Aftermath of the Trump Administration, August 2023


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Tuesday, 1 August 2023:


Trump Is Indicted in His Push to Overturn the 2020 Election. The former president faces three conspiracy charges and a count of attempting to obstruct an official proceeding in his campaign to use the levers of government power to remain in office. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump was indicted on Tuesday in connection with his widespread efforts to overturn the 2020 election following a sprawling federal investigation into his attempts to cling to power after losing the presidency. The indictment, filed by the special counsel Jack Smith in Federal District Court in Washington, accuses Mr. Trump of three conspiracies: one to defraud the United States; a second to obstruct an official government proceeding, the certification of the Electoral College vote; and a third to deprive people of a civil right, the right to have their votes counted. Mr. Trump was also charged with a fourth count of obstructing or attempting to obstruct an official proceeding. ‘Each of these conspiracies — which built on the widespread mistrust the defendant was creating through pervasive and destabilizing lies about election fraud — targeted a bedrock function of the United States federal government: the nation’s process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election,’ the indictment said. The charges signify an extraordinary moment in United States history: a former president, in the midst of a campaign to return to the White House, being charged over attempts to use the levers of government power to subvert democracy and remain in office against the will of voters. In sweeping terms, the indictment described how Mr. Trump and six co-conspirators employed a variety of means to reverse his defeat in the election almost from the moment that voting ended. It depicted how Mr. Trump promoted false claims of fraud, sought to bend the Justice Department toward supporting those claims and oversaw a scheme to create false slates of electors pledged to him in states that were actually won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. And it described how he ultimately pressured his vice president, Mike Pence, to use the fake electors to subvert the certification of the election at a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, that was cut short by the violence at the Capitol.” See also, The Trump January 6 Indictment, Annotated. The Justice Department unveiled an indictment on Tuesday charging former President Donald J. Trump with four criminal counts. They relate to Mr. Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which culminated in the January 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters. The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Adam Goldman, Tuesday, 1 August 2023. See also, Here Are the Charges Trump Faces in the January 6 Case. The former president is charged with three conspiracy counts and the corrupt obstruction of an official proceeding. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 1 August 2023. See also, Judge In Trump January 6 Trial Is Known for Tough Capitol Riot Sentences. A judge with a liberal background and significant criminal trial experience, Tanya S. Chutkan swiftly ruled against the former president in his 2021 attempt to keep White House papers secret from the congressional inquiry. The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer, published on Wednesday, 2 August 2023. See also, The Indictment Says Trump Had Six Co-consiprators in His Efforts to Retain Power. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “The indictment of former President Donald J. Trump mentions — but does not identify by name — six co-conspirators who prosecutors say worked with him in seeking to overturn the 2020 election. It is not clear why the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, decided to seek only Mr. Trump’s indictment for now, though it is possible that some of the co-conspirators could still face charges in the weeks ahead…. Among those people central to the inquiry were Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer who oversaw Mr. Trump’s attempts to claim the election was marred by widespread fraud; John Eastman, a law professor who provided the legal basis to overturn the election by manipulating the count of electors to the Electoral College; Sidney Powell, a lawyer who pushed Mr. Trump to use the military to seize voting machines and rerun the election; Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department official at the time; and Kenneth Chesebro and James Troupis, lawyers who helped flesh out the plan to use fake electors pledged to Mr. Trump in states that were won by President Biden.” See also, Four Takeaways From the Trump Indictment. The indictment of the former president for trying to subvert democracy was issued by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia. It’s the third set of charges that he faces. The New York Times, Jonathan Swan, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: See also, Keeping Track of the Trump Investigations, The New York Times, updated Tuesday, 1 August 2023. See also, Trump indicted on 2020 election charges after January 6 investigation, The Washington Post, Perry Stein, John Wagner, Amy B Wang, Mariana Alfaro, Maegan Vazquez, Jacqueline Alemany, Amy Gardner, Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey, Devlin Barrett, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Niha Masih, and Lyric Li, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “A grand jury has indicted former president Donald Trump for multiple alleged crimes stemming from his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The four-count, 45-page indictment accuses Trump of three distinct conspiracies, and charges that he conspired to defraud the U.S., conspired to obstruct an official proceeding and conspired against people’s rights. Trump, who is seeking to return to the White House in next year’s election, denied all wrongdoing. Special counsel Jack Smith, in a brief appearance, said his office would seek a speedy trial.” See also, Trump charged in investigation of January 6 efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The indictment alleges four different crimes and describes six unnamed, uncharged co-conspirators. The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Spencer S. Hsu, Perry Stein, Josh Dawsey, and Jacqueline Alemany, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “A grand jury indicted former president Donald Trump on Tuesday for a raft of alleged crimes in his brazen efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory — the latest legal and political aftershock stemming from the riot at the U.S. Capitol 2½ years ago. The four-count, 45-page indictment accuses Trump, who is again running for president, of conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, attempting to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiring against people’s civil right to have their vote counted. The maximum potential sentence on the most serious charge is 20 years in prison. ‘The attack on our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy,’ special counsel Jack Smith told reporters after the indictment was filed. ‘It was fueled by lies, lies by the defendant.’ Smith also praised the law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol, saying that they ‘did not just defend a building or the people sheltering in it. They put their lives on the line to defend who we are as a country and as a people.'” See also, Read the full text of the 45-page Trump January 6 indictment document, The Washington Post, Washington Post Staff, Tuesday, 1 August 2023. See also, Here are the Trump co-conspirators described in the Department of Justice indictment, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey, Josh Dawsey, Jacqueline Alemany, Rachel Weiner, Amy B Wang, and Isaac Arnsdorf, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “In criminally charging former president Donald Trump for his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss, federal prosecutors allege that Trump enlisted six co-conspirators to ‘assist him in his criminal efforts to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election and retain power.’The co-conspirators were not charged on Tuesday and are not named in the indictment, but five of them can be identified using the detailed descriptions provided by prosecutors.” See also, Trump has been indicted before. Historians say this time is different. Scholars say the new charges of attempting to overturn the 2020 election pose a unique test for the rule of law and go to the core of the threat to democracy. The Washington Post, Kevin Sullivan, published on Wednesday, 2 August 2023: “When Donald Trump was indicted in Manhattan in March, it was the first time in U.S. history that a president or former president had faced criminal charges. On Tuesday, it happened to Trump for the third time in just over four months — and he may face even more charges before the summer is done. Historians and legal scholars say the new indictment, brought by federal special counsel Jack Smith, is fundamentally more consequential than the earlier ones, which related to hush money paid to an adult-film actress and the alleged mishandling of classified documents. While those are serious allegations, Tuesday’s indictment accuses a former president of the United States of attempting to subvert the democracy upon which the nation rests. And with Trump again running for the White House, the charges he faces pose an extraordinary test to the rule of law, experts say.” See also, 4 things that stand out from the Trump January 6 indictment, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, published on Wednesday, 2 August 2023. See also, Judge Tanya Chutkan is a tough Trump critic and the toughest January 6 sentencer. Trump’s trial judge in D.C. is a former public defender and was one of the first U.S. judges to reject his executive privilege claims to withhold January 6 White House records. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Tom Jackman, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “With U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan as the trial judge overseeing his case in Washington, Donald Trump’s legal troubles in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack come near full circle. Trump’s federal criminal indictment on charges of attempting to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election was randomly assigned Tuesday to Chutkan, 61, who nearly two years ago became one of the first federal judges in D.C. to reject the former president’s efforts to use executive privilege to withhold White House communications from Jan. 6 investigators, in that instance from the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot.” See also, Trump indicted for efforts to overturn 2020 election to block transfer of power, Associated Press, Eric Tucker and Michael Kunzelman, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “Donald Trump was indicted on felony charges Tuesday for working to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the run-up to the violent riot by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol, with the Justice Department acting to hold him accountable for an unprecedented effort to block the peaceful transfer of presidential power and threaten American democracy. The four-count indictment, the third criminal case against Trump, provided deeper insight into a dark moment that has already been the subject of exhaustive federal investigations and captivating public hearings. It chronicles a months-long campaign of lies about the election results and says that, even when those falsehoods resulted in a chaotic insurrection at the Capitol, Trump sought to exploit the violence by pointing to it as a reason to further delay the counting of votes that sealed his defeat. Even in a year of rapid-succession legal reckonings for Trump, Tuesday’s indictment, with charges including conspiring to defraud the United States government that he once led, was stunning in its allegations that a former president assaulted the ‘bedrock function’ of democracy. It’s the first time the defeated president, who is the early front-runner for next year’s Republican presidential nomination, is facing legal consequences for his frantic but ultimately failed effort to cling to power.” See also, The New Trump Indictment and the Reckoning Ahead. With the former President still far ahead of the rest of the Republican field, the American electorate is headed for a crucial test. The New Yorker, David Remnick, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “To read the stark criminal indictment, returned by a federal grand jury on Tuesday, charging Donald Trump with conspiring to steal the 2020 Presidential election is to realize more deeply than before that the country is headed for a great reckoning—in the courts and at the ballot box. It suggests a question that cannot be escaped: Will the American electorate show itself capable of overlooking a conspiracy to undermine democratic rule and return the chief conspirator to power? The third and latest indictment against Trump sets out four charges and makes the case against him in the plainest terms. ‘Despite having lost, the defendant was determined to remain in power,’ the introduction to the forty-five-page document reads—and where have you seen a more succinct summary of criminal intent?” See also, Trump charged with 4 felony counts for attempt to overturn the 2020 election, NPR, Carrie Johnson, Ryan Lucas, Jaclyn Diaz, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “Former President Donald Trump was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on four counts related to efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, according to court documents. Trump was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, witness tampering, conspiracy against the rights of citizens, and obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding. The charges were unsealed two weeks after the former president said he had learned he may be indicted by a federal grand jury investigating the siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. That’s when protesters loyal to Trump stormed the Capitol in an attempt to prevent then-Vice President Mike Pence from performing his ceremonial role of certifying the presidential election in favor of the winner, Joe Biden.” See also, 5 things to know about the latest charges against Donald Trump, NPR, Emily Olson, Jaclyn Diaz, Ximena Bustillo, published on Wednesday, 2 August 2023.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Moscow says drone hits skyscraper again; Kherson and Kharkiv report strikes, The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Ellen Francis, Natalia Abbakumova, Serhiy Morgunov, and Eve Sampson, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “A drone hit the same Moscow skyscraper — which houses offices and ministries — for the second time in days, the city’s mayor and Russia’s Defense Ministry said early Tuesday, blaming Ukraine. Kyiv has not claimed responsibility, but Ukrainian officials have described targets in Russia as legitimate. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak suggested early Tuesday that the drones meant that Moscow was ‘rapidly getting used to a full-fledged war.’ Ukrainian officials said Russian attacks a day earlier killed at least 10 people, including a 10-year-old girl and her mother, and injured at least 100 in the southern city of Kherson and in Kryvyi Rih, the hometown of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Russian shelling Tuesday hit a medical facility in Kherson, killing a doctor, injuring a nurse and damaging a surgical department there, the regional governor, Oleksandr Prokudin, said in a statement. International humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders confirmed that it maintains a partnership with the hospital that was attacked. Russian air defenses thwarted ‘several drones’ trying to reach Moscow, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said Tuesday. He said the facade of the building’s 21st floor was damaged, that it was the same skyscraper hit on Sunday and that there was no information on casualties. UNESCO has verified damage to 274 locations in Ukraine, including religious sites, museums, monuments and libraries, during nearly a year and a half of war, the U.N. organization said. Russian drones struck Kharkiv and destroyed two floors of a dormitory, the mayor of the northeastern city, Ukraine’s second-largest, said overnight. Belarusian helicopters violated Polish airspace during a training exercise Tuesday, Poland’s Defense Ministry said in a statement. The Belarusian Defense Ministry refuted the claims, calling them ‘far-fetched.’ Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak ordered more soldiers along the border, the ministry said. Britain imposed sanctions on six Russian nationals involved in the trial of British-Russian dual national Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was sentenced to 25 years in a penal colony on treason charges. Kara-Murza has publicly denounced Russia’s war on Ukraine and was sentenced on ‘bogus charges,’ British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said. The sanctioned Russian citizens include three judges, two prosecutors and an expert witness. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan is slated to attend a Ukrainian-backed peace summit that Saudi Arabia is planning, according to a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive planning. Ukraine’s foreign minister said he discussed the possibility of using Croatian ports to export grain during a meeting Monday with his Croatian counterpart. Russia’s withdrawal from a U.N.-backed grain deal last month has blocked the flow of Ukrainian grain exports via Black Sea routes.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Drone Again Hits a Moscow Building Housing Russian Ministries. Ukrainian officials have become more open in their view that targets inside Russia are legitimate. The New York Times, Tuesday, 1 August 2023:

  • Central Moscow is hit for the second time in two days in a drone attack.
  • In Moscow, some residents worry after recent attacks while others move on.
  • UNESCO says 274 cultural sites have been damaged in Ukraine since February last year.
  • A Ukrainian doctor is killed in a shelling attack on his first full day at work, authorities say.
  • Ukraine’s stepped-up attacks on Russia aim at the Kremlin’s military logistics.
  • Ukraine is moving to export grain through Croatia’s ports.
  • Extensive minefields impede Ukraine’s counteroffensive, military experts say.

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, August 2023: 


Wednesday, 2 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky accuses Russia of targeting grain facilities, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Victoria Bisset, and Miriam Berger, Wednesday, 2 August 2023: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of carrying out further attacks on the country’s ports and grain infrastructure overnight, targeting the south in particular. The military’s southern command released photos of the damage caused when fires started at industrial and port facilities, while the Ukrainian Defense Ministry tweeted Wednesday that a grain silo in the inland port of Izmail — a key alternative to Black Sea ports for Ukrainian exports — was damaged. Russia has repeatedly targeted port facilities since withdrawing from a U.N.-backed grain deal last month, blocking vital exports to many countries. Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia is moving forward, the Pentagon’s spokesman said in response to media questions about whether Ukraine has made significant gains. ‘It has and will continue to be a tough fight for them,’ Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters. Ukrainian pilots will begin F-16 training this month, Zelensky announced Wednesday. ‘We need to work one hundred percent with the countries that have these aircraft and will be able to transfer them to us after training,’ he said. ‘The delivery and combat use of F-16s by our pilots should take place as soon as possible.’ The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, said the strikes against port infrastructure demonstrated Russia’s disregard for civilians. ‘Russia has no desire for peace, no thought for civilian safety, and no regard for people around the world who rely on food from Ukraine,’ she tweeted Wednesday. The Ukrainian air force said it shot down 23 Iranian-made drones launched by Russia from several directions overnight. The overnight attacks destroyed 40,000 tons of grain earmarked for countries in Africa, as well as China and Israel, according to Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakova. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said wreckage from a drone also damaged a building in the capital but that no one was hurt. In the southern region of Kherson, Oleksandr Prokudin, the regional governor, said on Telegram that two people were injured in overnight shelling. Ryder said Ukraine’s counteroffensive would be ‘a marathon and not a sprint,’ echoing recent comments by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Ryder said he was confident that Ukraine will continue to have the means to wage its counteroffensive. On Wednesday, the Russian-appointed governor of Zaporizhzhia, Yevgeny Balitsky, wrote on Telegram that Ukrainian forces tried to break through Russian lines in the southeastern region but were unsuccessful. The Washington Post was unable to verify the claim. Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the Black Sea grain deal with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a telephone call Wednesday, both countries confirmed. Erdogan stressed the importance of the deal, while Putin said he would ‘return to the grain deal as soon as the West fulfills its obligations.’ An adviser to Zelensky, Mykhailo Podolyak, criticized the international community for ‘humiliatingly’ asking Russia to return to the grain deal in exchange for turning ‘a blind eye to your [Russia’s] threats and crimes.’ Ukrainian law enforcement officials announced that they were investigating a large-scale draft evasion scheme involving falsified medical certificates declaring participants unfit for service. Those involved, including officials from the Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi territorial recruitment center and members of the military medical commission, also destroyed official documentation in an effort to cover up their activities, the national police reported Tuesday. Putin said the Ukrainian and Western ‘policy’ to cancel Russian culture ‘will never have any future.’ To a meeting of government ministers, Putin said residents of the occupied regions are ‘fond of the [literary] works by our outstanding compatriots,’ despite what he characterized as Ukraine’s efforts to ban and ‘even destroy’ works by Russian writers. ‘This is what they and their Western patrons are dreaming of doing to all those who think, speak and read in the Russian language,’ he said. Belarusian helicopters violated Polish airspace during a training exercise on Tuesday, Poland’s Defense Ministry said in a statement. The Belarusian Defense Ministry rebutted those claims, calling them ‘far-fetched.’ Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak ordered more soldiers to deploy along the border. Turkmenistan’s flagship airline has suspended flights to Moscow over safety concerns, hours after drones targeted a skyscraper in the Russian capital. ‘Due to the situation in the Moscow air zone, and based on a risk assessment in order to ensure flight safety, all Turkmenistan Airlines flights on the Ashgabat-Moscow-Ashgabat route will be suspended,’ the airline said, according to Reuters. The statement did not specify how long the suspension would be in force. Ukraine summoned Poland’s ambassador to its Foreign Ministry after a senior Polish official said Ukraine should ‘start appreciating’ the country’s help. ‘During the meeting, it was emphasized that the statements about the alleged ingratitude of the Ukrainians for the assistance of the Republic of Poland do not reflect reality and as such are unacceptable,’ the Ukrainian ministry said in a statement. In response, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the summoning of the Polish ambassador should never have happened.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: In Urgent Need of Ammunition, Ukraine Speeds Its Own Production. The country’s once-mighty defense industry has been ramping up, but the supply needed for Kyiv’s counteroffensive is vast. The New York Times, Wednesday, 2 August 2023:

  • Ukraine looks to boost ammunition production.
  • Russian drones strike a Danube River port, damaging Ukrainian grain awaiting export, officials say.
  • A legal team finds a pattern of torture at detention centers in Kherson during Russia’s occupation.
  • Brazil still wants to broker peace, but admits it seems far off.
  • Battlefield Update: Ukraine says it has reclaimed ground south of Bakhmut amid heavy fighting.
  • An administrative building is damaged in a drone attack on Kyiv.

From Right-Hand Man to Critical Witness: Mike Pence Is at the Heart of Trump Prosecution. Pence is playing an extraordinary role in a historic criminal case against his onetime benefactor and current rival, whose angry supporters once threatened Mr. Pence’s life. The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Maggie Astor, and Luke Broadwater, Wednesday, 2 August 2023: “Former Vice President Mike Pence’s remarkable transformation from Donald J. Trump’s most loyal lieutenant to an indispensable, if reluctant, witness for his prosecution became clear this week, when he emerged as perhaps the central character in a stinging indictment accusing the former president of a criminal conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election. From a tense Christmas Day phone call between the two men to the fresh revelation that Mr. Pence kept ‘contemporaneous notes’ on the tumultuous period leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, the indictment detailed Mr. Pence’s efforts to block his former boss’s schemes and laid bare the rupture in their relationship. ‘You’re too honest,’ Mr. Trump berated Mr. Pence as he refused to go along with the election plot, according to the indictment. Yet Mr. Pence has been loath to embrace the role of Trump antagonist, even as he has repeatedly suggested that Mr. Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 vote is disqualifying. He casts Mr. Trump as more a victim of unfortunate circumstances than the mastermind of an election-stealing conspiracy. ‘Anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be president of the United States,’ Mr. Pence said in a statement on Tuesday night. But by Wednesday, he was blaming Mr. Trump’s ‘crackpot lawyers’ during a stop at the Indiana state fair and lamenting the indictment in a private call with donors, saying, ‘I had hoped it wouldn’t come to this.’ In a Wednesday evening interview on Fox News, Mr. Pence gave a more direct version of events, sharpening his rebuke of his former boss. ‘The American people deserve to know that President Trump and his advisers didn’t just ask me to pause — they asked me to reject votes, return votes, essentially to overturn the election,’ Mr. Pence said. ‘And to keep faith with the oath I made to the American people and to Almighty God, I rejected that out of hand and I did my duty that day.'”

Jeff Clark’s Insurrection Act Remark Was Even Worse Than It Sounds, Talking Points Memo, Josh Kovensky, Wednesday, 2 August 2023: “Tucked 81 paragraphs into the election crimes indictment of Donald Trump, there’s a reference to a plot even more sinister that was never fully carried out. Prosecutors outline an interaction in which a senior Trump DOJ official suggests that Trump’s closest allies are counting on the Insurrection Act to stay in power. The 1807 law gives the President the power to deploy the military for domestic law enforcement purposes. Trump’s allies allegedly urged him to use the law to reverse his loss. But the apparent mention of the Insurrection Act by Trump’s main DOJ crony suggested another use of the law — putting down protests if Trump stayed in the White House past January 20 — and raises new questions about how deeply the previous administration may have considered using force to stay in power. The indictment identifies the person who made the remark as ‘Co-Conspirator 4,’ but the description closely matches that of Jeffery Bossert Clark, the DOJ environmental division chief who took Trump up on his offer to use the DOJ to reverse his loss. Per the indictment, the conversation in which the Insurrection Act was referenced took place on January 3 — three days before the January 6 assault on the Capitol building.”


Thursday, 3 August 2023:


Trump Pleads Not Guilty to Plotting to Overturn the 2020 Election. The former president was arraigned in a Washington federal courtroom on four charges tied to his efforts to stay in power after losing the 2020 election. The New York Times, Glenn Thrush, Thursday, 3 August 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges that he conspired to remain in office despite his 2020 election loss, appearing before a judge in a Washington courthouse in the shadow of the Capitol, where his supporters rampaged in an effort to undermine the peaceful transfer of power. Mr. Trump, who is running in the hopes of being sworn in again on the steps of the Capitol, stood before a federal magistrate judge who asked for his plea to the four counts he faced. He replied, ‘Not guilty.’ It was the third time in four months he stood before a judge on criminal charges. But it was the most momentous, the beginning of what prosecutors say should be a reckoning for his multipronged efforts to undermine one of the core tenets of democracy. Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya, who oversaw the roughly half-hour hearing, ordered Mr. Trump not to communicate about the case with any witnesses except through counsel or in the presence of counsel. At the request of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, she set the date for the first hearing before the trial judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, for Aug. 28 — the latest option she provided. Delaying the proceedings as much as possible is widely expected to be part of Mr. Trump’s legal strategy, given that he could effectively call off federal cases against him if he wins the 2024 election.” See also, Four takeaways from Trump’s court appearance, The New York Times, Daniel Victor, Thursday, 3 August 2023. See also, Trump pleads not guilty to charges that he plotted to overturn the 2020 election, The Washington Post, Tom Jackman, Spencer S. Hsu, Salvador Rizzo, Rachel Weiner, and Devlin Barrett, Thursday, 3 August 2023: “Former president Donald Trump pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he conspired to overturn the results of the 2020 election, appearing in the federal courthouse that sits just blocks away from where his angry supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to keep him in power. Trump, the leading Republican contender in the 2024 presidential race, entered the not-guilty plea before Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya — following in the footsteps of hundreds of others charged with crimes as a result of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol. According to the D.C. U.S. attorney’s office, 1,077 people have faced federal charges in some way tied to that attack. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, is the 1,078th. ‘As to counts one to four, how does Mr. Trump plead?’ Upadhyaya asked. Trump, wearing a blue suit and red tie on what he would later call ‘a very sad day for America,’ raised his head and said, ‘Not guilty.’ In a corner of the courtroom stood a handful of Secret Service agents, a silent reminder that this defendant was unlike any of the others who came before.” See also, Packed courtroom, somber defendant. A recap of Donald Trump’s arraignment. The Washington Post, Tom Jackman and Salvador Rizzo, Thursday, 3 August 2023: “A somber Donald Trump spent 42 minutes in a crowded D.C. courtroom Thursday afternoon, being arraigned on charges related to efforts to overturn the former president’s 2020 election defeat in the run up to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. Here is how it looked to two reporters, one in the courtroom and another watching the proceedings on a closed-circuit feed in a media overflow room.” See also, Fact-Checking the Defenses of Trump After His Latest Indictment. Former President Donald Trump’s supporters have made inaccurate claims about the judge presiding over his case and misleadingly compared his conduct to that of other politicians. The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Thursday, 3 August 2023.

Breaking down the 78 charges Trump faces in his three indictments, The Washington Post, Derek Hawkins and Nick Mourtoupalas, Thursday, 3 August 2023: “Former president Donald Trump is facing a total of 78 charges across three criminal cases. They include 44 federal charges and 34 state charges, all of them felonies, in three jurisdictions. Trump has denied wrongdoing in each case. The most severe federal counts are those related to obstruction, which is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment. Defendants, however, rarely receive the maximum sentences, and it is uncertain if Trump would be incarcerated even if he were found guilty in any of the cases. [In this article] is a breakdown of the charges.”

Pence Says Trump Pushed Him ‘Essentially to Overturn the Election.’ The remarks are some of the former vice president’s most pointed about what happened in the lead up to January 6, 2021. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 3 August 2023: “Former Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday said that former President Donald J. Trump and his advisers had tried to get him ‘essentially to overturn the election’ and that the American people needed to know it. The remarks, made in an interview with Fox News, are some of Mr. Pence’s most pointed to date about what he experienced in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, when he presided over the congressional certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory. And they came as Mr. Pence, who is trailing his former boss, the G.O.P. front-runner, in the Republican primary, has faced a slog in his attempt to get enough small-donor donations to qualify for the first Republican debate on Aug. 23. An adviser to Mr. Pence said he got more than 7,000 donations on Wednesday, the day after Mr. Trump’s indictment on charges of conspiring to overthrow the 2020 election.”

Why the Trump trial should be televised, The Washington Post, Neal Katyal, Thursday, 3 August 2023: “The upcoming trial of United States v. Donald J. Trump will rank with Marbury v. Madison, Brown v. Board of Education and Dred Scott v. Sandford as a defining moment for our history and our values as a people. And yet, federal law will prevent all but a handful of Americans from actually seeing what is happening in the trial. We will be relegated to perusing cold transcripts and secondhand descriptions. The law must be changed. While many states allow cameras in courtrooms, federal courts generally do not. Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 53 states: ‘Except as otherwise provided by a statute or these rules, the court must not permit the taking of photographs in the courtroom during judicial proceedings or the broadcasting of judicial proceedings from the courtroom.’ Whatever the virtues of this rule might have been when it was adopted in 1946, it is beyond antiquated today. We live in a digital age, where people think visually and are accustomed to seeing things with their own eyes. A criminal trial is all about witnesses and credibility, and the demeanor of participants plays a big role. A cold transcript cannot convey the emotion on a defendant’s face when a prosecution witness is on the stand, or how he walks into the courtroom each day. Most important, live (or near-live) broadcasting lets Americans see for themselves what is happening in the courtroom and would go a long way toward reassuring them that justice is being done. They would be less vulnerable to the distortions and misrepresentations that will inevitably be part of the highly charged, politicized discussion flooding the country as the trial plays out. Justice Louis Brandeis’s observation that ‘sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants’ is absolutely apt here.” See also, House Democrats push for televising Trump trials on classified documents and on charges related to his attempt to overturn the 2020 election. Trump’s lawyer has also called for cameras in the courtroom. The Washington Post, John Wagner, published on Friday, 4 August 2023: “About three dozen House Democrats, led by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), are calling for televising the federal trials of former president Donald Trump on charges related to the 2020 election and the retention of classified documents. In a letter to Judge Roslynn Mauskopf, who oversees the administration of federal courts, the lawmakers argued that the move would bolster public acceptance of the outcome. ‘Given the historic nature of the charges brought forth in these cases, it is hard to imagine a more powerful circumstance for televised proceedings,’ said the letter, dated Thursday. ‘If the public is to fully accept the outcome, it will be vitally important for it to witness, as directly as possible, how the trials are conducted, the strength of the evidence adduced and the credibility of witnesses.'”

Hunter Biden tried to sell the family name, but Joe Biden never talked business, says Hunter Biden’s former business partner. Devon Archer’s testimony to House Oversight investigators included his assertion that Hunter Biden was not able to influence his father’s actions or policy decisions. The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Thursday, 3 August 2023: “The vice president’s appearance at a dinner at Cafe Milano in Washington with Hunter Biden, his business associates and a Russian billionaire. His handshake with a Chinese businessman in the lobby of a Beijing hotel. His appearance on speakerphone while Hunter Biden had dinner in Paris with executives from a French energy company. These are a few of the ways Hunter Biden used his relationship with his powerful and influential father, Joe Biden, while the younger Biden was working to grow his business portfolio, according to testimony by Devon Archer, Hunter Biden’s former business partner. Archer testified before investigators working for the House Oversight and Accountability Committee this week, a transcript of which was released Thursday, hours before the arraignment of former president Donald Trump. But the 141-page transcript also includes multiple occasions in which Archer, who founded Rosemont Seneca Partners with Hunter Biden, testified in definitive terms that Hunter Biden was not able to influence his father’s actions or policy decisions and that ‘nothing of material’ was ever discussed with Joe Biden during his frequent communications with his son. Hunter Biden never asked his father to take official actions on behalf of his son’s business partners, Archer testified. And Archer also disputed claims being pushed by Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R- Ky.) and Republican lawmakers that Biden had accepted a bribe from a foreign national while he served as vice president under Barack Obama in exchange for a desired policy outcome.” See also, Hunter Biden business associate Devon Archer testifies he has no knowledge of wrongdoing by Joe Biden. Republicans released a 141-page transcript of Devon Archer’s testimony on the same day former President Donald Trump was arraigned in Washington, D.C. NBC News, Scott Wong and Rebecca Kaplan, Thursday, 3 August 2023: “Hunter Biden’s business associate, Devon Archer, testified before the House Oversight Committee that he has no knowledge that then-Vice President Joe Biden changed U.S. foreign policy to help his son and that he’s not aware of any wrongdoing by the elder Biden, according to transcripts of his testimony released Thursday. ‘I have no basis to know if he altered policy to benefit his son. … I have no knowledge,’ Archer testified in the closed-door hearing earlier this week. One of the GOP’s key witnesses in its investigation into the Bidens, Archer told lawmakers that Hunter Biden repeatedly used the Joe Biden “brand” to protect Burisma “so people would be intimidated to mess with them” legally and politically. But he quickly added: “On this line of questioning, I have no, like, proof.” Archer also said that he did not disagree with the conclusion that Hunter Biden’s role on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma had no effect on U.S. foreign policy. And Archer testified that he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing by Joe Biden as it related to his son’s business dealings.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky says F-16 training is to begin this month, The Washington Post, Niha Masih, Victoria Bisset, Serhiy Morgunov, Natalia Abbakumova, and Eve Sampson, Thursday, 3 August 2023: “Ukrainian pilots are set to begin training to fly F-16 fighter jets this month, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech to heads of Ukrainian diplomatic missions. ‘The delivery and combat use of F-16s by our pilots should take place as soon as possible,’ he said. The capital, Kyiv, came under another drone attack overnight, the head of the city’s military administration said Thursday. The country’s Defense Ministry reported that its forces shot down 15 drones. There were no reports of injuries or damage, according to the head of Kyiv’s military administration, Serhiy Popko. Also Thursday, authorities in the southern city of Kherson reported that eight people, including emergency workers, were injured in shelling. Ukraine plans to work with nations supplying F-16s to transfer the advanced jets after trainingZelensky said Wednesday, acknowledging that the task is a challenging one. In May, Denmark and the Netherlands were tapped to lead a European coalition to provide training and maintenance to Ukrainian pilots after the Biden administration relented under pressure to allow allied nations to send U.S.-made F-16s to Kyiv. Eight people were injured when shelling hit a church in the center of Kherson, Ukraine’s General Prosecutor’s Office said Thursday. Three people who were traveling past on a bus, as well as another person who was on the street, were wounded, the prosecutor’s office said, while four rescue workers were injured when further shelling struck the church as they extinguished the fire. On Wednesday, Ukraine accused Russia of destroying 40,000 tons of grain earmarked for export in attacks on port and grain infrastructure in the south of the country. At least 10,749 Ukrainian civilians, including nearly 500 children, have been confirmed killed since the beginning of Russia’s invasion, Yuriy Belousov, Ukraine’s lead prosecutor for human rights violations, said in an interview with Interfax Ukraine. However, he said the figures are incomplete and ‘just the tip of the iceberg.’ The death toll for Ukrainian civilians in occupied Mariupol — the scene of heavy fighting at the start of the war — alone is likely to be in the ‘tens of thousands,’ Belousov said. In early July, the United Nations said it had confirmed the deaths of almost 9,200 civilians, but it, too, warned that the real number ‘could be much higher.’ The European Union on Thursday announced extended sanctions on Belarus to ‘ensure that Russian sanctions cannot be circumvented’ through its ally. The sanctions ban the export of sensitive technology that could increase Belarusian military capabilities, as well as ammunition, firearms and technology related to the aviation and space industries. Fighters from the Russian mercenary group Wagner are being moved toward NATO’s eastern border in an attempt to destabilize the alliance, Poland’s prime minister said Thursday. ‘We need to be aware that the number of provocations will rise,’ Mateusz Morawiecki said, according to Reuters, and warned that the group ‘is extremely dangerous.’ Wagner mercenaries arrived in neighboring Belarus after a failed uprising in Russia in June and have been training conscripts in the country. On Saturday, Morawiecki said that more than 100 Wagner mercenaries had moved close to Belarus’s border with Poland. A Russian grocery store owner who displayed anti-war signs outside of his St. Petersburg shop was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison Thursday, on charges of undermining the Kremlin’s war effort, independent outlets reported. Dmitry Skurikhin began putting signs up after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, and was previously arrested in February after holding a sign outside of his store asking forgiveness from Ukrainians. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia is ‘using food as a weapon of war’ on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ show Thursday, referring to Russia’s departure from the Black Sea Grain Deal, which allowed Ukraine to export grain through the Black Sea. Blinken blamed Russia for increasing worldwide food insecurity amid widespread climate change, saying the Kremlin’s decision increases forced migration, stunts economic growth and ultimately ‘drives more war.’ After the interview Blinken addressed the United Nations Security Council, pledging $362 million to combat hunger in Haiti and 11 African nations. Russia has denied accusations that it is seeking to create new ‘dependencies’ by selling cheap grain. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that Russia, which withdrew from a U.N.-brokered grain deal last month, is ‘fulfilling all our obligations’ and could even increase exports if not for what he described as ‘illegal’ sanctions. Reuters reported earlier Wednesday that European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell had written a letter to developing and Group of 20 countries Monday accusing Russia of trying ‘to create new dependencies’ by offering grain at cheaper prices to vulnerable countries and ‘pretending to solve a problem it created itself.’ Moscow added Norway to a list of ‘unfriendly governments’ and will restrict the number of local employees its embassy can hire in Russia. Under the order, dated Wednesday, Norway will be able to employ up to 27 locals. The Norwegian government announced in April the expulsions of 15 Russian diplomatic staffers suspected of espionage; Russia expelled 10 Norwegian diplomats in response. A Russian judge fined Apple and Wikipedia on Thursday for failing to delete ‘false information’ about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in the latest effort by Moscow to control information and stifle criticism about the war, the Associated Press reported.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Infighting Rips Through the Pro-Kremlin Blogosphere. Some military bloggers are viciously accusing others of favoring Ukraine in the war. The New York Times, Thursday, 3 August 2023:

  • ‘Who do you work for?’: Military bloggers seethe over posts on attacks inside Russia.
  • Blinken asks other nations to confront Russia and say ‘Enough.’
  • With cheap grain, Russia aims to create ‘new dependencies,’ the E.U.’s top diplomat says.
  • Poland and Lithuania, on NATO’s eastern flank, warn against ‘provocations’ from Wagner forces in Belarus.
  • Russian shelling targets a church in Kherson city.
  • Ukraine looks to boost ammunition production.
  • Brazil still wants to broker peace, but admits it seems far off.


