia’s military. He also said he would march on Moscow unless he could confront his enemies in Russia’s Ministry of Defense. The Defense Ministry denied the accusations in a Telegram post, and state media suggested video of the strike had been staged.
  • Russian forces launched one of their biggest overnight missile barrages in weeks against Ukrainian cities early Saturday morning, firing about 51 cruise missiles and two self-destructing drones, Ukraine’s air force said in a Telegram post. 

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Paramilitary Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin Abruptly Ends Standoff in Russia. Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group, halted his march on Moscow and withdrew his forces from a southern Russia military hub. Russia dropped charges against Mr. Prigozhin and said he would go to Belarus. The New York Times, Paul Sonne, Anton Trolanovski, and Anatoly Kurmanaev, Saturday, 24 June 2023: “The outlines of a deal that appeared to defuse a rapidly evolving Russian security crisis began to come into focus late Saturday, as the Kremlin announced that a Russian mercenary leader, who for nearly 24 hours led an armed uprising against the country’s military leadership, would flee to Belarus and his fighters would escape repercussions. The announcement capped one of the most tumultuous days in President Vladimir V. Putin’s more than 23-year rule in Russia and followed an apparent intervention by the leader of neighboring Belarus, who stepped in to negotiate a solution to the crisis directly with the head of the Wagner private military company, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, who was leading the revolt. The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told reporters that under an agreement brokered by Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, the leader of Belarus, Mr. Prigozhin would go to Belarus and the criminal case opened against him for organizing an armed insurrection would be dropped. The Wagner fighters who didn’t participate in the uprising would be given the option of signing Russian Defense Ministry contracts, Mr. Peskov said, and the rest would avoid prosecution, considering their ‘heroic deeds on the front.'”

Russian mercenary group revolt against Moscow fizzles but exposes vulnerabilities, Associated Press, Saturday, 24 June 2023: “The greatest challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin in his more than two decades in power fizzled out after the rebellious mercenary commander who ordered his troops to march on Moscow abruptly reached a deal with the Kremlin to go into exile and sounded the retreat. The brief revolt, though, exposed vulnerabilities among Russian government forces, with Wagner Group soldiers under the command of Yevgeny Prigozhin able to move unimpeded into the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and advance hundreds of kilometers (miles) toward Moscow. The Russian military scrambled to defend Russia’s capital.”


Sunday, 25 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Wagner rebellion shows ‘cracks’ in Putin’s leadership, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Niha Masih, Lyric Li, Annabelle Timsit, Robyn Dixon, Mary Ilyushina, Shera Avi-Yonah, and Anumita Kaur, Sunday, 25 June 2023: “The leader of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, is expected to go to Belarus under a deal brokered by the Belarusian president, putting an end to a shocking, albeit short-lived, challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s authority. Prigozhin’s insurrection called into question Putin’s more-than-20-year grip on the Russian state, U.S. officials said Sunday. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS News’s ‘Face the Nation’ that the insurrection showed ‘cracks in the facade’ of Putin’s leadership. Putin delivered pre-recorded remarks on Russian state media Saturday but has not been seen in public since Prigozhin’s rebellion began. Prigozhin will not be prosecuted, a Kremlin spokesman said.

  • Prigozhin’s forces, which have supplemented Russian troops in Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, took control of a Russian military facility before marching toward Moscow early Saturday, coming within about 120 miles of the capital.
  • Prigozhin had called for Russians to join Wagner’s campaign late Friday after claiming that a Wagner camp in Ukraine had been attacked ‘from the rear’ by Russia’s military. The Russian Defense Ministry denied the accusation, and state media suggested video of the strike had been staged.
  • The incident has exposed deep fissures in Putin’s regime — particularly among members of Russia’s elite who may have agreed with Prigozhin’s increasingly vocal criticism of the war and how it was being run.
  • U.S. spy agencies this month picked up intelligence suggesting that Prigozhin was planning armed action against Russia’s defense establishment. The White House and officials in the Pentagon and the State Department, as well as leaders in Congress, were informed of the development, as instability from a ‘civil war’ would be a concern to the United States, officials said. 

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: 24-Hour Revolt by Wagner Mercenaries Undermines Putin’s Authority. The Russian president and Yevgeny Prigozhin, the mercenary boss who briefly led a revolt before agreeing to stand down in return for amnesty remained out of sight, adding to the uncertainty and confusion gripping Moscow. The New York Times, Sunday, 25 June 2023: “Confusion and uncertainty pervaded Russia on Sunday, with neither President Vladimir V. Putin nor Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the head of a mutinous mercenary group, appearing anywhere in public a day after the most profound government crisis in three decades — an open military rebellion — appeared defused. Even as state television tried to trumpet the fact that Russian unity and ‘maturity’ had prevailed, independent commentators assessing the damage concluded that Mr. Putin’s aura of infallibility and invincibility had been punctured. And some wondered aloud why much of Russia’s leadership was being neither seen nor heard.”

As Legal Fees mount, Trump Steers Donations Into PAC That Has Covered Them. A previously unnoticed change in Donald Trump’s online fund-raising appeals allows him to divert a sizable chunk of his 2024 contributions to a group that has spent millions to cover his legal fees. The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman, Sunday, 25 June 2023: “Facing multiple intensifying investigations, former President Donald J. Trump has quietly begun diverting more of the money he is raising away from his 2024 presidential campaign and into a political action committee that he has used to pay his personal legal fees. The change, which went unannounced except in the fine print of his online disclosures, raises fresh questions about how Mr. Trump is paying for his mounting legal bills — which could run into millions of dollars — as he prepares for at least two criminal trials, and whether his PAC, Save America, is facing a financial crunch. When Mr. Trump kicked off his 2024 campaign in November, for every dollar raised online, 99 cents went to his campaign, and a penny went to Save America. But internet archival records show that sometime in February or March, he adjusted that split. Now his campaign’s share has been reduced to 90 percent of donations, and 10 percent goes to Save America.”


Monday, 26 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin claims Russia would have crushed rebellion but Wagner fighters will be allowed to go to Belarus, The Washington Post, Sammy Westfall, Bryan Pietsch, Jennifer Hassan, Mary Ilyushina, Eve Sampson, and Amy B Wang, Monday, 26 June 2023: “Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the short-lived Wagner mutiny in a five-minute speech Monday, saying that he took steps to ‘avoid much bloodshed’ as the convoy of Wagner mercenary fighters marched toward Moscow over the weekend in what’s been seen as an extraordinary challenge to his authority. Without directly naming Wagner Group leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin in his speech, Putin said ‘the organizers of the rebellion’ betrayed their country, their people and ‘those whom they lured into this crime. They lied to them, pushed them towards death, under fire, to shoot at their own people.’ Striking a tone both stern and conciliatory, Putin thanked Wagner fighters — the ‘vast majority’ of whom were patriots, he said — for making ‘the only right decision’ by turning back before reaching Moscow. He added that ‘an armed rebellion would have been suppressed in any case.’ He said he would keep his promise and allow Wagner fighters to move to neighboring Belarus. The leader’s comments came after Wagner chief Prigozhin posted an 11-minute audio statement Monday claiming that he launched the rebellion after Russian forces killed 30 of his fighters. They were his first remarks since accepting a deal to avoid prosecution and withdrawing his fighters Saturday. The mutiny has forced a closer examination of Putin’s hold on power. Russia’s political system is ‘showing its fragilities, and the military power is cracking,’ the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said Monday at a summit of E.U. foreign ministers in Luxembourg. Questions remain about the whereabouts of Prigozhin — who has not been seen in public since the episode came to a close — and about the future of his Wagner Group mercenaries. Prigozhin said he accepted a deal to avoid prosecution and move to Belarus because Wagner could continue its operations there.