Friday, 4 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Rescue workers deployed to Crimea after alleged drone attack; Chris Christie visits Kyiv, The Washington Post, Joyce Lau, Adela Suliman, Natalia Abbakumova, David L. Stern, Maeve Reston, Adam Taylor, and Mikhail Klimentov, Friday, 4 August 2023: “Rescue workers from the Russian city of Novorossiysk were dispatched to Crimea in response to reports of a drone attack in the Kerch Bay, Russia’s state-run news agency Tass reported Friday. In response to rumors circulating on the chat platform Telegram, officials in Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, said loud noises heard in the area by locals were not due to attacks on the Kerch bridge — a marquee infrastructure for Russian President Vladimir Putin that connects Crimea to mainland Russia. Still, officials shut down traffic on the bridge, citing fears of an attack. Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie visited Kyiv Friday, meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky. The former New Jersey governor also visited Moshchun and Bucha, which were ravaged by Russian forces in 2022. Earlier Friday, Russia’s Defense Ministry accused Ukraine of using two sea drones to attack a naval base near Novorossiysk. The port city, across from Crimea, is a major hub for Russian exports. A Ukrainian government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter, said the ‘special operation’ was conducted by Ukraine’s navy and security service and damaged a large Russian warship, the Olenegorsky Miner. Russia, for its part, said it detected and destroyed the unmanned boats and denied that it caused any damage. The surface drones were loaded with 450 kilos of explosives and targeted the Olenegorsky Miner, which was carrying 100 Russian crew members, the Ukrainian government official told The Post on Friday. The official said the strike caused a ‘serious hole,’ rendering the Russian ship ‘unable to perform its combat tasks,’ and released a video that showed a surface-level vessel traveling toward the ship at speed before cutting out, apparently on impact. The Washington Post could not independently verify the claims. Ukrainian officials had considered attacking the city before but held off at Washington’s request, The Post previously reported. Russian officials said the attack did not cause any damage — but Russian military bloggers were skeptical, as footage appearing to show the warship damaged circulated on social media. Andrey Kravchenko, the head of Novorossiysk’s city administration, said Russian forces ‘instantly reacted and helped to avoid the consequences of the attack.’ But a prominent pro-Russian military blogger known as Rybar wrote that it was ‘curious’ that the naval drones had approached the ship ‘unhindered.’ He said that ‘the crew probably did not expect the attack.’ Another prominent military blogger, who uses the handle Zapiski Veterana, wrote that footage of damage to the ship made him question Russia’s public denials and would lead people not to trust official sources. Christie’s visit underscored the sharp GOP divisions over U.S. financial support for Ukraine. The former New Jersey governor billed the visit as a fact-finding mission to assess the effectiveness of U.S. military aid to Ukraine, though he remained within the relatively safe confines of the Kyiv region. Unlike other GOP front-runners, including former president Donald Trump, Christie has voiced full-throated support for Ukraine as a democratic ally. Officials from about 40 countries are expected to attend Ukraine peace talks this weekend in Jeddah, a port city in Saudi Arabia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he hopes the talks will lead to a summit this autumn to endorse principles based on his 10-point formula for a peace settlement. Russia will not be represented at the event; however, officials from China have said they will attend. Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was convicted of extremism charges and sentenced to 19 years in a special regime colony following closed prison court proceedings on Friday. This latest imprisonment is on top of existing sentences of more than 11 years in all, widely viewed as retribution for Navalny’s political investigations and activism. In a statement released before the verdict, Navalny called on Russians to oppose the Kremlin. ‘There is no shame in choosing the safest way to oppose. There is shame in doing nothing,’ Navalny said. Russian soprano Anna Netrebko sued the Metropolitan Opera and its general manager on Friday, alleging that the institution’s decision to drop her after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused ‘severe mental anguish and emotional distress,’ as well as losses of up to $360,000 relating to missed performances and rehearsals. In 2022, the Opera demanded that Netrebko repudiate Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In her suit, Netrebko claims that she ‘and her family and friends in Russia have suffered the risk of harm, retaliation, and retribution by the Russian government’ due to her efforts to distance herself from the Russian government. Niger’s detained president warned that Africa’s Sahel region could ‘fall to Russian influence’ via the Wagner Group. President Mohamed Bazoum, in an opinion piece published in The Washington Post on Friday, said the recent coup in his country could be an ‘open invitation’ to the Russian mercenary group. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said later Friday that Moscow was monitoring the situation there ‘very closely’ and is ‘in favor of a swift return to constitutional order’ in the West African nation. The European Union has extended the scope of its sanctions against Belarus. The new measures arise ‘from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, and in response to Belarus’s involvement in the aggression,’ the European Commission said in a statement. It banned the export of sensitive technology that could increase Belarusian military capabilities, as well as ammunition, firearms and technology related to the aviation and space industries. Russian Defense Minister Shoigu spoke with North Korean officials about increasing munitions sales to Moscow when he was in Pyongyang last week, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, according to the Associated Press. ‘This is yet another example of how desperate [Russian President Vladimir Putin] has become because his war machine is being affected by the sanctions and the export controls,’ Kirby said. Russia plans to increase its defense budget to more than $100 billion, a third of all public expenditure, according to documents seen by Reuters. That figure is nearly double Russia’s original military budget for 2023, the news agency reports, and comes as sanctions and export conditions on Russia added to a budget deficit of $28 billion in the first half of 2023.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian Warship Damaged in Ukrainian Drone Attack. Moscow said Ukraine used drones to strike Novorossiysk, a Black Sea naval and shipping hub, and a port in occupied Crimea. The New York Times, Friday, 4 August 2023:

  • Videos and photos show a damaged Russian landing ship in Novorossiysk.
  • The jailed Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny receives a new, 19-year sentence.
  • An attack puts the focus on a critical Russian commercial port.
  • Ukraine’s military has been expanding its fleet of maritime drones.
  • Putin signs a law expanding the age range for the military draft.
  • Chris Christie meets with President Zelensky in an unannounced visit to Kyiv.
  • The U.N. nuclear watchdog reports finding no sign of explosives at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex.

How Jack Smith Structured the Trump Election Indictment to Reduce Risks. The special counsel layered varied charges atop the same facts, while sidestepping a free-speech question by not charging incitement. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Friday, 4 August 2023: “In accusing former President Donald J. Trump of conspiring to subvert American democracy, the special counsel, Jack Smith, charged the same story three different ways. The charges are novel applications of criminal laws to unprecedented circumstances, heightening legal risks, but Mr. Smith’s tactic gives him multiple paths in obtaining and upholding a guilty verdict. ‘Especially in a case like this, you want to have multiple charges that are applicable or provable with the same evidence, so that if on appeal you lose one, you still have the conviction,’ said Julie O’Sullivan, a Georgetown University law professor and former federal prosecutor. That structure in the indictment is only one of several strategic choices by Mr. Smith — including what facts and potential charges he chose to include or omit — that may foreshadow and shape how an eventual trial of Mr. Trump will play out. The four charges rely on three criminal statutes: a count of conspiring to defraud the government, another of conspiring to disenfranchise voters, and two counts related to corruptly obstructing a congressional proceeding. Applying each to Mr. Trump’s actions raises various complexities, according to a range of criminal law experts. At the same time, the indictment hints at how Mr. Smith is trying to sidestep legal pitfalls and potential defenses. He began with an unusual preamble that reads like an opening statement at trial, acknowledging that Mr. Trump had a right to challenge the election results in court and even to lie about them, but drawing a distinction with the defendant’s pursuit of ‘unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting the election results.’ While the indictment is sprawling in laying out a case against Mr. Trump, it brings a selective lens on the multifaceted efforts by the former president and his associates to overturn the 2020 election.”

A Republican 2024 Climate Strategy: More Drilling, Less Clean Energy. Project 2025, a conservative ‘battle plan’ for the next Republican president, would stop attempts to cut the pollution that is heating the planet and encourage more emissions. The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Friday, 4 August 2023: “During a summer of scorching heat that has broken records and forced Americans to confront the reality of climate change, conservatives are laying the groundwork for future Republican administration that would dismantle efforts to slow global warming. The move is part of a sweeping strategy dubbed Project 2025 that Paul Dans of the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank organizing the effort, has called a ‘battle plan’ for the first 180 days of a future Republican presidency. The climate and energy provisions would be among the most severe swings away from current federal policies. The plan calls for shredding regulations to curb greenhouse gas pollution from cars, oil and gas wells and power plants, dismantling almost every clean energy program in the federal government and boosting the production of fossil fuels — the burning of which is the chief cause of planetary warming. The New York Times asked the leading Republican presidential candidates whether they support the Project 2025 strategy but none of the campaigns responded. Still, several of the architects are veterans of the Trump administration, and their recommendations match positions held by former President Donald J. Trump, the current front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination.”


Saturday, 5 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Drone attack on Russian oil tanker near Crimea; Jeddah summit underway, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Adela Suliman, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Nick Parker, and Beatriz Rios, Saturday, 5 August 2023: “A sea drone hit a Russian oil tanker near occupied Crimea on Saturday, damaging the vessel located in the Kerch Strait of the Black Sea region, Russia said. It is the second naval drone strike in two days, after an attack on the major Russian port of Novorossiysk on Friday, which a Ukrainian official said damaged a Russian warship. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for either strike, but official sources have said both were carried out by the country’s navy and SBU intelligence service. Representatives from 40 countries are attending Ukraine peace talks in Jeddah, a port city in Saudi Arabia. Russia will not be represented at the event, but the Chinese foreign ministry said that a senior official was attending. The Sig oil tanker was ‘afloat’ with ‘no casualties’ despite the engine room being damaged, Russia’s water transport agency said on Telegram, adding that the tanker’s 11 crew members were unharmed. The sea drone targeting the tanker had been loaded with 450 kilos of explosives, a Ukrainian intelligence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter, told The Washington Post on Saturday. The tanker weighed almost 5,000 tons and began ‘flooding’ with water flowing inside the ship after the naval drone strike at about midnight, the official said, adding that the blast created ‘fireworks’ visible from afar. The Post could not independently verify the claims. Friday’s strike on the Russian warship called the Olenegorsky Miner rendered it ‘unable to perform its combat tasks,’ a Ukrainian government official told The Post on Friday. However Andrey Kravchenko, the head of Novorossiysk’s city administration, claimed that no damage was caused and that Russian forces ‘instantly reacted and helped to avoid the consequences of the attack.’ The Post could not independently verify the claims. Kyiv had vowed retaliation for Russia’s strikes on Ukrainian port cities, which followed Moscow’s withdrawal from the U.N.-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative. The Kerch Strait connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov and separates Russia from Crimea, which Moscow illegally annexed in 2014. Russian officials had earlier shut down the Kerch Bridge, citing fears of an attack on the key thruway, but traffic has since resumed over the bridge, Russian state-run news agency Tass reported. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he hopes the Jeddah talks will lead to a fall summit to endorse principles based on his 10-point formula for peace. He tweeted that it was critical for countries from the Global South to attend and discuss issues including food security and trade. ‘It is very important that the world sees: a fair and honest end to Russian aggression will benefit everyone in the world.’ China, which sent a senior foreign ministry official, participated ‘actively’ in the Jeddah talks Saturday, European sources told The Post, and was interested in further meetings. There was also discussion about a head-of-state meeting in the future, possibly before the end of the year, European sources said, though they added it is too early to say which countries would attend. Russian soprano Anna Netrebko sued the Metropolitan Opera and its general manager, alleging that the institution’s decision to cancel her performances after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused losses of up to $360,000 relating to missed performances and rehearsals and ‘severe mental anguish and emotional distress.’ The Opera demanded last year that Netrebko — a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin before the war who has since distanced herself from the leader — repudiate Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie visited Kyiv and met with Zelensky on Friday. Zelensky said in his nightly address that the two talked about ‘how important it is to strengthen support for freedom, support for democracy.’ Christie has voiced support for Ukraine as a democratic ally and his visit highlighted the sharp GOP divisions over U.S. financial backing for Kyiv. The United States is the leading financial supporter of Ukraine’s fight against Russia, committing more than $60 billion in aid since the beginning of Moscow’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. The Post took a look at the amount of U.S. spending powering Ukraine’s defense. Lithuania labeled 1,164 Russian and Belarusian citizens living in the country a ‘threat’ to national security, putting their residency status into jeopardy. The ruling will revoke some existing residency permits and deny new applications for others, after the government’s Migration Department issued a mandatory questionnaire asking the residents for their views on the Ukraine war and status of Crimea, among other issues. Lithuania, a European Union and NATO member, declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1990 and has been a vocal backer of Kyiv.”

January 6 Federal Prosecutors Ask for Protective Order, Citing Threatening Trump Post on Social Media. In seeking a judge’s order, the government was drawing attention to the former president’s longstanding habit of attacking those involved in criminal cases against him. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Saturday, 5 August 2023: “The federal prosecutors overseeing the indictment of former President Donald J. Trump on charges of seeking to overturn the 2020 election asked a judge on Friday night to impose a protective order over the discovery evidence in the case, citing a threatening message that Mr. Trump had posted on social media. By mentioning the incendiary post in an otherwise routine request seeking to keep Mr. Trump from making evidence public, the prosecutors in the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, were drawing the attention of the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, to Mr. Trump’s longstanding habit of attacking those involved in criminal cases against him. Hours later, Mr. Trump’s campaign responded with a statement calling the post ‘the definition of political speech.’ The statement suggested that the post had not been directed at anyone involved in the election interference case, saying it was meant for Mr. Trump’s political adversaries. The exchange of words began on Friday evening when Mr. Trump posted a message on Truth Social, his social media platform, issuing a vague but strongly worded threat. ‘IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!’ he wrote. Shortly after, in a standard move early in a criminal prosecution, the government filed its request for a protective order in the case to Judge Chutkan. Prosecutors noted that protections over discovery were ‘particularly important’ in this instance because Mr. Trump ‘has previously issued public statements on social media regarding witnesses, judges, attorneys and others associated with legal matters pending against him.’ To prove their point, they included a screenshot of the former president’s threatening post from that same evening.” See also, Prosecutors cite Trump’s social media posts as they seek limits on handling of evidence. The court filing outlines rules the government wants Trump and his lawyers to follow during the discovery process. The Washington Post, Perry Stein, Saturday, 5 August 2023: “The Justice Department stressed in a Friday evening court filing that a federal judge in Washington should impose firm rules on Donald Trump and his attorneys as they review materials during the discovery process of his trial, citing, in part, the former president’s history of revealing details about cases on social media. The filing comes as the federal case centered on Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election gets underway. Trump pleaded not guilty on Thursday to four crimes that the government has accused of him committing, including scheming to disrupt the election process and depriving Americans of their right to have their votes counted. The government and Trump’s lawyers are still working out proposed rules that the former president and his legal team must abide by when they review evidence materials during the discovery process — when the defense team reviews all the evidence that the government has collected in the case. It is a standard part of the legal process and a judge must sign off on the agreement. Evidence that is handed over in the discovery process includes grand jury interviews, recordings and materials obtained through sealed search warrants. The government’s proposed agreement — called a protective order — dictates that Trump and his lawyers should not disclose any of the materials they receive during the discovery process to people who are not authorized by the court to view the materials.” See also, Judge denies Trump legal team’s motion to extend deadline over protective order dispute in election subversion case, CNN Politics, Tierney Sneed and Kate Sullivan, Saturday, 5 August 2023: “A federal judge on Saturday denied a request from former President Donald Trump’s legal team for a deadline extension over the handling of evidence in the 2020 election subversion case. Trump’s lawyers will have to respond by Monday afternoon to the Justice Department’s proposal for a protective order. John Lauro, an attorney for Trump, told CNN’s Dana Bash on ‘State of the Union’ Sunday that Trump’s team intends to keep fighting the requested order.”  

John Eastman Comes Clean: Hell Yes We Were Trying to Overthrow the Government, Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall, Saturday, 5 August 2023: “I want to return to this revelatory interview with co-conspirator John Eastman, the last portion of which was published Thursday by Tom Klingenstein, the Chairman of the Trumpite Claremont Institute and then highlighted by our Josh Kovensky. There’s a lot of atmospherics in this interview, a lot of bookshelf-lined tweedy gentility mixed with complaints about OSHA regulations and Drag Queen story hours. But the central bit comes just over half way through the interview when Eastman gets into the core justification and purpose for trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election and overthrow the constitutional order itself. He invokes the Declaration of Independence and says quite clearly that yes, we were trying to overthrow the government and argues that they were justified because of the sheer existential threat America was under because of the election of Joe Biden. January 6th conspirators have spent more than two years claiming either that nothing really happened at all in the weeks leading up to January 6th or that it was just a peaceful protest that got a bit out of hand or that they were just making a good faith effort to follow the legal process. Eastman cuts through all of this and makes clear they were trying to overthrow (‘abolish’) the government; they were justified in doing so; and the warrant for their actions is none other than the Declaration of Independence itself.”

Sunday, 6 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia strikes Ukrainian air bases; Zelensky condemns attack on blood transfusion center, The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Jennifer Hassan, Shera Avi-Yonah, and Paulina Villegas, Sunday, 6 August 2023: “A barrage of Russian missiles targeted two air bases in western Ukraine at night, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Sunday morning, in Starokonstantinov, in the Khmelnitsky region, and Dubno, in the Rivne region, the ministry said. A spokesman for Ukraine’s Air Force, Yuriy Ignat, said Russia hit Starokonstantinov Air Base, where Kyiv keeps Su-24 bombers that can launch Storm Shadow cruise missiles provided by Britain, but he did not mention another attack. A Russian guided aerial bomb also blitzed a blood transfusion center in Kupyansk, in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, over the weekend, which President Volodymyr Zelensky called a ‘war crime.’ The regional governor, Oleh Synyehubov, reported two deaths and four injuries from the attack. ‘This war crime alone says everything about Russian aggression,’ Zelensky wrote on Telegram. He shared a photo showing a roofless structure lit up in flames against an orange night sky. Japan’s prime minister condemned Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons in a speech marking the 78th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Sunday. ‘The tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused by nuclear weapons must never be repeated,’ Fumio Kishida said in a statement. But the ‘widening division within the international community over approaches to nuclear disarmament, the nuclear threat made by Russia, and other concerns now make that road all the more difficult,’ he said. The Soviet coat of arms at Kyiv’s Motherland monument was replaced with the Ukrainian trident symbol ahead of Ukraine’s Independence Day on Aug. 24. Workers began modifying the 200-foot statue last week, despite criticism over funding cultural works amid the war. Since Russia’s invasion, many Ukrainians have been working to erase ties to Russia — and the Russian language — from their culture and landscape. Representatives from at least 40 countries are expected to continue talks Sunday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The nations taking part include Ukraine, South Africa, Mexico, Egypt, Indonesia and China, the latter of which did not participate in Copenhagen peace talks this summer. The summit is seen as a diplomatic push by Kyiv to grow partnerships beyond its established circle of Western supporters. Zelensky said it was ‘very important’ for bilateral negotiations to take place on the sidelines. Zelensky aide Andriy Yermak, who led the Ukrainian delegation, said the talks were ‘productive.’ A U.N. official said she was shocked at the level of destruction wrought by Russian strikes on Ukrainian grain storage facilities in Izmail last week. Denise Brown, a U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, said that the amount of grain spoiled would have been enough to feed 66 million people per day and that the attack Wednesday ‘may constitute a grave violation of international humanitarian law.’ The United States is the leading financial supporter of Ukraine’s fight against Russia, committing more than $60 billion in aid since the beginning of Moscow’s invasion in February 2022. The Washington Post took a look at the amount of U.S. spending that is powering Ukraine’s defense.”

Trump Calls for Judge’s Recusal as His Lawyer Deems Effort to Overturn Election ‘Aspirational.’ Former President Donald J. Trump spent the weekend on the attack on Truth Social while his lawyer, John F. Lauro, ran through a gantlet of interviews Sunday morning. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Maggie Astor, Sunday, 6 August 2023: “Appearing on five television networks Sunday morning, a lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump argued that his actions in the effort to overturn the 2020 election fell short of crimes and were merely ‘aspirational.’ The remarks from his lawyer, John F. Lauro, came as Mr. Trump was blanketing his social media platform, Truth Social, with posts suggesting that his legal team was going to seek the recusal of Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, the federal judge overseeing the case, and try to move his trial out of Washington. With his client facing charges carrying decades in prison after a federal grand jury indicted Mr. Trump for his role in trying to overturn the election, his third criminal case this year, Mr. Lauro appeared in interviews on CNN, ABC, Fox, NBC and CBS. He endeavored to defend Mr. Trump, including against evidence that, as president, he pressured his vice president, Mike Pence, to reject legitimate votes for Joseph R. Biden Jr. in favor of false electors pledged to Mr. Trump. ‘What President Trump didn’t do is direct Vice President Pence to do anything,’ Mr. Lauro said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ ‘He asked him in an aspirational way.'”


Monday, 7 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine says woman detained in plot to attack Zelensky, The Washington Post, Lyric Li, Jennifer Hassan, Eve Sampson, and Sammy Westfall, Monday, 7 August 2023: “A woman was detained in connection with a plot to attack Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to a statement from Ukraine’s Security Service. The woman, who has not been named, allegedly passed information to Russian forces about the president’s visit last week to Mykolaiv, a Ukrainian city near the war’s front lines. Diplomats and security policy advisers from more than 40 countries had ‘an extremely honest, open conversation’ on key principles that Kyiv wants to be the basis for peace, Ukrainian presidential adviser Andriy Yermak said of talks in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, that ended Sunday. Yermak said different viewpoints emerged but that the talks were ‘very productive.’ Russia was not invited to the meeting, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called it part of the West’s ‘futile, doomed efforts’ to swing the Global South to Ukraine’s side, according to state media. Ryabkov said Russia plans to discuss the results of the Jeddah consultations with economic partners who attended the meeting. Ukraine’s Security Service detained a suspect accused of gathering intelligence to guide Russian airstrikes that would target Zelensky during a visit to Ukraine’s Mykolaiv region. A drone was downed over Russia’s Belgorod region bordering Ukraine, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said Monday. ‘Our air defense system was activated in Belgorod to down a plane-type UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] approaching the city,’ he wrote on Telegram, adding that emergency services rushed to the scene. The incident came after Russian air defenses claimed they shot down a ‘hostile drone’ that was heading toward Moscow on Sunday. China sent a peace envoy to the Jeddah talks after not attending an initial gathering in Copenhagen in late June. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hailed Beijing’s participation as a ‘breakthrough,’ according to Interfax-Ukraine. The summit was seen as a diplomatic push by Kyiv to grow partnerships beyond its established circle of Western supporters. China will maintain ‘close strategic cooperation’ with Russia while upholding an ‘independent and impartial’ stance on the Ukraine war, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a phone call to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, according to a readout released by the Chinese foreign ministry Monday. In Jeddah, Yermak and U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan discussed Ukraine’s defense needs, especially air defense to protect the port infrastructure of southern Ukraine, Yermak said on Telegram. Sullivan ‘positively assessed’ the start of negotiations on a bilateral agreement on security guarantees for Ukraine, according to Yermak. Ukraine’s discussion with European countries focused on economic and security support, Yermak said, particularly on finding ways to continue the export of Ukrainian grain after Russia withdrew from the Black Sea grain deal.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Detains Woman Accused of Trying to Track Zelensky’s Movements. The Security Service of Ukraine said it detected the Ukrainian woman’s efforts and increased security ahead of time. Russia sought the information to plan a ‘massive airstrike,’ the agency said. The New York Times, Monday, 7 August 2023:

  • The agency also accused the woman of working to locate Ukrainian ammunition store points.
  • Russia attacked civilians, then rescue crews, in double strikes in eastern Ukraine, officials said.
  • Saudi talks give Ukraine a direct line to nations with ties to Russia.
  • Ukraine confirms strikes on bridges into Russian-occupied Crimea.
  • The top diplomats of China and Russia speak by phone about Ukraine.
  • Jolted by a mutiny, Putin works the crowds.
  • Ukraine replaces the Soviet hammer and sickle on one of Kyiv’s most famous monuments.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia and Ukraine trade drone strikes; Kyiv removes Soviet symbol, NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 7 August 2023: “Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: The trial of 22 members of the Azov Battalion — Ukrainian POWs captured following Russia’s weeks-long siege of a steelworks plant in Mariupol in May 2022 — on terrorism charges continues Wednesday at a military court in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. Rights groups have denounced the proceedings as a violation of the Geneva Conventions. On Friday, the global ratings agency Moody’s will release its review of Ukraine’s economy. Russia will mark the founding of its air force on Saturday. What happened last week: Ukraine and Russia traded drone strikes. Russia targeted Odesa and Kyiv, hitting a key Ukrainian port near Romania on Wednesday. Kyiv’s military administration said that air defense forces destroyed almost a dozen Russian drones on the approach to the Ukrainian capital. Meanwhile, Russian air defenses shot down Ukrainian drones headed for Moscow, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry and regional authorities, and a Moscow airport had to suspend flights Sunday after another drone was destroyed. Ukrainian sea drones also damaged a Russian tanker in an attack on a Black Sea naval base Friday. Following peace talks that took place in Copenhagen in June, Saudi Arabia hosted a peace summit in Jeddah on Saturday and Sunday, attended by national security advisers and representatives from more than 40 countries including the U.S., China, Turkey, India and Brazil. Many of those attending represented governments that have taken a largely neutral stand on the war in Ukraine. Russia was not invited. The parties agreed to meet again — the third time — though a date wasn’t set. Ukrainian authorities removed the Soviet hammer and sickle from Kyiv’s Motherland Monument, the country’s tallest statue, and began replacing it with Ukraine’s coat of arms featuring a trident, Ukraine’s national symbol. Since the start of the war, Ukrainian authorities have ordered the removal of statues depicting Russian and Soviet writers and leaders, and de-Russified street names. Ukrainian pilots will start training to fly F-16 fighter jets in August, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced. ‘The delivery and combat use of F-16s by our pilots should take place as soon as possible,’ he said. A Russian court sentenced jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny to an additional 19 years in prison on extremism-related charges. The ruling comes amid a wider crackdown against domestic critics of the war in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a measure that raises the military conscription age cap from 27 to 30 years old. The move is part of a wider Kremlin effort to expand the pool of Russian recruits for the war in Ukraine. The U.S. and Ukraine began negotiations on long-term security commitments. The U.S. assumed the presidency of the United Nations Security Council for the month of August, with the Ukraine war and its impact on the world food supply leading the agenda. Yale’s Conflict Observatory reported that Russian authorities are forcing Ukrainians living in Russian-occupied land to take Russian citizenship or be deported or detained. Russia claims that it has given citizenship to some 3 million Ukrainians since 2014, when Russian proxies took over parts of eastern Ukraine as well as Crimea in the south. Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie made a visit to Ukraine and met with Zelenskyy.”

What to Know About Prosecutors’ Request for Protective Order in January 6 Case. The orders, which can vary greatly in severity, generally ask that the defense use discovery evidence only to pursue actions related to the case itself and to not release it widely. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Monday, 7 August 2023: “The first miniskirmish in the prosecution of former President Donald J. Trump on charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election involves a step that is taken in the early phases of many prominent criminal cases: a proposal to impose rules on how the voluminous discovery evidence in the matter should be handled. The disagreement started on Friday, when prosecutors in the office of the special counsel asked the judge who is overseeing the case for what is known as a protective order governing the disclosure of discovery material to Mr. Trump’s lawyers. The entreaty was routine, although in making their request, the prosecutors took what could be considered an extra step. In their motion, the prosecutors drew Judge Tanya S. Chutkan’s attention to a threatening message that Mr. Trump had posted that day on social media. Vague but strongly worded, it read, ‘IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!’ The prosecutors did not ask Judge Chutkan to issue a gag order against Mr. Trump because of the post. But they did use the message to suggest there should be clear rules in place to keep the former president from posting online any evidence that his legal team would get through the discovery process, an apparent acknowledgment that for Mr. Trump, few things are ever routine. Their argument was inferential, asserting that a protective order was ‘particularly important’ in this case because Mr. Trump has a longstanding habit of attacking those involved in criminal cases against him. On Sunday, he went on the warpath on social media, attacking the special counsel as ‘deranged’ and calling for Judge Chutkan to be recused from the case. On Monday, Mr. Trump’s lawyers responded to the government’s request by arguing in court papers that prosecutors, by asking Judge Chutkan to limit the former president from publicly discussing the evidence in his case, was infringing on Mr. Trump’s First Amendment rights and was having ‘the court assume the role of censor.’ The papers sought to frame the typical process of putting in place a protective order as part of what is shaping up to be Mr. Trump’s main defense against the charges in the case: that the government has criminalized his efforts to exercise his rights to free speech.” See also, Fight over Trump January 6 secrecy order marks start of race to trial, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Monday, 7 August 2023: “A federal judge said late Monday that she will order a hearing this week over prosecutors’ demand that former president Donald Trump keep government evidence turned over in his criminal election interference case secret until trial, as the two sides clashed anew over whether permitting Trump to discuss the case would taint potential jurors or intimidate witnesses. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan said Trump would not be required to attend the hearing over special counsel Jack Smith’s request Friday for a protective order. Prosecutors explained that they wanted to immediately turn over evidence to speed the defense’s trial preparations, but were concerned in part over Trump’s history of posting on social media about ‘witnesses, judges, attorneys and others’ associated with cases against him, including one that day that said: ‘IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!’ But Trump’s defense team complained the government’s proposed limits were overbroad and would limit the First Amendment rights of President Biden’s main political opponent…. Prosecutors shot back that Trump this weekend attacked his former vice president and potential government witness Mike Pence, while one of his attorneys discussed the case on five Sunday talk shows. The prosecution turns over evidence ‘to afford defendants the ability to prepare for and mount a defense in court — not to wage a media campaign,’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas P. Windom replied, noting that court rules bar defense counsel from feeding pretrial publicity that could prejudice jurors.” See also, Trump attacks special counsel Jack Smith and judge assigned to 2020 election case. The former president, who was indicted on four federal counts last week, repeated his demand that U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan recuse herself. NBC News, Rebecca Shabad, Monday, 7 August 2023: “Former President Donald Trump on Monday attacked special counsel Jack Smith and the federal judge assigned to oversee proceedings in the 2020 election case after he was charged with federal crimes in an indictment last week. In a post on his Truth Social account, Trump said Smith is going before U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in an effort to take away the former president’s First Amendment rights, and he demanded that Chutkan recuse herself. ‘Deranged Jack Smith is going before his number one draft pick, the Judge of his “dreams” (WHO MUST BE RECUSED!), in an attempt to take away my FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS — This, despite the fact that he, the DOJ, and his many Thug prosecutors, are illegally leaking, everything and anything, to the Fake News Media!!!’ Trump wrote. Trump had also called for Chutkan’s recusal Sunday on Truth Social, saying he was calling for the move ‘on very powerful grounds.’ He didn’t elaborate.”

Judge Cannon asks about legality of using DC grand jury in Florida-based Mar-a-Lago case, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Monday, 7 August 2023: “Judge Aileen Cannon is asking the Justice Department and Donald Trump co-defendant Walt Nauta to weigh in on the legality of special counsel Jack Smith’s ongoing grand jury activity in Washington, DC, which relates to the obstruction portion of the Mar-a-Lago documents case before her in Florida. In an order Monday, Cannon said Nauta’s lawyers ‘shall address the legal propriety of using an out-of-district grand jury proceeding to continue to investigate and/or to seek post-indictment hearings on matters pertinent to the instant indicted matter in this district’ by August 17. The special counsel must reply by August 22. The special counsel previously told Cannon that ‘the grand jury in this district [in Florida] and a grand jury in the District of Columbia continued to investigate further obstructive activity,’ which resulted in the latest group of criminal charges before her against Trump, Nauta and a third defendant, Mar-a-Lago employee Carlos De Oliveira.”

Federal Judge Throws Out Trump’s Countersuit Against E. Jean Carroll. The former president argued that Ms. Carroll, a former columnist, should not have said that he raped her after a jury found him liable for sexual abuse. The New York Times, Karen Zraick, Monday, 7 August 2023: “A federal judge on Monday dismissed a countersuit by former President Donald J. Trump against E. Jean Carroll, the writer whom he was found liable for sexually abusing and defaming after a civil trial in Manhattan this year. Mr. Trump had accused Ms. Carroll of defamation for her repeated assertions that he had raped her in the dressing room of a New York department store nearly 30 years ago. In May, a jury found that Ms. Carroll had proved that the former president sexually abused her, but stopped short of finding Mr. Trump liable for rape…. In the ruling on Monday, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan wrote that the jury’s finding implicitly determined that Mr. Trump had forcibly penetrated Ms. Carroll with his fingers, which he said amounts to rape as the term is commonly used, outside of the narrower legal definition that the jury was required to consider. The truthfulness of an assertion is a key component in a defamation case against a public figure. Mr. Kaplan wrote that such a figure must show that the statements in question were false and published with ‘actual malice.'” See also, Judge dismisses Trump’s defamation lawsuit against E. Jean Carroll for statements she made on CNN, CNN Politics, Kara Scannell, Monday, 7 August 2023: “A federal judge has dismissed Donald Trump’s counter defamation lawsuit against E. Jean Carroll, dealing another legal blow to the former president. In an order Monday, Judge Lewis Kaplan said that Trump had not proven that Carroll’s statements on CNN the day after the jury awarded her $5 million after finding that Trump sexually abused Carroll and defamed her were false or ‘not at least substantially true,’ which is the legal standard. Trump sued Carroll in June based on her response to questions posed on CNN. Carroll was asked about the verdict finding Trump sexually abused Carroll, but did not rape her as defined under New York law and as she alleged. Carroll said, ‘Oh, yes he did.’ In throwing out Trump’s lawsuit, the judge wrote, ‘Indeed, the jury’s verdict in Carroll II establishes, as against Mr Trump, the fact that Mr Trump “raped her,” albeit digitally rather than with his penis. Thus, it establishes against him the substantial truth of Ms Carroll’s “rape” accusations.'”


Tuesday, 8 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Officials say Russian strikes kill 14, including first responders, The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Leo Sands, and Eve Sampson, Tuesday, 8 August 2023: “Russian forces launched missile strikes on the eastern Ukrainian city of Pokrovsk, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, killing nine people and injuring more than 80 others. The pair of deadly strikes, among a spate of attacks that killed 14 in total across Ukraine, landed within 40 minutes of each other in the city’s center. The second strike came after the rescue operation began — ‘a conscious decision of terrorists to cause the most pain, the most damage,’ Zelensky said. A rescue worker was killed in the second strike, Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said. Seventy-eight of the country’s first responders have been killed and 280 injured by Russian attacks since the start of the invasion, spokesman for the Ukrainian State Emergency Service, Col. Oleksandr Khorunzhyi, said in a statement Tuesday. Ukrainian security officials arrested a woman in their investigation into an alleged plot to kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The country’s Security Service, which did not name the detainee, said the woman was suspected of aiding Russian intelligence services. The deadly Russian strike on the Pokrovsk city center damaged 12 high-rise buildings, offices, shops and a hotel, Kyrylenko said Tuesday on Telegram. Two children, seven rescue workers and 31 police officers were among those hurt. Photos posted on Telegram showed severely damaged buildings with blown-out windows, obliterated roofs and glowing flames. At least five others were killed in recent attacks on Ukraine, the country’s officials said, including three in the Kharkiv region, one person in Kherson and another in the southern city of Nikopol. Several private homes and farm buildings were damaged in Nikopol, Ukraine’s operational armed forces said; photos showed building debris scattered on the ground and spilling into a kitchen. The detainee allegedly linked to a foiled plot to attack Zelensky tried to give Russian forces information about the president’s visit to Mykolaiv last week, Ukraine’s Security Service said, describing the suspect as ‘a former saleswoman in a military store on the territory of one of the military units’ in the town of Ochakiv. She was taken into custody Aug. 1, a Ukrainian government official told The Washington Post. Britain’s Foreign Ministry announced a slew of new sanctions on non-Russian companies Tuesday, with the aim of targeting the global supply chains that support Russia’s military effort in Ukraine. In a statement, officials identified companies in Turkey, Iran and the United Arab Emirates as supporting shipments of arms and sensitive electronics to Russia. Britain announced new sanctions targeting companies and individuals accused of supplying militarily significant components to Russia, including an Iranian drone maker and 24 others. ‘Today’s landmark sanctions will further diminish Russia’s arsenal and close the net on supply chains propping up Putin’s now struggling defense industry,’ British foreign minister James Cleverly said in a statement. Poland’s Defense Ministry agreed to deploy an additional 1,000 troops to guard the country’s border with Belarus, Polish media reported Tuesday. According to the Polish Press Agency, the decision followed a request from Poland’s border guard and will raise the total number to around 3,000. Tensions between Warsaw and the Russian ally have risen considerably in recent months, after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko offered safe harbor to Wagner fighters and joked that they were itching to invade Poland. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing will maintain an ‘independent and impartial’ stance on the war but will continue to cooperate closely with Moscow on international affairs, according to a statement released by China’s Foreign Ministry. In a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Wang said that ties between the nations have strengthened since President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow in March. Officials in Kyiv struck a positive tone after the Ukrainian-backed peace talks in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which were attended over the weekend by representatives of 40 nations. Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, commended the Chinese delegation Tuesday for its active participation in the talks — after the Chinese skipped a run-up meeting in Copenhagen. A clear majority of the delegations supported Ukraine’s central demand for Russia to withdraw completely from Ukrainian territory, Yermak said. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he discussed ways to expand grain exports with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a phone call Monday, in an effort to compensate for hardships caused by Russia’s pullout from the Black Sea Grain Initiative last month. Kuleba also said he stressed the need for U.S.-manufactured Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) to improve Ukraine’s longer-range battle capabilities. Romania has been working to boost the transport of Ukrainian grain throughout its territory, including by increasing capacity in ports and border crossing points, Foreign Minister Luminita-Teodora Odobescu told Politico in a recent interview.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Emergency Workers Rushed to Scene of Russian Missile Attack. Then Another Missile Came. Nine people, including a rescuer, were killed and dozens more were injured in the successive missile strikes on a small city in eastern Ukraine. The New York Times, Tuesday, 8 August 2023:

  • The attack on the city of Pokrovsk appears to have been aimed at killing emergency workers.
  • The smell of fire and death hangs over the scene of the attacks on Pokrovsk.
  • Ukrainian officials say they are cracking down on military corruption, including draft evasion.
  • A Ukrainian official warns of ‘an escalation’ in airstrikes this fall.
  • Western allies were too slow to supply Ukraine with weapons for its counteroffensive, a think tank says.
  • Britain announces expanded sanctions to target foreign suppliers for Russia’s military.
  • Ukrainians are shunning a church that is seen as a Kremlin tool.

Previously Secret Memo Laid Out Strategy for Trump to Overturn Biden’s Win. The House January 6 committee’s investigation did not uncover the memo, whose existence first came to light in last week’s indictment. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Charlie Savage, and Luke Broadwater, Tuesday, 8 August 2023: “A lawyer allied with President Donald J. Trump first laid out a plot to use false slates of electors to subvert the 2020 election in a previously unknown internal campaign memo that prosecutors are portraying as a crucial link in how the Trump team’s efforts evolved into a criminal conspiracy. The existence of the Dec. 6, 2020, memo came to light in last week’s indictment of Mr. Trump, though its details remained unclear. But a copy obtained by The New York Times shows for the first time that the lawyer, Kenneth Chesebro, acknowledged from the start that he was proposing ‘a bold, controversial strategy’ that the Supreme Court ‘likely’ would reject in the end. But even if the plan did not ultimately pass legal muster at the highest level, Mr. Chesebro argued that it would achieve two goals. It would focus attention on claims of voter fraud and ‘buy the Trump campaign more time to win litigation that would deprive Biden of electoral votes and/or add to Trump’s column.’ The memo had been a missing piece in the public record of how Mr. Trump’s allies developed their strategy to overturn Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory. In mid-December, the false Trump electors could go through the motions of voting as if they had the authority to do so. Then, on Jan. 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence could unilaterally count those slates of votes, rather than the official and certified ones for Mr. Biden. While that basic plan itself was already known, the document, described by prosecutors as the ‘fraudulent elector memo,’ provides new details about how it originated and was discussed behind the scenes. Among those details is Mr. Chesebro’s proposed ‘messaging’ strategy to explain why pro-Trump electors were meeting in states where Mr. Biden was declared the winner. The campaign would present that step as ‘a routine measure that is necessary to ensure’ that the correct electoral slate could be counted by Congress if courts or legislatures later concluded that Mr. Trump had actually won the states.” See also, The other tracks Trump took to bolster the fake-electors plot, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Wednesday, 9 August 2023: “At one point in the indictment handed down against former president Donald Trump earlier this month, special counsel Jack Smith delineates three memos in which the campaign’s plan to push forward invalid slates of electors took shape. One, written on Dec. 6, 2020, ‘marked a sharp departure’ from a previous iteration of the scheme, transitioning from a fail-safe means of assuring that Trump might have electors at his disposal should the election results shift (as occurred in Hawaii in 1960) to simply creating slates of electors that could be slotted in to replace those validated by the election results. The New York Times obtained a copy of the memo, written by Trump attorney (and presumed indictment co-conspirator) Kenneth Cheseboro. Cheseboro called it ‘a bold, controversial strategy’ — which is putting it mildly — and admitted that ‘there are many reasons it might not end up being executed on Jan. 6,’ the day that Vice President Mike Pence was slated to count and formalize the election results. But even as this idea was slowly broadening out within Trump’s sphere of advisers and allies, other efforts were working to bolster the possibility of success on Jan. 6. It’s generally recognized that the scheme to preserve Trump’s presidency despite his loss in the 2020 election was multifaceted, but it’s worth articulating explicitly the ways in which the Cheseboro plan sat alongside other, equally ‘bold’ and ‘controversial’ efforts.”

Trump Tells Supporters His Criminal Indictments Are About Them. The former president, who has made his 2024 campaign principally about his own personal grievances, is attempting to convince supporters to see themselves in him. The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti and Trip Gabriel, Tuesday, 8 August 2023: “As lawyers for Donald J. Trump float various legal arguments to defend him in court against an onslaught of criminal charges, the former president has settled on a political defense: ‘I’m being indicted for you.’ In speeches, social media posts and ads, Mr. Trump has repeatedly declared the prosecutions a political witch hunt, and he has cast himself as a martyr who is taking hits from Democrats and the government on their behalf. ‘They want to take away my freedom because I will never let them take away your freedom,’ Mr. Trump told the crowd at a campaign event in New Hampshire on Tuesday. ‘They want to silence me because I will never let them silence you.’ In two previous campaigns, 2016 and 2020, Mr. Trump presented himself to voters as an insurgent candidate who understood their grievances and promised to fight for them. Now, however, Mr. Trump has made his 2024 race principally about his own personal grievances — attempting to convince supporters to see themselves in him. He continues to argue, falsely, that the 2020 election was stolen from him, and to present it as a theft also against his voters. The legal jeopardy he now faces from multiple indictments, he tells followers, is the sort of persecution that they, too, could suffer. There is evidence that the message is resonating.” See also, Trump says a protective order would violate his First Amendment rights: ‘I will talk.’ The order would prevent Trump from disclosing certain government evidence in the case examining efforts to overturn the 2020 election. NBC News, Jonathan Allen and Jake Traylor, Tuesday, 8 August 2023: “Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed that he ‘will talk’ about the criminal charges he faces over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and accused federal prosecutors of ‘taking away my First Amendment rights.’ Last week, special counsel Jack Smith asked U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to impose a so-called protective order that would prevent Trump from disclosing evidence the government turns over to his lawyers as part of the discovery process. Trump’s own lawyers chose not to object to a protective order and instead requested that the judge put in place a version that is ‘less restrictive’ than the one proposed by the government. Trump’s lawyers asked Chutkan to shield only ‘genuinely sensitive materials”‘in order to protect his rights.” See also, Trump on possible court-ordered limits: ‘They’re not taking away my First Amendment rights.’ The former president campaigned in New Hampshire and called the latest charges against him ‘bullshit,’ saying, ‘I will talk about it.’ Politico, Kelly Garrity, Tuesday, 8 August 2023: “Former President Donald Trump could soon be strapped with an order limiting him in speaking publicly about the federal charges he is facing. But that won’t stop him from using his legal woes to galvanize voters on the campaign trail. ‘I will talk about it, I will, they’re not taking away my First Amendment rights,’ Trump said on Tuesday about his latest federal indictment, riling up a crowd at a campaign stop in Windham, N.H. A court-ordered muzzle could be imminent for Trump, after the current GOP front-runner appeared to declare that he’s ‘coming after’ those he views as responsible for his myriad legal challenges. Prosecutors brought the comments to a judge’s attention last week, calling for Trump to be ordered to keep any evidence prosecutors turn over to his defense team away from public view.”

Ohio voters reject higher bar for altering the state constitution, a win for abortion rights supporters. Ahead of a November vote on abortion rights, Republican lawmakers wanted voters to make it more difficult to amend the state constitution. The Washington Post, Patrick Marley, Rachel Roubein, and Kevin Williams, Tuesday, 8 August 2023: “Ohio voters rejected a measure Tuesday that would have made it more difficult to amend the state constitution ahead of a November vote to ensure access to abortion. For more than a century, Ohioans have been able to amend the state constitution with a simple majority. The failed measure would have changed that threshold to 60 percent. With about 88 percent of votes counted Tuesday night, 56.5 percent voted against the proposal, while 43.5 percent supported it. The Associated Press projected the measure would fail. Republican state lawmakers decided to try to make it tougher to amend the constitution as reproductive rights advocates gathered signatures of support this spring for a November measure that would guarantee access to abortion. Because of those stakes, Tuesday’s election became a proxy fight over abortion, which is expected to again be a defining issue in the 2024 election.” See also, 4 takeaways from rejection of Issue 1 in the Ohio special election, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Tuesday, 8 August 2023. See also, Ohio Voters Reject Constitutional Change Intended to Thwart Abortion Amendment. The contest was seen as a a test of efforts by Republicans nationwide to curb voters’ use of ballot initiatives. The New York Times, Michael Wines, Tuesday, 8 August 2023: “Ohio voters rejected a bid on Tuesday to make it harder to amend the State Constitution, according to The Associated Press, a significant victory for abortion-rights supporters trying to stop the Republican-controlled State Legislature from severely restricting the procedure. The abortion question turned what would normally be a sleepy summer election in an off year into a highly visible dogfight that took on national importance and drew an unprecedented number of Ohio voters for an August election. Late results showed the measure losing by 13 percentage points, 56.5 percent to 43.5 percent. The roughly 2.8 million votes cast dwarfed the 1.66 million ballots counted in the state’s 2022 primary elections, in which races for governor, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House were up for grabs. The contest was widely seen as a test of Republicans’ efforts nationwide to curb the use of ballot initiatives, and a potential barometer of the political climate going into the 2024 elections.” See also, Ohio voters reject effort that would make it harder to amend state constitution, CNN Politics, Eric Bradner, Tuesday, 8 August 2023: “Ohio voters rejected Tuesday an effort to raise the threshold to amend the state’s constitution ahead of a November referendum on whether to constitutionally guarantee abortion rights there, handing abortion rights advocates a critical victory. Known as Issue 1, the measure would have changed Ohio’s referendum law – lifting the threshold to amend the state’s constitution from a simple majority to 60% of the vote. Its passage would have effectively raised new obstacles to direct democracy, making it harder for citizens to bypass the Ohio legislature with referendums. The measure was a GOP-led effort targeting an upcoming November referendum in which voters will decide whether to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution. A broad coalition that rallied Ohioans to ‘Vote No’ on Issue 1 declared victory on Tuesday night in downtown Columbus and vowed to mount an aggressive campaign to protect abortion rights on the November ballot. ‘Ohio, we did it. Tonight is a major victory for democracy in Ohio,’ said Dennis Willard, a spokesman for the coalition One Person, One Vote. ‘The majority still rules for democracy in Ohio. The people’s power has been preserved.'”

Biden creates new national monument near the Grand Canyon, citing tribal heritage and climate concerns, Associated Press, Chris Megerian and Terry Tang, Tuesday, 8 August 2023: “Declaring it good ‘not only for Arizona but for the planet,’ President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed a national monument designation for the greater Grand Canyon, turning the decades-long visions of Native American tribes and environmentalists into reality. Coming as Biden is on a three-state Western trip, the move will help preserve about 1,562 square miles (4,046 square kilometers) just to the north and south of Grand Canyon National Park. It encompasses canyons, plateaus and tributaries that feed a range of plants and wildlife, including bison, elk, desert bighorn sheep and rare species of cactus, and it is Biden’s fifth monument designation.”


Wednesday, 9 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Moscow accuses Kyiv of sending ‘combat drones’; Zelensly says Russia targets rescuers, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Leo Sands, and Eve Sampson, Wednesday, 9 August 2023: “Russia’s Defense Ministry accused Ukraine of buzzing the Moscow region with two drones overnight, both of which officials said were downed by air defenses and caused no damage. Without acknowledging any role, a senior Kyiv official said the sight of an ‘unidentified drone’ in Russia’s skies underlined how President Vladimir Putin’s ‘clan’ was ‘bringing the war to its own territory.’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other officials accused Russia of targeting emergency workers by launching missiles at residential areas in the eastern city of Pokrovsk, then hitting the same spot again when rescuers were arriving. ‘This is a deliberate decision of the terrorists to cause the greatest pain and damage,’ he said in his nightly address. Russian air defenses shot down two Ukrainian ‘combat drones’ attempting to fly over Moscow, the city’s mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, said on Telegram early Wednesday. It is the latest in a spate of what Russians claim are Ukrainian drone attacks on the Russian capital since May. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, said Russia’s government ‘is increasingly active and persistent in bringing the war to its own territory.’ The Russian strikes on Pokrovsk came within 40 minutes of each other, killing at least nine people — including a rescue worker — and injuring more than 80 others on Monday, officials said. Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram that the injured included two children, born in 2006 and 2012; 31 police officers; seven employees of the State Emergency Service; and four military personnel. Photos posted on Telegram showed severely damaged buildings with blown-out windows and obliterated roofs. The police were ‘putting their efforts into rescuing people after the first strike,’ Ivan Vyhivskyi, chief of Ukraine’s National Police, said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. Police ‘knew that under the rubble were the injured. … And the enemy deliberately struck the second time,’ he said. In previous conflicts, Russia has been accused of carrying out illegal ‘double tap’ strikes on the same spot, hitting emergency workers as they respond to the aftermath of the initial strike. An explosion at a pyrotechnics warehouse injured 56 people and killed one person in the Moscow region Wednesday morning, according to local officials. Regional governor Andrei Vorobyov said the blast, which occurred at 10:40 a.m. local time in the city of Sergiev Posad, shattered the windows of residential buildings on two nearby streets. Russian state media reported that the explosion was caused accidentally, rather than by a drone attack. The Washington Post could not immediately verify the claim. An unidentified buyer purchased dozens of Leopard 1 tanks to refurbish and send to Ukraine from a private Belgian dealer, according to the trader. Freddy Versluys, who is chief executive of the defense company OIP Land Systems, had bought the tanks years ago from the Belgian army, which sold them to cut costs. In a LinkedIn post, Versluys said, ‘I am glad they will finally join the fight for freedom.’ He did not disclose what was paid for the tanks and disputed reports that he had requested 500,000 euros per vehicle after purchasing them for 15,000 euros each. The United States leveled new sanctions on Belarus, restricting eight individuals, five entities and one aircraft, according to a Treasury Department statement Wednesday. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter, now known as X, that the sanctions come three years after Belarus’s ‘fraudulent election,’ and target ‘those who enable [President Alexander Lukashenko’s] brutal repression and enable Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine.’ Authorities arrested a German citizen accused of spying for Russia, the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement Wednesday. Prosecutors allege the man, identified as Thomas H., as is the custom in Germany, provided information to Russian diplomatic missions from his job working with the German military, authorities said. Poland plans to send 2,000 troops to its border with Belarus, double the number initially requested, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told the country’s state-run news agency. The additional soldiers are intended to prevent a migration crisis orchestrated by Belarus, Blaszczak said. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia’s offer to provide free grain to African countries was ‘laughable.’ The remarks during an interview with the BBC were in response to Putin’s offer to deliver up to 50,000 metric tons of free wheat to at least a half-dozen African countries after Moscow’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal threatened to worsen a food shortage on the continent. ‘The Black Sea Grain Initiative delivered 20 million tons to lower- and middle-income countries,’ Blinken said, calling the Russian proposal a ‘drop in the bucket of what countries were getting.’ New sanctions from Britain target companies and individuals accused of supplying militarily significant components to Russia. Individuals and entities in Belarus, Iran, Turkey, Slovakia and Switzerland are among those affected. ‘Today’s landmark sanctions will further diminish Russia’s arsenal and close the net on supply chains propping up Putin’s now struggling defense industry,’ British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement. Ukraine’s corn exports fell sharply in July, the same month Russia withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative. According to data published by Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry, corn exports fell by 53 percent in July compared with the previous month — the steepest monthly fall since the invasion began. Russia has refused to guarantee the safety of any cargo vessels leaving Ukraine’s Black Sea ports since pulling out of the U.N.-brokered deal on July 17.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian Reports of Drone Attacks Aimed at Moscow Tick Up. Russia said it had shot down two drones near the capital on Wednesday. Its Ministry of Defense has reported that 12 drones were aimed at Moscow in recent weeks. The New York Times, Wednesday, 9 August 2023:

  • Drone attacks on Moscow suggest a new phase in the war.
  • ‘Pretty perplexing challenges for any state’: Experts say drones are hard to ward off.
  • Poland says it will send another 2,000 troops to reinforce its border with Belarus.
  • A Russian missile hits a bedroom community in the city of Zaporizhzhia, killing 3.
  • The U.S. expands sanctions against Belarus, a staunch Russian ally.
  • A Ukrainian official warns of ‘an escalation’ in airstrikes this fall.
  • A large blast hit a warehouse near Moscow, injuring dozens.

Special counsel obtained search warrant for Donald Trump’s Twitter account. Twitter’s initial resistance to complying with the warrant resulted in a federal judge holding the company in contempt and levying a $350,000 fine. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Wednesday, 9 August 2023: “Special Counsel Jack Smith obtained a search warrant for Donald Trump’s Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, earlier this year, according to newly revealed court documents. Twitter’s initial resistance to complying with the Jan. 17 warrant resulted in a federal judge holding the company, now called X, in contempt and levying a $350,000 fine. A federal court of appeals upheld that fine last month in a sealed opinion. On Wednesday, the court unsealed a redacted version of that opinion, revealing details of the secret court battle for the first time. ‘Although Twitter ultimately complied with the warrant, the company did not fully produce the requested information until three days after a court-ordered deadline,’ according to the 34-page opinion by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. ‘The district court thus held Twitter in contempt and imposed a $350,000 sanction for its delay.’ It’s unclear what Smith was seeking from Trump’s account. Trump used the account actively in the run-up to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, promoting false claims of election fraud, calling his supporters to Washington to ‘stop the steal’ and mounting attacks on his rivals. Obtaining data from Twitter might have revealed patterns about Trump’s use of the account, whether others had access to it and whether there were any draft statements that were unsent.” See also, Special Counsel Obtained Search Warrant for Trump’s Twitter Account. The warrant, obtained in January, is the first known example of prosecutors directly searching Donald J. Trump’s communications and adds a new dimension to the scope of the federal inquiry into the events of January 6, 2021. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Wednesday, 9 August 2023: “Prosecutors working for Jack Smith, the special counsel who has twice brought indictments against former President Donald J. Trump, obtained a search warrant early this year for Mr. Trump’s long-dormant Twitter account as part of their inquiry into his attempt to overturn the 2020 election, according to court papers unsealed on Wednesday. The warrant, which was signed by a federal judge in Washington in January after Elon Musk took over Twitter, now called X, is the first known example of prosecutors directly searching Mr. Trump’s communications and adds a new dimension to the scope of the special counsel’s efforts to investigate the former president. The court papers, which emerged from an appeal by Twitter challenging a part of the judge’s decision to issue the warrant, did not reveal what prosecutors were looking for in Mr. Trump’s Twitter account, which the tech company shut down for nearly two years soon after the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. But the papers indicate that prosecutors got permission from the judge not to tell Mr. Trump for months that they had obtained the warrant for his account. The prosecutors feared that if Mr. Trump learned about the warrant, it ‘would seriously jeopardize the ongoing investigation’ by giving him ‘an opportunity to destroy evidence, change patterns of behavior, [or] notify confederates,’ the papers said. Mr. Trump quickly responded to the news about the warrant in a message on his own social media site, Truth Social. ‘Just found out that Crooked Joe Biden’s DOJ secretly attacked my Twitter account, making it a point not to let me know about this major “hit” on my civil rights,’ he wrote. ‘My Political Opponent is going CRAZY trying to infringe on my Campaign for President.’ The existence of the warrant was earlier reported by Politico. The fact that prosecutors quietly obtained a judge’s permission more than seven months ago to peer into Mr. Trump’s Twitter account underscores how much of the special counsel’s work may have taken place out of public view. Much of the investigation into Mr. Trump’s efforts to maintain his grip on power and into his other federal case — the one related to his handling of classified materials — has been conducted in front of federal grand juries, which operate under strict rules of secrecy.” See also, Twitter was fined $350,000 for failing to turn over Trump’s data, The Washington Post, Rachel Weiner, Wednesday, 9 August 2023: “The social media company Twitter was forced to hand over records from former president Donald Trump’s account to the special counsel investigating the events leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack and pay sanctions for failing to do so more quickly, as disclosed in an appellate court ruling unsealed Wednesday. A lower-court judge, Beryl A. Howell, ruled in March that Twitter, now renamed X, had to comply with a sealed search warrant requested by the special counsel and pay $350,000 for missing a court-ordered deadline by three days. The filing also reveals that Howell had found reason to believe that should the search warrant be made public, Trump might engage in obstructive conduct or flee prosecution. Twitter appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which in July upheld Howell’s ruling. Now that Trump has been charged with four felonies related to his attempts to stay in power after losing the 2020 election, the appellate decision has been unsealed.” See also, Special counsel got a search warrant for Twitter to turn over information on Trump’s account, documents say, Associated Press, Alanna Durkin Richer, Wednesday, 9 August 2023: “Special counsel Jack Smith’s team obtained a search warrant in January for records related to former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, and a judge levied a $350,000 fine on the company for missing the deadline to comply, according to court documents released Wednesday. The new details were included in a ruling from the federal appeals court in Washington over a legal battle surrounding the warrant that has played out under seal for months. The court rejected Twitter’s claim that it should not have been held in contempt or sanctioned. Smith’s team repeatedly mentioned Trump’s tweets in an indictment unsealed last week that charges the former president with conspiring to subvert the will of voters and cling to power after he lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden. Trump, a Republican, has pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of Congress’ certification of Biden’s win. He posted on his Truth Social platform on Wednesday that the Justice Department ‘secretly attacked’ his Twitter account, and he characterized the investigation as an attempt to ‘infringe’ on his bid to reclaim the White House in 2024.”

Trump Seeks to Review Classified Evidence in the Classified Documents Case at His Own Secure Facility. Lawyers for the former president proposed using ‘a previously approved facility at or near his residence’–presumably Mar-a-Lago–instead of a secure location run by the federal courts. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Wednesday 9 August 2023: “Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday asked the judge overseeing his prosecution on charges of risking national security secrets if he could discuss the classified discovery evidence in the case in the ‘secure facility’ that he once used for classified material when he was in office. The request to the federal judge, Aileen M. Cannon, was an attempt to get around a stricter provision contained in a protective order proposed by the government that would require Mr. Trump to discuss and review the classified evidence only in one of the highly secure locations run by the federal courts in Florida. While Mr. Trump’s lawyers refused to offer many details about their preferred location, they told Judge Cannon that it was ‘a previously approved facility at or near his residence’ — an apparent reference to Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club in Florida.” See also, Trump seeks to discuss classified information at or near Mar-a-Lago, The Washington Post, Perry Stein, Wednesday, 9 August 2023: “Donald Trump’s defense attorneys Wednesday asked the federal judge handling the government’s classified documents case to allow the former president and his legal team to discuss sensitive information at a protected facility at or near his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida. Trump’s lawyers said that he used the facility while he was president and that they would not transport any classified material to that location — only discuss it there. The request is the latest in a back and forth that is playing out in court filings between Trump’s attorneys and the government as they try to determine the conditions that he must agree to before federal prosecutors give him classified materials as part of the discovery process. During discovery, prosecutors hand over the evidence they have collected to a defendant’s legal team so the attorneys have the opportunity to make a strong case in defense of their client.”


Thursday, 10 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Co-founder of Russian tech giant Yandex calls war ‘barbaric,’ The Washington Post, Niha Masih, Ellen Francis, Natalia Abbakumova, Serhiy Morgunov, Adam Taylor, and Mikhail Klimentov, Thursday, 10 August 2023: “The co-founder of Russian technology giant Yandex called the war in Ukraine ‘barbaric,’ a rare display of dissent among the Russian elite. He has lived in Tel Aviv since 2014. President Biden asked Congress to approve $20.6 billion in additional funding for Ukraine on Thursday. Of that sum, $13 billion will be allocated to military aid. Since the beginning of the invasion, the U.S. has committed more than $60 billion in aid to Ukraine. ‘I am categorically against Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine,’ Yandex co-founder Arkady Volozh told the Bell, a news outlet focused on Russia, adding that he had friends and family in Ukraine and was ‘horrified by the fact that every day bombs fly into the homes of Ukrainians.’ Volozh co-founded the company, which provides search and a variety of other online services, in 1997, and helped lead it to become one of the most prominent Russian tech companies, earning billions in the process. He resigned from his posts in the company last year after being placed under European Union sanctions. In his statement, he described himself as a ‘Kazakhstan-born Israeli entrepreneur,’ but said he felt a ‘share of responsibility’ for Russia’s actions. Yandex has been accused of censoring content about the conflict to comply with Russian law. Russian officials said early Thursday that air defenses shot down two drones flying over Moscow, the latest in a spate of drone attacks apparently targeting the Russian capital. The Russian Defense Ministry said 11 drones were also intercepted near the city of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow illegally annexed in 2014. Kyiv has not officially claimed responsibility for the recent wave of attacks, although Ukrainian officials have maintained that targets in Russia are part of the war. A spokeswoman for Ukraine’s armed forces in the south said Thursday that the destruction of resources and reserves in Russia ‘fits into the logic and tactics of warfare.’ Nine drones targeting Crimea crashed into the Black Sea after being downed by electronic warfare systems, while air defenses shot down two others, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Telegram. There were no reports of deaths or casualties, it added. The Washington Post could not independently verify the claims. An unidentified buyer purchased dozens of German-made tanks from a Belgian dealer, to be refurbished and sent to Ukraine, The Washington Post reported. ‘I am glad they will finally join the fight for freedom,’ the private dealer, Freddy Versluys, said of the Leopard 1 tanks. He did not disclose the price paid for the tanks, and it was not immediately clear when the tanks would be sent to Ukraine. Versluys, chief executive of the defense company OIP Land Systems, bought the tanks years ago when the Belgian army sold them as part of cost-cutting measures, The Post reported. The director of a pyrotechnics company was detained after a warehouse explosion in the Moscow region, which Russian authorities said injured nearly 60 people and killed one person, a spokeswoman for the Russian Investigative Committee said Thursday. Officials investigating Wednesday’s blast are looking into a breach of industrial safety regulations for hazardous manufacturing facilities, Olga Vrady said. The Ukrainian military spokeswoman said destroying resources in Russia ‘is an active component’ of Ukraine’s counteroffensive. In response to questions about drone attacks targeting Crimea, the spokeswoman for Ukraine’s armed forces in the south, Nataliya Humenyuk, said that any Ukrainian involvement in such operations would only be revealed ‘after the victory.’ Poland will have up to 10,000 troops at the border with Russian ally Belarus to support border guards, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said Thursday. He said about 4,000 soldiers will support the national border agency, while an additional 6,000 will be in reserve. Canada, the United States and Britain announced sanctions on BelarusCanada imposed sanctions against nine people, including the head of Belarus’s state television network; the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned eight individuals and some state-owned enterprises; and Britain imposed sanctions on Belarusian defense organizations and other foreign military suppliers. Germany will provide Ukraine with two additional Patriot air defense launchers, Berlin has announced, as part of a fresh military package for Kyiv. The aid includes dozens of reconnaissance drones, 100 machine guns and ammunition.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: In Rare Move, Russian Tech Tycoon Condemns War in Ukraine. Arkady Volozh, a founder of Yandex, known as ‘Russia’s Google,’ is only the second sanctioned Russian businessman to take an unequivocal public position against Moscow’s invasion. The New York Times, Thursday, 10 August 2023:

  • The Yandex founder calls Russia’s war in Ukraine ‘barbaric.’
  • The ruble’s fall is raising concerns inside Russia about rising inflation.
  • Ukraine orders evacuations from an area of fierce fighting in the northeast.
  • Ukraine offers civilian corridors through the Black Sea, but says the threat from Russia remains.
  • Here’s why tensions are high at Poland’s border with Belarus.
  • Russia says that two drones were shot down outside the Moscow city limits.

Clarence Thomas’ 38 Vacations: The Other Billionaires Who Have Treated the Supreme Court Justice to Luxury Travel. The fullest accounting yet shows how Thomas has secretly reaped the benefits from a network of wealthy and well-connected patrons that is far more extensive than previously understood. ProPublica, Brett Murphy and Alex Mierjeski, Thursday, 10 August 2023: “During his three decades on the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas has enjoyed steady access to a lifestyle most Americans can only imagine. A cadre of industry titans and ultrawealthy executives have treated him to far-flung vacations aboard their yachts, ushered him into the premium suites at sporting events and sent their private jets to fetch him — including, on more than one occasion, an entire 737. It’s a stream of luxury that is both more extensive and from a wider circle than has been previously understood. Like clockwork, Thomas’ leisure activities have been underwritten by benefactors who share the ideology that drives his jurisprudence. Their gifts include: At least 38 destination vacations, including a previously unreported voyage on a yacht around the Bahamas; 26 private jet flights, plus an additional eight by helicopter; a dozen VIP passes to professional and college sporting events, typically perched in the skybox; two stays at luxury resorts in Florida and Jamaica; and one standing invitation to an uber-exclusive golf club overlooking the Atlantic coast. This accounting of Thomas’ travel, revealed for the first time here from an array of previously unavailable information, is the fullest to date of the generosity that has regularly afforded Thomas a lifestyle far beyond what his income could provide. And it is almost certainly an undercount. While some of the hospitality, such as stays in personal homes, may not have required disclosure, Thomas appears to have violated the law by failing to disclose flights, yacht cruises and expensive sports tickets, according to ethics experts.” See also, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted more vacations and gifts from billionaire benefactors than previously reported according to a new report by ProPublica, NPR, Washington Desk, Thursday, 10 August 2023: “Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted more vacations and gifts from billionaire benefactors than previously reported, according to a new report by ProPublica. The conservative justice, who has come under scrutiny for his failure to disclose such gifts, took at least 38 vacations, 26 private jet flights, eight flights by helicopter, a dozen VIP passes to sporting events, as well as stays at luxury resorts in Florida and Jamaica, the nonprofit news site reports. ProPublica notes that Thomas appears to have broken the law by failing to disclose flights, cruises and sports tickets. The report is the latest revelation about the justice that has brought into the spotlight the Supreme Court justices and the ethics rules they are supposed to follow.” See also, ProPublica report offers broadest look yet at Clarence Thomas’ luxury travel bankrolled by wealthy friends and reveals private jet and helicopter rides and VIP sporting event tickets, CNN Politics, Tierney Sneed, Thursday, 10 August 2023: “The lifestyle Justice Clarence Thomas has enjoyed over the last three decades bankrolled by gifts and hospitality from his wealthy friends is more extensive than previously known, according to a new ProPublica report, and has included numerous flights on private planes, skybox tickets to sporting events, stays at luxury resorts, and a standing invitation to play at a high-end private golf club in Florida. The new report is the broadest look yet at how Thomas’ social circle has funded – with limited disclosure to the public – a regular stream of extravagant excursions and events since he became a Supreme Court justice. These costly trips and travel perks often went unreported on the justice’s financial disclosure forms, ProPublica said in its investigation.”

Special Counsel Proposes January 2024 Date for Trump’s Election Interference Trial. The former president’s legal team will get to suggest its own timetable for the case next week and will surely object to the government’s proposal. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Thursday, 10 August 2023: “The prosecutors overseeing the indictment of former President Donald J. Trump on charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election asked a judge on Thursday to set a trial date in the case for early January, laying out an aggressive schedule for the proceeding. In a motion filed to Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, who is presiding over the case in Federal District Court in Washington, the prosecutors said they were ready not only to go to trial on Jan. 2, but were also poised to give Mr. Trump’s lawyers the bulk of their discovery evidence in the next two weeks or so. The prosecutors further proposed that Mr. Trump’s lawyers submit their first pretrial motions in not much more than a month.” See also, Special Counsel Jack Smith seeks January 2, 2024 trial date for Trump election subversion case. Smith proposes trying the former president on charges of plotting to fraudulently overturn 2020 election results in four to six weeks before the height of the 2024 primary season. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Rick Maese, Thursday, 10 August 2023: “Special counsel Jack Smith asked a federal judge Thursday to start former president Donald Trump’s trial on charges of criminally conspiring to overturn President Biden’s election victory on Jan. 2, just before the first caucus votes are cast in next year’s presidential nomination contest, according to a court filing. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan gave Trump’s team until Monday to make its own request and scheduled an Aug. 28 hearing in D.C. to set a trial date. Chutkan will hold her first hearing in the special counsel’s election subversion case Friday to resolve a related dispute over finalizing a protective order limiting public disclosure of evidence in the case, which Trump’s team says it needs before making trial plans.”