  • In his Monday address, Putin said the armed rebellion would have been suppressed — ‘the organizers of the rebellion, despite their loss of adequacy, could not but understand this,’ he said, not naming Prigozhin directly in his brief speech. He said they understood ‘that they dared to commit criminal acts, to split and weaken the country, which is now confronting a colossal external threat, unprecedented pressure from outside.’
  • Putin said he worked to avoid bloodshed to give ‘those who made a mistake a chance to think again’ and make them understand ‘what tragic, destructive consequences for Russia, for our state, the adventure in which they were dragged leads.’
  • Prigozhin said in his video message that the rebellion, which he called a ‘march of justice,’ came after orders that would have resulted in the absorption of Wagner mercenary forces in Ukraine into the conventional military, beginning July 1. He claimed that most Wagner members had refused to sign contracts with Russia’s Defense Ministry, fearing that they would be used as cannon fodder by incompetent commanders, and he reiterated accusations that his fighters came under attack from Russian forces.
  • The success of Wagner’s rapid advance toward Moscow suggests that the group should have been responsible for the drive to take Kyiv in the early days of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Prigozhin said. If that attack ‘was carried out by a unit of a similar level of training and moral composure such as Wagner then perhaps the “special operation” would have lasted a day,’ he said.
  • Prigozhin did not reveal his location. He did not discuss his reported acceptance of exile in Belarus. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Monday afternoon that he does not have any assessment of Prigozhin’s location.
  • Russia is set to continue to support the Central African Republic’s government, where thousands of Wagner fighters are stationed, and to investigate accusations of Western intelligence agencies’ involvement in the weekend’s aborted armed insurrection, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian state-run television outlet RT on Monday. Lavrov noted that the U.S. ambassador to Russia opened dialogue with Moscow, calling the rebellion an ‘internal affair’ in which the United States was not involved. President Biden addressed the weekend’s events, saying that U.S. officials kept in contact with key allies throughout the uprising and ‘made clear that we were not involved.’
  • Russia’s Defense Ministry published a video Monday claiming to show Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu inspecting a command post in Ukraine. It was not immediately clear when or where the footage was recorded. Prigozhin has long accused Shoigu of fumbling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for his ouster.
  • The brief rebellion in Russia ‘raises profound questions’ about the country’s stability, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS News’s ‘Face the Nation.’ Blinken and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attributed the revolt, at least in part, to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. ‘The longer Russian aggression lasts, the more degradation it causes in Russia itself,’ Zelensky said Sunday.
  • Western officials are questioning whether the truce will last and are concerned that instability in Russia, a major nuclear power, could pose a risk to the United States and its allies.
  • Miller, the State Department spokesperson, called Wagner’s actions over the weekend ‘a significant step’ but said their ultimate implications remain unclear. ‘It is certainly a new thing to see President Putin’s leadership directly challenged. It is a new thing to see Yevgeniy Prigozhin directly questioning the rationale for this war and calling out that the war has been conducted essentially based on a lie,’ Miller said at a briefing Monday.
  • Zelensky visited troops in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, telling them, ‘Everyone in the country who is not at the front is well aware that you are doing the most difficult job today. And everyone knows that the eastern direction is very difficult and hot.’
  • Ukrainian forces took back the southeastern village of Rivnopil from Russian forces, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Monday on Telegram.
  • The Wagner mutiny has brought unease to large parts of Africa where leaders who have turned to the Wagner mercenary group to maintain power now face the prospect that the private paramilitary organization could be weakened, experts sayIn the Central African Republic and Mali — where Wagner has its biggest presence on the continent — residents said group chats and conversations were dominated by speculation about the fallout of a Kremlin crackdown on Wagner. And here is why Russia’s Wagner Group has been in Ukraine, Africa and other countries.
  • Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has called for reinforcing the border with Belarus after a weekend of political instability in Russia that resulted in Prigozhin’s reported acceptance of exile to Belarus. ‘We need to tighten security of our eastern borders even more,’ Nauseda said Monday at a Lithuanian State Defense Council meeting, the Interfax news agency reported.
  • Germany wants to permanently station about 4,000 soldiers in Lithuania to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius announced Monday. ‘It is about defending our common freedom,’ he said, according to German media.
  • China has downplayed Russia’s political instability, branding the recent rebellion as ‘internal affairs’ in Moscow. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning made the comment when asked if recent events could weaken Putin. She said Beijing supports Moscow in ‘maintaining national stability and achieving development and prosperity.’
  • Australia announced a new assistance package to Ukraine that includes 70 military vehicles and ammunition. The package, worth 110 million Australian dollars, or about $75 million, ‘demonstrates that Ukraine can count on Australia,’ Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in a statement. It also includes money for a U.N. humanitarian fund for civilians in Ukraine.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: A Visibly Angry Putin Stresses Failure of Wagner Revolt. The Russian president made brief public remarks on Monday, his first since the end of the short-lived rebellion by the Wagner mercenary group and its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin. The New York Times, Valerie Hopkins, Monday, 26 June 2023: “A visibly angry Vladimir V. Putin on Monday denounced as ‘blackmail’ a weekend rebellion by the Wagner mercenary group even as he defended his response to the mutiny and hinted at leniency for those who took part, saying that ‘the entire Russian society united’ around his government. Speaking publicly for the first time in two days, Mr. Putin, in an address broadcast on Monday night, refused to utter the name of the Wagner boss behind the insurrection, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin. But his contempt was clear for those who had seemed, briefly, to threaten civil war and upend Russia’s war effort in Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces are mounting a counteroffensive.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: When Prigozhin turned Wagner’s tanks on Russia, NPR, Alex Leff, Monday, 26 June 2023: “Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: What will become of Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner Group mercenaries who marched into Russia on Saturday? How will their aborted mutiny affect the war in Ukraine? These are some of the many questions swirling after a bewildering weekend of developments in Russia. The Kremlin said Prigozhin would go to Belarus without charges. Then on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wagner fighters and commanders who were not involved can ‘sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense or move to Belarus.’ Prigozhin also issued a statement Monday, insisting his group’s action was not a coup, but instead was a protest of alleged plans to destroy Wagner and draw its fighters into the Russian military. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg visits Lithuania on Monday and Tuesday in preparation for an upcoming NATO summit there. On Wednesday, Stoltenberg is due to hold talks with Estonia’s prime minister. What happened: Yevgeny Prigozhin led his Wagner Group mercenaries in a short-lived mutiny in Russia. Prigozhin called for the ouster of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, accusing him of trying to destroy Wagner and of ordering a deadly missile strike against the group in Ukraine, where the mercenaries are fighting on Russia’s behalf. Wagner forces took control of a southern Russian city and went on to march toward Moscow. But Prigozhin called off the rebellion when the Kremlin said he would receive amnesty and relocate to Belarus. Ukraine said it was making slow progress in its counteroffensive this month, so far taking nine villages back from Russian forces. Russia says it has been foiling Ukraine’s attacks. British military officials estimate both sides are suffering high casualties. Allies pledged several billion dollars of non-military aid to Ukraine, including the U.S. announcing $1.3 billion, for rebuilding the country last Wednesday. And on Monday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief said the bloc will donate about $3.8 billion in military aid for Ukraine. The Pentagon said it miscalculated how much weaponry it sent to Ukraine by $6.2 billion over the actual value, a sum a spokesperson said would go toward future weapons drawdowns. The United Nations put Russian forces on its list of shame for killing 136 children in Ukraine last year, as well as injuring hundreds more kids and attacking schools. The situation at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is ‘extremely fragile’ after the launch of the Ukrainian counteroffensive and the loss of the Kakhovka Reservoir, Rafael Mariano Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said after visiting the plant. A group of African leaders traveled to Ukraine and Russia on what they described as a ‘peace mission,’ but their meetings with leaders of both countries ended without any visible progress. Russian missiles rained down on the Ukrainian president’s hometown on June 13, killing 11 people.

Exclusive: CNN obtains the tape of Trump’s 2021 conversation about classified documents, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb, Monday, 26 June 2023: “CNN has exclusively obtained the audio recording of the 2021 meeting in Bedminster, New Jersey, where President Donald Trump discusses holding secret documents he did not declassify. The recording, which first aired on CNN’s ‘Anderson Cooper 360,’ includes new details from the conversation that is a critical piece of evidence in special counsel Jack Smith’s indictment of Trump over the mishandling of classified information, including a moment when Trump seems to indicate he was holding a secret Pentagon document with plans to attack Iran. ‘These are the papers,’ Trump says in the audio recording, while he’s discussing the Pentagon attack plans, a quote that was not included in the indictment…. Trump’s statements on the audio recording, saying ‘these are the papers’ and referring to something he calls ‘highly confidential’ and seems to be showing others in the room, could undercut the former president’s claims in an interview last week with Fox News’ Bret Baier that he did not have any documents with him. ‘There was no document. That was a massive amount of papers and everything else talking about Iran and other things,’ Trump said on Fox. ‘And it may have been held up or may not, but that was not a document. I didn’t have a document, per se. There was nothing to declassify. These were newspaper stories, magazine stories and articles.'” See also, Audio Undercuts Trump’s Assertion He Did Not Have Classified Document. A recording of a meeting in 2021 in which the former president described a sensitive document in front of him appears to contradict his recent assertion that the material was just news clippings. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Alan Feuer, Monday, 26 June 2023: “An audio recording of former President Donald J. Trump in 2021 discussing what he called a ‘highly confidential’ document about Iran that he acknowledged he could not declassify because he was out of office appears to contradict his recent assertion that the material he was referring to was simply news clippings. Portions of a transcript of the two-minute recording of Mr. Trump were cited by federal prosecutors in the indictment of Mr. Trump on charges that he had put national security secrets at risk by mishandling classified documents after leaving office and then obstructing the government’s efforts to retrieve them. The recording captured his conversation in July 2021 with a publisher and writer working on a memoir by Mr. Trump’s final chief of staff, Mark Meadows. In it, Mr. Trump discussed what he described as a ‘secret’ plan regarding Iran drawn up by Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Defense Department. Mr. Trump was citing the document in rebutting an account that General Milley feared having to keep him from manufacturing a crisis with Iran in the period after Mr. Trump lost his re-election bid in late 2020. The audio, which is likely to feature as evidence in Mr. Trump’s trial in the documents case, was played for the first time in public on Monday by CNN and was also obtained by The New York Times.” See also, Listen: In audio recording, Trump is heard discussing sensitive Iran document. The recording is an important piece of evidence in the federal case against the former president. The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Monday, 26 June 2023: “The Washington Post has obtained the 2021 audio recording in which former president Donald Trump appears to brag about possessing a classified document related to Iran that he acknowledges he did not declassify before leaving office. The recording, made at a meeting at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J., is an important piece of evidence obtained by special counsel Jack Smith. It appears to undercut Trump’s claims that he had declassified documents before leaving office or didn’t know about possessing restricted documents after leaving the White House. The recording, referenced in the federal indictment against Trump and first aired Monday by CNN, features Trump describing a multi-page document that he alleges is about possibly attacking Iran. ‘See, as president I could have declassified it, now I can’t. … Isn’t that interesting? It’s so cool,’ Trump said on the recording.”

Supreme Court Steps Aside in Fight Over Louisiana’s Congressional Maps. The justices returned the case to a lower court on Monday, raising the chances that the state will soon be required to create a second district that empowers Black voters to select a representative. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Monday, 26 June 2023: “The Supreme Court cleared the way on Monday for a challenge to Louisiana’s congressional map to advance, raising the chances that the state will soon be required to create a second district that empowers Black voters to select a representative. In lifting a nearly yearlong hold on the case, the justices said that a federal appeals court in New Orleans should review the case before the 2024 congressional elections in the state. By preventing a challenge to the map from advancing while it considered a similar case in Alabama, the Supreme Court had effectively allowed a Republican-drawn map to go into effect in Louisiana during the 2022 election cycle. Though Louisiana’s population is about 30 percent Black, the six-district map enacted by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature has only one district with a majority of Black voters. Monday’s announcement came after the court issued a surprise ruling this month in the Alabama case, finding that lawmakers there had undercut the voting power of Black constituents. It is now increasingly expected that challenges in Louisiana and other Southern states will end with redrawn maps that all but guarantee an additional district determined by Black voters.” See also, Supreme Court unfreezes Louisiana redistricting case that could boost Black voting power before 2024, Associated Press, Kevin McGill, Mark Sherman, and Sara Cline, Monday, 26 June 2023: “The Supreme Court on Monday lifted its hold on a Louisiana political remap case, increasing the likelihood that the Republican-dominated state will have to redraw boundary lines to create a second mostly Black congressional district. For more than a year, there has been a legal battle over the GOP-drawn political boundaries, with a federal judge, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and opponents saying that the map is unfair and discriminates against Black voters. The map, which was used in Louisiana’s November congressional election, has white majorities in five of six districts, all currently held by Republicans. This is despite Black people accounting for one-third of the state’s population. Another mostly Black district could deliver another congressional seat to Democrats.”