Trump and Longtime Aide Walt Nauta Plead Not Guilty to New Charges in Documents Case. The former president did not appear in person for a second arraignment in the case after an updated indictment last month, and he indicated last week that he would plead not guilty. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 10 August 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump and a longtime aide, Walt Nauta, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to additional criminal charges in the case accusing Mr. Trump of illegally holding on to secret national security documents after leaving office and conspiring to obstruct the government’s efforts to retrieve them. The plea for Mr. Trump, who did not appear at the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Fla., was entered by one of his lawyers. The added charges were part of an updated indictment last month that accused him of seeking to delete security footage at his Mar-a-Lago residence and club. Mr. Trump was first charged and arraigned in person in June.” See also, Trump and co-defendant Walt Nauta plead not guilty to latest charges in classified documents case; another arraignment is postponed, CNN Politics, Holmes Lybrand and Randi Kaye, Thursday, 10 August 2023: “Donald Trump’s body-man Walt Nauta pleaded not guilty to new criminal charges brought by special counsel Jack Smith in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, while the arraignment for his co-defendant Carlos De Oliveira has been postponed because he still doesn’t have a Florida lawyer. De Oliveira, the property manager at Trump’s Florida resort, and Nauta appeared in federal court in Fort Pierce, Florida. They have been charged with multiple offenses related to Trump’s allegedly unlawful retention of documents after leaving office, including classified material. Trump and Nauta were first indicted in this case in June. De Oliveira was added as a co-defendant in a superseding indictment last month, along with new charges against Trump and Nauta. The former president previously waived his appearance in court and his lawyers officially entered a not guilty plea.” See also, Trump and aide Walt Nauta plead not guilty in documents case. De Oliveira does not enter plea. The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs and Perry Stein, Thursday, 10 August 2023: “Donald Trump and one of his two co-defendants on Thursday pleaded not guilty in federal court to multiple charges alleging that the former president kept classified documents at his Florida property and, with the help of aides, tried to hide some of the material from government officials seeking to get them back. Trump entered his plea through his attorneys and was not present at the hearing. Federal prosecutors had initially accused him of committing 37 crimes in an indictment filed in June and he pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors added three additional charges in a July superseding indictment. Trump pleaded not guilty to those charges through his attorney on Thursday.”

Trump Says He Won’t Sign Loyalty Pledge Required for Republican Debate. The Republican National Committee has demanded that 2024 contenders pledge to support the eventual nominee in order to debate. The former president is refusing. The New York Times, Maggie Astor, Thursday, 10 August 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump said on Wednesday that he was unwilling to meet one of the requirements to participate in the first Republican presidential debate, refusing to sign a pledge to support the eventual nominee. ‘I wouldn’t sign the pledge,’ he said in an interview with the conservative outlet Newsmax. ‘Why would I sign a pledge? There are people on there that I wouldn’t have.’ The decision would seem to rule out the possibility of him being at the debate on Aug. 23, yet he also said that he would announce next week whether he planned to take part. Asked for comment on Thursday, the Republican National Committee, which sets the rules, referred to past interviews in which its chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, has defended the pledge and said the committee will hold everyone to it. ‘The rules aren’t changing,’ she said on CNN last month. ‘We’ve been very vocal with them.'”

Conservative Case Emerges to Disqualify Trump From Holding Government Office Because of His Role on January 6. Two law professors active in the Federalist Society wrote that the original meaning of the 14th Amendment makes Donald Trump ineligible to hold government office. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Thursday, 10 August 2023: “Two prominent conservative law professors have concluded that Donald J. Trump is ineligible to be president under a provision of the Constitution that bars people who have engaged in an insurrection from holding government office. The professors are active members of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group, and proponents of originalism, the method of interpretation that seeks to determine the Constitution’s original meaning. The professors — William Baude of the University of Chicago and Michael Stokes Paulsen of the University of St. Thomas — studied the question for more than a year and detailed their findings in a long article to be published next year in The University of Pennsylvania Law Review. ‘When we started out, neither of us was sure what the answer was,’ Professor Baude said. ‘People were talking about this provision of the Constitution. We thought: “We’re constitutional scholars, and this is an important constitutional question. We ought to figure out what’s really going on here.” And the more we dug into it, the more we realized that we had something to add.’ He summarized the article’s conclusion: ‘Donald Trump cannot be president — cannot run for president, cannot become president, cannot hold office — unless two-thirds of Congress decides to grant him amnesty for his conduct on Jan. 6.’ A law review article will not, of course, change the reality that Mr. Trump is the Republican front-runner and that voters remain free to assess whether his conduct was blameworthy. But the scope and depth of the article may encourage and undergird lawsuits from other candidates and ordinary voters arguing that the Constitution makes him ineligible for office. ‘There are many ways that this could become a lawsuit presenting a vital constitutional issue that potentially the Supreme Court would want to hear and decide,’ Professor Paulsen said.”


Friday, 11 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. imposes sanctions on board of Alfa Group; Zelensky fires military recruiters over corruption, The Washington Post, Ellen Francis, David L. Stern, Andrew Jeong, and Sarah Dadouch, Friday, 11 August 2023: “The U.S. Department of Treasury imposed sanctions Friday on four men who had served as members of the supervisory board of Alfa Group, one of Russia’s largest financial and investment giants. The step builds on a raft of sanctions targeting Russian financial elites. Earlier Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed all the heads of regional military recruitment centers as part of what he called a crackdown on corruption, and said ‘the system should be run by people who know exactly what war is.’ Zelensky said recruiters face accusations including taking bribes, and helping to illegally transport people liable for military service across the border, though the details remain unclear. ‘There are already 112 criminal proceedings against officials of the territorial recruitment centers,’ he said, adding that the recruiters should be replaced by people who know ‘why cynicism and bribery in times of war constitute treason.’ The Ukrainian president recently acknowledged that an audit of the recruitment centers discovered ‘revolting’ practices among some officials. ‘Wealthy Russian elites should disabuse themselves of the notion that they can operate business as usual while the Kremlin wages war against the Ukrainian people,’ Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo, said in a statement of the individuals targeted in the new round of U.S. sanctions — which includes Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, two Russian billionaires behind Alfa Group. The two have been battling sanctions imposed on them last year by the European Union and Britain, following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s Defense Ministry said Friday’s drone crashed in a forest in the Moscow region after being intercepted by electronic warfare systems. It said the drone was targeting a facility in Moscow and did not provide further details. Moscow’s mayor said the drone had attempted to fly over the city; he reported no injuries or serious damage. A day earlier, Russian authorities said they thwarted two drones near the capital and 11 others over the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed illegally in 2014. A spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence said security was ‘increasingly distant’ for Moscow residents. ‘Given the dynamics of recent months … it would be logical to assume an increase in daily attacks,’ Andriy Yusov said in an interview with the Kyiv Post published Friday. The Kremlin has blamed mounting drone attacks in Moscow on Ukraine. While Kyiv has not officially claimed responsibility, Ukrainian officials are increasingly asserting that they see targets in Russia as part of the war. The co-founder of Russian technology giant Yandex called the war in Ukraine ‘barbaric,’ in a rare display of dissent among the Russian elite. Arkady Volozh, who has lived in Tel Aviv since 2014, told the Bell news outlet that he had friends and family in Ukraine and was ‘horrified by the fact that every day bombs fly into the homes of Ukrainians.’ Volozh resigned from the company last year after being placed under European Union sanctions. He said he felt a ‘share of responsibility’ for Russia’s actions. Zelensky continues to face homegrown challenges involving corrupt officials, months after a widespread anti-corruption shake-up led to high-level dismissals, including Zelensky’s deputy chief of staff and deputy defense minister. In May, Gennadiy Trukhanov, the mayor of major port city Odessa, was detained for suspected corruption and had been under investigation over embezzlement allegations since 2017.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky Cracks Down on Corruption in Military Recruitment. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine ordered the dismissal of all the directors of regional military recruitment centers, saying that the system ‘should be run by people who know exactly what war is.’ The New York Times, Friday, 11 August 2023:

  • The move comes amid a broader crackdown on corruption in military recruitment.
  • The order to dismiss military enlistment officers has put a spotlight on draft evasion.
  • Ukraine says debris from a downed missile fell on the grounds of a Kyiv hospital.
  • A grim task: Identifying dead Ukrainian soldiers and sending them home.
  • How the Black Sea became a hot spot in the war.

Judge Limits Trump’s Ability to Share January 6 Evidence. During a 90-minute hearing in Washington, Judge Tanya S. Chutkan also warned the former president against any attempt to intimidate witnesses or prejudice potential jurors. The New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Alan Feuer, Friday, 11 August 2023: “The federal judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s prosecution on charges of seeking to overturn the 2020 election rejected his request on Friday to be able to speak broadly about evidence and witnesses — and warned Mr. Trump she would take necessary “measures” to keep him from intimidating witnesses or tainting potential jurors. The caution from the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, came during a 90-minute hearing in Federal District Court in Washington to discuss the scope of a protective order over the discovery evidence in Mr. Trump’s case, a typically routine step in criminal matters. Later Friday, Judge Chutkan imposed the order but agreed to a modification requested by the Trump legal team that it apply only to ‘sensitive’ materials and not all evidence turned over to the defense. She concluded the hearing with a blunt warning to Mr. Trump, and an unmistakable reference to a recent social media post in which he warned, ‘If you go after me, I’m coming after you!’ — a statement his spokesman later said was aimed at political opponents and not at people involved in the case. ‘I do want to issue a general word of caution — I intend to ensure the orderly administration of justice in this case as I would in any other case, and even arguably ambiguous statements by the parties or their counsel,’ she said, could be considered an attempt to ‘intimidate witnesses or prejudice potential jurors,’ triggering the court to take action. ‘I caution you and your client to take special care in your public statements in this case,’ she added. ‘I will take whatever measures are necessary to protect the integrity of these proceedings.'” See also, Judge orders Trump’s speech will be limited to protect trial and witnesses. Judge Tanya Chutkan warns Trump and his lawyers she will ‘take whatever measures are necessary’ to safeguard proceedings as prosecutors push for January 2024 trial date. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Tom Jackman, Friday, 11 August 2023: “The U.S. judge overseeing Donald Trump’s prosecution for allegedly criminally conspiring to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory said that while every American has a First Amendment right to free speech, it is ‘not absolute’ and that even the former president’s campaign statements must give way to protecting the integrity of the court process. In her first hearing over Trump’s federal case in D.C., U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan took on extraordinary political and legal challenges of prosecuting Biden’s leading Republican 2024 rival, saying ‘the fact that [Trump] is running a political campaign” will have no bearing on her decisions and his speech “must yield to the orderly administration of justice. If that means he can’t say exactly what he wants to say about witnesses in this case, then that’s how it’s going to be,’ Chutkan said Friday, repeatedly warning Trump and his defense of limits on what they can reveal about government evidence in the case. ‘Your client’s defense is supposed to happen in this courtroom, not on the internet.’ She directed Trump and lawyers to ‘take special care’ that their public statements in the case could not be seen as intimidating witnesses or prejudicing potential jurors, adding that the more ‘inflammatory statements’ there are, the greater the urgency will be to go to trial to ensure an impartial jury. ‘I will take whatever measures are necessary to safeguard the integrity of these proceedings,’ she said.” See also, Judge warns Trump against ‘inflammatory statements,’ agrees to limited protective order in 2020 election case, PBS, Friday, 11 August 2023: “The federal judge overseeing the election conspiracy case against Donald Trump warned on Friday that there are limits on what the former president can publicly say about the investigation as he campaigns for a second term in the White House. Presiding over her first hearing for the case, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington heard arguments on how to structure a protective order that would prevent a public airing of all the evidence turned over by prosecutors. But she also used the forum to address the case’s unprecedented mix of legal and political concerns. Chutkan stressed that political considerations wouldn’t guide her decisions. She also repeatedly said Trump was subject to the court’s rules as a defendant before trial even as he runs for the 2024 Republican nomination for president. ‘Your client’s defense is supposed to happen in this courtroom, not on the internet,’ Chutkan told Trump’s lawyers.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland Appoints David Weiss as Special Counsel in Hunter Biden Inquiry. Mr. Weiss said in court papers the case ‘will not resolve short of a trial.’ The New York Times, Glenn Thrush, Luke Broadwater, and Michael S. Schmidt, Friday, 11 August 2023: “Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on Friday elevated the federal prosecutor investigating President Biden’s son Hunter to the status of special counsel after negotiations to revive a plea agreement on tax and gun charges foundered. The move raised the possibility that Mr. Biden could be tried in the politically charged case, which seemed resolved until a few weeks ago. The prosecutor, David C. Weiss, has since 2018 investigated a wide array of accusations involving Mr. Biden’s business and personal life, including his foreign dealings, drug use and finances. But as special counsel, Mr. Weiss, who is also the U.S. attorney in Delaware, can pursue charges in any jurisdiction he chooses without seeking the cooperation of local federal prosecutors. The investigation appeared to be near an end in recent months when Mr. Biden agreed to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors in a deal that would also have allowed him to avoid prosecution on a gun charge. Mr. Weiss, who has been roundly criticized by Republicans over the terms of the deal, asked Mr. Garland on Tuesday to be named special counsel. Prosecutors for Mr. Weiss’s office also filed court papers on Friday indicating that they had reached an impasse with Mr. Biden’s lawyers over the proposed plea deal, suggesting that he might now be indicted. Up until a few days ago, the two sides had still been hoping to salvage the deal, but that effort snagged on Mr. Biden’s demand for blanket immunity from future prosecution. The special counsel announcement marked a stunning reversal: Just last month, Mr. Weiss denied a claim that he had asked to be made special counsel. Mr. Garland had also scoffed at the idea, saying Mr. Weiss actually possessed more power as a sitting U.S. attorney than he would as special counsel.” See also, Justice Department names special counsel in Hunter Biden case as plea agreement falls apart, The Washington Post, Perry Stein, David Nakamura, and Devlin Barrett, Friday, 11 August 2023: “Federal prosecutors said Friday that plea negotiations with Hunter Biden’s attorneys over tax-related charges fell apart — setting up the extraordinary possibility that the long-running and heavily scrutinized investigation could go to trial and collide with the president’s reelection campaign. Prosecutors also said in a court filing that Hunter Biden could face more charges. They asked the judge to drop two charges of failing to pay taxes that they had already filed against Biden in Delaware, saying charges should instead be filed in California and Washington, D.C., where the president’s son has also lived. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday appointed U.S. Attorney David Weiss of Delaware as special counsel in the case, a move that would allow him to file charges outside Delaware and could rebut Republican criticism that the process has been politicized. Garland said Weiss requested that he be named special counsel.”

Police stage ‘chilling’ raid on Marion County newspaper, seizing computers, records, and cellphones, Kansas Reflector, Sherman Smith, Sam Bailey, Rachel Mipro, and Tim Carpenter, Friday, 11 August 2023: “In an unprecedented raid Friday, local law enforcement seized computers, cellphones and reporting materials from the Marion County Record office, the newspaper’s reporters, and the publisher’s home. Eric Meyer, owner and publisher of the newspaper, said police were motivated by a confidential source who leaked sensitive documents to the newspaper, and the message was clear: ‘Mind your own business or we’re going to step on you.’ The city’s entire five-officer police force and two sheriff’s deputies took ‘everything we have,’ Meyer said, and it wasn’t clear how the newspaper staff would take the weekly publication to press Tuesday night. The raid followed news stories about a restaurant owner who kicked reporters out of a meeting last week with U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner, and revelations about the restaurant owner’s lack of a driver’s license and conviction for drunken driving. Meyer said he had never heard of police raiding a newspaper office during his 20 years at the Milwaukee Journal or 26 years teaching journalism at the University of Illinois. ‘It’s going to have a chilling effect on us even tackling issues,’ Meyer said, as well as ‘a chilling effect on people giving us information.'” See also, Raid of Small Kansas Newspaper Raises Free Press Concerns. The search of Marion County Record’s office led to the seizure of computers, servers, and cellphones of reporters and editors. The New York Times, Steven Lee Myers and Benjamin Mullin, Sunday, 13 August 2023: “A small town in Kansas has become a battleground over the First Amendment, after the local police force and county sheriff’s deputies raided the office of The Marion County Record. Raids of news organizations are exceedingly rare in the United States, with its long history of legal protections for journalists. At The Record, a family-owned paper with a circulation of about 4,000, the police seized computers, servers and cellphones of reporters and editors. They also searched the home of the publication’s owner and semiretired editor as well as the home of a city councilwoman. The searches, conducted on Friday, appeared to be linked to an investigation into how a document containing information about a local restaurateur found its way to the local newspaper — and whether the restaurant owner’s privacy was violated in the process. The editor of the newspaper said the raids may have had more to do with tensions between the paper and officials in Marion, a town of about 2,000 north of Wichita, over prior coverage.”


Saturday, 12 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia says missiles downed over Crimean Bridge after overnight drone attack. The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Ellen Francis, and Sammy Westfall, Saturday, 12 August 2023: “Russian air defenses shot down at least two missiles fired at the Crimean Bridge and thwarted an attempted drone attack in the same region overnight, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Saturday. Authorities in Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014, said they temporarily stopped traffic on the bridge, a vital artery between Russia and the peninsula. Russia also said it earlier intercepted 20 drones swarming over the Crimean Peninsula, the third day in a row that Russian officials report foiling a drone attack. The Kremlin, which has accused Ukraine of ramping up drone attacks on Moscow and Crimea, blamed Ukraine on Saturday for the drones and the downed missiles. While Kyiv has not officially claimed responsibility for such attacks, Ukrainian officials have recently suggested that Moscow residents should expect daily attacks. The Russian-appointed head of Crimea said there was no major damage and no casualties in the bridge incident. He said that three missiles were thwarted, although Russia’s Defense Ministry reported downing two. Unverified footage showed smoke rising from the bridge, a prized project for Russian President Vladimir Putin that was built shortly after annexation. The bridge has been a target of attacks — including by drone boats in July and a truck explosion in October that damaged the roadway. Russia’s Defense Ministry said that air defenses shot down 14 drones over Crimea overnight and that electronic warfare systems blocked the rest. It also said there were no casualties or major damage. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired all heads of regional military recruitment centers in a sweeping move he described as a crackdown on corruption. He said officials faced accusations such as taking bribes or the ‘illegal transportation’ of people across the border to Ukraine’s western neighbors to avoid the military draft. Last week, Zelensky said an audit of the centers found ‘disgusting’ malfeasance. Ukraine has started registering vessels to pass through temporary corridors in the Black Sea, Interfax Ukraine reported Saturday, citing Ukrainian Navy spokesman Dmytro Pletenchuk. Ukraine’s navy announced the creation of the corridors earlier this week and said they would mostly be used to allow civilian vessels stuck since the start of the war to exit Ukrainian ports. ‘We remind you that the last ship with Ukrainian food left the port of Odessa July 16,’ the Thursday statement said, referring to Russia’s exit from the U.N.-backed agreement that had allowed the safe wartime export of grain from Ukraine via the Black Sea. The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on four men who served on the board of Alfa Group, one of Russia’s largest financial and investment giants. The U.S. targets include the Russian billionaires Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, who have been fighting European Union and British sanctions imposed on them during the war. ‘Wealthy Russian elites should disabuse themselves of the notion that they can operate business as usual,’ Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said in a statement. The southern port city of Odessa, a popular Ukrainian summer vacation spot, has reopened some of its beaches for the first time since the war broke out. Beachgoers are not allowed during air alerts, and the presence of a rescue boat and ‘protective mesh fences against explosives’ is mandatory in areas open for swimming, Odessa governor Oleg Kiper said Saturday on Telegram. ‘Have a quiet and sunny weekend everyone,’ he added. Ukrainian presidential adviser Andriy Yermak briefed national security adviser Jake Sullivan on the phone about the situation in the most contested areas of the frontline on Saturday. They also discussed Ukrainian defense needs, Yermak said in a tweet. Tensions between Ukraine and Poland over grain hint at exhaustion from the war, Post journalists report. Although Poland has been among Ukraine’s staunchest supporters, the neighbors are involved in a growing dispute over grain imports from Ukraine, which Poland is allowed to ban to protect its farmers under a deal brokered by the European Union. Zelensky spoke with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema about the importance of the Black Sea grain deal, the Ukrainian presidential office said Friday. Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal last month raised worries for countries struggling with food insecurity. In Zambia, 48 percent of people are unable to meet their minimum calorie requirements, according to the World Food Program.”


Sunday, 13 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian shelling kills 7, including infant, in Kherson; cargo ship fired on in Black Sea, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch and Miriam Berger, Sunday, 13 August 2023: “Russian shelling killed seven people in Ukraine’s Kherson region Sunday, including four members of the same family, one of whom was a 3-week-old infant, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said. The baby girl’s 12-year-old brother and their parents were also killed. The boy was initially recovered alive but later died at the hospital. The deaths in Kherson, in southern Ukraine, came amid another slew of strikes across the country. Since Saturday, Russian forces have launched seven missiles, 47 airstrikes and 43 rocket attacks, some of which killed civilians and destroyed infrastructure, Ukraine’s military said early Sunday. Russia’s Defense Ministry said that it foiled a drone attack on the Crimean Peninsula over the weekend, and shot down at least two missiles fired at the Crimean Bridge, which links Russia with the territory. Moscow illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Ukraine’s Interior Ministry released photos of what appear to be blurred-out bodies near the charred remains of a one-story home in the village of Shiroka Balka in Kherson, where the family and one other resident were killed Sunday. Two men died in strikes on the neighboring village of Stanislav, according to Klymenko. Russian forces withdrew from Kherson city late last year amid a Ukrainian counteroffensive, but they still control territory on the left bank of the Dnieper River. A Russian warship fired warning shots at a Ukraine-bound cargo vessel in the Black Sea on Sunday, Russia’s state-run Tass news agency reported. It was the first such incident since Russia withdrew last month from a U.N.-backed deal allowing for the safe wartime export of Ukrainian grain. Tass quoted Russia’s Defense Ministry as saying it fired warning shots after the vessel did not heed orders to stop. Russian forces then boarded and inspected the ship before allowing it to continue on to the Ukrainian port city of Izmail. The incident came a day after Ukraine began registering vessels to pass through temporary corridors in the Black Sea. Ukraine’s navy announced the creation of the corridors last week and said they would be used mostly to allow civilian vessels stuck since the start of the war to exit Ukrainian ports, Interfax Ukraine reported on Saturday, citing Ukrainian Navy spokesman Dmytro Pletenchuk. Britain’s Defense Ministry said Sunday that ‘there is a realistic possibility that the Kremlin no longer funds’ the Wagner mercenary group, which ‘is likely moving towards a down-sizing and reconfiguration process.’ Wagner relocated to Belarus last month after a failed mutiny by its founder, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, once an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

Exclusive: Georgia prosecutors have messages showing Trump’s team is behind voting system breach, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen and Sara Murray, Sunday, 13 August 2023: “Atlanta-area prosecutors investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia are in possession of text messages and emails directly connecting members of Donald Trump’s legal team to the early January 2021 voting system breach in Coffee County, sources tell CNN. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to seek charges against more than a dozen individuals when her team presents its case before a grand jury next week. Several individuals involved in the voting systems breach in Coffee County are among those who may face charges in the sprawling criminal probe. Investigators in the Georgia criminal probe have long suspected the breach was not an organic effort sprung from sympathetic Trump supporters in rural and heavily Republican Coffee County – a county Trump won by nearly 70% of the vote. They have gathered evidence indicating it was a top-down push by Trump’s team to access sensitive voting software, according to people familiar with the situation.”


Monday, 14 August 2023:


Trump Indicted in Georgia: Prosecutors Accuse Trump of ‘Criminal Enterprise’ to Overturn Election. A grand jury indicted the former president and 18 allies, including Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mark Meadows, with multiple crimes related to a conspiracy to subvert the will of voters. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Monday, 14 August 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump and 18 others have been indicted by an Atlanta grand jury in a sweeping racketeering case, accusing Mr. Trump and some of his former top aides of orchestrating a ‘criminal enterprise’ to reverse the results of the 2020 election in Georgia. The indictment, an unprecedented challenge of presidential misconduct by a local prosecutor, brings charges against some of his most prominent advisers, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, his former personal lawyer, and Mark Meadows, who served as White House chief of staff at the time of the election. ‘Trump and the other Defendants charged in this Indictment refused to accept that Trump lost, and they knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump,’ prosecutors wrote in the indictment. Mr. Trump, running again for president and the early favorite to win the Republican nomination, has now been indicted in four separate criminal investigations since April, including a federal indictment earlier this month over his attempts to cling to power after losing the 2020 race. Although that case covers some of the same ground as the one in Georgia, there are crucial differences between state and federal charges: Even if Mr. Trump were to regain the presidency, the prosecutors in Georgia would not report to him, nor would he have the power to attempt to pardon himself if convicted. And the new indictment presents the most extensive set of accusations yet against the former president, alleging a vast conspiracy reaching from the Oval Office to the Georgia Republican Party to an election official in a rural county.” See also, The Trump Georgia Indictment, Annotated, The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Luke Broadwater, Ben Protess, and Jonah E. Bromwich, published on Tuesday, 15 August 2023: “A grand jury in Fulton County, Ga., on Monday unveiled the fourth criminal indictment of former President Donald J. Trump. Like a federal indictment earlier this month, this one concerns Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss. But it differs in that it charges 18 other defendants who are alleged to have taken part in the scheme.” See also, Key Takeaways From the Trump Indictment in Georgia, The New York Times, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and James C. McKinley Jr., published on 15 August 2023. See also, Who Has Been Charged in the Election Inquiry in Georgia. The indictment Georgia prosecutors filed Monday in an election interference case targeting former President Donald Trump and his associates includes 41 criminal charges against 19 people who are accused of helping him seek to overturn his 2020 election loss. The New York Times, Monday, 14 August 2023. See also, Two Months in Georgia: How Trump Tried to Overturn the Vote. The Georgia case offers a vivid reminder of the extraordinary lengths Mr. Trump and his allies went to in the Southern state to reverse the election. The New York Times, Danny Hakim and Richard Fausset, Monday, 14 August 2023. See also, What We Know About the Trump Election Interference Case in Georgia. Former President Donald J. Trump and 18 other people face a sprawling series of charges for their roles in attempting to interfere in the state’s 2020 presidential election. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Monday, 14 August 2023. See also, Keeping Track of the Trump Investigations, The New York Times, updated on Monday, 14 August 2023. See also, Trump charged in Georgia 2020 election probe, his fourth indictment, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey and Amy Gardner, Monday, 14 August 2023: “Former president Donald Trump and 18 others were criminally charged in Georgia in connection with efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state, according to an indictment made public late Monday night. Trump was charged with 13 counts, including violating the state’s racketeering act, soliciting a public officer to violate their oath, conspiring to impersonate a public officer, conspiring to commit forgery in the first degree and conspiring to file false documents. The historic indictment, the fourth to implicate the former president, follows a 2½-year investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D). The probe was launched after audio leaked from a January 2021 phone call during which Trump urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to question the validity of thousands of ballots, especially in the heavily Democratic Atlanta area, and said he wanted to ‘find’ the votes to erase his 2020 loss in the state. Willis’s investigation quickly expanded to other alleged efforts by Trump or his supporters, including trying to thwart the electoral college process, harassing election workers, spreading false information about the voting process in Georgia and compromising election equipment in a rural county.” See also, Trump faces 13 counts in Georgia indictment; 18 others charged, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey, Amy Gardner, Leo Sands, Marisa Iati, Mariana Alfaro, Maegan Vazquez, and Marve Reston, published on Tuesday, 15 August 2023: “Former president Donald Trump and 18 others were criminally charged in connection with efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 win in Georgia. The indictment by an Atlanta-area grand jury is the fourth to implicate the former president. It follows a 2½-year investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) that also resulted in charges against Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and several of Trump’s advisers. The grand jury issued arrest warrants for those charged, and they have until noon on Aug. 25 to voluntarily surrender, Willis said. Trump, who leads the field in the 2024 race for the Republican presidential nomination, is the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges.” See also, Here’s who else was charged in Georgia (other than Trump), The Washington Post, Holly Bailey, Amy Gardner, Patrick Marley, and Jon Swaine, published on Tuesday, 15 August 2023: “Former president Donald Trump was not the only person criminally charged in the Atlanta area in his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. Eighteen of his close allies and supporters were also charged in a sprawling anti-racketeering case.” See also, Here are the charges Trump faces in Georgia in the 2020 election case, The Washington Post, Mark Berman and Shayna Jacobs, published on Tuesday, 15 August 2023. See also, Trump is indicted in Georgia on charges of racketeering. What it means and what happens next, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, published on Tuesday, 15 August 2023. See also, How Donald Trump tried to undo his loss in Georgia in 2020, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Kati Perry, and Adriana Usero, Monday, 14 August 2023. See also, Trump and 18 others are indicted for trying to overthrow 2020 Georgia election. The former president is charged with racketeering and other felonies. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Tamar Hallerman and Bill Rankin, Monday, 14 August 2023: “Former President Donald Trump orchestrated a sweeping criminal enterprise, committing more than a dozen felonies, as he tried and failed to overturn his defeat in Georgia’s 2020 election, according to an indictment handed up Monday by a Fulton County grand jury. The indictment also lodged charges against 18 of Trump’s allies, who helped him spread false conspiracy theories and twist the arms of top state officials as he scrambled to cling to power. The blockbuster 41-count, 98-page indictment said Trump and his co-defendants refused to accept the fact that Trump lost in Georgia. But ‘they knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump. That conspiracy contained a common plan and purpose.’ It marks the fourth time that Trump has been criminally charged ― and the second time this August the former president has been indicted for interfering in the 2020 election, which he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. But the Georgia case is far different because it also charges a large cast of alleged accomplices – from former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former state Republican Party chairman David Shafer. Also charged: state Sen. Shawn Still; attorneys John Eastman, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis, Bob Cheeley, Ray Smith III and Kenneth Chesebro; former assistant U.S. attorney general Jeffrey Clark; former Coffee County GOP chairwoman Cathy Latham; Atlanta bail bondsman Scott Hall; former Coffee County elections director Misty Hampton; GOP strategist Michael Roman; publicist Trevian Kutti; Illinois pastor Stephen Cliffguard Lee; and Harrison Floyd, who briefly ran for a suburban Atlanta U.S. House seat before serving as director of Black Voices for Trump. The charges are the culmination of a 2 1/2-year criminal investigation launched by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis shortly after Trump’s leaked Jan. 2, 2021, phone call with Brad Raffensperger, during which he asked the Georgia secretary of state to ‘find’ him 11,780 votes. The indictment lays out several different areas of alleged criminal misconduct.” See also, Trump and 18 allies charged in Georgia election meddling as former president faces 4th criminal case, Associated Press, Kate Brumback and Eric Tucker, published on Tuesday, 15 August 2023: “Donald Trump and 18 allies were indicted in Georgia on Monday over their efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state, with prosecutors using a statute normally associated with mobsters to accuse the former president, lawyers and other aides of a ‘criminal enterprise’ to keep him in power. The nearly 100-page indictment details dozens of acts by Trump or his allies to undo his defeat, including beseeching Georgia’s Republican secretary of state to find enough votes for him to win the battleground state; harassing an election worker who faced false claims of fraud; and attempting to persuade Georgia lawmakers to ignore the will of voters and appoint a new slate of electoral college electors favorable to Trump. In one particularly brazen episode, it also outlines a plot involving one of his lawyers to access voting machines in a rural Georgia county and steal data from a voting machine company. ‘The indictment alleges that rather than abide by Georgia’s legal process for election challenges, the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election result,’ Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, whose office brought the case, said at a late-night news conference.”