Five or six Secret Service agents have testified before January 6 grand jury, sources say, NBC News, Julia Ainsley, Monday, 26 June 2023: “About half a dozen Secret Service agents have testified before the grand jury that will decide whether to indict former President Donald Trump for his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol and efforts to interfere in the peaceful transfer of the presidency, according to two sources familiar with their testimony. Roughly five or six agents have appeared, the sources said, in compliance with subpoenas they received. It is not known what the agents’ proximity to Trump was on Jan. 6 or what information they may have provided to the grand jury.”

Judge Denies Request to Seal Witness List in Trump Documents Case. The order by Judge Aileen Cannon means the identities of some or all of the Justice Department’s 84 potential witnesses in the case against the former president could become public. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Monday, 26 June 2023: “The federal judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s prosecution on charges of illegally holding on to sensitive national security documents denied on Monday the government’s request to keep secret a list of witnesses with whom Mr. Trump has been barred from discussing his case. The ruling by Judge Aileen M. Cannon, in the Southern District of Florida, means that some or all of the list of 84 witnesses could at some point become public, offering further details about the shape and scope of the case that the special counsel Jack Smith has brought against Mr. Trump…. Last week, as Mr. Smith’s prosecutors gave the witness list to Mr. Trump’s legal team, they asked Judge Cannon if they could keep the names under seal. In their request, the prosecutors noted that Mr. Trump’s lawyers had not taken a position on the request to seal the list. Then on Monday, a group of news media companies including The New York Times filed their own motion asking Judge Cannon to make the list public, saying that the case against Mr. Trump was ‘one of the most consequential criminal cases in the nation’s history.’ ‘The American public’s interest in this matter, and need to monitor its progress every step of the way, cannot be overstated,’ the news organizations wrote.”


Tuesday, 27 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: State media reports Wagner head Prigozhin arrives in Belarus; strike on Kramatorsk pizza restaurant kills 4, The Washington Post, Lyric Li, Jennifer Hassan, Mary Ilyushina, Robyn Dixon, Eve Sampson, Sammy Westfall, and John Hudson, Tuesday, 27 June 2023: “Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko claimed Tuesday that Yevgeniy Prigozhin has arrived in Belarus, the country’s state-run news agency reported. Flight data showed a Russian-registered jet linked to the Wagner Group leader flying into Minsk, the Belarusian capital. The deal between Moscow and Wagner Group mercenary fighters, who launched a brief rebellion over the weekend, appeared to be holding. Preparations are in place for the Wagner Group to hand over heavy military equipment to the Russian military, while the criminal case against mutineers has been closed, Russia’s Defense Ministry and security agency said Tuesday. Lukashenko described the rebellion in Russia as ‘painful to watch’ and said he had ordered his army to be on ‘full combat readiness.’ The mutiny by Wagner forces was seen as an extraordinary challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s authority — but the insurrection was aborted after Lukashenko, a Putin ally, claimed to have brokered a deal between the two sides. The accord involved Prigozhin halting his forces’ march on Moscow in return for passage to Belarus and the dropping of charges against him. Lukashenko said he tried to convince Prigozhin in a phone call Saturday to call off the rebellion, according to the Belarusian leader in comments published by Belarusian state media. Lukashenko said the Wagner chief seemed ‘half-crazed,’ was swearing ’10 times more than normal,’ and demanded that Russian officials including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu be handed over to him. Meanwhile, Russian missiles struck a popular area in the city center of Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine, killing at least four and injuring 42, including an 8-month-old and three foreigners, Ukraine’s Office of the Prosecutor General and Kramatorsk City Council said. The pizza restaurant hit in the strikes was frequented by members of the military and foreign journalists. ‘Russia targeted places of crowding,’ Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said.

  • Saying for the first time that Wagner was ‘fully state-funded,’ Putin told servicemen that the Wagner Group had received more than a billion dollars over the year to pay fighters’ salaries, incentives and insurance, Russia’s state-owned Tass news agency reported Tuesday. He said Wagner’s owner, the Concord company, received just under $1 billion to supply food to the army. The comments were a break from previous efforts to obscure the cost of the war.
  • Security guarantees for Prigozhin have been provided as promised, Lukashenko said at a ceremony with senior military officers, according to a state media report. ‘Yes, indeed, he is in Belarus today,’ he said of the Wagner leader in exile.
  • Putin sought to bolster the image of his military on Tuesday, addressing dozens of military officers and soldiers who supposedly took part in quelling the mutiny. He told them they ‘essentially stopped a civil war’ and that ‘the army and the people were not with the rebels.’ On Monday, Putin argued that he could have easily crushed the Wagner rebellion but worked to ‘avoid much bloodshed’ and give ‘those who made a mistake a chance to think again.’ However, Wagner forces advanced swiftly toward Moscow after seizing control of the Southern Military District headquarters on Saturday, and Prigozhin claimed that this showed ‘serious security flaws’ across Russia.
  • A Russian military official sought to dismiss the rebellion as ‘inspired by the West.’ The head of the Russian National Guard, Viktor Zolotov, said the reason Wagner forces had moved quickly toward Moscow from the south during the rebellion was because Russian forces were concentrated near the capital. ‘We knew that we would win. The rebels would not have taken Moscow,’ he said Tuesday.
  • Lukashenko offered the Wagner Group an abandoned military base and said he welcomed the battlefield ‘experience’ that Wagner commanders could bring to Belarus.We are also pragmatic about this,’ he said Tuesday, according to Belarusian state media. He said Wagner commanders could ‘help’ Belarus by sharing their ‘priceless’ experience from the front lines in Ukraine. ‘We will help in any way we can,’ he said. ‘Until they decide what to do.’ Putin has agreed that the Wagner Group’s mutineers could move to neighboring Belarus, return home or sign contracts with the Russian Defense Ministry to join the army. However, some observers have argued that Prigozhin could pose a potential domestic security risk for Lukashenko, particularly if the mercenary chief’s forces relocate with him.
  • The United States on Tuesday imposed new sanctions on four companies and a Russian national connected to the Wagner Group, a sign the Biden administration is continuing to exert financial pressure on the group following its aborted uprising against Russia’s military establishment. The measures target companies and people in the Central African Republic, United Arab Emirates and Russia that have engaged in illicit gold dealings to fund the Wagner Group and sustain and expand its armed forces in Ukraine and Africa, the Treasury Department said. The Russian national, Andrey Ivanov, is a Wagner executive involved in weapons deals and mining concerns in Mali, the department said.
  • ‘The Wagner Group funds its brutal operations in part by exploiting natural resources in countries like the Central African Republic and Mali,’ said Brian E. Nelson, undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence. ‘The United States will continue to target the Wagner Group’s revenue streams to degrade its expansion and violence in Africa, Ukraine, and anywhere else.’ The measures target any potential assets of the individuals in the United States, though it was unclear if they faced any such exposure.
  • Zelensky in his nightly address called the strikes on Kramatorsk a ‘manifestation of terror.’ Photos and video from the scene showed buildings with blown out walls and windows and bloodied people lying on the ground, as rescue teams dug through the rubble.
  • The United States allowed the Russian government to send a plane to Washington to transport its diplomats whose visas are expiring back to Russia, amid a ban on commercial flights from Russia, according to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller. Miller also called for reciprocal treatment for the United States in helping move U.S. diplomats out of Russia. ‘The U.S. government allowed the Russian government to send a charter flight to the United States to transport to Russia those Russian diplomats whose assignments have ended,’ Miller said. ‘In exchange for granting these courtesies, we expect Russia to maintain open transport for our diplomats and cargo to our embassy in Moscow.’
  • The tracking of the flight by online commenters gave rise to a flurry of rumors and conspiracy theories about the intent behind the plane’s trip, amid the greatest threat to Putin’s reign in decades, but Miller made clear the plane was on a mundane mission to carry away diplomats whose assignments had ended. The flight took a circuitous route, avoiding European airspace.
  • An envoy for Pope Francis is set to visit Moscow this week, the Vatican’s press office said Tuesday. Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, the archbishop of Bologna and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, is seeking to ‘contribute to facilitating a solution to the current tragic situation,’ the statement said. Zuppi will be in Russia on Wednesday and Thursday.
  • The United States announced a $500 million security aid package to Ukraine, the Pentagon said Tuesday. While it does not appear to include anything new, the weapons and equipment are tailored for troops fighting in an ongoing counteroffensive. Fifty-five armored vehicles will be provided, along with antitank weapons, long-range rocket ammunition and equipment used to clear mines — resources all important when fighting an enemy at shorter distances.
  • Large swaths of Africa felt unease over their reliance on the wounded Wagner Group following the aborted rebellion in Russia, analysts said. Leaders in countries including the Central African Republic and Mali have traditionally turned to Wagner to bolster their hold on power, but they now face the possibility that the private military organization may be weakened or even dismantled by Moscow.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Lukashenko Says That During Revolt, Putin Suggested Killing Mercenary Chief Prigozhin. President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus said that he had argued against the move, and confirmed that Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, had arrived in the country, Belarusian state media reported. The New York Times, Anton Troianovski, Valerie Hopkins, and Victoria Kim, Tuesday, 27 June 2023: “The Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny V. Prigozhin arrived in Belarus on Tuesday, the Belarusian state news media reported, ending days of speculation over his whereabouts after he called off a weekend uprising that marked the most dramatic challenge to President Vladimir V. Putin’s rule in two decades. New details emerged about the negotiations that ended the daylong rebellion, as President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus, Russia’s closest ally, described his phone conversations with Mr. Putin and Mr. Prigozhin as the Wagner mercenaries were marching to Moscow on Saturday. According to his own account reported in Belarusian state media, Mr. Lukashenko said Mr. Putin had raised the possibility of killing Mr. Prigozhin. But Mr. Lukashenko said that he had urged against a rushed response, saying that ‘a bad peace is better than any war.’ The Belarusian leader said that he had then called Mr. Prigozhin, warning him that Mr. Putin intended to ‘squash him like a bug.’ The account could not be immediately confirmed.”