Judge Rules in Favor of Montana Youths in a Landmark Climate Case. The court found that young people have a constitutional right to a healthful environment and that the state must consider potential climate damage when approving projects. The New York Times, David Gelles and Mike Baker, Monday, 14 August 2023: “A group of young people in Montana won a landmark lawsuit on Monday when a judge ruled that the state’s failure to consider climate change when approving fossil fuel projects was unconstitutional. The decision in the suit, Held v. Montana, coming during a summer of record heat and deadly wildfires, marks a victory in the expanding fight against government support for oil, gas and coal, the burning of which has rapidly warmed the planet. ‘As fires rage in the West, fueled by fossil fuel pollution, today’s ruling in Montana is a game-changer that marks a turning point in this generation’s efforts to save the planet from the devastating effects of human-caused climate chaos,’ said Julia Olson, the founder of Our Children’s Trust, a legal nonprofit group that brought the case on behalf of the young people. ‘This is a huge win for Montana, for youth, for democracy, and for our climate. More rulings like this will certainly come.’ The ruling means that Montana, a major coal and gas producing state that gets one-third of its energy by burning coal, must consider climate change when deciding whether to approve or renew fossil fuel projects. The Montana attorney general’s office said the state would appeal, which would send the case to the state Supreme Court.” See also, Judge rules in favor of Montana youths in landmark climate decision. ‘This is a monumental decision,’ said a lawyer for the young plaintiffs. The ruling could influence how judges handle similar cases in other states. The Washington Post, Kate Selig, Monday, 14 August 2023: “In the first ruling of its kind nationwide, a Montana state court decided Monday in favor of young people who alleged the state violated their right to a ‘clean and healthful environment’ by promoting the use of fossil fuels. The court determined that a provision in the Montana Environmental Policy Act has harmed the state’s environment and the young plaintiffs by preventing Montana from considering the climate impacts of energy projects. The provision is accordingly unconstitutional, the court said. ‘This is a huge win for Montana, for youth, for democracy and for our climate,’ said Julia Olson, the executive director of Our Children’s Trust, which brought Held v. Montana. ‘More rulings like this will certainly come.’ The sweeping win, one of the strongest decisions on climate change ever issued by a court, could energize the environmental movement and usher in a wave of cases aimed at advancing action on climate change, experts say. The ruling — which invalidates the provision blocking climate considerations — also represents a rare victory for climate activists who have tried to use the courts to push back against government policies and industrial activities they say are harming the planet. In this case, it involved 16 young Montanans, ranging in age from 5 to 22, who brought the nation’s first constitutional and first youth-led climate lawsuit to go to trial. Those youths are elated by the decision, according to Our Children’s Trust.” See also, Young environmental activists prevail in first-of-its-kind climate change trial in Montana, Associated Press, Amy Beth Hanson and Matthew Brown, Monday, 14 August 2023: “Young environmental activists scored what experts described as a ground-breaking legal victory Monday when a Montana judge said state agencies were violating their constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment by allowing fossil fuel development. The ruling in this first-of-its- kind trial in the U.S. adds to a small number of legal decisions around the world that have established a government duty to protect citizens from climate change. If it stands, the ruling could set an important legal precedent, though experts said the immediate impacts are limited and state officials pledged to seek to overturn the decision on appeal. District Court Judge Kathy Seeley found the policy the state uses in evaluating requests for fossil fuel permits — which does not allow agencies to look at greenhouse gas emissions — is unconstitutional.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. ambassador meets Gershkovich in prison; Odessa targeted by ‘waves’ of airstrikes, The Washington Post, Lyric Li, Annabelle Timsit, and Miriam Berger, Monday, 14 August 2023; “The U.S. ambassador to Russia met Monday with detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich at Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison for the third time since the journalist’s arrest in March on espionage charges that he, his employer, rights groups and the U.S. government have rejected as spurious, the Wall Street Journal reported. ‘Ambassador Tracy reported that Evan continues to appear in good health and remains strong, despite the circumstances,’ the U.S. Embassy in Moscow said in a statement to the Journal. Hours earlier, Russia attacked Odessa in ‘three waves’ overnight, launching drones and cruise missiles at the heart of the key Ukrainian port city, according to its regional governor. Three people were injured by falling debris when the drones and missiles were shot down, Oleh Kiper said. Russia launched Kalibr cruise missiles and Iranian-made Shahed drones at Odessa overnightKiper and the Ukrainian air force said. Ukrainian forces managed to shoot them all down and said the missiles’ intended target was the ‘center’ of Odessa, according to Kiper. But debris fell on a supermarket, a residential building and a school dormitory, and three market employees were injured, he said. The explosions and debris also damaged windows and cars nearby and started fires in three facilities, he said. China’s defense minister is set to visit Russia and its ally Belarus this week, the Chinese Defense Ministry said. It will be Li Shangfu’s first trip to Belarus and second to Russia since he took office this year. Li is expected to speak at the Moscow Conference on International Security and meet with Russian defense officials. In Minsk, Li is scheduled to meet and hold talks with Belarusian state and military leaders, as well as visit Belarusian military institutions. Beijing and Moscow have deepened their partnership in recent years, though China has refrained from taking sides publicly in the war in Ukraine. Kyiv called on the international community to protect trade through the Black Sea after a Russian warship shot at a Ukraine-bound cargo vessel on Sunday. Russia’s Defense Ministry said a Russian patrol ship used automatic weapons to fire ‘warning’ shots toward a Palau-flagged bulk carrier that failed to respond to a request to halt for inspection. The carrier was later freed and allowed to sail on to the Ukrainian port city of Izmail, the ministry said on Telegram. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said the incident — a first since Russia withdrew from a U.N.-brokered grain deal last month — violated international law. The ministry called on other countries to ‘take decisive action to prevent’ such incidents. British fighter jets intercepted two Russian long-range bomber aircraft flying north of Scotland and in NATO’s northern air policing areaBritish Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said in a statement Monday. Danish planes on Monday also intercepted two Russian bombers flying toward Dutch airspace, the Dutch Defense Ministry said in a statement. The ministry said the Russian Tupolev Tu-95 bombers, or ‘Bears,’ turned back before reaching Dutch airspace. Russia’s Defense Ministry said its aircraft were conducting routine flights over the Arctic and were ‘in strict compliance with international airspace regulations,’ according to the state-run Tass news agency. Germany’s finance minister, Christian Lindner, said in Kyiv on Monday that Germany was planning to pledge about $5.4 billion in military aid until 2027, Forbes Ukraine reported. This is Lindner’s first visit to Ukraine since the war began. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal thanked Lindner and the German government for its ‘military, sanction and financial support,’ in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, however, expressed reservations about a possible delivery of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine on Sunday. Berlin has long been hesitant to make the transfers for fear that the missiles, which have long-range capability, would be used on Russian territory. Polish law enforcement detained two Russian nationals accused of ‘distributing propaganda materials of the Wagner Group in Krakow and Warsaw,’ Poland’s interior minister said on X. Mariusz Kaminski said Poland’s Internal Security Agency and police made the arrests on allegations of espionage.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian Forces Board Civilian Ship in Black Sea. The Russian defense ministry confirmed that it had intercepted a commercial vessel, an escalation that Russia had promised would happen after backing out of a trade deal with Ukraine. The New York Times, Monday, 14 August 2023:

  • A video shows Russian soldiers on a commercial vessel in the Black Sea.
  • U.S. ambassador to Russia meets jailed Wall Street Journal reporter.
  • Zelensky visits troops for ‘frank’ talks about Ukraine’s counteroffensive.
  • Russia’s warning shot is the latest threat to commercial shippers in the Black Sea.
  • The U.S. is sending $200 million in battlefield supplies to Ukraine.
  • The Russian ruble slides past 100 to the dollar, its weakest since just after the start of the war.
  • China’s defense minister is expected to visit Russia and Belarus this week.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine makes some gains; China’s defense minister visits Russia, NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 14 August 2023: “Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: China’s Defense Minister Li Shangfu is visiting Russia and Belarus this week. ‘The two countries will continue to advance the China-Russia comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership in the new era,’ a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said of the Moscow visit. Beijing has not publicly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and took part earlier this month in a Saudi-hosted peace summit to which Russia was not invited. Germany’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner is in Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian officials. Germany has provided Ukraine with some $24 billion in aid since the start of the war. Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to address the Defense Ministry’s annual Moscow Conference on International Security, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will speak at the opening on Tuesday. At Russia’s request, the U.N. Security Council will discuss the conflict in Ukraine on Thursday. What happened last week: Ukraine’s counteroffensive inched forward. Ukraine’s military said over the weekend it had advanced around 10 square miles toward two key cities. Russia and Ukraine continued to trade drone and missile attacks. Russian missile strikes hit apartment buildings in the eastern Ukrainian city of Pokrovsk on Monday, leaving several dead and scores injured. Ukrainian authorities said Russia attacked the southern port cities of Odesa and Mykolaiv with drones, causing damage and injuries. Meanwhile, Ukrainian missiles targeted the Kerch bridge, according to Russia’s defense ministry. Russia says there was no damage to the bridge, which serves as a key link and supply route between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula. Russia also said it repelled a wave of Ukrainian drone attacks, with targets including Moscow. Ukraine announced the creation of a Black Sea humanitarian corridor so that cargo ships that have been stuck since the war began can safely leave Ukrainian ports. Russia quit the United Nations-brokered Black Sea grain shipment deal last month, and has escalated attacks on Ukrainian ports ever since. Over the weekend, a Russian warship fired warning shots at a cargo vessel in the Black Sea. Russians boarded the vessel, inspected it, then sent it on its way — but its destination was not clear. President Biden asked Congress to approve billions in additional aid to Ukraine. But far-right Republicans and the left of the Democratic Party are skeptical about providing more funding. Poland’s defense minister said Thursday that his country would deploy 10,000 troops to the border with Belarus. Tensions between the two countries have escalated in recent weeks, following the deployment of Wagner Group mercenaries to Belarus. On Sunday, Britain’s defense ministry tweeted that ‘there is a realistic possibility’ that Russia is no longer funding Wagner — and ‘the second most plausible paymasters are the Belarusian authorities.’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fired the heads of regional military recruitment centers on Friday, saying, ‘Corruption in military recruiting will be eliminated. The heads of all regional recruitment centers will be fired and replaced by brave warriors who have lost their health on the frontlines but have maintained their dignity.’ Russian authorities unveiled new high school textbooks that depict Ukraine as an ‘ultranationalist government’ which persecutes those who dissent, and Russian speakers in particular. The textbooks describe the goals of the Russian invasion as ‘defense of the Donbas and guaranteeing Russia’s security.’ Russia launched its first lunar expedition in nearly half a century, in hopes of becoming the first nation to reach the moon’s south pole, which scientists believe may hold significant concentrations of water ice. The launch was planned long before the war in Ukraine began, but Russia is touting it as a symbol of national achievement despite Western sanctions targeting the country’s aerospace industry.”


Tuesday, 15 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia hikes interest rate to 12%; casualties amid missile strikes in west Ukraine, The Washington Post, Niha Masih, Annabelle Timsit, Sarah Dadouch, and Mikhail Klimentov, Tuesday, 15 August 2023: “The Russian Central Bank decided in a meeting Tuesday to raise the key interest rate by 3.5 percentage points to 12 percent — a large hike that comes after the ruble fell to its lowest point in 17 months, briefly sliding past 102 to the dollar Monday. The Russian currency has lost almost a quarter of its value against the dollar since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The Swedish government pledged a new support package for Ukraine on Tuesday, valued at $314 million and containing spare parts and ammunition for equipment previously sent by the Swedes. The announcement is the latest in a series of recent pledges by Ukraine’s allies. The U.S. Defense Department said Monday that the Biden administration would provide an additional $200 million in assistance. During a Monday visit to Kyiv, Germany’s finance minister said that Germany planned to pledge about $5.4 billion in military aid each year until 2027. Russia attacked the region of Lviv with cruise missiles in the early-morning hours, according to regional governor Maksym Kozytskyy. Air defenses stopped only one of the missiles, while six reached their intended targets, Kozytskyy said. Nineteen people were injured, he said. In the city of Lviv, 20 houses were destroyed and several buildings were damaged, including a kindergarten, he said. The Washington Post could not independently verify the reports. Three people were killed and three more were injured in the strikes on Lutsk, Mayor Ihor Polishchuk said on Telegram. Emergency service crews were on-site at the industrial plant, Polishchuk added. Russia’s Central Bank attributed the interest rate hike to ‘inflationary pressure’ caused by ‘steady growth in domestic demand surpassing the capacity to expand output.’ In a statement, the bank did not mention the drop in the value of the ruble. The currency has lost ground amid Western sanctions that have harmed Russia’s trade balance and military spending that has soared because of the war in Ukraine. A conservative group has launched a campaign to convince congressional Republicans to continue backing U.S. aid to Ukraine. The $2 million campaign, called ‘Republicans for Ukraine,’ launched Tuesday. China’s defense minister, in Moscow, called his country’s ties with Russia a ‘model for cooperation,’ according to Bloomberg News. Li Shangfu was speaking Tuesday at the Moscow Conference on International Security, as part of a trip to Russia and Belarus. In his address, Li said the relationship between Beijing and Moscow was one of ‘non-confrontation’ and did ‘not target any third party,’ Bloomberg reported. Beijing and Moscow have deepened their partnership in recent years, though China has refrained from taking sides publicly in the war in Ukraine. Li is also expected to meet with Russian defense officials. In Minsk, he is scheduled to hold talks with Belarusian state and military leaders, as well as visiting Belarusian military institutions. The U.S. ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, met with jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich on Monday at Lefortovo Prison in Moscow, the newspaper reported. Gershkovich appeared to be in good health and remains strong, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow told the Journal after the meeting — the third since his arrest in March on espionage charges that he, his employer, rights groups and the U.S. government have rejected as spurious.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia Sharply Raises Interest Rates as Wartime Financial Problems Pile Up. The country’s central bank raised interest rates 3.5 percentage points to stem rising prices and a weakening ruble. The move came after the national currency briefly fell below a key level with the U.S. dollar. The New York Times, Tuesday, 15 August 2023:

  • Russia raises interest rates sharply to halt the ruble’s fall.
  • ‘Stop machine!’ A video shows Russian naval officers halting a cargo ship on the Black Sea.
  • New ads push Republicans to support Ukraine before a critical vote in Congress.
  • Ukraine plans to fortify defenses along its northeastern borders with Russia and Belarus.
  • Poland, ahead of elections, flexes its military might on a holiday.
  • In Kherson, Ukrainian forces step up raids on Russian-held territory across the Dnipro River.
  • Russia heightens its messaging to non-Western nations, including China.

Ex-President Trump Has 10 Days to Surrender for Arraignment. Donald Trump and 18 others were indicted by an Atlanta grand jury late Monday. They face sweeping racketeering charges stemming from efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Tuesday, 15 August 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump has 10 days to turn himself in to face accusations that he and 18 other people orchestrated a ‘criminal enterprise’ to reverse the results of the 2020 election in Georgia and subvert the will of voters — sweeping charges by a local prosecutor that invoked a law associated with taking down mobsters. The 41-count indictment also brings charges against some of Mr. Trump’s most prominent advisers, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, his former personal lawyer, and Mark Meadows, who served as White House chief of staff at the time of the election. All 19 defendants — a wide-ranging group that includes a former senior Justice Department official, the former chairman of the Georgia Republican Party and lawyers who were part of the ‘elite strike force team’ who amplified Mr. Trump’s claims — were charged under the state’s racketeering statute, which was originally designed to dismantle organized crime groups. Mr. Trump and the other defendants, prosecutors wrote, ‘knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump.'”

After Years of Spreading Lies, Election Deniers Face Consequences. Legal repercussions have arrived for the leaders of the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential contest, in what could serve as a warning to those who meddle in future elections. The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Tuesday, 15 August 2023: “For two and a half years, most of Donald J. Trump’s allies in the sprawling effort to overturn the 2020 election escaped consequences, continuing to try to undermine President Biden’s legitimacy by spreading false claims about voting machines, mail ballots and rigged elections. Now the legal repercussions are arriving. Last month, three leading election deniers in Michigan were charged with felonies over a scheme to surreptitiously obtain election machines and inspect them in parking lots and hotels. Soon after, Mr. Trump himself was indicted in a major federal investigation of his actions surrounding the 2020 election. Then, in the longest reach of the law yet, Mr. Trump and 18 others were criminally charged on Monday over their attempts to interfere with the outcome of the election in Georgia. The broad indictment includes some of the most prominent figures in the movement to subvert the election: Rudolph W. Giuliani, who presented state legislatures with what he said was evidence of fraud and has continued to make such claims as recently as this month; John C. Eastman, a lawyer and an architect of the scheme to create bogus slates of pro-Trump electors; David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, who filed 16 fake electors; and Sidney Powell, a lawyer behind some of the wildest claims about election machines.” See also, Comparing the Four Criminal Cases Against Donald Trump. An assessment of the four indictments against the former president, including notable features, strengths, and weaknesses. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 15 August 2023: “The indictment of former President Donald J. Trump in Georgia related to accusations that he tried to subvert the 2020 presidential election there means he now faces four separate criminal cases — even as he is the front-runner for the Republican nomination for the White House. In total, Mr. Trump faces 91 felony counts, charged with an array of crimes: trying to subvert democracy, risking national security secrets and falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment to a porn actress. Mr. Trump’s growing tangle of legal problems complicates an already busy campaign calendar, but also raises the question of how each trial will proceed and which will go first. While some prosecutors have signaled they intend to move quickly, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have often pursued a strategy of delay, seeking to run out the clock on legal matters.” See also, With Racketeering Charges, Georgia Prosecutor Aims to ‘Tell the Whole Story.’ Prosecutors have found racketeering laws to be powerful tools in targeting not only foot soldiers in a criminal enterprise, but also high-level decision makers. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Tuesday, 15 August 2023: “For more than 50 years, prosecutors have relied on a powerful tool to take down people as varied as mafia capos, street gangs like the Crips and the Bloods and pharmaceutical executives accused of fueling the opioid crisis. Now a prosecutor in Georgia is using the state’s version of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, better known as RICO, to go after former President Donald J. Trump, who along with 18 of his allies was indicted on Monday on charges of participating in a wide-ranging conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia. One power of RICO is that it often allows a prosecutor to tell a sweeping story — not only laying out a set of criminal acts, but identifying a group of people working toward a common goal, as part of an ‘enterprise,’ to engage in patterns of illegal activities. Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., is using a RICO indictment to tie together elements of a broad conspiracy that she describes as stretching far outside of her Atlanta-area jurisdiction and into a number of other swing states, a legal move made possible by the racketeering statute. Her investigation also reached into rural parts of Georgia — notably Coffee County, where Trump allies got access to voting machines in January 2021 in search of evidence that the election had been rigged.”

Special Counsel Jack Smith Obtained Trump’s Direct Messages on Twitter. The nature of the messages or who exactly wrote them remained unclear, but it was a revelation that such messages were associated with the former president’s account. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 15 August 2023: “The federal prosecutors who charged former President Donald J. Trump this month with conspiring to overturn the 2020 election got access this winter to a trove of so-called direct messages that Mr. Trump sent others privately through his Twitter account, according to court papers unsealed on Tuesday. While it remained unclear what sorts of information the messages contained and who exactly may have written them, it was a revelation that there were private messages associated with the Twitter account of Mr. Trump, who has famously been cautious about using written forms of communications in his dealings with aides and allies. The court papers disclosing that prosecutors in the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, obtained direct messages from Mr. Trump’s Twitter account emerged from a fight with Twitter over the legality of executing a warrant on the former president’s social media. Days after the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the platform shut down his account. The papers included transcripts of hearings in Federal District Court in Washington in February during which Judge Beryl A. Howell asserted that Mr. Smith’s office had sought Mr. Trump’s direct messages — or DMs — from Twitter as part of a search warrant it executed on the account in January.” See also, Special counsel obtained Trump DMs despite ‘momentous’ bid by Twitter to delay, unsealed filings show, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Tuesday, 15 August 2023: “Special counsel Jack Smith obtained an extraordinary array of data from Twitter about Donald Trump’s account — from direct messages to draft tweets to location data — newly unsealed court filings reveal. But it took a bruising battle with Twitter’s attorneys in January and February — punctuated by a blistering analysis by a federal judge, who wondered whether Elon Musk was attempting to ‘cozy up’ to the former president by resisting the special counsel’s demands — before prosecutors got the goods. Ultimately, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell held Twitter (now known as X) in contempt of court in February, fining the company $350,000 for missing a court-ordered deadline to comply with Smith’s search warrant. But the newly unsealed transcripts of the proceedings in her courtroom show that the fine was the least of the punishment. Howell lit into Twitter for taking ‘extraordinary’ and apparently unprecedented steps to give Trump advance notice about the search warrant — despite prosecutors’ warnings, backed by unspecified evidence, that notifying Trump could cause grave damage to their investigation.”

Mark Meadows seeks to move Georgia prosecution to federal court. Trump himself is expected to follow suit with a motion to transfer the case out of Georgia state court. Politico, Andrew Zhang, Tuesday, 15 August 2023: “Mark Meadows, who was Donald Trump’s chief of staff during the 2020 election and the ensuing efforts to overturn its results, is trying to transfer his Georgia state prosecution to federal court with the goal of having the charges against him dismissed. In court papers filed Tuesday, lawyers for Meadows argued that the case against him should be moved out of Georgia state court so that Meadows can argue in federal court that he is immune from the prosecution under the U.S. Constitution. The charges against him, his lawyers said, amount to ‘state interference in a federal official’s duties’ in violation of the Constitution’s supremacy clause. Meadows intends to file a separate request for ‘prompt dismissal’ of the charges, his lawyers added. Meadows is one of 19 defendants, including Trump himself, ensnared in the wide-ranging indictment unveiled on Monday night by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. The indictment alleges a sprawling ‘criminal enterprise’ aimed at overturning the 2020 presidential election, and it details Meadows’ facilitation of Trump’s communications with Georgia state officials as Trump pressured them to upend the results. Meadows was charged with two felony counts: one for racketeering and another for soliciting a public officer to violate the oath of office…. Some legal experts have argued that transfer in these circumstances is not appropriate because interfering with the results of an election does not count as conduct falling within an officer’s official duties.”


Wednesday, 16 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: NATO official walks back comment on Ukraine ceding land; Odessa grain buildings hit, The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Adela Suliman, David L. Stern, Miriam Berger, and Mikhail Klimentov, Wednesday, 16 August 2023: “Ukraine’s infrastructure minister said Wednesday that a Hong Kong-flagged ship carrying food had left the southern port of Odessa — the first container since Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal to use a new ‘temporary’ shipping corridor through the Black Sea. A NATO official on Wednesday apologized for saying that Ukraine should cede land to become a member of the military alliance and called his comments ‘a mistake,’ Dutch media outlets reported. Russian forces carried out ‘waves’ of drone attacks in southern Ukraine overnight, destroying warehouses and granaries at the Danube River port of Reni, the regional governor said Wednesday. Nobody was injured, he added. NATO official Stian Jenssen walked back comments made Tuesday — in which he suggested Ukraine cede land for membership in the alliance — calling them ‘part of a larger discussion about possible future scenarios in Ukraine, and I shouldn’t have said it that way,’ the Norwegian newspaper VG reported Wednesday. His original comments stirred ire in Kyiv. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak called the idea ‘ridiculous’ on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko posted on Facebook that ‘the conscious or unconscious participation of NATO officials in shaping the narrative’ around Ukraine ceding land ‘plays into the hands of Russia.’ The main target of the overnight strikes was ‘port and grain infrastructure,’ said Oleh Kiper, governor of the Odessa region. The attacks occurred south of the port city of Odessa, which has increasingly come under Russian attack since last month, after the Kremlin left the grain deal backed by the United Nations that enabled Ukraine to send exports through Russian-controlled parts of the Black Sea. The latest attacks were launched with Iranian-made Shahed drones, Ukraine’s military said. Ukrainian officials do not expect to have F-16s this fall or winter, Yuri Ihnat, a spokesman for the Ukrainian air force, said during a telethon on Wednesday. ‘We understand that our pilots will be learning soon,’ Ihnat said. ‘And at the same time, our air defense needs to be stronger.’ NATO member Poland touted its state-of-the-art fighter jets and other weaponry at its largest military parade since the Cold War — a display of strength as fighting continues next door between Russia and Ukraine. ‘The defense of our eastern border, the border of the European Union and of NATO, is today a key element of Poland’s state interest,’ President Andrzej Duda said at the event, which commemorated the 1920 Battle of Warsaw, when Polish troops stopped Bolshevik forces from advancing on Europe. The Polish military has grown by about 78,000 troops in eight years, Duda said. Lithuania will temporarily close two land crossings with Belarus ‘to reduce potential threats along the border’ in response to the Russian mercenary group Wagner’s relocation, Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said in a statement Wednesday. Wagner moved to Belarus in July after a failed mutiny by the group’s founder, former Kremlin-insider Yevgeniy Prigozhin. The closures ‘will enable border officers to redistribute their capacities at the border with Belarus and pay even larger attention to the protection of the state border,’ Bilotaite said. Last week, similarly citing Wagner, Poland said it would send 10,000 troops to its border with Belarus. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to strengthen bonds with Moscow in a letter he wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. In the letter, Kim said the two countries would continue to ‘smash the imperialists’ arbitrary practices and hegemony,’ KCNA reported. The European Union will redirect $147 million from programs planned for Russia and Belarus toward projects aimed at boosting ties between Ukraine and Moldova. The funding was part of Interreg, a program that focuses on fostering interregional cooperation to tackle cross-border issues. According to a European Commission statement Wednesday, ‘The decision to cancel the originally envisaged cooperation with Russia and Belarus … is the result of the brutal war of Russia against Ukraine.’ The funding will support such activities as the development of cross-border transport links, health services, education and research projects. The American rock band the Killers apologized after lead singer Brandon Flowers invited a Russian fan onto the stage as a drummer during a concert on the Black Sea coast of Georgia and called the audience members ‘brothers and sisters,’ prompting some in the crowd to boo and walk out of the show. Many in attendance were furious at Flowers’s implication that Russians are brothers to Georgia, a nation that Moscow invaded in 2008. The Killers’ apology, which said it was ‘never our intention to offend anyone,’ also prompted criticism over its failure to mention the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The concert venue in the coastal town of Shekvetili also apologized in a Facebook post and said it did not share the band’s position, calling Russia ‘the occupier.'”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Claims Another Small Gain as Counteroffensive Pushes On. Ukraine’s deputy defense minister said Kyiv’s forces had recaptured the village of Urozhaine, a small step in its grinding campaign to break through Russian defenses in the south. The New York Times, Wednesday, 16 August 2023:

  • Russian forces say they’ve retreated from Urozhaine.
  • A cargo ship travels from the port of Odesa in a test of Ukraine’s new Black Sea corridor.
  • Ukraine faces obstacles if it tries to use Odesa’s port as a grain export route, experts say.
  • Ukrainian grain facilities along the Danube are targeted once more in drone attacks.
  • With Russia’s focus on the war, a disputed Caucasus region edges closer to disaster.
  • New U.S. sanctions target Russia-North Korea arms deals.
  • Germany agonizes over supplying Ukraine with another advanced weapon.

‘Biases.’ ‘Corrupt.’ ‘Deranged.’ Trump’s Inflammatory Statements Against Witnesses and Other People Involved in the Case Test the Limits of His Release. Some lawyers have said that if the former president were an ordinary citizen issuing these attacks, he would be in jail by now. The question is whether he will face similar consequences. The New York Times, Mattie Haberman, Jonathan Swan, and Alan Feuer, Wednesday, 16 August 2023: “Just days ago, the judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s prosecution on charges of seeking to subvert the 2020 election admonished him against violating the conditions of his release put in place at his arraignment — including by making ‘inflammatory statements’ that could be construed as possibly intimidating witnesses or other people involved in the case. But Mr. Trump immediately tested that warning by posting a string of messages on his social media website, Truth Social, that largely amplified others criticizing the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan. In one post, written by an ally of Mr. Trump’s, the lawyer Mike Davis, a large photo of Judge Chutkan accompanied text that falsely claimed she had ‘openly admitted she’s running election interference against Trump.’ In two other posts, Mr. Trump wrote, ‘She obviously wants me behind bars. VERY BIASED & UNFAIR.’ After eight years of pushing back at a number of institutions in the United States, Mr. Trump is now probing the limits of what the criminal justice system will tolerate and the lines that Judge Chutkan sought to lay out about what he can — and cannot — say about the election interference case she is overseeing. He has waged a similarly defiant campaign against others involved in criminal cases against him, denouncing Jack Smith, the special counsel who brought two federal indictments against him, as ‘deranged’; casting Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., as ‘corrupt’; and even singling out witnesses.”

Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis wants Trump trial to begin March 4, 2024, one day before Super Tuesday primaries, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen and Marshall Cohen, Wednesday, 16 August 2023: “Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has asked a judge to set a trial date of March 4, 2024, for former President Donald Trump and his 18 co-defendants – a proposal that would put the Republican presidential candidate on trial a day before he competes in the Super Tuesday primary contests. Willis also asked to schedule arraignments for the defendants for the week of September 5, according to a court filing, and says the proposed dates ‘do not conflict’ with Trump’s other criminal cases. If the proposed trial date is accepted, Trump will begin his trial in the Georgia case when the Republican presidential nominating process is well underway. Several states will already have held their nominating contests, including the traditional early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Super Tuesday, when voters in more than a dozen states, including California and Texas, will go to the polls, takes place on March 5, 2024.”

New Footage of Roger Stone Working to Overturn 2020 Election Emerges. The longtime Republican operative was brainstorming ways to thwart the voters’ will even before the election had been called for Joe Biden. The Daily Beast, William Vaillancourt, Wednesday, 16 August 2023: “MSNBC’s The Beat aired exclusive footage Wednesday of Roger Stone working to overturn the 2020 presidential election—before the election had even been called for Joe Biden. The video, originally obtained by Danish filmmaker Christoffer Guldbrandsen for his 2023 documentary A Storm Foretold, shows Stone dictating to an associate on a laptop a strategy to thwart the will of the voters. ‘Although state officials in all 50 states must ultimately certify the results of the voting in their state…the final decision as to who the state legislatures authorize be sent to the Electoral College is a decision made solely by the legislature,’ Stone said on Nov. 5, 2020, a date in which he would have otherwise been in prison for lying to Congress, obstructing a congressional investigation, and tampering with a witness, had Trump not commuted his 40-month sentence that summer. ‘Any legislative body may decide on the basis of overwhelming evidence of fraud to send electors to the Electoral College who accurately reflect the president’s legitimate victory in their state, which was illegally denied him through fraud,’ the longtime right-wing political operative continued. ‘We must be prepared to lobby our Republican legislatures…by personal contact and by demonstrating the overwhelming will of the people in their state—in each state—that this may need to happen,’ he added.”

Texas woman accused of threatening to kill judge overseeing Trump election case and a congresswoman, Associated Press, Wednesday, 16 August 2023: “A Texas woman was arrested and has been charged with threatening to kill the federal judge overseeing the criminal case against former President Donald Trump in Washington and a member of Congress. Abigail Jo Shry of Alvin, Texas, called the federal courthouse in Washington and left the threatening message — using a racist term for U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan — on Aug. 5, court records show. Investigators traced her phone number and she later admitted to making the threatening call, according to a criminal complaint. In the call, Shry told the judge, who is overseeing the election conspiracy case against Trump, ‘You are in our sights, we want to kill you,’ the documents said. Prosecutors allege Shry also said, ‘If Trump doesn’t get elected in 2024, we are coming to kill you,’ and she threatened to kill U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat running for mayor of Houston, according to court documents. A judge earlier this week ordered Shry jailed. Court records show Shry is represented by the Houston public defender’s office, which did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Wednesday.” See also, Texas Woman Charged With Threatening to Kill Judge in Trump Election Case. Days after the woman called her chambers, Judge Tanya S. Chutkan cautioned the former president about making ‘inflammatory statements’ that could harm the integrity of the case. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Wednesday, 16 August 2023: “A Texas woman has been charged with threatening to kill Tanya S. Chutkan, the federal judge in Washington who is overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s prosecution on charges of seeking to overturn the 2020 election. The woman, Abigail Jo Shry, of Alvin, Texas, called Judge Chutkan’s chambers on Aug. 5, two days after Mr. Trump was arraigned on the election interference charges, and left a voice mail message attacking the judge, who is Black, with a racial slur, according to a criminal complaint unsealed on Friday. In the message, Ms. Shry told Judge Chutkan, ‘If Trump doesn’t get elected in 2024, we are coming to kill you, so tread lightly, bitch,’ according to the complaint. She added, ‘You will be targeted personally, publicly, your family, all of it.’ Ms. Shry, 43, also issued a threat against Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a Black Democratic congresswoman from Texas, the complaint said. Mr. Trump has a long history of verbally attacking judges and other people involved in the criminal cases brought against him, particularly on social media. The day before the call, Mr. Trump had posted a message on his social media platform, Truth Social, saying, ‘IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!’ (His campaign said his words were not directed against anyone involved in the election interference case.)” See also, Texas woman charged with threatening to kill judge on Trump election case, The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, published on Thursday, 17 August 2023: “A Texas woman has been arrested on charges that she threatened to kill Tanya S. Chutkan, the Washington federal judge tasked with overseeing the prosecution of former president Donald Trump on allegations that he tried to overturn the 2020 election. Abigail Jo Shry, 43, of Alvin, Tex., left an Aug. 5 voice mail at Chutkan’s chambers in which she called her a racial slur and threatened her, saying, ‘If Trump doesn’t get elected in 2024, we are coming to kill you, so tread lightly, b—-,’ according to criminal complaint documents filed Friday. Shry also threatened to kill Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.), as well as all Washington Democrats and members of the LGBTQ community broadly, the criminal complaint stated. She left the voice mail two days after Trump was arraigned on charges of election interference.”


Thursday, 17 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kyiv says F-16s won’t be used this year; U.S. condemns Russian attacks on granaries, The Washington Post, Niha Masih, Adela Suliman, Sarah Dadouch, and Francesca Ebel, Thursday, 17 August 2023: “Ukrainian officials said they do not expect to be able to deploy U.S.-built F-16 fighter jets before the end of the year. ‘We had big hopes for this plane, that it will become part of air defense, able to protect us from Russia’s missiles and drones terrorism,’ Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat told a joint telethon broadcast by Ukrainian channels. ‘It is already obvious that we will not be able to protect Ukraine with F-16 aircraft this fall and winter,’ he said, in what was thought to be the first official Ukrainian confirmation of the delay. Earlier this year, Washington acceded to Ukraine’s request to use the advanced fighter jets as part of its air defenses. The State Department condemned what it called Moscow’s ‘continued attacks on Ukrainian grain infrastructure’ after reports of Russian drones targeting Ukrainian grain warehouses near Danube ports this week. Deputy spokesman Vedant Patel accused Russia of ‘weaponizing food’ by suspending its participation in an international grain deal that allowed ships to export Ukrainian food safely via the Black Sea. ‘[Vladimir] Putin simply does not care about global food security,’ Patel said, referring to the Russian president. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone to Paul Whelan, an American jailed in Russia, CNN reported. Whelan, a Marine turned corporate security executive, was convicted of espionage and sentenced in 2020 in what he said was a case of political hostage-taking. Whelan had a ‘long, frank conversation’ with Blinken on Wednesday, his brother David Whelan told CNN. Russia and Iran are working to expand the Kremlin’s drone programaccording to leaked documents seen by The Washington Post. The documents indicate that Moscow has made steady progress toward its goal of manufacturing a variant of the Iranian Shahed-136 attack drone. The Russian program aims to domestically build 6,000 drones by summer 2025 — enough to reverse the Russian military’s chronic shortages of uncrewed aerial vehicles, or UAVs, on the front line. NATO official Stian Jenssen apologized and withdrew his suggestion that Ukraine cede land to Russia to make peace and join the military alliance, Dutch media outlets reported. His comments drew anger from Kyiv; Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said the idea of ceding land to Russia was ‘ridiculous.’ A U.S. citizen in Russia, Gene Spektor, was taken into custody over espionage charges on Thursday, according to reports in Russian state media. Spektor had previously been convicted of bribery. A State Department spokesperson who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive diplomatic issue said officials were ‘aware’ of the charges and ‘monitoring’ the situation. ‘When a U.S. citizen is detained overseas, the Department works to provide all appropriate assistance,’ the spokesperson said. The head of the Russian-owned Tactical Missiles Corp. has been put on the Czech Republic’s sanctions list along with his daughter and son-in-law after a campaign by Russian anti-corruption activists. Boris Obnosov, whose company produces missiles and aerial bombs that have been destroying Ukrainian cities for more than a year, continued to live in Prague, the Czech capital, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He and other family members reportedly own real estate in Prague worth more than $8 million. In May, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation published an investigation into Obsonov’s family and urged the E.U. to put them on sanctions lists. Last month, 15 members of the European Parliament also urged the European Commission to impose sanctions on Obnosov’s close family members. Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu is in Belarus for a three-day visit, Belarusian news agency BelTA reported. Cooperation between the two countries is getting stronger, the agency quoted Li as saying. Belarus is a close Russian ally and has supported the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine. North Korea and Russia are ramping up military cooperation, with signs of a possible arms delivery from Pyongyang to Moscow this month, South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers Thursday. Seoul’s National Intelligence Service told a parliamentary briefing that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu agreed on a ‘broad framework for military cooperation’ at their meeting in July. Shoigu made a rare trip last month to Pyongyang, where he met with Kim and toured a defense exhibition. Washington said Shoigu requested munitions, but Moscow and Pyongyang have denied allegations of arms deals between them. Finland will build Europe’s largest emergency stockpile in case of a nuclear, radiological, biological or chemical threat, its Interior Ministry said. Amid concerns about the fallout from the war in Ukraine, Finland was granted $262 million from the European Commission this year to build the reserve, which will include protective equipment, medicines and vaccines. Two Russian Ka-52 helicopters shot down Thursday in Ukraine had ‘high-tech components from Western countries and Asian countries,’ said Ukrainian presidential adviser Andriy Yermak. The components, which included chips and microprocessors, were beyond Russia’s capabilities, he said in a post on Telegram. ‘Sanctions against the Russian Federation should be strengthened. The Russian military-industrial complex should not have access to technology.'”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Fighting Intensifies in Northeast as Russia Presses on Kupiansk. The area around Kupiansk, in northeastern Ukraine, is the only part of the front line where Russia is making noticeable gains. The New York Times, Thursday, 17 August 2023:

  • Battlefield Update: Russia pushes on with concerted attacks in northeastern Ukraine.
  • Allied nations will be allowed to send F-16s to Ukraine after its pilots are trained, a U.S. official says.
  • The first civilian cargo ship to leave Ukrainian waters in a month arrives off Istanbul safely.
  • Turkey offers a mild warning to Russia over its boarding of a cargo ship in the Black Sea.
  • Russian media reports that a U.S. citizen of Russian origin was taken into custody on espionage charges.
  • Putin didn’t disclose his plans until a ‘few days’ before Russia invaded Ukraine, Lukashenko says.
  • Ukraine says it will not receive F-16 jets from its NATO allies this year.
  • NATO leader, clarifying stance, says only Ukraine can set terms of peace negotiations.