Supreme Court Rejects Theory That Would Have Transformed American Elections. The 6-to-3 majority dismissed the ‘independent state legislature’ theory, which would have given state lawmakers nearly unchecked power over federal elections. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Tuesday, 27 June 2023: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a legal theory that would have radically reshaped how federal elections are conducted by giving state legislatures largely unchecked power to set rules for federal elections and to draw congressional maps warped by partisan gerrymandering. The vote was 6 to 3, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. writing the majority opinion. The Constitution, he said, ‘does not exempt state legislatures from the ordinary constraints imposed by state law.’ Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch dissented. The decision followed other important rulings this term in which the court’s three liberal members were in the majority, including ones on the Voting Rights Actimmigration and tribal rights. Though some of the biggest cases are still to come, probably arriving by the end of the week, the court has so far repeatedly repudiated aggressive arguments from conservative litigants. The case concerned the ‘independent state legislature’ theory. It is based on a reading of the Constitution’s Elections Clause, which says, ‘The times, places and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof.’ Proponents of the strongest form of the theory say this means that no other organs of state government — not courts, not governors, not election administrators, not independent commissions — can alter a legislature’s actions on federal elections. Chief Justice Roberts rejected that position. ‘The Elections Clause does not insulate state legislatures from the ordinary exercise of state judicial review,’ he wrote. The ruling soundly dismissed the theory, one that an unusually diverse array of lawyers, judges and scholars across the ideological spectrum viewed as extreme and dangerous. Adopting the theory, they warned, could have profound consequences for nearly every aspect of federal elections, including by erasing safeguards against partisan gerrymandering and curtailing the ability to challenge voting restrictions in state courts.” See also, Supreme Court rejects theory that would have meant radical changes to election rules, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Tuesday, 27 June 2023: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected what would have been a radical change in election law, dismissing the theory that state legislatures have almost unlimited power to decide the rules for federal elections and draw partisan congressional maps without interference from state courts. The Constitution’s elections clause ‘does not insulate state legislatures from the ordinary exercise of state judicial review,’ Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in a 6-3 decision. The decision was praised by Democrats and civil rights groups, more for firmly rebuffing what they viewed as an outlandish theory than for establishing new law. A wide coalition of scholars, liberal lawyers and conservative former judges had denounced the theory as unmoored and extreme. Maintaining the status quo is seen as significant for a court that in recent years has constricted voting and election protections in federal law and the Constitution.” See also, Supreme Court rules against giving state legislatures unchecked control over federal elections. The justices rejected the ‘independent state legislature’ theory, which Trump supporters cited during the 2020 election. The theory would have restricted the power of state courts to review certain election laws. NBC News, Lawrence Hurley, Tuesday, 27 June 2023: “The Supreme Court declined Tuesday to impose new limits on state courts’ reviewing certain election-related issues by ruling against Republicans in North Carolina fighting for a congressional district map that would heavily favor their candidates. The justices ruled in a 6-3 vote that the North Carolina Supreme Court was acting within its authority in concluding that the map constituted a partisan gerrymander under the state Constitution. The court declined to embrace a broad version of a hitherto obscure legal argument called the ‘independent state legislature’ theory, which Republicans say limits the authority of state courts to strike down certain election laws enacted by state legislatures. Supporters of former President Donald Trump cited the theory in various cases during the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath. The ruling was widely welcomed by voting rights groups and Democrats who had been worried about the implications of a ruling that would curb state court power in 2024 and beyond. ‘Today the Supreme Court rejected the fringe independent state legislature theory that threatened to upend our democracy and dismantle our system of checks and balances,’ former President Barack Obama tweeted.” See also, Supreme Court rejects legal theory that could have thrown 2024 election into disarray, PBS, Tuesday, 27 June 2023: “The Supreme Court rejected a legal theory that state legislatures have almost unlimited power to decide the rules for federal elections and draw partisan congressional maps without interference from state courts. Trump allies raised the theory as part of an effort to reverse the 2020 election outcome. Geoff Bennett discussed the ruling with Neal Katyal, who argued the case before the court.”

The Attention Was All on Mar-a-Lago. Some of the Action Was at Bedminster. The inquiry into Donald Trump’s handling of classified material revolved largely around his Florida club and residence, but investigators were also quietly focused on his New Jersey property. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, and Jonathan Swan, Tuesday, 27 June 2023: “For all the attention focused during the investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s handling of classified documents on Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Florida, another of Mr. Trump’s properties has played a crucial, if quieter, role in the case: his 520-acre golf club in Bedminster, N.J. Mar-a-Lago grabbed headlines last August after federal agents descended on the compound and hauled away a trove of more than 100 classified documents, and the pictures of boxes of presidential records piled there — including in a bathroom — helped explain why prosecutors chose to indict him this month. But Bedminster, where Mr. Trump spends his summers, has turned out also to have been a focus of investigators, a flashpoint in the conflict between prosecutors and Mr. Trump’s lawyers, and the scene of a central episode in Mr. Trump’s indictment: a meeting in which he was recorded showing off what he described as a ‘highly confidential’ plan to attack Iran. That audio recording, which was published on Monday by CNN and The New York Times, was the latest piece of evidence placing Bedminster on an almost equal footing with Mar-a-Lago as a key location in the case being pursued against Mr. Trump by the special counsel Jack Smith. Previously unreported details of the investigation show that prosecutors working for Mr. Smith have subpoenaed surveillance footage from Bedminster, much like they did from Mar-a-Lago, and fought a pitched battle with Mr. Trump’s lawyers late last year over how best to search the New Jersey property.” See also, It’s not just Mar-a-Lago: Trump charges highlight his New Jersey life. Two of the most vivid scenes in the former president’s indictment take place at his Bedminster golf club, which has not been searched by the FBI. The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, and Spencer S. Hsu, Tuesday, 27 June 2023: “The 49-page indictment against Donald Trump for allegedly mishandling classified documents and obstructing justice is largely focused on how boxes of sensitive documents ended up crammed into the nooks, crannies and even a chandelier-adorned bathroom of Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago. But two of the indictment’s most vivid scenes took place about 1,200 miles to the north. Prosecutors accuse Trump of showing off classified documents to employees and others not authorized to see them — not once, but twice at his sprawling golf club on the rural plains of New Jersey. According to the indictment, Trump bragged in July 2021 about a sensitive military plan with two of his staffers, as well as the writer and publisher of a then-forthcoming book from his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, during a session at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster. In an audio recording of the session near the club’s pool, Trump can be heard acknowledging the secrecy of the documents to the group — who included communications staffers Liz Harrington and Margo Martin, according to people familiar with the matter, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the criminal case. ‘See, as president I could have declassified it. Now I can’t,’ Trump tells the group on the recording, which was obtained this week by The Washington Post. ‘Isn’t that interesting? It’s so cool.'”

Senate Report Details January 6 Intelligence and Law Enforcement Failures. The report by Democrats provided the most comprehensive picture to date of how federal officials missed, downplayed or failed to act on multiple threats of and plans for violence. The New York Times, Like Broadwater, Tuesday, 27 June 2023: “Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday released a scathing report that detailed how the F.B.I., the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies repeatedly ignored, downplayed or failed to share warnings of violence before the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. The 106-page report, entitled ‘Planned in Plain Sight,’ highlighted and added to evidence already uncovered by the now-defunct House Jan. 6 committee, news reporting and other congressional work to provide the most comprehensive picture to date of a cascading set of security and intelligence failures that culminated in the deadliest assault on the Capitol in centuries. Aides said Senate staff obtained thousands of additional documents from federal law enforcement agencies, including the Justice Department, before drafting the report. It includes multiple calls for armed violence, calls to occupy federal buildings including the Capitol and some of the clearest threats the F.B.I. received but did little about — including a warning that the far-right group the Proud Boys was planning to kill people in Washington.” See also, Senate panel finds more pre-January 6 intelligence failures by FBI and DHS. Committee report cites striking FBI shortcomings, says DHS analysts were hesitant in the wake of criticism from handling of George Floyd protests. The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Tuesday, 27 June 2023: “A new Senate committee report sharply criticizes the FBI and Department of Homeland Security for what it says were failures to believe the intelligence tips they were receiving in the run-up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — offering fresh examples, nearly 2½ years later, of warnings and information that went unheeded. The report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s majority staff, titled ‘Planned in Plain Sight,’ expands on previous findings, including reporting by The Washington Post, about red flags missed in the weeks leading up to the pro-Trump riot that delayed Joe Biden’s certification as president. It also contains additional instances and context for what the authors describe as a failure by federal intelligence officials to believe the many warnings they received. The 105-page report said the FBI and DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis ‘failed to fully and accurately assess the severity of the threat identified by that intelligence, and formally disseminate guidance to their law enforcement partners with sufficient urgency and alarm to enable those partners to prepare for the violence that ultimately occurred on January 6th.'” See also, Senate report says FBI and Homeland Security ignored ‘massive amount’ of intelligence before January 6, Associated Press, Mary Clare Jalonick, Tuesday, 27 June 2023: “The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security downplayed or ignored ‘a massive amount of intelligence information’ ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S Capitol, according to the chairman of a Senate panel that on Tuesday released a new report on the intelligence failures ahead of the insurrection. The report details how the agencies failed to recognize and warn of the potential for violence as some of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters openly planned the siege in messages and forums online. Among the multitude of intelligence that was overlooked was a December 2020 tip to the FBI that members of the far-right extremist group Proud Boys planned to be in Washington, D.C., for the certification of Joe Biden’s victory and their ‘plan is to literally kill people,’ the report said. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said the agencies were also aware of many social media posts that foreshadowed violence, some calling on Trump’s supporters to ‘come armed’ and storm the Capitol, kill lawmakers or ‘burn the place to the ground.'”