Fact-Checking the Breadth of Trump’s Election Lies. The former president faces multiple charges related to his lies about the 2020 election. Here’s a look at some of his most repeated falsehoods. The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Thursday, 17 August 2023: “Before the 2020 election had even concluded, President Donald J. Trump laid the groundwork for an alternate reality in which he was declared the victor, falsely assailing the integrity of the race at nearly every turn. Those lies are now central to two criminal indictments brought against him by the Justice Department and in Georgia, and formed what prosecutors have described as the bedrock of his attempts to overturn the election. In public, he made more than 800 inaccurate claims about the election from the time the polls began closing on Nov. 3, 2020, to the end of his presidency, according to a database compiled by The Washington Post. Dozens of times, he simply characterized the election as ‘rigged,’ ‘stolen’ or ‘a hoax,’ and flatly and falsely declared he had won — even as a mountain of evidence proved otherwise. Other falsehoods were more specific about the voting and ballot-counting process, contained unproven allegations and promoted conspiracy theories.”

Purported names, photos, and addresses of Fulton County grand jurors circulate on far-right internet, CNN Politics, Donie O’Sullivan, Marshall Cohen, and Nick Valencia, Thursday, 17 August 2023: “Names, photographs, social media profiles and even the home addresses purportedly belonging to members of the Fulton County grand jury that this week voted to indict former President Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants are circulating on social media – with experts saying that some anonymous users are calling for violence against them. CNN cannot independently verify if the photographs, social media accounts and the home addresses being posted actually belong to the grand jurors. However, the names being circulated on these sites appear to match the names of at least 13 of the 26 grand jurors that served on the panel in Fulton County. It’s unclear if those names are the actual grand jurors or just people with the same name. Some addresses appear to be wrong.” See also, Officials Investigate Threats Against Trump Grand Jurors in Georgia. Some of the jurors’ identities have been shared on social media, with suggestions that they be harassed or made ‘infamous.’ The New York Times, Anna Betts, James C. McKinley Jr., and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Thursday, 17 August 2023: “The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday that it was investigating online threats against the grand jurors who voted this week to indict former President Donald J. Trump and 18 others, accusing them of conspiring to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results. The jurors’ names are listed early in the sprawling 98-page indictment, as required in Georgia, making the state an outlier among federal and state court systems. Now some of those jurors have had their faces, social media profiles and possible addresses and phone numbers shared on internet sites, in some cases with the suggestion that they should be harassed — though it was unclear on Thursday if anyone had followed up on those suggestions. The county sheriff’s office said in a statement that it was aware of online threats against grand jurors and was working with other agencies to track down their origin. It did not answer inquiries about whether any jurors had reported harassment.”

Trump’s Lawyers Seek April 2026 Start to January 6 Trial. The lawyers said the extraordinary delay was needed given the historic nature of the case and the volume of discovery materials they will have to sort through in the coming months. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Thursday, 17 August 2023: “Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump asked a judge on Thursday to reject the government’s proposal to take Mr. Trump to trial in early January on charges of seeking to overturn the 2020 election and to instead push back the proceeding until April 2026 — nearly a year and a half after the 2024 election. The lawyers said the extraordinary delay was needed because of the historic nature of the case and the extraordinary volume of discovery evidence they will have to sort through — as much as 8.5 terabytes of materials, totaling over 11.5 million pages, they wrote in a filing to Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, who is overseeing the case…. Mr. Trump’s aggressive request to postpone the trial in Federal District Court in Washington — a strategy he has pursued in all of the criminal cases he is facing — followed an equally ambitious proposal made last week by prosecutors in the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, to get the case in front of a jury by the first week of 2024.” See also, Trump asks to push January 6 trial beyond 2024 election — to April 2026. U.S. proposes a January 2024 trial, starting before primary voting begins, but Donald Trump’s lawyers ask for a major delay citing ‘overwhelming’ amount of evidence. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Thursday, 17 August 2023: “In a 16-page filing, attorney Gregory Singer argued for the defense team that putting Trump on trial as requested by prosecutors on Jan. 2, 2024, on charges of plotting to undermine the federal government, obstruct the certification of the 2020 presidential election and disenfranchise voters would mark a ‘rush to trial’ that would violate his constitutional rights and be ‘flatly impossible’ given the enormity of the government’s evidence. Looming over the fight is the 2024 election calendar, the Justice Department’s insistence that Trump can receive ‘both a fair and speedy trial’ before next year’s primary season hits full swing, and Trump’s desire to delay a trial until after the election, when he or another Republican might drop the prosecution, should Trump or that person be elected president. The trial calendar for Trump’s varying federal and local investigations also will complicate scheduling. Just this week, Trump and 18 others were criminally charged in Georgia in connection with efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state, with the prosecutor there proposing a March trial date. Chutkan has said she wants to set a trial date at her next scheduled hearing, Aug. 28. And at an initial hearing last week, she warned Trump and his lawyers against out-of-court statements that could be seen as intimidating or harassing potential witnesses or prejudicing potential jurors, saying that she ‘will take whatever measures are necessary to safeguard the integrity of these proceedings’ and that the more ‘inflammatory statements’ there are, ‘the greater the urgency’ will be to go to trial.”


Friday, 18 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kyiv’s counteroffensive won’t reach Russian-occupied city of Melitopol, U.S. predicts; Ukraine and Romania sign grain accord, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Victoria Bisset, and Serhiy Morgunov, Friday, 18 August 2023: “U.S. intelligence officials don’t expect Ukraine to reach the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol in its counteroffensive, according to people familiar with a classified forecast. Melitopol is at the intersection of two important highways and a railroad line that allow Russia to move troops and supplies from the Crimean Peninsula to other occupied territories in southern Ukraine. In Moscow, officials reported early Friday that a drone was shot down. Russia’s Defense Ministry accused Ukraine of launching ‘another terrorist attack.’ Ukraine and its neighbor Romania signed an accord Friday to work together on grain exports following Russia’s withdrawal from the U.N. and Turkey-brokered Black Sea grain deal last month. Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu told reporters Friday that he hoped as much as 60 percent of Ukraine’s grain exports might pass through Romania, Reuters reported. Ukraine’s forces, which are pushing toward Melitopol from the town of Robotyne more than 50 miles away, will remain several miles outside the city, U.S. officials predicted. If they fail to eject Russian troops from Melitopol, Ukraine would fall short of achieving one of its key goals in the ongoing counteroffensive: to sever the land bridge connecting Russia to the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow seized from Kyiv in 2014. The drone that was shot down Friday in Russia’s capital fell on a nonresidential building, Russia’s Defense Ministry said. No casualties or fires resulted from the interception, the ministry said. Moldova intends to help Ukraine with grain transit, the country’s president, Maia Sandu, said in an interview with Radio France Internationale. She called on the European Union to further invest in Moldovan transit and export infrastructure. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday signed legislation extending martial law until mid-November. If martial law is not lifted, national parliamentary elections scheduled for the fall would be delayed. Ukraine’s constitution stipulates that parliamentary elections should take place no later than Oct. 29 and presidential elections early next year. The family of Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine arrested in Russia in 2018 and serving a 16-year sentence, confirmed that he spoke to Secretary of State Blinken this week. Paul’s brother, David Whelan, said in an emailed update that he was ‘caught off guard at the level of interest in what appeared to me to be a routine phone call’ on Wednesday. ‘As Paul conveyed it to our parents yesterday, he said it was a “good” call and it sounds like there was a frank discussion about the current status of his detention.’ He said that the U.S. government ‘either can’t, or is unwilling to, make a concession that the Kremlin will accept for its extortion,’ but added the call was ‘yet another extraordinary show of the U.S. government’s ongoing commitment to secure Paul’s release.’ The European Union’s natural gas storage capacity has reached 90 percent, ‘well ahead of schedule,’ European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Friday, as the continent prepares for its second winter since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Households across the continent faced soaring bills last year as a result of the war, as President Vladimir Putin withheld natural gas shipments in response to Western sanctions. ‘Together, we are weaning ourselves off Russian gas,’ von der Leyen wrote on X. ‘And we keep working in parallel on more diverse energy supplies for the future.’ Germany unveiled a new security assistance package to Ukraine. Berlin will send Kyiv two IRIS-T SLS air defense systems, 10 ground surveillance radars and several thousand rounds of smoke ammunition, according to an updated list of Germany’s military aid to Ukraine. Zelensky expressed thanks in his nightly address for the new supplies. Meanwhile, Sweden’s parliament also approved a further security assistance package worth 270 million euros ($294 million), Ukraine’s defense minister said as he tweeted his thanks.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia Says Ukrainian Drone Damaged Building in Moscow’s Financial Center. Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that its air defenses intercepted the drone, which then fell onto an exhibition center. Around 20 drones have targeted the Moscow region since early July, according to the ministry. The New York Times, Friday, 18 August 2023:

  • Russia says a Ukrainian drone damaged a building in Moscow.
  • Allied nations will be allowed to send F-16s to Ukraine after its pilots are trained, a U.S. official says.
  • A fire broke out at Novorossiysk, a key Russian port on the Black Sea.
  • The U.S. extends and expands a program allowing Ukrainian refugees to stay and work.
  • The Ukraine war and China’s ties to Russia frame Biden’s summit with South Korea and Japan.
  • When a Ukrainian tank breaks down at the front, these mechanics get a call.
  • A Russian court ordered the Sakharov Center, a prominent human rights hub, to dissolve.

Proud Boy on house arrest in January 6 case disappears ahead of sentencing, Associated Press, Lindsay Whitehurst, Friday, 18 August 2023: “Authorities are searching for a member of the Proud Boys extremist group who disappeared days before his sentencing in a U.S. Capitol riot case, where prosecutors are seeking more than a decade in prison, according to a warrant made public Friday. Christopher Worrell, 52, of Naples, Florida, was supposed to be sentenced Friday after being found guilty of spraying pepper spray gel on police officers, as part of the mob storming the Capitol as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory on Jan. 6, 2021. Prosecutors had asked a judge to sentence him to 14 years.”

Trump Plans to Skip Republican Debate for Interview With Tucker Carlson. The former president’s apparent decision to skip the first debate is a major affront both to the Republican National Committee and to Fox News, which is hosting the event. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan, Friday, 18 August 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump plans to upstage the first Republican primary debate on Wednesday by sitting for an online interview with the former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, according to multiple people briefed on the matter. In the past 24 hours, Mr. Trump has told people close to him that he has made up his mind and will skip the debate in Milwaukee, according to two of the people briefed on the matter. Mr. Trump is notoriously mercurial, and left himself something of an out to change his mind with an ambiguous post on his website, Truth Social, on Thursday. He wrote that he’s polling well ahead of his rivals and added, ‘Reagan didn’t do it, and neither did others. People know my Record, one of the BEST EVER, so why would I Debate?'” See also, Trump to release taped interview with Tucker Carlson, skipping Republican debate, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang and Josh Dawsey, published on Saturday, 19 August 2023: “Former president Donald Trump intends to skip the first Republican presidential primary debate in Milwaukee on Wednesday and instead plans to post a prerecorded interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that will be released that night, according to a person briefed on the matter. Trump advisers said the interview had already been recorded. It is not yet clear where the interview will appear. Carlson has started a show on X, formerly called Twitter, but Trump sees the platform as a rival to Truth Social, which he helped create. Trump’s plans, first reported by the New York Times, have not been officially announced. ‘We cannot confirm or deny — stay tuned.’ his campaign spokesman, Steven Cheung, told The Washington Post on Saturday. A person close to Carlson said that an online airing of a taped interview with Trump is the likely plan.”


Saturday, 19 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian strike on theater in Chernihiv kills seven and injures more than 140, Ukraine says, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Victoria Bisset, David L. Stern, Justine McDaniel, Jan Ludwig, and Dan Rosensweig-Ziff, Saturday, 19 August 2023: “A strike on a theater in the northern city of Chernihiv killed at least seven people, including a 6-year-old child, and injured 144, Ukrainian authorities said Saturday. The attack hit the center of the city, which lies about 90 miles north of the capital Kyiv, and “probably” involved a ballistic missile, the regional governor said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of turning ‘an ordinary Saturday … into a day of pain and loss.’ With more than 100 injured, Chernihiv was reeling from the daytime attack — rare for a central Ukrainian city far from the front lines. Chernihiv will observe three days of mourning, from Saturday to Monday, acting mayor Oleksandr Lomako said on Telegram. The injured included bystanders, the region’s administration said on Telegram. The city was besieged by Russian troops for weeks early in the war, with more than half the city’s population fleeing — but Ukrainian troops regained control. Videos verified by The Washington Post showed an explosion on the roof of the theater before a fiery projectile slammed into a building about 320 feet away. Some homes were damaged by the blasts, Lomako said, and the wounded were being treated in hospitals Saturday evening. Among the injured were 15 children and 15 police officers, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said. Videos posted by Ukrainian officials showed damage at the theater, broken glass and debris in the street, damaged cars and blown-out windows, and firefighters spraying down a flattened rooftop. The venue reportedly hosted a gathering for drone demonstrations on Saturday. Mariya Berlinska, an activist, said she took part in the event, which had been approved by the local authorities, but said it was stopped as soon as the air raid sirens rang out. ‘Participants were told several time about the need to take shelter,’ Berlinska wrote on Facebook. ‘Unfortunately, some people still went outside.’ The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine condemned the attack. ‘It is heinous to attack the main square of a large city, in the morning, while people are out walking, some going to the church to celebrate a religious day for many Ukrainians,’ Denise Brown said in a statement. Zelensky is visiting Sweden for meetings with the country’s leaders, including Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and King Carl XVI. The Ukrainian president expressed his ‘full support’ for Sweden’s bid for NATO membership. Sweden applied to join the military alliance as a direct result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, although its accession has not been ratified by Turkey and Hungary. Zelensky and Kristersson discussed Ukraine’s desire for Gripen fighter jets from Sweden, Zelensky said, which Sweden agreed earlier this summer to allow Ukrainian pilots to test. The two leaders also signed an agreement to manufacture Swedish-provided CV-90 infantry fighting vehicles in Ukraine. On Telegram, Zelensky expressed his thanks to Sweden ‘for supporting our struggle for freedom and independence.’ In his nightly address on Saturday, Zelensky said he has an agreement with Sweden to produce armored vehicles known as CV-90s inside Ukraine. He did not specify how many, or what the agreement entailed. ‘Everything powerful that serves us now, we must localize and produce,’ he said. The leader added that Ukrainian soldiers are studying in Sweden to use Archer artillery systems, a self-propelled howitzer that he said Ukraine is working to obtain more of to use in the fight. Russian President Vladimir Putin visited military officials in Rostov-on-Don, the Associated Press reported, his first trip to the city since Wagner Group mercenaries briefly took control there during their short-lived June rebellion. The Kremlin said Putin talked with top military leaders, AP reported. It is ‘premature to make assessments about the overall success’ of Kyiv’s counteroffensive, the Institute for the Study of War said in a report Friday, responding after people familiar with a classified forecast from the U.S. intelligence community told The Post that Ukraine would fail in its objective of severing Russia’s land bridge to Crimea in this year’s push. The ISW said it continues to assess that ‘the overall degradation of the Russian defensive line creates opportunities for any Ukrainian breakthrough to be potentially operationally significant.’ The U.S. will soon reach double its prewar monthly production of the standard NATO artillery round, The Post reports, increasing its output from 14,000 units a month before Russia’s invasion to eventually 28,000 units a month. But industry experts warn of challenges in sustaining the elevated production levels, not just for Ukraine war efforts but also for the U.S. military’s own stockpiles. Russia added a former Putin adviser to its list of ‘foreign agents,’ state-owned news agency Tass reported. The designation was expanded in recent years to apply to anyone who is openly critical of the authorities or who is accused of receiving payments or donations from abroad. Andrey Illarionov, who is based outside the country, resigned from his position as Putin’s top economic adviser in 2005, after stating publicly that Russia ‘is no longer a democratic country.’ Canada is imposing sanctions on 15 Russian individuals and three entities over human rights abuses, the foreign ministry announced Friday. The individuals include senior Russian officials and federally funded courts which have been ‘directly involved in human rights abuses against opposition leaders’ including Alexei Navalny, the statement said. Ukraine and neighboring Romania signed an agreement Friday to work together on grain exports, following Russia’s departure last month from the U.N.-backed grain deal, which had allowed for the safe wartime transport of foodstuffs over the Black Sea. Ukraine is one of the world’s major grain producers, and its exports play a vital role in global food security.”

The Constitution Prohibits Trump From Ever Being President Again. The only question is whether American citizens today can uphold that commitment. The Atlantic, J. Michael Luttig and Laurence H. Tribe, Saturday, 19 August 2023: “As students of the United States Constitution for many decades—one of us as a U.S. Court of Appeals judge, the other as a professor of constitutional law, and both as constitutional advocates, scholars, and practitioners—we long ago came to the conclusion that the Fourteenth Amendment, the amendment ratified in 1868 that represents our nation’s second founding and a new birth of freedom, contains within it a protection against the dissolution of the republic by a treasonous president. This protection, embodied in the amendment’s often-overlooked Section 3, automatically excludes from future office and position of power in the United States government—and also from any equivalent office and position of power in the sovereign states and their subdivisions—any person who has taken an oath to support and defend our Constitution and thereafter rebels against that sacred charter, either through overt insurrection or by giving aid or comfort to the Constitution’s enemies.” See also, Letters from an American: How barring Trump under the 14th amendment echoes barring of confederate leaders post-Civil War, Substack, Heather Cox Richardson, Saturday, 19 August 2023: “Various constitutional lawyers have been weighing in lately on whether former president Donald Trump and others who participated in the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election are disqualified from holding office under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The third section of that amendment, ratified in 1868, reads: ‘No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.’ On August 14 an article forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Law Review by William Baude of the University of Chicago Law School and Michael S. Paulsen of the University of St. Thomas School of Law became available as a preprint. It argues that the third section of the Fourteenth Amendment is still in effect (countering arguments that it applied only to the Civil War era secessionists), that it is self-executing (meaning the disqualification of certain people is automatic, much as age limits or residency requirements are), and that Trump and others who participated in trying to steal the 2020 presidential election are disqualified from holding office. This paper [is] a big deal because while liberal thinkers have been making this argument for a while now, Baude and Paulsen are associated with the legal doctrine of originalism, an approach to the law that insists the Constitution should be understood as those who wrote its different parts understood them. That theory gained traction on the right in the 1980s as a way to push back against what its adherents called ‘judicial activism,’ by which they meant the Supreme Court’s use of the law, especially the Fourteenth Amendment, to expand the rights of minorities and women. One of the key institutions engaged in this pushback was the Federalist Society, and both Baude and Paulson are associated with it.” See also, Legal scholars increasingly raise constitutional argument that Trump should be barred from presidency, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, published on Sunday, 20 August 2023: “Prominent conservative legal scholars are increasingly raising a constitutional argument that 2024 Republican candidate Donald Trump should be barred from the presidency because of his actions to overturn the previous presidential election result. The latest salvo came Saturday in The Atlantic magazine, from liberal law professor Laurence Tribe and J. Michael Luttig, the former federal appellate judge and prominent conservative, who argue the 14th Amendment disqualifies the former president from returning to the Oval Office. ‘The people who wrote the 14th Amendment were not fools. They realized that if those people who tried to overturn the country, who tried to get rid of our peaceful transitions of power are again put in power, that would be the end of the nation, the end of democracy,’ Tribe told CNN’s Kasie Hunt on ‘State of the Union’ on Sunday.”


Sunday, 20 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Dutch Prime Minister says Kyiv to get F-16 fighter jets from Netherlands and Denmark, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Annabelle Timsit, Nick Parker, and Sammy Westfall, Sunday, 20 August 2023: “Ukraine will get F-16 fighter jets from the Netherlands and Denmark, the Dutch prime minister and Danish Defense Ministry confirmed Sunday — a move Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called ‘historical, powerful and motivational.’ The announcement came during a visit to the Netherlands by Zelensky and after the Biden administration said it would green-light such transfers once Ukrainian pilots are trained to use the American-made aircraft. Russian officials reported drone strikes in four regions of western and southern Russia, and blamed Ukraine. An uptick in attacks deep inside Russian territory probably means Russian military leaders are under pressure to tighten air defenses, Britain’s Defense Ministry said. The Netherlands and Denmark agreed ‘to transfer F-16 aircraft to Ukraine and the Ukrainian Air Force in close cooperation with the U.S. and other partners, when the conditions for such a transfer are met.’ Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte made the announcement Sunday, after touring a Dutch air base with Zelensky, news wires reported. Rutte declined to say how many F-16s would be sent to Ukraine, and said the Netherlands has 42 of them in stock, according to Reuters. ‘Rutte and I agreed on the number of F-16s that will be provided to Ukraine — after training our pilots and engineers. 42 planes,’ Zelensky wrote on Telegram. Kyiv has argued that fighter jets could help its forces better defend the sky above Ukraine and prevent more Russian attacks. Denmark will give 19 F-16s to Ukraine, Zelensky announced on Telegram after meeting with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Sunday. Denmark has already started training Ukrainian pilots and engineers in the country. Zelensky spoke Sunday with some of the Ukrainians undergoing the training at an air base of the Royal Danish Air Force, where the two leaders also discussed the ‘expansion of training missions,’ Zelensky added. Zelensky said the military would ‘respond tangibly’ to an attack on Chernihiv, which killed at least seven people, including a 6-year-old child. Ukrainian authorities said 144 people were injured in the daytime strike on a theater in the northern city. The regional governor said the strikeprobably’ involved a ballistic missile. The attack on Chernihiv turned ‘an ordinary Saturday … into a day of pain and loss,’ Zelensky said. The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, Denise Brown, condemned the attack — about 80 miles north of the capital, Kyiv, and far from the front lines of the war — saying in a statement that it ‘is heinous to attack the main square of a large city, in the morning, while people are out walking, some going to the church to celebrate a religious day for many Ukrainians.’ Kyiv has an agreement with Stockholm to produce armored vehicles known as CV90s inside Ukraine, Zelensky said in his nightly address. He did not specify how many or what the agreement entailed. On his visit to Sweden this weekend, Zelensky and Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson also discussed Ukraine’s desire for Swedish-made Gripen fighter jets, which Stockholm earlier this summer agreed to allow Ukrainian pilots to test. The United States is expected to soon double its prewar monthly production of the standard NATO artillery round, The Post reports, increasing its output from 14,000 units a month before Russia’s invasion to eventually 28,000 units a month. But industry experts warn of challenges in sustaining the elevated production levels, not just to aid Ukraine war efforts but also to ensure U.S. security in potential conflicts with China or Russia.”

Mark Meadows told special counsel Jack Smith he could not recall Trump ever declassifying Mar-a-Lago documents, Trump has insisted that he declassified all the materials before he left office. ABC News, Katherine Faulders, Jonathan Karl, and Alexander Mallin, Sunday, 20 August 2023: “Appearing to contradict former President Donald Trump’s primary public defense in the classified documents case, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has told special counsel Jack Smith’s investigators that he could not recall Trump ever ordering, or even discussing, declassifying broad sets of classified materials before leaving the White House, nor was he aware of any ‘standing order’ from Trump authorizing the automatic declassification of materials taken out of the Oval Office, sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News. Ever since the FBI’s seizure of more than 100 classified documents from his Mar-a-Lago estate last August, Trump has insisted that he declassified all the materials before he left office. The former president now faces 40 separate criminal charges related to his possession of those documents, ranging from unlawful retention of national defense information to various obstruction-related offenses.”


Monday, 21 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky hails new F-16 pledge; Wagner chief says group is hiring for work in Africa, The Washington Post, Lyric Li, Annabelle Timsit, Mary Ilyushina, and Mikhail Klimentov, Monday, 21 August 2023: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called a pledge by the Netherlands and Denmark to deliver F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine ‘powerful’ and ‘historic’ as he continued his diplomatic tour of several European countries. Later on Monday, Telegram channels linked to the Wagner paramilitary group published a video appearing to show the group’s leader, Evgeniy Prigozhin, making his first extensive public statement since Wagner’s attempted mutiny in June. ‘[Wagner is] making Russia even greater on all continents, and making Africa a more free place,’ Prigozhin says in the clip, adding that the group is hiring to expand its work in Africa. The Washington Post could not independently verify Prigozhin’s location. Denmark will send 19 F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine ‘when the conditions for such a transfer are met,’ including the proper training of Ukrainian pilots, it said Sunday in a joint statement with the Netherlands. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, at a news conference with Zelensky on Sunday, did not specify how many F-16s his country will send Ukraine but said it has 42 in stock. He said some of the aircraft in stock may have to be updated. Zelensky has long pleaded with allies for the American-made fighter jets to help Ukrainian forces, who often fly in older, Soviet-era aircraft, repel attacks from the more sophisticated Russian fleet. Russia’s Defense Ministry said it thwarted two attempted drone attacks over the Moscow region early Monday. The first drone was detected around 6:50 a.m. and was jammed electronically. The ministry said the drone ‘lost control’ and ‘crashed’ northwest of Moscow without harming anyone. The second drone was destroyed shortly after 8:15 a.m. over the Istra district of the Moscow region, the ministry said. Moscow’s regional governor, Andrey Vorobyov, said drone debris fell on a house in Istra, injuring two people and damaging three other houses. The Russian Defense Ministry blamed Ukraine for the attempted strikes, which disrupted air traffic around the capital. The Post could not independently verify the reports. The airspace over Moscow was temporarily restricted after the attempted drone strikes ‘to ensure the safety of civil aircraft flights,’ Russia’s Federal Agency for Air Transport said early Monday. It said 45 commercial flights and two cargo flights were redirected from four Moscow area airports to airports in Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan and St. Petersburg. Traffic at the Moscow airports was back to normal at 9 a.m., it said. Similar incidents disrupted air traffic around the capital Friday and Sunday. The company that oversees the Domino’s Pizza brand in Russia said it will file for bankruptcy there, signaling an end to its operations in that country nearly 18 months after President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine. The U.S.-based Domino’s Pizza has said it cut off financial support for the Russian business in December 2022. The franchisee cited unspecified business challenges in Russia. Sweden has no plans to provide fighter jets to Ukraine, the country’s prime minister said. Ulf Kristersson told Swedish broadcaster TV4 on Monday that Sweden needs its Saab JAS 39 Gripen planes for its own defense and must balance this reality against Ukraine’s demands for the aircraft. ‘We will do everything we can to support them also with aircraft. But right now there are no new commitments to provide Swedish aircraft to Ukraine,’ Kristersson told TV4. Zelensky visited Sweden last week and asked for Gripen planes. Sweden previously agreed to let Ukrainian pilots test the Gripens. Russia’s foreign minister said ‘tectonic shifts are taking place in the world’ that will lead to ‘a more just multipolar world order.’ Sergei Lavrov, writing for South Africa’s Ubuntu Magazine, said the members of BRICS — a group of emerging market economies made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — have an important role to play in this new world order. South Africa is hosting the yearly BRICS summit, which begins Tuesday, and Lavrov is expected to attend. As The Post has reported, South African officials said last month that Putin, who is facing an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court over alleged war crimes in Ukraine, has agreed not to attend the summit, ending a diplomatic quandary for South Africa: As a member of the ICC, it would have had an obligation to arrest Putin upon his arrival in the country. Zelensky, on a visit to Denmark, said that ‘all of Russia’s neighbors are under threat if Ukraine does not prevail.’ In a speech to Danish lawmakers in Copenhagen on Monday, Zelensky thanked Denmark for its military support of Ukraine and argued that ‘democracies of the world, each of them, can become a target, either for missiles, or for mercenaries, or for destabilization’ if Russia wins the war.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky Arrives in Greece, Aiming to Shore Up Support For Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Athens on Monday, the fourth stop in a European tour aimed at securing more support in the war Against Russia. The New York Times, Monday, 21 August 2023:

  • Armed with pledges of F-16s, Zelensky takes his diplomatic tour to Greece.
  • Two Moscow airports closed briefly after drone attacks, Russia says.
  • Zelensky thanks Denmark for pledging to donate F-16 fighter jets.
  • E.U. gas storage facilities are nearly full ahead of schedule, data shows.
  • An Iranian military delegation visits Moscow, underscoring deepening ties amid the war in Ukraine.
  • Biden’s top military adviser, a devout Catholic, meets Pope Francis to discuss Ukraine.
  • At the BRICS meeting, Russia will be keen to show it still has loyal allies.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia strikes Chernihiv, as Kyiv welcomes F-16 pledges, NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 21 August 2023: “Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: Leaders of the BRICS countries will gather for an Aug. 22-Aug. 24 summit in South Africa — minus Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is sending his foreign minister instead. Putin is set to participate virtually. In addition to South Africa, the BRICS nations include Brazil, Russia, China and India. Ukraine’s Independence Day is on Thursday — which also marks 18 months since Russia’s invasion began. On the same day, the U.N. Security Council will hold a briefing on Ukraine, with remarks by Under Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo and a civil society representative. What happened last week: A Russian missile strike on Sunday killed seven people and injured at least 90 in Chernihiv, Ukraine. The missile hit just as many were leaving church, and damaged a theater building. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was on a visit to Sweden at the time, where the two countries announced an agreement on production and use of Swedish CV90 infantry fighting vehicles. Denmark and the Netherlands confirmed they will send F-16s to Ukraine, after the U.S. agreed to allow it. The timeline for delivery is unclear. Ukrainian pilots will have to be trained to use the sophisticated fighter jets, which are not expected to be deployed until after this year. Earlier in the week, Germany’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner held talks with Ukrainian officials in Kyiv and signed a joint declaration to boost cooperation. China’s Defense Minister Li Shangfu visited Russia and Belarus. It was his second visit to Russia this year, and he met with top officials and spoke at the Moscow Conference on International Security. ‘Whether it is on Afghanistan, Syria, the Korean Peninsula, Ukraine or the Iranian nuclear issue, China will promote peace talks and help reach an international consensus,’ Li said at the conference. Putin also addressed the gathering via a prerecorded video on Tuesday, as Russia launched missile strikes across Ukraine. The first ship left Odesa’s port since Russia terminated the United Nations-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative. According to Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, the container ship, carrying cargo including food, left the port on Aug. 16, bound for the Bosporus along the temporary corridor established for civilian vessels. It had been moored at the Odesa port since Feb. 23, 2022. The total number of Ukrainian and Russian troop deaths and injuries in the Ukraine war is estimated at nearly 500,000, the New York Times reported, citing U.S.officials. Russia’s central bank increased interest rates from 8.5% to 12%, in an attempt to stabilize the ruble after the Russian currency tumbled past 100 to the U.S. dollar due to the sanctions Western countries have imposed over the invasion of Ukraine. The ruble has shed more than a third of its value this year. Gene Spector, a Russian-born U.S. citizen imprisoned for bribery in Russia, is also being charged with espionage, Russian news agencies reported. A State Department spokesperson said the U.S. is ‘aware of reports of charges against a U.S. citizen in Russia’ and is monitoring the situation. Russian Gen. Gennady Zhidko, a senior Russian military leader, died ‘after a long illness,’ Russian officials said. Zhidko was briefly in charge of the military campaign in Ukraine before a series of setbacks on the battlefield during the summer of 2022 led to his removal.”

Bail for Trump Set at $200,000 in Georgia Election Interference Case. Mr. Trump, who said he would turn himself in on Thursday, was told not to intimidate or threaten any witnesses or co-defendants in the case. The New York Times, Danny Hakim, Maggie Haberman, and Richard Fausset, Monday, 21 August 2023: “A judge in Atlanta set bail for former President Donald J. Trump at $200,000 on Monday in the new election interference case against him, warning Mr. Trump not to intimidate or threaten witnesses or any of his 18 co-defendants as a condition of the bond agreement. Mr. Trump, who posted on Truth Social that he would surrender to the authorities in Atlanta on Thursday, is also sorting out logistical details in three other criminal cases that have been filed against him this year. Earlier in the day, federal prosecutors pushed back on a request from his lawyers to postpone a separate election interference trial in Washington, D.C., until at least April 2026. Under his bond agreement in Georgia, Mr. Trump cannot communicate with any co-defendants in the case except through his lawyers. He was also directed to ‘make no direct or indirect threat of any nature against the community,’ including ‘posts on social media or reposts of posts made by another individual.’ The terms were more extensive than those set for other defendants in the case so far, which did not specifically mention social media. In the past, Mr. Trump has made inflammatory and sometimes false personal attacks on Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, who is leading the case.” See also, Judge approves $200,000 bond for Trump in Georgia election case, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey, Monday, 21 August 2023: “An Atlanta-area judge approved a $200,000 bond Monday for former president Donald Trump, who is expected to surrender later this week on charges that he and 18 allies illegally conspired to try to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia. The bond agreement, known as a consent bond order, sets strict rules for Trump’s release. The former president is not allowed to communicate with witnesses or co-defendants about the case, except through his lawyers, and he is barred from intimidating witnesses or co-defendants. He is also forbidden from making any ‘direct or indirect threat of any nature against the community or to any property in the community,’ including in ‘posts on social media or reposts of posts’ by others on social media. ‘The defendant shall perform no act to intimidate any person known to him … to be a co-defendant or witness in this case or to otherwise obstruct the administration of justice,’ the agreement says.”

Prosecutors Criticize Trump’s Request for 2026 Trial Date in January 6 Case. Defense lawyers had said they needed years to wade through 11 million pages of evidence, but the Justice Department, which is seeking to go to trial in January, said they were exaggerating the burden. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Monday, 21 August 2023: “Federal prosecutors pushed back on Monday against former President Donald J. Trump’s request to postpone his election interference trial in Washington until well into 2026, asserting that his main reason for the delay — the amount of evidence his lawyers have to sort through — was vastly overstated. Mr. Trump’s lawyers, in an extremely aggressive move last week, asked Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, who is overseeing the case, to put the trial off until at least April 2026. That schedule would call for a jury to be seated nearly a year and a half after the 2024 election and almost three years after the charges against Mr. Trump were originally filed…. Responding to these claims in court papers on Monday, Molly Gaston, one of the prosecutors in the case, told Judge Chutkan that Mr. Trump’s characterization of the discovery evidence ‘overstates the amount of new and nonduplicative’ material his lawyers will get and ‘exaggerates the challenge of reviewing it effectively.’ Ms. Gaston said that Mr. Trump should already be familiar with much of the materials, noting that about three million pages came from unnamed ‘entities associated with’ him. Hundreds of thousands of other pages, she added, have been publicly available for some time — among them, ‘the defendant’s tweets, Truth Social posts, campaign statements and court papers involving challenges to the 2020 election by the defendant or his allies.'” See also, Justice Department pushes back against Trump’s bid for a 2026 trial in D.C., The Washington Post, Rachel Weiner, Monday, 21 August 2023: “The Justice Department pushed back Monday on former president Donald Trump’s claims that he cannot be ready to go to trial in January on charges that he illegally sought to subvert the results of the 2020 election. A trial in D.C. federal court in April 2026, which Trump’s attorneys requested, ‘would deny the public its right to a speedy trial,’ attorneys working for special counsel Jack Smith wrote in Monday’s filing. In arguing for its preferred Jan. 2, 2024, date, the office said they do not intend to use classified information against Trump in this case. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan is expected to set a trial date at a hearing Aug. 28. If prosecutors get their way, Trump will face two federal criminal trials before the 2024 presidential race, in which he is the leading Republican contender.”


Tuesday, 22 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. says war is Not a ‘stalemate’; Russian bomber destroyed by drone, The Washington Post, Lyric Li, Annabelle Timsit, Jan Ludwig, and Missy Ryan, Tuesday, 22 August 2023: “National security adviser Jake Sullivan defended Ukraine’s battlefield performance on Tuesday, pledging continued American aid to Kyiv despite widespread disappointment about the country’s progress in reclaiming Russian-held territory. Several months into a counteroffensive in which Ukrainians have struggled to penetrate robust Russian defenses, falling short of Western hopes that they could break through and recapture large areas of Russian-occupied territory in their country’s south and east, Sullivan said Ukraine was retaking territory ‘on a methodical, systematic basis. A drone appears to have destroyed a Russian TU-22M3 long-range bomber at an air base outside the Russian city of St. Petersburg, Ukrainian media outlets reported. Photos shared on Telegram, verified by The Washington Post, show smoke rising from the site and a supersonic bomber engulfed in flames. The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that a Ukrainian drone had damaged the plane. Ukraine has not confirmed the incident. ‘We do not assess that the conflict is a stalemate,’ Sullivan told reporters in an online briefing. ‘Ukrainians are operating according to their tactics and their timetable, making progress according to the strategic and operational decisions of their commanders and their leadership, and we’ll continue to support that.’ Ukraine’s 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade claimed to have entered Robotyne on Tuesday after two months of fighting over the strategic southeastern village. The claim, which could not be independently verified, may bring Ukrainian forces one step closer to the key southeastern city of Melitopol. But, as The Washington Post recently reported, the U.S. intelligence community has assessed that Ukraine’s counteroffensive will fail to reach Melitopol and that its forces will instead remain several miles outside the city. The U.S. Embassy in Belarus urged Americans to leave the country ‘immediately,’ citing spillover risks from the war in Ukraine. On Tuesday, Polish President Andrzej Duda said his country was aware of Russia moving tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, warning that the plan, announced by Russia in March, would change ‘the architecture of security in our part of Europe.’ The region around Russia’s capital was targeted by drones overnight for the fifth consecutive day. Andrey Vorobyov, the regional governor, said Russian air defenses intercepted two drones near Moscow on Tuesday. One interception allegedly occurred west of the capital and the other near Krasnogorsk, Moscow’s satellite city, where the resulting blast ‘shattered windows’ in a 25-story apartment building and ‘damaged cars’ but caused no casualties, Vorobyov said. Moscow closed three airports early Tuesday, but they resumed operations within hours, state news agency Tass reported. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had an ‘open, honest and fruitful meeting’ with his Serbian counterpart at a summit of Balkan nations and Ukraine. Zelensky said Tuesday that he and Aleksandar Vucic spoke about ‘respect for the U.N. Charter and the inviolability of borders,’ about their countries’ ‘shared future in the common European home’ and about ‘developing our relations.’ Their meeting is significant because Serbia has deep cultural and economic ties with Russia, and Vucic has resisted calls from Western countries to impose sanctions on Moscow. However, a leaked U.S. intelligence document suggested a few months ago that Serbia had provided or committed to provide lethal aid to Ukraine — a claim Belgrade denied.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia Says It Destroyed Ukrainian Vessels in the Black Sea. The Kremlin said the attacks were carried out from the air on an important shipping route, which could raise tensions even further. The New York Times, Tuesday, 22 August 2023:

  • Russia says one attack was near a gas platform and one was near Snake Island.
  • Putin tells the BRICS summit that the West is to blame for the collapse of the Black Sea grain deal.
  • Battlefield Update: Ukrainian forces enter the small southern village of Robotyne, officials say.
  • A Russian bomber was destroyed by a Ukrainian drone, satellite images suggest.
  • Ukraine accuses Israel of denying more of its citizens entry.
  • On the front line, Ukrainian commanders are buoyed to be on the offensive.
  • Drones disrupt Moscow airport traffic for a second day.

Witness in Trump Documents Case Changed Lawyers, and Then Testimony. Federal prosecutors described the shift in a court filing that highlighted conflicts of interest in the overlapping legal representation of witnesses and defendants in the case. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Alan Feuer, Tuesday, 22 August 2023: “An employee of former President Donald J. Trump changed his grand jury testimony in the documents case after the Justice Department raised questions about whether his lawyer had a conflict of interest in representing both the employee and a defendant in the case, prosecutors said in a court filing on Tuesday. The prosecutors working for the special counsel, Jack Smith, had asked for a hearing to address the fact that the employee, who is a possible witness in the case, was represented by the lawyer Stanley Woodward. Mr. Woodward also represents two other possible witnesses and one of the co-defendants, Walt Nauta, a personal aide to Mr. Trump. The employee was not named in the court filings but was identified by people familiar with the matter as Yuscil Taveras, an information technology worker at Mr. Trump’s private club and residence in Florida, Mar-a-Lago.” See also, Trump Mar-a-Lago security aide flipped after changing lawyers. Special counsel Jack Smith’s team revealed the details of the employee’s about-face in a new filing. Politico, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, Tuesday, 22 August 2023: “A Trump employee who monitored security cameras at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate abruptly retracted his earlier grand jury testimony and implicated Trump and others in obstruction of justice just after switching from an attorney paid for by a Trump political action committee to a lawyer from the federal defender’s office in Washington, prosecutors said in a court filing Tuesday. The aide — described as ‘Trump Employee 4’ in public court filings but identified elsewhere as Yuscil Taveras — held the title of director of information technology at Mar-a-Lago. He initially testified to a grand jury in Washington, D.C., that he was unaware of any effort to erase the videos, but after getting the new attorney ‘immediately … retracted his prior false testimony’ and detailed the alleged effort to tamper with evidence related to the investigation of the handling of classified information stored at Trump’s Florida home, the new submission said.”

Special counsel Jack Smith says D.C. grand jury on Trump documents case has ended. New court filing details more of the government’s efforts involving witnesses who allegedly lied to cover up crimes, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Tuesday, 22 August 2023: “The federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., that helped investigate former president Donald Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents has ended, special counsel Jack Smith said in a court filing, which laid out new details about how the probe quietly expanded to look at alleged coverup efforts. The 12-page filing by one of Smith’s deputies, David Harbach, comes as prosecutors and defense lawyers are sparring over the use of two grand juries to investigate Trump’s alleged hoarding of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, his home and private club. Trump is charged with illegally retaining national defense information after leaving the White House and obstructing government efforts to retrieve the material. In Tuesday’s filing, prosecutors defend the use of a federal grand jury in the nation’s capital, as well as one in South Florida, to hear evidence in the matter, saying the two-pronged approach was proper to investigate criminal conduct that allegedly occurred in both places.”

How Mark Meadows Pursued a High-Wire Legal Strategy in Trump Inquiries. The former White House chief of staff, a key witness to Donald J. Trump’s efforts to remain in power after his 2020 election loss, maneuvered to provide federal prosecutors only what he had to. The New York Times, Jonathan Swan, Alan Feuer, Luke Broadwater, and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 22 August 2023: “This winter, after receiving a subpoena from a grand jury investigating former President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election, Mark Meadows commenced a delicate dance with federal prosecutors. He had no choice but to show up and, eventually, to testify. Yet Mr. Meadows — Mr. Trump’s final White House chief of staff — initially declined to answer certain questions, sticking to his former boss’s position that they were shielded by executive privilege. But when prosecutors working for the special counsel, Jack Smith, challenged Mr. Trump’s executive privilege claims before a judge, Mr. Meadows pivoted. Even though he risked enraging Mr. Trump, he decided to trust Mr. Smith’s team, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Meadows quietly arranged to talk with them not only about the steps the former president took to stay in office, but also about his handling of classified documents after he left.”

D.C. Attorney General is probing Leonard Leo’s network. The Federalist Society co-chair and ex-Trump judicial adviser has utilized nonprofit groups to collect more than $1 billion for conservative causes. Politico, Heidi Przybyla, Tuesday, 22 August 2023: “Washington D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb is investigating judicial activist Leonard Leo and his network of nonprofit groups, according to a person with direct knowledge of the probe. The scope of the investigation is unclear. But it comes after POLITICO reported in March that one of Leo’s nonprofits — registered as a charity — paid his for-profit company tens of millions of dollars in the two years since he joined the company. A few weeks later, a progressive watchdog group filed a complaint with the D.C. attorney general and the IRS requesting a probe into what services were provided and whether Leo was in violation of laws against using charities for personal enrichment.”


Wednesday, 23 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Wagner’s Prigozhin listed as passenger in Russian plane crash that killed 10, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Miriam Berger, Sarah Dadouch, Sammy Westfall, Mary Ilyushina, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, and Andrea Salcedo, Wednesday, 23 August 2023: “Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the Wagner mercenary group chief who led a short-lived mutiny against the Kremlin in June, was listed as a passenger on a plane that crashed in Russia on Wednesday, Russia’s civil aviation agency said. The crash killed all 10 people onboard, according to the agency. Russia’s emergency services did not immediately confirm whether Prigozhin had been onboard and died.

  • Prigozhin had largely disappeared from the public eye after leading the short-lived rebellion, in which his mercenary fighters briefly occupied a military headquarters in southern Russia and marched on the capital, shocking President Vladimir Putin and the country’s military leadership.
  • Under a deal brokered with Putin by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Prigozhin agreed to call off the mutiny in exchange for pardons and the ability to relocate his fighters to Belarus.
  • Since then, Prigozhin had been spotted in his hometown of St. Petersburg attending a Russia-Africa summit and in a blurry video shot in near-darkness that purported to show him instructing his troops in Belarus on how to conduct themselves on their new base in exile.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Wagner’s Prigozhin Listed as Passenger on Plane That Crashed, Killing All Aboard. The authorities did not confirm whether the Wagner mercenary leader, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, was on board when a private jet crashed north of Moscow on Wednesday, killing 10 people. The New York Times, Wednesday, 23 August 2023: “Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner mercenary group who staged a brief mutiny against Russia’s military leadership in June, was listed as a passenger on a plane that crashed Wednesday, killing all 10 people aboard, according to Russian aviation authorities. ‘An investigation of the Embraer plane crash that happened in the Tver Region this evening was initiated,’ the Federal Agency for Air Transport of Russia said in a statement, according to the state news agency Tass. ‘According to the passenger list, first and last name of Yevgeny Prigozhin was included in this list.’ But late into the Russian evening, the authorities had not officially confirmed that he had been killed.”

Rudy Giuliani Surrenders at Jail in Georgia Election Case. Mr Giuliani, whose bond was set at $150,000, served as Donald Trump’s personal lawyer in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Another defendant requested a speedy trial on Wednesday. The New York Times, Danny Hakim, Maggie Haberman, and Richard Fausset, Wednesday, 23 August 2023: “Rudolph W. Giuliani turned himself in on Wednesday in the racketeering case against former President Donald J. Trump and his allies, surrendering at the Atlanta jail where the defendants are being booked. Mr. Giuliani, whose bond was set at $150,000, arrived in Atlanta as another defendant in the sprawling case, the lawyer Kenneth Chesebro, filed a motion seeking a speedy trial. Under that scenario, which Georgia law allows, the trial for all 19 people indicted in the case would have to start no later than Nov. 3, months earlier than prosecutors had sought.”

Trump suggests in Carlson interview that the U.S. could see more political violence. The former president also again defended the mob of his supporters that attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The Washington Post, Isaac Arnsdorf, Wednesday, 23 August 2023: “Former president Donald Trump suggested that the United States could see intensifying political violence, saying in a new interview that tensions in the country were reaching a boiling point. Asked by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson whether the nation is headed toward open conflict, Trump responded: ‘I don’t know. I can say this: There’s a level of passion that I’ve never seen. There’s a level of hatred that I’ve never seen. And that’s probably a bad combination.'” See also, Trump, During Tucker Carlson Interview, Belittles Republican Rivals. His decision to sit out the debate and instead do a pretaped interview with the former Fox News host Tucker Carlson was a tactical one. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 23 August 2023: “Instead of being subjected to the rigors of a debate, former President Donald J. Trump enjoyed an hour on Wednesday night in which he was able to deliver mostly stream-of-consciousness commentary on politics and the state of the nation, drifting from topics such as the death of Jeffrey Epstein and the challenges of low water pressure to what President Biden’s legs look like on the beach and what he called the ‘trivia’ of the charges lodged against him in four criminal indictments. His decision to sit out the debate and instead do a pretaped interview with the former Fox News host Tucker Carlson was a tactical one by Mr. Trump, who is leading the Republican primary polls by wide margins. Rather than appearing onstage with people competing with him but largely refusing to criticize him, Mr. Trump was able to use the leading and sympathetic questioning by Mr. Carlson to boast about what he saw as his accomplishments, belittle his rivals and attack President Biden in an unchallenged format.”

Republican rivals clash sharply in combative debate with no Trump. The debate often pivoted around fiery exchanges, including several involving entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, a first-time millennial candidate. The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Michael Scherer, and Marianne LeVine, Wednesday, 23 August 2023: “Republican presidential contenders targeted each other Wednesday as much as they did the absent front-runner, Donald Trump, in a combative first debate with a series of heated clashes reflecting the fierce competition to emerge as the main alternative to the former president. Trump’s decision to skip the event, a choice that highlighted his commanding polling lead, left him without a defense over two hours that marked the official start of the nomination battle. His biggest consolation came when all but two of the candidates onstage clearly raised their hands to signal that they would support Trump if he won the nomination and was convicted of a crime in a court of law. Trump has been indicted four times and faces 91 criminal charges and will surrender in Georgia on Thursday.”


Thursday, 24 August 2023:


Trump Surrenders at Atlanta Jail in Georgia Election Interference Case. Mr.. Trump spent about 20 minutes at the jail, getting fingerprinted and having his mug shot taken for the first time in the four criminal cases he has faced this year. The New York Times, Richard Fausset, Danny Hakim, and Thomas Fuller, Thursday, 24 August 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump surrendered at the Fulton County jail in Atlanta on Thursday and was booked on 13 felony charges for his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss in Georgia. It was an extraordinary scene: a former U.S. president who flew on his own jet to Atlanta and surrendered at a jail compound surrounded by concertina wire and signs that directed visitors to the ‘prisoner intake’ area. As Mr. Trump’s motorcade of black S.U.V.s drove to the jail through cleared streets, preceded by more than a dozen police motorcycles — a trip captured by news helicopters and broadcast live on national television — two worlds collided in ways never before seen in American political history. The nation’s former commander in chief walked into a notorious jail, one that has been cited in rap lyrics and is the subject of a Department of Justice investigation into unsanitary and unsafe conditions, including allegations that an ‘incarcerated person died covered in insects and filth.’ The case is the fourth brought against Mr. Trump this year, but Thursday was the first time that he was booked at a jail. Mr. Trump spent about 20 minutes there, submitting to some of the routines of criminal defendant intake. He was fingerprinted and had his mug shot taken. He was assigned an identification number, P01135809. But the process was faster than for most defendants; minutes after he entered the jail, Mr. Trump’s record appeared in Fulton County’s booking system, which listed him as having ‘blond or strawberry’ hair, a height of 6 feet 3 inches and a weight of 215 pounds — 24 pounds less than the White House doctor reported Mr. Trump weighing in 2018.” See also, Trump Returns to the Service Formerly Known as Twitter. Absent for more than two years, former President Donald Trump posted his mug shot on the site, now called X. The New York Times, Kate Conger, Tuesday, 24 August 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump returned to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday night after a hiatus of more than two years. Mr. Trump posted a link to his website and a photo of his mug shot in his first new post on X since Twitter banned his account after the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. ‘Never surrender!’ the caption under the mug shot read…. Mr. Trump has a large Twitter following — 86.5 million people, compared with only 6.5 million who follow his Truth Social account.” See also, Trump surrenders at Fulton County Jail for his first mug shot, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey, Amy Gardner, and Isaac Arnsdorf, Thursday, 24 August 2023:  “Donald Trump surrendered at an Atlanta jail on Thursday and was booked on felony charges alleging he participated in a sweeping criminal conspiracy to illegally overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia — an unprecedented moment resulting in the first mug shot of a former American president. Trump’s booking at the Fulton County Jail came 10 days after the former president was charged in Georgia in what was his fourth criminal indictment since March — and his second tied to his alleged efforts to subvert the 2020 election results and remain in the White House. But his Atlanta surrender was unlike his previous ones. While other jurisdictions waived a booking photo and processed Trump in courthouse facilities, Fulton County officials announced Trump would be treated no differently than any other Atlanta-area arrestee. Trump was required to turn himself in at the notorious county jail known as ‘Rice Street,’ where inmate deaths and decrepit conditions recently prompted a Justice Department civil rights investigation. The former president had his height and weight recorded and was fingerprinted and photographed. Unlike other arrestees, he was booked and released in roughly 20 minutes on a $200,000 bond negotiated earlier in the week by his legal team. He arrived and departed through a back entrance of the facility where he did not interact with anyone in the jail population.” See also, Donald Trump marks return to X, Formerly Twitter, with mug shot tweet, The Washington Post, Niha Masih and Jonathan Edwards, Thursday, 24 August 2023: “Former president Donald Trump made a return to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, late Thursday, with his account sharing his mug shot and a link to his website hours after his surrender and subsequent release from an Atlanta jail on charges connected to his attempts to reverse the 2020 election results in Georgia. ‘Never surrender,’ the caption read…. The return of Trump on X, where he has more than 86 million followers, came as he was booked on charges he broke Georgia laws with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, producing the first mug shot of a former U.S. president. It also came ahead of a new presidential election cycle in which he faces three other indictments.” See also, Donald Trump’s mug shot released following his Georgia surrender: live updates, NPR, Thursday, 24 August 2023: “Donald Trump voluntarily surrendered to the Fulton County jail in Georgia for the fourth criminal case brought against him since April. Here’s what’s happening: Trump’s surrender: In a visit that lasted just 23 minutes, Trump was booked and had his mug shot taken. Codefendants: Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was among the latest of 12 defendants to surrender. The remaining seven have been given a deadline of Friday at noon. Legal maneuvers: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wants to move the start of the trial up to Oct. 23, and hours before his booking, Trump put a prominent defense lawyer at the top of his team.”

Judge schedules Trump codefendant Ken Chesebro for October trial in racketeering case. The expedited trial date does not apply–at least for now–to Donald Trump or any other defendants in the Georgia case. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Thursday, 24 August 2023: “A Georgia state judge has scheduled an Oct. 23 racketeering trial for Kenneth Chesebro, one of 18 codefendants charged by local prosecutors alongside Donald Trump in a plot to subvert the 2020 election. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis asked the judge, Scott McAfee, Thursday to schedule the trial for all 19 defendants on that date, an unexpectedly rapid timeline that Willis proposed in response to Chesebro’s formal demand for a speedy trial. But McAfee indicated that ‘at this time’ he would only expedite the trial date for Chesebro.”

House Republicans Begin Investigating Fani Willis as Trump Is Booked, The launch of an inquiry into Fani Willis, the Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney, was the latest example of how the former president’s allies in Congress are using their majority to try to protect him. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Thursday, 24 August 2023: “House Republicans took aim on Thursday at the Georgia prosecutor bringing a sweeping felony racketeering case against former President Donald J. Trump for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, moving to investigate the woman pursuing the case just hours before Mr. Trump was booked at an Atlanta jail. Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced he was opening an inquiry into Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County, Ga., district attorney, questioning whether she had collaborated with Biden administration officials and targeting any federal funding her office receives.” See also, House Judiciary Committee launches inquiry into Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, CNN Politics, Annie Grayer and Melanie Zanona, Thursday, 24 August 2023: “The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee has opened a congressional investigation into Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a development that was first reported by CNN and comes the same day Trump is slated to surrender at the county jail after being charged for participating in schemes to meddle with Georgia’s 2020 election results. The committee sent a letter to Willis on Thursday asking whether she communicated or coordinated with the Justice Department, who has indicted Trump twice on two separate cases, or used federal dollars to complete her investigation that culminated in the fourth indictment of Trump. The questions from Republicans about whether Willis used federal funding in her state-level investigation mirrors the same line of inquiry that Republicans used to probe Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who indicted Trump in New York earlier this year for falsifying business records to cover up an alleged hush money scheme.” See also, House Republicans launch investigation into Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis after Trump indictment. The Republican move against Willis replays a familiar script for the party–playing defense in the former president’s legal battles. Politico, Jordain Carney, Thursday, 24 August 2023: “House Republicans are replaying a familiar script: playing political defense in former President Donald Trump’s legal battles. The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday launched an investigation into Georgia’s Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, hours before Trump is expected to turn himself in following his indictment on racketeering charges related to his push to overturn the 2020 presidential election in that state. Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), in a letter to Willis, said the ‘indictment and prosecution implicate substantial federal interests, and the circumstances surrounding your actions raise serious concerns about whether they are politically motivated.’ A spokesperson for Willis didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. officials say Prigozhin most likely dead, and an explosion may have downed his plane, The Washington Post, Niha Masin, Leo Sands, Lyric Li, Ellen Francis, Sarah Dadouch, Sammy Westfall, Andrea Salcedo, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, and Amber Ferguson, Thursday, 24 August 2023: “Wagner Group leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin was ‘likely’ killed in a plane crash Wednesday, according to an initial U.S. assessment, Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, the Pentagon spokesman, told reporters at a news conference. U.S. intelligence officials are considering the possibility that the plane crashed after an explosion aboard, according to U.S. officials familiar with the preliminary assessment.

  • There is no indication thus far that the jet was downed by a missile, according to three U.S. officials, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a preliminary assessment. An explosion was detected along the path of the plane, but there are no signs of a missile launch, two officials said.
  • In Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first remarks on the plane crash in the Tver region of Russia on Wednesday, he appeared to eulogize Prigozhin, but stopped short of confirming his death. He promised a full investigation, saying it would take ‘some time.’ He said he had known Prigozhin, an ally-turned-rival who led a short-lived mutiny against the Kremlin in June, since the 1990s, calling him a ‘talented person’ who ‘made serious mistakes.’
  • The Embraer business jet, which listed the mercenary group chief among its passengers, crashed northwest of Moscow, killing all 10 on board, according to Russia’s civil aviation agency. On Thursday morning, pieces of the jet — including what appeared to be its tail — lay more than a mile from the primary crash site.
  • Seven passengers and three crew members were onboard the plane traveling from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport to St. Petersburg. The passenger list included Prigozhin and his second-in-command, Dmitry Utkin, Russian aviation authorities said.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Pentagon Says ‘It’s Likely Prigozhin Was Killed.’ The Pentagon spokesman, Brig. General Patrick Ryder, declined to detail how the U.S. reached its assessment. Putin made comments on the apparent death of the Wagner mercenary leader for the first time but did not officially confirm it. The New York Times, Thursday, 24 August 2023: “U.S. and other Western officials said Thursday that preliminary intelligence reports led them to believe that an explosion on board likely brought down the aircraft in Russia, killing all the passengers aboard. And, for the first time, the Pentagon openly said it believed Mr. Prigozhin was dead. ‘Our initial assessment is that it’s likely Prigozhin was killed,’ the Pentagon spokesman, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, said on Thursday afternoon. There has been no official confirmation that Mr. Prigozhin was killed, but President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Thursday, in his first comments on the crash, spoke obliquely of his death, referring to him in the past tense. ‘He made some serious mistakes in life, but he also achieved necessary results,’ Mr. Putin said in a televised meeting. Mr. Prigozhin founded and led the Wagner private military group, which made significant battlefield gains in Ukraine before staging a brief mutiny against Russia’s military leadership in June. The episode was one of the most dramatic challenges to Mr. Putin’s rule in decades, and many observers speculated that Mr. Prigozhin’s betrayal was tantamount to a death sentence.” See also, Nobody ‘thought this was an accident’: Prigozhin crash sends a signal to Russia’s elite. The leader of the Wagner mercenary group would not be the first person to fall out of favor with the Kremlin and then appear to die in suspicious circumstances. NBC News, Alexander Smith, Thursday, 24 August 2023: “It was both shocking and predictable. Two months to the day after Yevgeny Prigozhin launched a brief armed rebellion that threatened the Kremlin’s authority, the mercenary chief and some of his top lieutenants were listed aboard a plane that crashed with no survivors. The truth of Wednesday’s incident may never be widely known. But the signal — to Russian elites and to the world — was viewed by many analysts as blazingly clear in the field outside Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to show that his rule remains unshaken and that no challenge will go unpunished. ‘Russia’s reputation for deceit, cruelty and violence is so widely accepted that nobody for one second thought that this was an accident,’ retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, former commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe, told NBC News. ‘We all automatically assumed it was either a hit or staged.’ Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said at a briefing Thursday that the Defense Department’s initial assessment is that Prigozhin was likely killed. He added that there is no information to indicate a surface-to-air missile hit the aircraft, pushing back at reports suggesting it as the cause of crash. Two U.S. officials told NBC News intelligence gathered so far points to sabotage. One of the officials said a leading theory is that the aircraft was downed by an explosive on board, but they do not have enough information to say that with certainty.”


Friday, 25 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia calls Prigozhin assassination claims ‘lies’ as investigations continue, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Adela Suliman, Robyn Dixon, and Natalia Abbakumova, Friday, 25 August 2023: “The Kremlin dismissed speculation that it ordered the killing of Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin as ‘all lies,’ after Western analysts and officials suggested that the crash of a plane whose passenger list included Prigozhin’s name was likely an assassination planned by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that speculation in the West presented the air crash ‘from a certain angle’ — although the crash is also widely viewed by Russia’s elite and broader Russian society as Kremlin-instigated, according to Russian analysts and business executives. Peskov stopped short of directly confirming Prigozhin’s death, stating that ‘all the necessary investigations’ and forensic testing need to be carried out. In Washington, the Pentagon spokesman, Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, said Thursday that Prigozhin was ‘likely’ killed in Wednesday’s plane crash, according to an initial U.S. assessment. Russian investigators said Friday that they had seized the crashed plane’s flight records and black box. Russia’s deputy foreign minister criticized President Biden for implying that Putin may have been behind Prigozhin’s presumed death. In comments in Russian state media Friday, Sergei Ryabkov said Biden’s remarks illustrated Washington’s disregard for diplomacy. ‘It is not for the U.S. president, in my opinion, to talk about such tragic events of this nature,’ Ryabkov told Tass news agency. ‘I’m not surprised’ about the plane crash, Biden told reporters. ‘There is not much that happens in Russia that Putin is not behind, but I don’t know enough to know the answer.’ Yan Petrovsky, a Wagner-affiliated fighter under U.S. and E.U. sanctions, was detained in Finland on Friday at the request of Ukraine. Kyiv has identified him as a key figure in Task Force Rusich, a unit that has fought with the Wagner in Ukraine, described as a ‘neo-Nazi paramilitary group’ by the U.S. Treasury. ‘Preparations for extradition are underway,’ the office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general said in a statement posted to Telegram. Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, who brokered the deal that averted Prigozhin’s short-lived mutiny in June, denied Friday that he had offered Prigozhin a security guarantee as part of the arrangement and said that he had warned Prigozhin that he could be killed as a result of his actions, in remarks covered by state news agency BelTA. An explosion was detected along the path of the plane, but there were no signs of a missile launch, according to U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a preliminary assessment. The early uncertainty leaves open the possibility that the plane was sabotaged somehow, but precisely what happened to the Embraer private jet remains unclear, The Washington Post reported. It is ‘highly likely’ that Prigozhin is dead, although there is no ‘definitive proof,’ Britain’s Defense Ministry said Friday. ‘Highly likely’ means the ministry considers the probability that he is dead to be between 80 and 90 percent. ‘The demise of Prigozhin would almost certainly have a deeply destabilising effect on the Wagner Group,’ the ministry added. Putin praised Prigozhin in his first remarks since the crash. He called Prigozhin a ‘talented man’ who ‘made mistakes,’ and praised the Wagner Group’s work in Ukraine and Africa, in televised comments Thursday. However, Putin stopped short of explicitly confirming Prigozhin’s death, instead noting that investigations were underway. Pro-Kremlin analyst Sergei Markov said the president’s remarks were designed to stem speculation in Russia that he ordered the killings. Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke on Ukraine’s Independence Day, and Biden ‘reiterated the U.S. commitment to support Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression for as long as it takes.’ They agreed to begin training Ukrainian fighter pilots on F-16 fighter jets to ‘increase Ukraine’s defensive capabilities,’ the White House said Thursday. Earlier, Zelensky said that Ukraine had no involvement in the Russian plane crash. Norway will give a number of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said, without specifying how many. ‘We have already decided to train Ukrainian fighter jet pilots and announced in the summer that we would provide two Norwegian F-16 jets for training purposes,’ he said. Norway will disclose further details about additional F-16 donations to Ukraine on a later date, he added. The United States will begin instructing Ukrainian pilots in flying F-16 aircraft in Arizona in October, the Pentagon said. The United States levied sanctions against Russians linked to the forcible deportation of Ukraine’s children. ‘Children are the most innocent victims of war: we have not forgotten Ukraine’s children,’ the State Department said in a statement announcing the new penalties against more than a dozen individuals and entities. Heineken said it has completed its exit from the Russian market at an expected loss of 300 million euros ($324 million), after selling its operations in the country to Russia’s Arnest Group for a symbolic 1 euro. The Dutch brewer, famous for its beers, said in a statement Friday that it had planned to leave the Russian market after the invasion of Ukraine began in 2022 but acknowledged ‘it took much longer than we had hoped.’ On Monday, the company that oversees the Domino’s Pizza brand in Russia said it would file for bankruptcy there, citing unspecified business challenges.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kremlin Denies Involvement in Crash Presumed to Have Killed Wagner Mercenary Leader Yevgeny Prigozhin. U.S. officials appeared increasingly certain that Prigozhin was dead, and some European leaders have speculated that the Kremlin had orchestrated his killing. The Kremlin has previously denied actions it was later shown to have carried out. The New York Times, Paul Sonne, Shashank Bengali, and Victoria Kim, Friday, 25 August 2023: “The Kremlin on Friday denied involvement in the presumed death of the Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, dismissing suggestions by Western officials that it was behind a fatal plane crash as ‘an absolute lie.’ The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, urged a focus on ‘the facts,’ which he said would become clear in the course of the investigation into the crash on Wednesday of a jet that listed Mr. Prigozhin and associates as passengers. The comments were sure to ring hollow to many observers inside and outside Russia, given the Kremlin’s past denials of actions it was later shown to have carried out. U.S. officials have sounded increasingly certain that Mr. Prigozhin was dead, and some European leaders have speculated that the Kremlin had orchestrated his killing in response to the short-lived mutiny that the mercenary leader launched in June. Although the Russian authorities have not confirmed Mr. Prigozhin’s death, President Vladimir V. Putin referred to the Wagner leader in the past tense in televised remarks on Thursday, saying of his onetime ally: ‘He made some serious mistakes in life, but he also achieved necessary results.'”


Saturday, 26 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. ‘trying to nail down’ plane crash cause; Russia recovers black box, The Washington Post, Niha Masih, Ellen Francis, and Nick Parker, Saturday, 26 August 2023: “President Biden said the United States is trying to determine the cause of the plane crash in Russia that apparently killed Wagner Group chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin. The Embraer jet that crashed this week, killing all those on board, had Prigozhin on its passenger list, according to Russian aviation officials. ‘We’re trying to nail down precisely,’ Biden told reporters on Friday, adding that he was ‘not at liberty to speak to’ the cause of the crash. But he said he was not surprised by reports that Prigozhin was killed. Russia’s Investigative Committee said it recovered the plane’s black box and that forensic tests are being conducted to confirm the identities of all 10 crash victims. Aviation experts said the plane crash points away from a mechanical problem or human error, but they cautioned in interviews with The Washington Post that not enough evidence is available to draw a definitive conclusion. Early assessments by U.S. officials suggest the possibility of an onboard explosion, The Post reported. The Kremlin dismissed speculation that Prigozhin was likely assassinated at the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin, without confirming the Wagner leader’s death. ‘It’s all lies,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday, adding that all the speculation in the West is ‘from a certain angle.’ However, many among Russia’s elite also believe the crash was instigated by the Kremlin, The Post has reported. Journalist Evan Gershkovich has appealed a Moscow court’s decision to extend his detention through Novemberaccording to Russian state news agency Tass. He is being held before trial on espionage charges that the United States and Gershkovich’s employer, the Wall Street Journal, have called baseless. The Journal said this week that it was ‘deeply disappointed he continues to be arbitrarily and wrongfully detained for doing his job as a journalist.’ Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko claimed he warned Prigozhin about a threat to his life if the Wagner boss continued his march to Moscow during a short-lived mutiny in June, according to Belarusian state news agency BelTA. Lukashenko claimed credit for brokering a truce that allowed Wagner personnel to move to Belarus. Turkey sees no alternative to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said at a news conference during a visit to Kyiv on Friday, Turkey’s TRT World reported. He said alternative ways are being sought, but they involve risks and cannot replace the original agreement, which was brokered by Ankara and the United Nations to allow the flow of Ukrainian grain exports to the world. The Foreign Ministry in Kyiv criticized a proposed moratorium on importing Ukrainian grain to some European Union nations. Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia have said an E.U.-approved ban on Ukrainian grain should be extended beyond the Sept. 15 deadline because those nations want a favorable market for their agricultural products. Russia warned Moldova against deepening its support to Ukraine, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Friday. Maria Zakharova warned Ukraine’s neighbor ‘against getting too involved in the process of supporting Ukraine,’ according to Russian news agency Tass, adding that this would ‘jeopardize stability and security in the region.’ Russia’s war in Ukraine raised fears of a spillover into Moldova, a post-Soviet nation with a pro-Western government. Moscow has long supported — and has troops stationed in — Moldova’s breakaway enclave of Transnistria.”