Wednesday, 28 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Death toll from strike on pizza restaurant rises to 11; Putin appears amid crowd, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Leo Sands, Sammy Westfall, and Mary Ilyushina, Wednesday, 28 June 2023: “Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he stopped Russian President Vladimir Putin from making a ‘harsh decision’ against Yevgeniy Prigozhin, suggesting that Putin planned to kill the Wagner mercenary group chief for leading a rebellion, The Washington Post reported. Lukashenko’s version of events could not be verified. In Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine, the death toll from a Russian missile strike that devastated a popular pizza restaurant has risen to 11, with at least 60 wounded, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. The dead include three children, he said. The person who coordinated the attack has been detained by Ukraine’s Security Service and police special forces, he said Wednesday on Telegram. Russian state media outlets on Wednesday evening shared images of crowds greeting Putin in the city of Derbent, in Russia’s southern Dagestan region, where he is visiting to discuss ‘tourism development’ in the North Caucasus region, the Kremlin said. Putin, who has rarely been seen outside of his residences since the coronavirus pandemic, briefly interacted with the crowd in a cordoned-off area on one of the city’s main streets as he wrapped up a sightseeing tour. ‘Residents of Derbent enthusiastically greeted Putin,’ Russian state media outlets reported of the appearance, an apparent effort to demonstrate public support.

  • Putin’s appearance in Derbent appeared to echo images from Prigozhin’s send-off in Rostov-on-Don following his failed mutiny over the weekend, with people cheering him on as he drove away in the night. The Kremlin has since sought to cement the narrative that Russians have rallied to Putin.
  • Rescuers in Kramatorsk continued to search for survivors in the rubble Wednesday. Video from the scene showed buildings with blown-out walls and windows and bloodied people on the ground. The injured included an 8-month-old, Ukrainian officials said. The pizza restaurant was frequented by members of the military and foreign journalists. Ukrainian police said the restaurant was hit by an Iskander missile.
  • On Wednesday, Russia’s Prosecutor General declared the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta Europe, based in Riga, Latvia, an ‘undesirable organization,’ making it a crime for any Russian in the country or abroad to work for or cooperate with it.
  • Russian forces shelled the eastern city of Chuhuiv on Wednesday morning, killing three people, Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Synyehubov said. In a Telegram message, Synyehubov said the three men died instantly in the explosion. Emergency services continue to work at the scene, he said.
  • Ukraine has retaken 50 square miles in the country’s south from entrenched Russian forces, The Post reported. The pace of the counteroffensive is slower than desired, Zelensky has said, adding that an operation against an adversary with a deeper arsenal and a far larger force shouldn’t be expected to unfold at an action-movie pace. Ukrainian forces are facing extensive minefields that Kyiv says amount to more than 77,000 square miles.
  • The Kreminna Forest in the Luhansk region is now one of the most dangerous spots on the front line, with the fighting driven by Russia — unlike the fronts where Ukraine is mounting its counteroffensive, The Post reported. Ukrainian fighters said the side that is attacking or defending can vary day-to-day or even hour by hour.
  • Addressing Ukraine’s parliament on the nation’s Constitution Day — marking the day the nation’s constitution was adopted in 1996 — Zelensky appealed for Ukraine’s full acceptance into NATO. He said Ukraine is already a donor of moral strength. ‘Anyone who cooperates effectively with Ukraine becomes a co-defender of the international order and universal values,’ he said. ‘Because Ukraine is a country of strength … NATO will guarantee security for Ukraine, and our Defense and Security Forces will guarantee security and protection for other NATO members.’
  • Moscow distanced itself from Wagner’s military activities in Africa, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying Wednesday that Russia has ‘absolutely nothing to do with’ them. He said Russia will continue to cooperate militarily with the Central African Republic, including through the deployment of ‘military advisers.’ Since Wagner’s rebellion, there has been growing unease in Mali and the Central African Republic, where leaders rely on Wagner support to bolster their hold on power.
  • Lukashenko claimed Tuesday that Prigozhin arrived in Belarus, the country’s state-run news agency reported. Flight data showed a Russian-registered jet linked to the Wagner leader flying into Minsk, the Belarusian capital.
  • Lukashenko offered the Wagner Group an abandoned military base and said he welcomed the battlefield experience that its commanders could bring to Belarus. According to Belarusian state media, he said Wagner commanders could help Belarus by sharing their experience from Ukraine. ‘We will help in any way we can,’ he said, ‘until they decide what to do.’ After the mutiny, Putin said Wagner fighters could move to neighboring Belarus, return home or sign contracts with the Russian Defense Ministry to join the army.
  • The Wagner Group received more than $1 billion over the past year from the Russian government, Russia’s state-owned Tass news agency reported Tuesday. Putin said the funds were for paying fighters’ salaries, incentives and insurance. He also said Wagner’s owner, the Concord company, received just under $1 billion to supply food to the army. The comments were a break from previous Kremlin efforts to disavow state links to Wagner and obscure the cost of the war in Ukraine.
  • Polish President Andrzej Duda and his Lithuanian counterpart, Gitanas Nauseda, traveled to Kyiv on Wednesday morning. They met with Zelensky to discuss next month’s NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital as well as the progress of Ukraine’s counteroffensive.
  • Russia has arbitrarily detained hundreds of people in occupied Ukraine during its invasion, according to a report from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. The office documented 864 individual cases — involving 763 men, 94 women and seven boys — ‘perpetrated by the Russian Federation’ between Feb. 24, 2022, and May 23, 2023.
  • The United States agreed to let Moscow send a plane to Washington to transport home Russian diplomats whose visas are expiring, amid a ban on commercial flights from Russia, according to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller. He called for reciprocal treatment for the United States in helping move American diplomats out of Russia.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin, Projecting Control, Tries to Contain Fallout From Mutiny. As President Vladimir V. Putin emphasized Russian unity after a brief uprising, the Kremlin’s spokesman said a New York Times report that a top general knew of the revolt beforehand was ‘gossip.’ The New York Times, Gaya Gupta, Valerie Hopkins, and Gabriela Sá Pessoa, Wednesday, 28 June 2023: “The Kremlin on Wednesday sought to contain the fallout from last weekend’s brief uprising that posed the most dramatic challenge to President Vladimir V. Putin’s power in more than two decades, even as the Russian leader tried to recast the aborted rebellion as an affirmation of the country’s unity. Addressing a New York Times report that a senior Russian general had advance knowledge of the mutiny, raising the possibility of support for the uprising inside the top ranks of the military, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, described it as ‘speculations’ and ‘gossip.’ But Mr. Peskov’s curt response did not deny The Times’s reporting or include an expression of the Kremlin’s confidence in the general.”

Rudy Giuliani interviewed in special counsel’s 2020 election interference investigation, CNN Politics, Paula Reid and Sara Murray, Tuesday, 27 June 2023: “Former Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has been interviewed by federal investigators as part of the special counsel’s investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, multiple sources familiar with the meeting told CNN. The meeting between Giuliani, his attorney Robert Costello, and investigators took place in recent weeks. The sources declined to say what investigators’ questions focused on during the meeting, which has not been previously reported.” See also, Rudy Giuliani Sat for Voluntary Interview in January 6 Investigation. The onetime personal lawyer for Donald Trump answered questions from federal prosecutors about the former president’s efforts to remain in power after his 2020 election loss. The New York Times, Ben Protess, Alan Feuer, and Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 28 June 2023: “Rudolph W. Giuliani, who served as former President Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, was interviewed last week by federal prosecutors investigating Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, people familiar with the matter said. The voluntary interview, which took place under what is known as a proffer agreement, was a significant development in the election interference investigation led by Jack Smith, the special counsel, and the latest indication that Mr. Smith and his team are actively seeking witnesses who might cooperate in the case. The session with Mr. Giuliani, the people familiar with it said, touched on some of the most important aspects of the special counsel’s inquiry into the ways that Mr. Trump sought to maintain his grip on power after losing the election to Joseph R. Biden Jr.” See also, Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani interviewed in special counsel’s election investigation, NBC News, Zoë Richards, Wednesday, 28 June 2023: “Rudy Giuliani, a prominent promoter of Donald Trump‘s lies about a stolen election, has been interviewed by federal investigators as part of special counsel Jack Smith’s probe into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, a spokesman for Giuliani confirmed Wednesday. ‘The appearance was entirely voluntary and conducted in a professional manner,’ the spokesman, Ted Goodman, said in a statement after CNN first reported Giuliani’s meeting with investigators. The nature of the questions posed to Giuliani, who previously worked as an attorney for Trump, was not immediately clear.”

Donald Trump sues E. Jean Carroll for defamation, CNN Politics, Kara Scannell, Wednesday, 28 June 2023: “Donald Trump has sued E. Jean Carroll for defamation after a jury found he sexually abused the former magazine columnist and defamed her. In a counter claim filed Tuesday night, Trump alleges that Carroll defamed him when she appeared on CNN the morning after the jury awarded her $5 million in damages. Carroll was asked about the verdict finding Trump sexually abused Carroll but did not rape her as she alleged. Carroll said, ‘Oh, yes he did.’ In response to the new claim, Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan said in a statement, ‘Donald Trump again argues, contrary to both logic and fact, that he was exonerated by a jury that found that he sexually abused E. Jean Carroll.’ She added, ‘Trump’s filing is thus nothing more than his latest effort to delay accountability for what a jury has already found to be his defamation of E. Jean Carroll. But whether he likes it or not, that accountability is coming very soon.'” See also, Trump sues E. Jean Carroll, claiming she defamed him on television, NBC News, Michael Mitsanas, Wednesday, 28 June 2023: “Former President Donald Trump countersued writer E. Jean Carroll on Tuesday, claiming in a court filing that Carroll defamed him on television. Last month, a New York jury found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s but did not find him liable for her alleged rape. Carroll was awarded $5 million in damages for her battery and defamation claims. The jury also found Trump had defamed Carroll by calling her claims a ‘hoax’ and a ‘con job.’ On May 10, a day after the decision, when she was asked in an interview on CNN how she felt when the jury did not find Trump liable for rape, Carroll responded: ‘Well, I just immediately [said] in my own head: Oh, yes, he did. Oh yes, he did.’”


Thursday, 29 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Pence visits Ukraine; Erdogan decries Quran burning in Sweden amid stalled NATO bid, The Washington Post, Niha Masih, Leo Sands, Sammy Westfall, and Marianne LeVine, Thursday, 29 June 2023: “Former vice president Mike Pence made an unannounced visit Thursday to Ukraine, where he met with President Volodymyr Zelensky in the capital. Pence is the only GOP presidential candidate to have visited Ukraine. The trip came just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin faced an armed revolt by the leader of the Wagner mercenary group. The day after a man burned a Quran outside a mosque in Stockholm, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled that the event could fuel ongoing Turkish opposition to Sweden’s NATO membership bid. Those ‘who turn a blind eye to this baseness will not achieve their goals,’ Erdogan said in a video message, the Daily Sabah reported.

  • Questions have swirled, according to Russian media and the country’s elites, concerning the whereabouts of a top general who was leading the war in Ukraine, The Washington Post reported. As Russians brace for a broad investigation into last weekend’s Wagner rebellion, national media has raised questions about Gen. Sergei Surovikin, commander of the Russian aerospace forces, who had good relations with Wagner boss Yevgeniy Prigozhin and reportedly intervened amid Prigozhin’s demands for ammunition.
  • ‘We need to make sure that we provide the Ukrainian military with what they need to push back on and defeat Russian aggression here,’ Pence told reporters. ‘We’ll make it clear to Russia, to China and any other nations in the world that would seek to redraw international lines by force that the free world will not stand for it. The free world will stand together for freedom, and it’s my great honor to help deliver that message here in Ukraine today.’
  • In expressing support for aid to Ukraine, Pence, so far the only GOP presidential hopeful to visit, sought to distinguish himself from Republican critics of the policy, including former president Donald Trump and other presidential contenders.
  • Two sisters, ages 17 and 14, were among those killed in a restaurant strike in Kramatorsk, the city council said on Telegram. An 8-month-old was among about 60 people injured in the attack. The popular Ria Lounge was struck by an Iskander ballistic missile, Ukrainian officials said.
  • Ukraine’s intelligence agency said it arrested a local gas transportation company employee on charges of aiding in the Kramatorsk attack. The employee is accused of surreptitiously filming the restaurant and its vicinity for Russian security services.
  • Before his mutiny, Wagner chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin was told by Russian officials that his forces could no longer participate in the war, Duma defense committee chairman Andrei Kartapolov said Thursday. According to Kartapolov, Prigozhin was informed of the decision after he refused to sign a contract with the Russian Defense Ministry. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Prigozhin arrived in Belarus after the insurrection and was offered an abandoned military base for his forces.
  • Russian media published images of Putin briefly interacting with a cordoned-off crowd on a major street in the city of Derbent. He visited the area Wednesday while on a trip to the North Caucasus region, days after a mutiny by the Wagner Group presented the most serious challenge to his rule since he rose to power more than two decades ago.
  • European leaders agreed at a Brussels summit to continue their ‘long-term’ support for Ukraine. Members pledged ‘future security commitments to Ukraine, which will help Ukraine defend itself in the long term, deter acts of aggression and resist destabilization efforts,’ according to a version of the text dated Wednesday and seen by The Washington Post. If formally approved, the agreement would signal Europe’s long-term commitment to Ukraine, while falling short of the mutual self-defense pledges that a NATO membership provides.
  • A group of countries, including Ukraine, said they will refer the 2020 shoot-down of a Ukrainian passenger jet to the International Court of JusticeIran shot down the plane in January 2020, killing all 176 people aboard. In a statement, the International Coordination and Response Group for the victims of Flight PS752 — which represents Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and Britain — said it was making the referral because no agreement has been reached between Iran and the coordination group to organize arbitration.
  • A Vatican delegation traveled to Moscow to meet with top Russian officials as part of Pope Francis’s efforts to promote ‘a much-wished-for peace,’ the Vatican’s envoy to Moscow, Giovanni D’Aniello, said Thursday. Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, who visited Kyiv earlier this month, was due to meet with Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a Putin ally, and Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges. The talks did not yield any agreement, but the sides agreed to continue dialogue, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state media outlets.
  • Israel cannot allow the United States to give the jointly developed Iron Dome air defense system to Ukraine, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, citing concerns that Israeli weaponry could be seized on the Ukrainian battlefield and end up in Iranian hands. ‘We have concerns that I don’t think any of the Western allies of Ukraine have,’ he said.
  • Putin’s position has been diminished by the Wagner rebellion, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a television interview, adding that the West was not involved in the short-lived mutiny. The ramifications of the rebellion for the conflict in Ukraine remain unclear, he said.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin Makes Show of Support as U.S. Officials Say Top Russian General Appears Detained. Putin tried to project business as usual, even as the circumstances surrounding General Sergei Surovikin were still very murky. The New York Times, Ivan Nechepurenko, Valerie Hopkins, and Julian E. Barnes, Thursday, 29 June 2023: “Days after a brief rebellion threatened his leadership, President Vladimir V. Putin made a rare public outing, wading into a crowd of well-wishers to show he still has public support, even as U.S. officials said Thursday that early intelligence reports suggested a top general had been detained in connection with the failed uprising. In a highly choreographed outing on Wednesday evening, Mr. Putin strode through a cheering crowd of people in southern Russia, shaking hands, kissing supporters and posing for selfies. He cast aside the strict social-distancing protocols he has observed since the Covid pandemic. On Thursday, he attended a technology fair in Moscow where he joked onstage with other panelists.”

Supreme Court Rejects Affirmative Action Programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. In earlier decisions, the court had endorsed taking account of race as one factor among many to promote educational diversity. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Thursday, 29 June 2023: “The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected affirmative action at colleges and universities around the nation, declaring that the race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina were unlawful and sharply curtailing a policy that had long been a pillar of higher education. The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s liberal members in dissent. ‘The Harvard and U.N.C. admissions programs cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the equal protection clause,’ Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. ‘Both programs lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race, unavoidably employ race in a negative manner, involve racial stereotyping and lack meaningful end points.’ Justice Sonia Sotomayor summarized her dissent from the bench, a rare move that signals profound disagreement, and said that affirmative action was crucial to countering persistent and systematic racial discrimination. ‘The court subverts the constitutional guarantee of equal protection by further entrenching racial inequality in education, the very foundation of our democratic government and pluralistic society,’ she said in her written dissent. The decision all but ensured that the student population at the campuses of elite institutions would become whiter and more Asian and less Black and Latino. It was also expected to set off a scramble as schools revisit their admissions practices, and it could complicate diversity efforts elsewhere, narrowing the pipeline of highly credentialed minority candidates and making it harder for employers to consider race in hiring.” See also, Highlights of the Affirmative Action Opinions and Dissents. In a sign of the complexity and politically charged nature of the issue, the majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, was accompanied by three concurring opinions and two dissenting ones. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 29 June 2023. See also, Supreme Court Rejection of Affirmative Action Draws Strong Reactions From Right and Left. Conservatives hailed the Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling, which could drastically alter college admissions policies across the country, while Democrats rued the change. The New York Times, Thursday, 29 June 2023. See also, The college application essay will become a place to talk about race. However, Chief Justice John Roberts warned anyone who might be thinking that the essay could be used as a surreptitious means of racial selection. The New York Times, Stephanie Saul, Thursday, 29 June 2023. See also, Supreme court rejects race-based affirmative action in college admissions, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Thursday, 29 June 2023: “The Supreme Court on Thursday held that race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, a historic ruling that rolls back decades of precedent and will force a dramatic change in how the nation’s private and public universities select their students. The votes split along ideological grounds, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. writing for the conservative members in the majority, and the liberals dissenting. While the ruling examined Harvard and UNC, its impact will be felt across the nation. Elite universities have contended that without considering race as one factor in admissions, their student bodies will contain more Whites and Asian Americans, and fewer Blacks and Hispanics. But, ‘the student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual — not on the basis of race,’ Roberts wrote, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. ‘Many universities have for too long done just the opposite. And in doing so, they have concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the color of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.’ Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s first Latina and a proponent of affirmative action, read parts of her opinion from the bench in a show of profound disagreement. ‘The devastating impact of this decision cannot be overstated,’ she wrote in her dissent, which was joined by fellow liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is the first Black woman on the high court. ‘The majority’s vision of race neutrality will entrench racial segregation in higher education because racial inequality will persist so long as it is ignored.'” See also, Read the full text of the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision, The Washington Post, Washington Post Staff, Thursday, 29 June 2023. See also, Divided Supreme Court outlaws affirmative action in college admissions and says race can’t be used, Associated Press, Mark Sherman, Thursday, 29 June 2023: “The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down affirmative action in college admissions, declaring race cannot be a factor and forcing institutions of higher education to look for new ways to achieve diverse student bodies. The court’s conservative majority effectively overturned cases reaching back 45 years in invalidating admissions plans at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, the nation’s oldest private and public colleges, respectively. The decision, like last year’s momentous abortion ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, marked the realization of a long-sought conservative legal goal, this time finding that race-conscious admissions plans violate the Constitution and a law that applies to colleges that receive federal funding, as almost all do. Those schools will be forced to reshape their admissions practices, especially top schools that are more likely to consider the race of applicants. Chief Justice John Roberts said that for too long universities have ‘concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the color of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.’ From the White House, President Joe Biden said he ‘strongly, strongly’ disagreed with the court’s ruling and urged colleges to seek other routes to diversity rather than let the ruling ‘be the last word.’ Besides the conservative-liberal split, the fight over affirmative action showed the deep gulf between the three justices of color, each of whom wrote separately and vividly about race in America and where the decision might lead.” See also, ‘This Is Not a Normal Court’: President Biden Denounces Affirmative-Action Ruling. Biden said he continues to believe in the need for diversity in higher education, and suggested it might be achieved in other ways. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Thursday, 29 June 2023: “President Biden declared on Thursday that the Supreme Court ‘is not a normal court,’ delivering an extraordinarily critical assessment of another branch of government shortly after the court’s conservative majority ended nearly a half-century of affirmative action in college admissions. In brief remarks at the White House after the 6-to-3 ruling, with the court’s three liberal justices offering blistering dissents, Mr. Biden assailed the decision and said he continued to believe in the need for diversity. ‘Because the truth is, we all know it: Discrimination still exists in America,’ Mr. Biden told reporters in the Roosevelt Room. ‘Discrimination still exists in America. Discrimination still exists in America. Today’s decision does not change that. It’s a simple fact.’ As he departed for a daylong trip to New York City, a reporter asked whether the decision should make people question the court’s legitimacy and then asked, ‘Is this a rogue court?’Mr. Biden stopped midstride and appeared to think for a moment before saying, ‘This is not a normal court.’… A few hours after Mr. Biden’s comment about the court not being ‘normal,’ he was asked to explain by Nicolle Wallace during an interview on MSNBC’s ‘Deadline White House’ program. The president said he had been referring to the fact that the justices on the current court have been more willing than usual to overturn the precedents set by previous justices.” See also, Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson blasts ‘let-them-eat-cake obliviousness’ in Supreme Court affirmative action dissent. ‘Deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life,’ she wrote. ABC News, Alexandra Hutzler, Thursday, 29 June 2023: “Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the bench, called the decision a ‘tragedy for us all.’ ‘With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces “colorblindness for all” by legal fiat,’ she wrote in a dissent in the UNC case. ‘But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life. And having so detached itself from this country’s actual past and present experiences, the court has now been lured into interfering with the crucial work that UNC and other institutions of higher learning are doing to solve America’s real-world problems,’ she continued. ‘No one benefits from ignorance. Although formal race linked legal barriers are gone, race still matters to the lived experiences of all Americans in innumerable ways, and today’s ruling makes things worse, not better.'” See also, Supreme Court strikes down affirmative action in college admissions, NPR, Thursday, 29 June 2023: “The Supreme Court ruled that race-conscious admissions processes are unconstitutional in a pair of cases involving Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Here’s what we’re following:

Investigation in Trump Documents Case Continues After His Indictment. A grand jury has issued more subpoenas to people involved in the case after the unveiling of a 38-count indictment this month against the former president and an aide. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 29 June 2023: “Three weeks after former President Donald J. Trump was indicted on charges of illegally retaining national security records and obstructing the government’s efforts to reclaim them, a federal grand jury in Miami is still investigating aspects of the case, according to people familiar with the matter. In recent days, the grand jury has issued subpoenas to a handful of people who are connected to the inquiry, those familiar with it said. While it remains unclear who received the subpoenas and the kind of information prosecutors were seeking to obtain, it is clear that the grand jury has stayed active and that investigators are digging even after a 38-count indictment was issued this month against Mr. Trump and a co-defendant, Walt Nauta, one of his personal aides. Prosecutors often continue investigating strands of a criminal case after charges have been brought, and sometimes their efforts go nowhere. But post-indictment investigations can result in additional charges against people who have already been accused of crimes in the case. The investigations can also be used to bring charges against new defendants.”

Former Trump campaign official Mike Roman is cooperating with special counsel in 2020 election interference investigation, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen and Kaitlan Collins, Thursday, 29 June 2023: “Former Donald Trump campaign official Mike Roman is cooperating with prosecutors from special counsel Jack Smith’s team in the ongoing criminal probe related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN. One of the sources said that the agreement, known as a proffer agreement, means that Roman may not have to appear before the grand jury but could instead speak to prosecutors in a more informal setting. Under such an agreement, prosecutors generally agree not to use those statements against them in future criminal proceedings. Roman, who received a grand jury subpoena months ago and had his phone seized, was involved in efforts to put forward slates of fake Trump electors following the 2020 election.”

Trump ‘Standing Order’ to Declassify Not Found by the Department of Justice or the Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Bloomberg, Jason Leopold, Thursday, 29 June 2023: “A ‘standing order’ that former President Donald Trump has claimed authorized him to instantly declassify documents removed from the Oval Office could not be found by either the Justice Department or Office of Director of National Intelligence. The disclosure by the agencies was made in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed last August by Bloomberg News, which sued ODNI and the Justice Department’s national security division for a copy of Trump’s so-called standing order — if one existed. Trump insisted that he had such a declassification order after the FBI found top secret materials at his Mar-a-Lago home last year. He has since been charged in the case by Special Counsel Jack Smith, making him the first former president to face federal allegations of criminal conduct. Last month, in a court filing, government attorneys asserted to Bloomberg News that they could neither confirm nor deny whether the agencies had such a document, citing the ongoing criminal investigations against Trump. But government attorneys have since confirmed in a letter sent Thursday to Bloomberg News that each agency ‘possesses no records responsive to your request’ about the existence of a declassification standing order.”

Koch Network Raises Over $70 Million for Push to Sink Trump. Americans for Prosperity Action is wading into a Republican presidential primary for the first time, and waiting to see which candidate it will get behind for 2024. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Jonathan Swan, and Shane Goldmacher, Thursday, 29 June 2023: “The political network established by the conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch has raised more than $70 million for political races as it looks to help Republicans move past Donald J. Trump, according to an official with the group. With some of this large sum to start, the network, Americans for Prosperity Action, plans to throw its weight into the G.O.P. presidential nominating contest for the first time in its nearly 20-year history. The network spent nearly $500 million supporting Republican candidates and conservative policies in the 2020 election cycle alone.”


Friday, 30 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak after failed uprising; top Ukrainian general calls for more arms, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Adela Suliman, Isabelle Khurshudyan, David L. Stern, Eve Sampson, and Robyn Dixon, Friday, 20 June 2023: “Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone Friday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who ‘expressed understanding and support’ for Putin’s actions to solidify power in the aftermath of the failed Wagner revolt — according to a Kremlin readout. India’s government said that Putin had informed Modi about the events, Reuters reported. The United States, Ukraine’s largest backer, has close ties with India, reaffirmed by Modi in a visit to Washington this month. But while Modi has issued calls for a diplomatic path to end Russia’s war in Ukraine, he has not condemned the invasion. Ukraine’s top military commander, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, has told The Washington Post he needs more weapons and more patience from Western allies if his country’s counteroffensive is to progress faster. Zaluzhny, in a rare interview, expressed frustration that Kyiv has still not received modern fighter jets but is expected to rapidly take back territory from the occupying Russian forces. On Friday The Post reported that earlier this month CIA Director William J. Burns made a secret visit to Ukraine, where officials revealed an ambitious strategy to retake Russian-occupied territory and open cease-fire negotiations with Moscow by the end of the year, according to officials familiar with the visit.

  • Ukrainian troops have been outshot tenfold at times because of limited resources, Zaluzhny claimed in the interview, adding that he relays his concerns to his American counterpart, Gen. Mark A. Milley, several times per week in conversations that can last hours. Zaluzhny also expressed frustration that Ukraine has not yet received modern fighter jets. American-made F-16s, promised only recently, are not likely to arrive until the fall at the earliest.
  • satellite image captured Friday provides the first clear picture of the rapid construction of a camp to house thousands at an abandoned base in Belarus. Local media reports and expert analysis on the timing of the sudden construction suggests the camp could have been built for incoming Wagner forces after their mutiny and subsequent withdrawal from Russia. The Washington Post was unable to independently verify the reports, and others cautioned about jumping to conclusions about the purpose of the camp.
  • The Russian agency in charge of information control and Internet restrictions, Roskomnadzor, said on Friday that it had blocked all media websites controlled by Wagner mercenary group leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin. On Saturday, when Prigozhin launched the Wagner rebellion, Roskomnadzor announced it had blocked several websites in Russia ‘to prevent the spread of calls to join the armed mutiny,’ including Wagner’s VKontakte social media account and other pages associated with the group, at the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office. The restrictions placed on Friday were a telling sign of the Kremlin’s determination to curb Prigozhin’s future activities, even though insurgency charges against him were dropped in a deal with Putin, when Prigozhin agreed to exile in Belarus.
  • Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg met in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and members of a new group looking into the environmental consequences of war. They discussed the impact of the attack on the Kakhovka dam and hydroelectric power plant earlier this month, as well as issues related to the ‘destructive impact of Russian aggression on nature,’ Zelensky said in his nightly address Thursday.
  • Pope Francis called the Russia-Ukraine conflict a ‘war that seems to have no end,’ speaking to a delegation from the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, following a papal envoy’s three days of talks in Moscow.
  • Ukraine’s military is monitoring the situation in Belarus and strengthening Ukrainian defenses in the north, Zelensky said Friday. Yevgeniy Prigozhin, head of the mercenary Wagner Group, arrived in Belarus this week after attempting a short-lived rebellion in Russia. It is not clear how many fighters from his group could join him in Belarus, but there are concerns that Prigozhin could now be in a position to attack Ukraine from the north.
  • Former U.S. vice president Mike Pence visited Kyiv and met with Zelensky on Thursday, in a surprise trip that highlighted the Republican divide over Washington’s assistance to Ukraine. ‘We need to make sure that we provide the Ukrainian military what they need to push back on and defeat Russian aggression here,’ Pence told reporters. He is the only Republican presidential candidate to have visited Ukraine.
  • Following Wagner’s recent rebellion, speculation has swirled around the whereabouts of Russian Gen. Sergei Surovikin, The Washington Post reported. Surovikin, a commander of the Russian aerospace forces, had good relations with Wagner boss Prigozhin and has not been seen publicly since Saturday. The Financial Times reported that he has been detained, citing anonymous Russian elites and Western officials. But Alexey Melnikov, secretary of the Public Monitoring Committee in Russia, said Surovikin is not in any temporary detention facilities, Russian state media reported.
  • Former president Donald Trump says Putin is ‘somewhat weakened’ by the Wagner rebellion. Speaking in an interview with the Reuters news agency, Trump said, ‘I want people to stop dying over this ridiculous war,’ adding that Kyiv may have to concede some territory to bring it to an end. The 2024 Republican presidential candidate, who spoke privately with Putin several times during his presidency, said if he were back in the White House, everything would be ‘subject to negotiation.’
  • Hungary opposes European Union plans to send more money to Ukraine, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Friday. ‘One thing is clear, we Hungarians … will not give more money to Ukraine until they say where the previous around 70 billion euros worth of funds had gone,’ he said. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Orban has been balancing his pro-Putin sympathies with being a member of the European Union, The Post previously reported.
  • A delegation from the Vatican traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian officials as part of Pope Francis’s efforts to reach ‘a much-wished-for peace,’ the Vatican’s envoy to Moscow, Giovanni D’Aniello, said Thursday. While the talks did not lead to an agreement, the sides agreed to continue dialogue, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state media.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: C.I.A. Director William J. Burns Visited Kyiv in June for Meetings. Burns secretly traveled to Ukraine for discussions on plans for its counteroffensive and intelligence sharing. Addressing Russia’s adversaries, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov said his country would emerge stronger. The New York Times, Ivan Nechepurenko and Gabriela Sá Pessoa, Friday, 30 June 2023: “The mercenary rebellion that shook Russia was merely ‘a minor trouble,’ the country’s foreign minister said on Friday, warning the West not to think that President Vladimir V. Putin’s grip on power had weakened, even as the Kremlin continued to move against the leader of the mutiny. Speaking at a news conference, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov asserted that Russia would emerge ‘stronger and more resilient’ after the short-lived putsch last Friday and Saturday by Yevgeny V. Prigozhin and his Wagner group troops, who have played a vital role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Mr. Lavrov dismissed the rebellion, which drove an armored column to within 125 miles of Moscow before turning back, as insignificant.”

Gay Rights vs. Free Speech. Supreme Court Backs Web Designer Opposed to Same-Sex Marriage. The 6-3 decision, which turned on the court’s interpretation of the First Amendment, appeared to suggest that the rights of L.G.B.T.Q. people are on vulnerable legal footing, particularly when they are at odds with claims of religious freedom. The New York Times, Abbie Van Sickle and Adam Liptak, Friday, 30 June 2023: “The Supreme Court sided on Friday with a web designer in Colorado who said she had a First Amendment right to refuse to design wedding websites for same-sex couples despite a state law that forbids discrimination against gay people. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, writing for the majority in a 6-3 vote, said that the First Amendment protected the designer, Lorie Smith, from being compelled to express views she opposed…. The case, though framed as a clash between free speech and gay rights, was the latest in a series of decisions in favor of religious people and groups, notably conservative Christians.” See also: Gay Rights and Free Speech: Read the Supreme Court Decision in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, The New York Times, Friday, 30 June 2023.  See also, Supreme Court protects web designer who won’t do gay wedding websites, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Friday, 30 June 2023: “The Constitution’s free speech protections shield some businesses from being required to provide services to same-sex couples, the Supreme Court ruled Friday, in what dissenting justices called a ‘sad day in American constitutional law and in the lives of LGBT people.’ The court’s conservatives prevailed in a 6 to 3 decision in favor of a Christian graphic artist from Colorado who does not want to create wedding websites for same-sex couples, despite the state’s protective anti-discrimination law. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, writing for the majority, said that because Lorie Smith’s designs are recognized as speech, the state cannot compel her to create a message she does not believe in, even if she offers her talents for hire. ‘Were the rule otherwise, the better the artist, the finer the writer, the more unique his talent, the more easily his voice could be conscripted to disseminate the government’s preferred messages,’ Gorsuch wrote. ‘That would not respect the First Amendment; more nearly, it would spell its demise.’ In dissent — and demonstrating the depth of her disagreement by reading part of her objections from the bench — Justice Sonia Sotomayor said her colleagues were abandoning principles of inclusion and protection for gay people that past Supreme Courts extended to women and people of color during the civil rights and women’s rights movements. Resisters back then ‘even claimed, based on sincere religious beliefs, constitutional rights to discriminate,’ Sotomayor wrote. ‘The brave Justices who once sat on this Court decisively rejected those claims.'” See also, The Mysterious Case of the Fake Gay Marriage Website, the Real Straight Man, and the Supreme Court. In filings in the 303 Creative v. Elenis case is a supposed request for a gay wedding website–but the man named in the request says he never filed it. The New Republic, Melissa Gira Grant, published on Thursday, 29 June 2023: “Long before the Supreme Court took up one of the last remaining cases it will decide this session—the 303 Creative v. Elenis case, concerning a Colorado web designer named Lorie Smith who refuses to make websites for same-sex weddings and seeks an exemption from anti-discrimination laws—there was a couple named Stewart and Mike. According to court filings from the plaintiff, Stewart contacted Smith in September 2016 about his wedding to Mike ‘early next year.’ He wrote that they ‘would love some design work done for our invites, placenames etc. We might also stretch to a website.’ Stewart included his phone number, email address, and the URL of his own website—he was a designer too, the site showed. This week, I decided to call Stewart and ask him about his inquiry. The Supreme Court is expected to deliver its opinion in a case in which Stewart plays a minor role, a case that could be, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor stated by way of a question at oral argument in December, ‘the first time in the Court’s history … [that] a commercial business open to the public, serving the public, could refuse to serve a customer based on race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation.’ (Update: On Friday, the court ruled 6-3 in the web designer’s favor.) It took just a few minutes to reach him. I assumed at least some reporters over the years had contacted him about his website inquiry to 303 Creative—his contact information wasn’t redacted in the filing. But my call, he said, was ‘the very first time I’ve heard of it.’ Yes, that was his name, phone number, email address, and website on the inquiry form. But he never sent this form, he said, and at the time it was sent, he was married to a woman. ‘If somebody’s pulled my information, as some kind of supporting information or documentation, somebody’s falsified that,’ Stewart explained. (Stewart’s last name is not included in the filing, so we will be referring to him by his first name throughout this story.) ‘I wouldn’t want anybody to … make me a wedding website’ he continued, sounding a bit puzzled but good-natured about the whole thing. ‘I’m married, I have a child—I’m not really sure where that came from? But somebody’s using false information in a Supreme Court filing document.'” See also, Key document may be fake in LGBTQ+ rights case before the US supreme court. Christian website designer says she received email request from same-sex couple but ‘author’ says he did not send it–and is not gay. The Guardian, Sam Levine, published on Thursday, 29 June 2023: “The veracity of a key document in a major LGBTQ+ rights case before the US supreme court has come under question, raising the possibility that important evidence cited in it might be wrong or even falsified.”

Student Loan Forgiveness: Supreme Court Rules 6-3 Against Biden’s Debt Cancellation Plan. The proposed cancellation of more than $400 billion in student debt would have been one of the most expensive executive actions in U.S. history. President Biden vowed to try again. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 30 June 2023: “The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Biden administration had overstepped its authority with its plan to wipe out more than $400 billion in student debt, dashing the hopes of tens of millions of borrowers and imposing new restrictions on presidential power. It was a resounding setback for President Biden, who had vowed to help borrowers ‘crawl out from under that mountain of debt.’ More than 45 million people across the country owe $1.6 trillion in federal loans for college, according to government data, and the proposed debt cancellation, announced by Mr. Biden last summer, would have been one of the most expensive executive actions in U.S. history.” See also, Supreme Court rejects Biden student loan forgiveness plan, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Friday 30 June 2023: “President Biden does not have authority to implement his roughly $400 billion program to forgive student loan debt, the Supreme Court ruled Friday, issuing another blow to the administration’s bold claims of power in the final decision of the court’s term. By afternoon, Biden announced a ‘new path’ for loan forgiveness and started a federal rulemaking process, which could take months. He also announced plans for a temporary, 12-month ‘ramp’ repayment program for student loan borrowers. Under this program, the Education Department will not refer borrowers who miss loan payments to credit agencies for 12 months, Biden said, ‘to give them a chance to get back up and running. I’m never going to stop fighting for you,’ Biden said in remarks at the White House. ‘We’ll use every tool at our disposal to get you the student debt relief you need and reach your dreams. It’s good for the economy, it’s good for the country.'” See also, Read the full text of the Supreme Court’s student loan forgiveness decision, The Washington Post, Washington Post Staff, Friday, 30 June 2023. See also, The Supreme Court’s lawless, completely partisan student loans decision explained, Vox, Ian Millhiser, Friday, 30 June 2023: “Let’s not beat around the bush. The Supreme Court’s decision in Biden v. Nebraska, the one canceling President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, is complete and utter nonsense. It rewrites a federal law which explicitly authorizes the loan forgiveness program, and it relies on a fake legal doctrine known as ‘major questions’ which has no basis in any law or any provision of the Constitution. If you were counting on loan forgiveness — and Biden’s loan forgiveness program would have forgiven $10,000 worth of loans for most student borrowers, and $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients — you will not receive it because of a decision the Court handed down on Friday, in a 6-3 vote entirely along party lines.”






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

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