Sunday, 27 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian investigators confirm Prigozhin’s death; ex-U.S. official says crash was retribution, The Washington Post, Lyric Li, Annabelle Timsit, Robyn Dixon, and Paulina Villegas, Sunday, 27 August 2023: “Russia’s Investigative Committee confirmed Sunday that Yevgeniy Prigozhin was killed in a plane crash last week outside Moscow, ending days of fevered speculation about the fate of the Wagner Group leader. Fiona Hill, a National Security Council official in the Trump administration, told CBS News that Prigozhin’s death was probably a retaliatory measure after his mutinous march toward Moscow in June. DNA testing during the investigation into the plane crash established ‘the identities of all 10 victims,’ the committee said in a statement. Russian aviation authorities previously confirmed that Prigozhin — along with two of his close associates, Valeriy Chekalov and Dmitry Utkin — were listed as passengers on the Embraer business jet, which went down in the Tver region of western Russia. It’s unclear whether Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Wagner chief to be assassinated, Hill said, but ‘there are plenty of people who were painting a target on Prigozhin’s back.’ She specialized in European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council from 2017 to 2019 and now works at the Brookings Institution. She said the Russian military wanted retribution for his mutiny. ‘The system itself expected him to be taken out of the picture in some fashion,’ Hill said in an interview that was broadcast Sunday on ‘Face the Nation.’ Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he had warned Prigozhin about his safety at least twice, Belarusian state news agency BelTA reported. Lukashenko claimed he had told Prigozhin that he could guarantee his ‘full security’ by speaking with Putin and extracting him to Belarus, but that the mercenary group leader never took up his offer, BelTA reported Friday. Evidence does not suggest that a simple mechanical problem or human error caused the plane crash, aviation experts told The Washington Post, though they said there is not enough information available to draw a definitive conclusion. Early assessments by U.S. officials suggested the possibility of an onboard explosion. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that elections under martial law could only be possible if the United States and Europe provide financial support. Ukraine would also require independent observers to ensure the process is fair, Zelensky added. Although he said he would not divert funds from weapons, the leader conceded that with additional funding Ukraine could ‘quickly’ change its legislation, which prohibits holding parliamentary or presidential elections under martial law. Members of the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine will visit several regions of the country Monday, including Uman in the Cherkasy region and the capital, Kyiv. The mission is part of an ongoing investigation into alleged human rights violations and abuses. The commissioners will present their findings at the Human Rights Council session by the end of September. Ukraine has been negotiating with the United States, Britain and Canada to secure security guarantees from the Western powersZelensky said. ‘We have started negotiations with Canada on a bilateral document on security guarantees. Earlier we started with the United States and the United Kingdom,’ Zelensky said late Saturday. ‘This will give Ukraine [many] more opportunities. I am grateful to each and every person who works for this!’ Journalist Evan Gershkovich has appealed a Moscow court’s decision to extend his detention through November, according to Russian state news agency Tass. Gershkovich is being held before trial on espionage charges that both the U.S. government and the Wall Street Journal, his employer, say are baseless.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia Officially confirms Prigozhin’s Death. Russian investigators said genetic tests showed that the Wagner chief, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, who led a brief mutiny against Moscow’s military leadership, was among the victims of a plane crash last week. The New York Times, Sunday, 27 August 2023:

  • Russia officially confirms Prigozhin’s death.
  • Russia says Ukraine launched more drones at border regions.
  • Mourners gather for Wagner in Moscow, reflecting Prigozhin’s wider appeal among Russians.
  • Prigozhin leaves behind a family that has helped run his business empire.
  • Prigozhin spent some of his last days in Africa.


Monday, 28 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.N. investigates alleged wartime abuses; Russia releases new video of Paul Whelan, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Annabelle Timsit, Sarah Dadouch, Francesca Ebel, and Mikhail Klimentov, Monday, 28 August 2023: “Russian state-controlled news outlet Russia Today published new footage of Paul Whelan, the security executive serving a 16-year term for espionage in Russia, on Monday. The Russia Today segment appears to show Whelan in a penal colony, eating lunch and doing various tasks around the facility. Whelan’s brother David told a local news outlet in Detroit that the video marked his first glance at Paul since 2020, adding that Paul looked strong and determined in the footage. Whelan and the U.S. government have repeatedly denied the charges against him. The Biden administration has said it is working to negotiate Whelan’s release. Polish authorities are investigating a series of sabotage attacks that brought dozens of trains to a standstill over the weekend amid heightened concerns about Russian attempts to disrupt the country. ‘We know that for some months there have been attempts to destabilize the Polish state,’ Stanislaw Zaryn, a senior security official, told PAP, the Polish Press Agency. ‘Such attempts have been undertaken by the Russian Federation in conjunction with Belarus.’ Following confirmations by Russia’s Investigative Committee that Yevgeniy Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner Group mercenary force, died in a plane crash outside Moscow last week, the committee is set to turn its focus to the cause of the crash. But Western analysts say the true cause could remain unknown because of the opaque and politicized nature of investigations in Russia. Investigators from the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine are set to visit Kyiv and Uman, among other locations, as part of an ongoing probe into alleged human rights violations and abuses committed during Russia’s invasion. The group will present its findings to U.N. members in the next two months. The United Nations said the investigators are expected to meet officials, diplomats and civil society groups ‘to discuss the situation in the country.’ It’s the commission’s third visit to Ukraine since the war began, and the visiting members are expected to stay there until Sept. 4. The commission concluded that Russia violated human rights in Ukraine in a previous report to the United Nations. The report, dated March 15 and presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council, said the commission collected evidence showing ‘that Russian authorities have committed a wide range of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in many regions of Ukraine and in the Russian Federation.’ It said that ‘many of these amount to war crimes.’ The commission also ‘documented a small number of violations committed by Ukrainian armed forces, including likely indiscriminate attacks and two incidents that qualify as war crimes,’ the report said. Prigozhin’s death was confirmed via DNA testing, Russia’s Investigative Committee said. Its investigation confirmed the identities of all 10 people killed when the Embraer business jet crashed on Wednesday. The dead included two of Prigozhin’s close associates and three crew members. Aviation experts told The Washington Post that evidence points away from a mechanical problem or human error as the cause of the crash, though they said the lack of information makes a definitive conclusion difficult. Russia’s Federal Security Service said on Monday that it plans to interrogate two U.S. diplomats after charging a former embassy staffer with ‘cooperation on a confidential basis with a foreign state,’ The Post reported. The diplomats were accused of directing the former employee, Robert Shonov, to gather information about Russia’s war in Ukraine. Shonov is a Russian citizen who worked at the U.S. Consulate in Vladivostok. It is unclear if Jeffrey Sillin and David Bernstein, the two diplomats, are still in Russia, or if the State Department would allow them to meet with FSB investigators. Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the Group of 20 summit in New Delhi next month, he told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a phone call Monday, according to a readout from Modi’s office, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported. Poland and three other Eastern European countries called on Belarus to oust the Wagner Group to safeguard the European Union’s borders. In a joint statement, the interior ministers of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia also accused Belarus of having ‘triggered and artificially sustained’ migration that the NATO nations deemed illegal, and they threatened to close their border crossings. Putin will ‘soon’ meet with his Turkish counterpart, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday when asked about previous reports of a meeting between Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Peskov did not specify a date for the meeting but said that ‘there are agreements on announcing the dates’ and that ‘we adhere to them.’ Russian state-owned news outlet Tass, citing an unnamed diplomatic source, previously reported that the meeting would take place on Sept. 4 in Sochi, Russia. A vessel left Ukraine through a temporary Black Sea corridor, according to Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov — the second ship to do so since Russia unilaterally terminated a U.N.-sponsored agreement allowing safe passage of Ukrainian grain shipments. The ship, which sailed from the port of Odessa on Sunday, is carrying steel bound for Africa. The previous vessel to use the corridor left Aug. 16 with a shipment of grain. Peskov, when asked about the vessel’s movements on Monday, said that ‘it has nothing to do with the prospects for the resumption of the grain deal.’ He added that ‘our Defense Ministry is certainly carrying out the necessary monitoring.'”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Claims to Retake a Small Southern village. Reclaiming the village of Tobotyne would suggest Ukrainian forces have pushed through initial Russian defenses, but tougher terrain lies ahead. The New York Times, Monday, 28 August 2023:

  • Robotyne’s recapture could boost Ukraine after weeks of grinding fighting.
  • A pilot who became a face of Kyiv’s efforts to get F-16s dies in a training accident.
  • The pope’s praise for Russia’s historic empire draws sharp criticism.
  • Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia, is seen on video for the first time in three years.
  • Zelensky says he is open to elections in Ukraine next year, if Western allies help.
  • Russia charges a former U.S. consulate employee with collecting information about the war.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Wagner chief Prigozhin died as Russia’s war turned 18 months, NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 28 August 2023: “Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: With the death of Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, questions remain about what will happen to the Russian mercenaries who have played key roles in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and operations elsewhere, including in Syria and African countries. On Monday, Ukraine’s military said its troops retook the southeastern settlement of Robotyne. Analysts will be watching for further signs of Ukrainian advances in the region. On Tuesday, Ukraine marks Memorial Day for those killed defending the country. This week, members of a United Nations commission are due to visit Ukraine as part of their investigation into reports of violations of human rights and international law. What happened last week: plane carrying Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin crashed in Russia last Wednesday, killing all 10 people on board, two months after Prigozhin led his mercenary company in an attempted mutiny in Russia. Russian investigators said genetic tests confirmed the victims’ identities matched the flight manifest, which included Prigozhin and other senior Wagner officials. The investigators did not mention a possible cause of the plane crash. The Kremlin has denied speculation it had any involvement, as has the Ukrainian government. The Ukraine war became a sticking point in a U.S. debate of candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination last Wednesday. Ron DeSantis, polling in second place, called on Europe to ‘pull their weight,’ and Vivek Ramaswamy slammed U.S. support for Ukraine as ‘disastrous.’ But candidates Nikki Haley and Chris Christie argued the U.S. should continue to stand up against Russia. The front-runner for the party’s nomination, former President Donald Trump, did not attend the debate. Leaders of the BRICS countries gathered in South Africa — minus Russian President Vladimir Putin. In his video message delivered (apparently with a different, lower voice) to the summit last Tuesday, he defended Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, even as China and other countries pushed a peace plan. Ukraine celebrated Independence Day last Thursday for the second time during Russia’s invasion, which reached the 18-month mark that day. Kyiv again put remnants of wrecked Russian military vehicles and equipment on public display. Also Thursday, the U.N. Security Council met to discuss Ukraine, in which Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo said U.N. workers had documented the deaths of 9,444 civilians, including 545 children, but that the real figures are likely much higher. A Moscow court extended Evan Gershkovich’s pretrial detention by three months last Thursday. The American journalist later appealed the extension. The U.S. government says he was wrongfully detained by Russia. Ukraine launched a missile toward Moscow and attacked Crimea with drones last Friday, according to Russia, which said Russian air defenses downed them all. Reuters said the operations could have amounted to some of the largest coordinated Ukrainian air attacks against Russian-held territory to date. Russia also continued to fire missiles at Ukraine. On the battlefield, Ukraine’s military reported gaining some territory in the Zaporizhzhia region.”

Judge Sets Trial Date in March for Trump’s Federal Election Interference Case. Judge Tanya S. Chutkan rejected efforts by the former president’s legal team to postpone the trial until 2026. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Glenn Thrush, Monday, 28 August 2023: “A federal judge on Monday set a trial date of March 4 in the prosecution of former President Donald J. Trump on charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, rebuffing Mr. Trump’s proposal to push it off until 2026. The decision by Judge Tanya S. Chutkan to start the trial in March amounted to an early victory for prosecutors, who had asked for Jan. 2. But it potentially brought the proceeding into conflict with the three other trials that Mr. Trump is facing, underscoring the extraordinary complexities of his legal situation and the intersection of the prosecutions with his campaign to return to the White House…. Judge Chutkan said that while she understood Mr. Trump had both other trial dates scheduled next year and, at the same time, was running for the country’s highest office, she was not going to let the intersection of his legal troubles and his political campaign get in the way of setting a date. ‘Mr. Trump, like any defendant, will have to make the trial date work regardless of his schedule,’ Judge Chutkan said, adding that ‘there is a societal interest to a speedy trial.'” See also, Trump’s D.C. election-obstruction trial is scheduled for March 4, 2024. The date would place the federal trial, over efforts to overturn the 2020 election, in the heart of the 2024 presidential campaign. The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Rachel Weiner, and Perry Stein, Monday, 28 August 2023: “The federal judge overseeing the case against former president Donald Trump for allegedly obstructing the results of the 2020 election said Monday that she plans to begin his trial on March 4 — a date that collides with both Trump’s 2024 presidential bid and key dates in two other criminal cases against him. March 4 is one day before Super Tuesday, when more than a dozen states will hold primaries or caucuses to pick the Republican presidential nominee. It is not as soon as the Jan. 2 trial date proposed by prosecutors from the office of special counsel Jack Smith, but it is far closer than the April 2026 date Trump’s attorneys requested.” See also, Trump trial set for March 4, 2024 in federal case charging him with plotting to overturn the 2020 election, Associated Press, Eric Tucker, Lindsay Whitehurst, and Michael Kunzelman, Monday, 28 August 2023: “A judge on Monday set a March 4, 2024, trial date for Donald Trump in the federal case in Washington charging the former president with trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election, rejecting a defense request to push back the case by years. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan rebuffed claims by Trump’s attorneys that an April 2026 trial date was necessary to account for the huge volume of evidence they say they are reviewing and to prepare for what they contend is a novel and unprecedented prosecution. But she agreed to postpone the trial slightly beyond the January 2024 date proposed by special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution team. ‘The public has a right to a prompt and efficient resolution of this matter,’ Chutkan said.”

Mark Meadows Testifies in Bid to Move Georgia Trump Case to Federal Court. Mark Meadows, a former White House chief of staff, told a judge he believed his actions regarding the 2020 election fell within the scope of his job as a federal official. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Monday, 28 August 2023: “A battle over whether to move the Georgia racketeering case against Donald J. Trump and his allies to federal court began in earnest on Monday, when Mark Meadows, a former White House chief of staff, testified in favor of such a move before a federal judge in Atlanta. Under questioning by his own lawyers and by prosecutors, Mr. Meadows stated emphatically that he believed that his actions detailed in the indictment fell within the scope of his duties as chief of staff. But he also appeared unsure of himself at times, saying often that he could not recall details of events in late 2020 and early 2021. ‘My wife will tell you sometimes that I forget to take out the trash,’ he told Judge Steve C. Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.” See also, Mary Meadows and Georgia District Attorney face off over his request to move election case to federal court, NBC News, Summer Concepcion, Charlie Gile, and Dareh Gregorian, Monday, 28 August 2023; “Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, one of the defendants charged with racketeering in the Georgia 2020 election probe, took the witness stand for five hours Monday in an attempt to bolster his bid to move the Fulton County case to federal court. The hearing comes after former President Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants, including Meadows, were booked at the Fulton County Jail last week in connection with efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in the battleground state. The probe was launched by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Testifying before U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones, Meadows portrayed the conduct he’s charged with as part and parcel from his work as Trump’s chief of staff, which he described as a ’24/7 kind of job.’ Asked by his attorney, George Terwilliger, if his duties ever intersected with political matters, Meadows said almost everything the president does has a political reaction. The district attorney’s office contended in court filings that there’s a line that Meadows crossed, including by arranging and joining a call where Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to ‘find’ votes that would change the election results in the state. ‘Federal law prohibits employees of the executive branch from engaging in political activity in the course of their work,’ they noted, pointing to the Hatch Act, a law Meadows once told Politico ‘nobody outside of the Beltway really cares’ about. The law ‘bars a federal employee from us[ing] his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election,’ prosecutors noted.” See also, Mark Meadows, former Trump chief of staff, testifies in Georgia, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey and Amy Gardner, Monday, 28 August 2023: “Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s final White House chief of staff, testified in a federal courtroom in Georgia on Monday that he helped question the 2020 presidential election results out of a federal interest in ‘free and fair elections’ intended to build national trust in the outcome and bring on a peaceful transfer of power.”

The Four Trump Criminal Cases: Strengths and Weaknesses. An assessment of the four indictments against the former president, including notable features, strengths and weaknesses. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Monday, 28 August 2023: “The indictment of former President Donald J. Trump in Georgia related to accusations that he tried to subvert the 2020 presidential election there means he now faces four separate criminal cases — even as he is the front-runner for the Republican nomination for the White House. In total, Mr. Trump faces 91 felony counts, charged with an array of crimes: trying to subvert democracy, risking national security secrets and falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment to a porn actress. Mr. Trump’s growing tangle of legal problems complicates an already busy campaign calendar, but also raises the question of how each trial will proceed and which will go first. While some prosecutors have signaled they intend to move quickly, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have often pursued a strategy of delay, seeking to run out the clock on legal matters.”

U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child says governments must respond to growing concerns expressed by children about the effects of the climate crisis and other environmental emergencies on their lives and futures, The Guardian, Isabella Kaminski, Monday, 28 August 2023: “Governments must respond to growing concerns expressed by children about the effects of the climate crisis and other environmental emergencies on their lives and futures, a UN body has said. In a strongly worded formal opinion published on Monday, the Committee on the Rights of the Child concludes that the triple planetary crisis – the climate emergencythe collapse of biodiversity and pervasive pollution – ‘is an urgent and systemic threat to children’s rights globally.’ The committee outlines the immediate risks that children face from poor air and water quality, a lack of food safety and exposure to toxic pollutants such as lead – especially children with disabilities, belonging to minority or Indigenous groups, and living in areas vulnerable to climate breakdown and disasters. It also points to structural challenges that pose a longer-term threat, such as greenhouse gas emissions, the unsustainable use of resources and ecosystem degradation. The UN opinion spells out, for the first time, that states have a duty to safeguard a clean, healthy and sustainable environment for young people alive today, as well as future generations. ‘While the rights of children who are present on Earth require immediate urgent attention,’ it says, ‘the children constantly arriving are also entitled to the realisation of their human rights to the maximum extent.'” See also, U.N. Panel Says Children Have a Right to Sue Nations Over Climate. The finding doesn’t have the force of law, but is notable because it is based on one of the most widely accepted international treaties. The New York Times, Somini Sengupta, Monday, 28 August 2023: “Young people around the world are increasingly taking their governments to court for failing to reduce climate pollution, and on rare occasions, they are winning. This week, their efforts received an endorsement from an independent panel of experts that interprets United Nations human rights law, the Committee on the Rights of the Child. In an expansive 20-page document released Monday, the committee said all countries have a legal obligation to protect children from environmental degradation — including by ‘regulating business enterprises’ — and to allow their underage citizens to seek legal recourse. The committee’s opinion is not legally binding and is therefore impossible to enforce. But it is significant because it is based on a widely recognized international treaty and explicitly recognizes children’s right to go to court to force their government to slow down the climate crisis. That treaty is the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is considered the most widely ratified treaty in history because every country in the world except the United States has signed on to it. In the past, courts in many countries, including on rare occasions the United States, have relied on the committee’s interpretations in their decisions.”


Tuesday, 29 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Prigozhin buried in private; Russia intercepts drones apparently targeting airports, The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Ellen Francis, Natalia Abbakumova, Robyn Dixon, Sarah Dadouch, David L. Stern, and Mikhail Klimentov, Tuesday, 29 August 2023: “Wagner Group boss Yevgeniy Prigozhin was buried without public display or pomp on Tuesday in a cemetery in St. Petersburg, local media outlets reported. His press service offered no details of the unusually clandestine farewell, except to say that those who wished to say goodbye could visit Porokhovskoye cemetery. Russian investigators have confirmed that Prigozhin and top members of the Wagner Group died in a plane crash, weeks after leading a short-lived mutiny against Russian military leaders. The Kremlin has dismissed speculation that it was involved in the crash, amid suspicion among Russia’s elite that Prigozhin’s death was an assassination. Russian air defenses intercepted four drones after a drone attack on a military airfield in Pskov, according to a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry. After the drones were detected, transit authorities in Russia closed the airspace over several airports, delaying inbound and outbound flights, reported the state news agency Tass. A large fire at a military airfield in Pskov was caused by a drone attack, the region’s governor, Mikhail Vedernikov, said via Telegram on Tuesday. Four Il-76 military transport planes were damaged in the attack, Tass reported, citing emergency responders. Video footage shared on Telegram appeared to show a large fire and massive plumes of dark smoke at the airfield. Vedetnikov said that according to preliminary information, there were no casualties. The local media outlet MSK1 reported that Prigozhin’s family wished the burial arrangements to be kept secret, quoting a cemetery representative. The Russian news agency Interfax confirmed the burial. The Kremlin said that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not plan to attend the funeral and that it had no details about a possible ceremony. A Russian state news outlet published new footage of Paul Whelan, the Marine-turned-security-consultant serving a 16-year prison term in Russia. His brother, David Whelan, told a news outlet in Detroit that the video was his first glimpse of Paul since 2020, and that he looked determined and strong. The video of Whelan, published by Russia Today, appeared to show him eating lunch and completing various tasks around a penal colony while wearing a black uniform. Whelan was arrested in Moscow in late 2018 on espionage charges, which he and the United States deny. The Biden administration has said it is working to secure his release. ‘It was reassuring to see that he remains, and this is to use his brother’s words, unbowed,’ said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. ‘Russia should release him immediately.’ The funeral for Valeriy Chekalov, a senior Wagner manager in charge of logistics, is taking place in St. Petersburg’s Northern Cemetery, Russian media reported Tuesday. Poland and the three Baltic countries called on Belarus to expel Russia’s Wagner Group over border security concerns. Wagner fighters led by Prigozhin — until the plane crash last week — moved to Russian ally Belarus as part of an agreement after threatening to march on Moscow in June. Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski made the demand at a news conference attended by his Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian counterparts. The United Nations said it has recorded 9,511 confirmed civilian deaths in Ukraine since the start of the war in February 2022 but noted that its count is incomplete and that ‘the actual figures are considerably higher.’ The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also said 17,206 people have been confirmed injured in the conflict. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has said it plans to interrogate two U.S. diplomats after charging a former consulate staffer with ‘cooperation on a confidential basis with a foreign state,’ The Washington Post reported. The diplomats were accused of directing the former employee, Robert Shonov — a Russian citizen who worked at the U.S. Consulate in Vladivostok — to gather information about the war in Ukraine. A Moscow court sentenced two Russian independent military analysts in absentia to 11 years prison for their online posts about the Russian military. The two, who reside outside Russia, are Ruslan Leviev of the Conflict Intelligence Team, which investigates military activity based on open data, and Michael Nacke, a former radio host who runs a YouTube channel with 1.4 million subscribers. Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office labeled the Conflict Intelligence Team an ‘undesirable organization,’ banning its work in Russia and making it a criminal offense to repost its content. The Vatican said Pope Francis had no intention to glorify imperialism but to urge young Russian Catholics not to forget history, after the pontiff faced criticism from Ukrainian officials for comments about Russian czars in a video that circulated in recent days. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Tuesday that in off-the-cuff remarks, the pope ‘intended to encourage young people to preserve and promote all that is positive in the great cultural and Russian spirituality, and certainly not to exalt imperialist logic and government personalities, cited to indicate some historical periods of reference.’ On Monday, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, said remarks made by Pope Francis caused ‘great pain and concern’ and inspired Russia’s ‘neocolonial ambitions.’ The Vatican has sought to play a role in reaching a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia, though its efforts so far have not yielded results — and on occasion, have infuriated Ukrainian officials. Still, Kyiv has welcomed the Holy See’s behind-the-scenes assistance in prisoner exchanges and its ongoing attempts to repatriate Ukrainian children who were taken to Russia. Putin will not attend a Group of 20 summit in New Delhi next month, Russia’s Interfax news agency said, citing a readout from a call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Steps Up Evacuation Calls as Russia Attacks in Northeast. Only 1,400 people out of 11,000 have left the Kipiansk area since regional authorities issued evacuation orders this month, Ukrainian officials say. The New York Times, Tuesday, 29 August 2023:

  • A resident of Kupiansk dies in Russian shelling, Ukraine says.
  • The fighting around Kupiansk poses strategic dilemmas for both Russia and Ukraine.
  • Prigozhin is buried in a private cemetery in St. Petersburg, his press service says.
  • The White House press secretary draws a closer link to the Kremlin in Prigozhin’s death.
  • The Pentagon announces $250 million more in military hardware and ammunition for Ukraine.
  • A Russian court rejects release for an ultranationalist military blogger, Igor Girkin.
  • The Vatican tries to clarify the pope’s remarks on Russia.


Wednesday, 30 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kyiv hit by ‘powerful’ strikes; officials say Russian military airfield attacked, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Adela Suliman, Natalia Abbakumova, Serhiy Morgunov, and Sarah Dadouch, Wednesday, 30 August 2023: “A deluge of drones and missiles struck the Ukrainian capital early Wednesday, damaging buildings but causing relatively few casualties, according to city officials. Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv’s military administration, said the city had ‘not experienced such a powerful attack since spring.’ The early-morning strikes on Kyiv came after a slew of drone attacks targeted at least six Russian regions, including one at a military airfield in Pskov that reportedly damaged four Russian military aircraft, Russia’s Defense Ministry said. Lithuania summoned the country’s papal envoy Wednesday over remarks by Pope Francis at the weekend that appeared to glorify Russia’s imperial past and spark[ed] a backlash. Francis veered from a planned speech to tell a group of Russian Catholic youths that they were ‘heirs to the Great Russia, the Great Russia of saints, of kings, the Great Russia of Peter the Great, of Catherine the Second, that great and cultured Russian empire, with so much culture and so much humanity.’ The comment drew criticism, including from the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. ‘The Pope intended to encourage young people to preserve and promote all that is positive in the great cultural and Russian spirituality, and certainly not to exalt imperialist logic and government personalities,’ Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement. The Kyiv drone attacks killed two people, ages 26 and 36, according to Kyiv’s military administration, and injured and hospitalized two others, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Wednesday on Telegram. A Washington Post journalist in Kyiv reported hearing several loud explosions just after 5 a.m. local time, while many residents took to shelters. Popko said buildings were damaged and fires broke out as a result of the attacks. But more than 20 ‘enemy targets’ were destroyed by Ukraine’s air defenses, he added. Four military transport planes were damaged in a drone attack on a military airfield in Pskov, Russia, near the borders of Estonia and Latvia, the Russian state news agency Tass reported. The attack damaged the Il-76 planes and caused a large fire at the Pskov airfield, regional governor Mikhail Vedernikov said on Telegram. No deaths or injuries were reported, and the local airport was expected to be closed Wednesday to allow a survey of potential damage to the runway, he said. The Kremlin said it would take steps to prevent ‘such situations in the future.’ Ukrainian intelligence officials told The Post they were aware of the damage but could not confirm or deny any involvement. Russia’s Defense Ministry said civilian infrastructure was targeted in at least six Russian regions that faced drone attacks overnight. No casualties were reported. In addition to Pskov, drones hit five other areas including Oryol, Bryansk, Ryazan, Kaluga and around Moscow. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attacks but has increasingly used drones to target inland Russia. Russia said it destroyed four Ukrainian military speedboats in the Black Sea carrying up to 50 paratroopers. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, a naval plane in the country’s Black Sea Fleet carried out the attack around midnight Moscow time on Wednesday. Ukraine’s military denied that Russia destroyed the boats or injured any crew members. The Washington Post could not independently verify the reports. The Kremlin said a Russian investigation was underway into the plane crash that killed Wagner Group chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed ‘talk of any international investigation’ occurring and said that ‘no conclusions’ are yet being drawn. ‘It is obvious that different versions are being considered, including the version … of an intentional atrocity,’ he added. Prigozhin was buried in private in a St. Petersburg cemetery; Russian media reported that Prigozhin’s family wanted the burial arrangements to be kept secret. The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin had not planned to attend the funeral and that it had no details about a possible ceremony. The United States announced an additional support package worth some $250 million to bolster Ukraine’s security and defense, pledging to provide mine-clearing equipment, air defense missiles and ammunition for artillery and small arms. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Washington and its allies and partners ‘will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.’ A Moscow court sentenced two Russian independent military analysts in absentia to 11 years prison for their online posts about the Russian military. The two, who reside outside Russia, are Ruslan Leviev of the Conflict Intelligence Team, which investigates military activity based on open data, and Michael Nacke, a former radio host who runs a YouTube channel with 1.4 million subscribers. Russia’s prosecutor general’s office labeled the Conflict Intelligence Team an ‘undesirable organization,’ banning its work in Russia and making it a criminal offense to repost its content.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. Says Russia and North Korea Are in ‘Actively Advancing’ Talks on Weapons. The leaders of the two countries have exchanged letters, a White House spokesman said, as Moscow searches for another source of weapons to fight the war in Ukraine. The New York Times, Wednesday, 30 August 2023:

  • ‘High-level discussions may continue in coming months,’ a White House spokesman, John Kirby, says.
  • The Kremlin spokesman, rejecting foreign help in its Prigozhin crash inquiry, notes theories of foul play.
  • Overnight drone attacks reach deep into Russia.
  • Two Ukrainian military helicopters crashed in the east, killing 6 officers.
  • The war will leave poorer countries struggling for food this year, a U.S. intelligence report says.
  • A Russian peace activist is sentenced to 6 years in prison for her social media posts criticizing the war.
  • Attacks in Russia appear to show the range of Ukraine’s drones, and bolster frontline morale.

Trump Asks to Dismiss Suit as New York Attorney General Letitia James Says He Inflated His Worth by $2.2 Billion. James asked a judge to find, without a trial, that the former president had fraudulently overvalued his assets. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich, Ben Protess, and William K. Rashbaum, Wednesday, 30 August 2023: “Before Donald J. Trump was indicted four times over, he was sued by New York’s attorney general, who said that for years the former president, his business and members of his family had fraudulently overvalued their assets by billions of dollars. Before any of those criminal trials will take place, Mr. Trump is scheduled for a civil trial in New York in October. During the trial, the attorney general, Letitia James, will seek to bar him and three of his children from leading their family business, the Trump Organization, and to require him to pay a fine of around $250 million. On Wednesday, Ms. James fired an opening salvo, arguing that a trial is not necessary to find that Mr. Trump and the other defendants inflated the value of their assets in annual financial statements, fraudulently obtaining favorable loans and insurance arrangements. The fraud was so pervasive, she said in a court filing, that Mr. Trump had falsely boosted his net worth by between $812 million and $2.2 billion each year over the course of a decade. ‘Based on the undisputed evidence, no trial is required for the court to determine that defendants presented grossly and materially inflated asset values,’ the filing said. But Mr. Trump’s lawyers, in their own motion, argued that the entire case should be thrown out, relying in large part on a recent appellate court decision that appeared as if it could significantly narrow the scope of the case because of a legal time limit. Mr. Trump had received most of the loans in question too long ago for the matter to be considered by a court, his lawyers argue.”

Judge rules Rudy Giuliani is liable for defaming Georgia election workers. The case will now head to trial, where a jury will determine the amount of damages that Giuliani must pay to the two election workers. Politico, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, Wednesday, 30 August 2023: “A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Rudy Giuliani is legally liable for defaming two Georgia election workers who became the subject of conspiracy theories related to the 2020 election that were amplified by Donald Trump in the final weeks of his presidency. In an unsparing, 57-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell said Giuliani had flagrantly violated her orders to preserve and produce relevant evidence to the election workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, resulting in a ‘default’ judgment against him. She also ordered him to pay Freeman and Moss ‘punitive’ damages for failing to fulfill his obligations.” See also, Judge Says Rudy Giuliani Is Liable for Defaming Georgia Election Workers. The ruling means that a defamation case against Giuliani, stemming from his role in seeking to overturn the 2020 election, can proceed to a trial where damages will be considered. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Ben Protess, Wednesday, 30 August 2023: “A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that Rudolph W. Giuliani was liable for defaming two Georgia election workers by repeatedly declaring that they had mishandled ballots while counting votes in Atlanta during the 2020 election. The ruling by the judge, Beryl A. Howell in Federal District Court in Washington, means that the defamation case against Mr. Giuliani, a central figure in former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to remain in power after his election loss, can proceed to trial on the narrow question of how much, if any, damages he will have to pay the plaintiffs in the case. Judge Howell’s decision came a little more than a month after Mr. Giuliani conceded in two stipulations in the case that he had made false statements when he accused the election workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, of manipulating ballots while working at the State Farm Arena for the Fulton County Board of Elections.”

As Trump and Republicans target Georgia’s District Attorney Fani Willis for retribution, the state’s governor Brian Kemp opts out, Associated Press, Jeff Amy, Wednesday, 30 August 2023: “Some Republicans in Washington and Georgia began attacking Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis immediately after she announced the Aug. 14 indictment of former President Donald Trump for conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. But others, including Gov. Brian Kemp, have been conspicuous in their unwillingness to pile on. Kemp, who had previously survived scathing attacks from Trump over his refusal to endorse the former president’s false claims about the election, declined to comment on the indictment of Trump and 18 others at a conservative political conference hosted by radio host and Kemp ally Erick Erickson.”

Donald Trump vows to lock up political enemies if he returns to White House, The Guardian, Martin Pengelly, Wednesday, 30 August 2023: “Donald Trump says he will lock up his political enemies if he is president again. In an interview on Tuesday, the rightwing broadcaster Glenn Beck raised Trump’s famous campaign-trail vow to ‘lock up’ Hillary Clinton, his opponent in 2016, a promise Trump did not fulfill in office. Beck said: ‘Do you regret not locking [Clinton] up? And if you’re president again, will you lock people up?’ Trump said: ‘The answer is you have no choice, because they’re doing it to us.'”

Conservative groups draw up plan to dismantle the U.S. government and replace it with Trump’s vision, Los Angeles Times, Lisa Mascaro/Associated Press, Wednesday, 30 August 2023: “With more than a year to go before the 2024 election, a constellation of conservative organizations is preparing for a possible second White House term for Donald Trump, recruiting thousands of Americans to come to Washington on a mission to dismantle the federal government and replace it with a vision closer to his own. Led by the long-established Heritage Foundation think tank and fueled by former Trump administration officials, the far-reaching effort is essentially a government-in-waiting for the former president’s return — or any candidate who aligns with their ideals and can defeat President Biden in 2024. With a nearly 1,000-page ‘Project 2025’ handbook and an ‘army’ of Americans, the idea is to have the civic infrastructure in place on Day One to commandeer, reshape and do away with what Republicans deride as the ‘deep state’ bureaucracy, in part by firing as many as 50,000 federal workers.”


Thursday, 31 August 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. warns of Russia-North Korea arms talks; Wagner commander buried, The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Adela Suliman, and Miriam Berger, Thursday, 31 August 2023: “Russia and North Korea are ‘actively advancing’ negotiations for weapons that would be used in the war in Ukraine, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said at a news conference. She called the development new and ‘deeply troubling,’ as Washington’s tensions with Pyongyang and Moscow deepen. In Russia, the funeral of a prominent Wagner Group commander, Dmitry Utkin, took place Thursday, independent Russian media reported. Utkin, who died in the same plane crash last week that killed the mercenary group’s chief, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, was one of Prigozhin’s top associates, as well as a reputed operational leader of the group in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere. The U.S. Treasury Department had sanctioned Utkin for his involvement in Ukraine. Prigozhin was buried in a secret ceremony in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, his press service said. ‘Russia is negotiating potential deals for significant quantities and multiple types of munitions from the DPRK to be used against Ukraine,’ Thomas-Greenfield said, using the abbreviation for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. She accused Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu of using his visit to North Korea last month as an opportunity to ‘try to convince Pyongyang to sell artillery ammunition to Russia.’ She also condemned Shoigu’s attendance at the secretive state’s military parade, which featured weapons prohibited by the U.N. Security Council. Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un exchanged letters after Shoigu’s visit to Pyongyang in July, Thomas-Greenfield said. She added that another group of Russian officials traveled to North Korea ‘for follow-up discussions about potential arms deals’ and that negotiations may include buying raw materials that could be used for Russia’s ‘defense industrial base.’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in response to the report of the Putin-Kim letters that ‘Moscow and Pyongyang maintain good relations.’ He said Thursday, ‘This is our neighbor, a very important neighbor in its region, so these relations will be further developed.’ Ukraine is investigating its military medical commissions for corruption after finding that some branches accepted bribes in exchange for falsified health documents that made men ineligible for the military draft. President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address that the number of men removed from military registers by the medical commissions increased tenfold in some regions since February and that it was ‘absolutely clear’ there were ‘corrupt decisions.’ He said that bribes ranging from $3,000 to $15,000 were paid to escape the draft and that other eligible men were able to flee abroad. Outgoing British Defense Minister Ben Wallace — a key figure in making London a top defense supplier to Kyiv — will be replaced by former energy minister Grant Shapps, Downing Street announced Thursday. Wallace announced his plans to resign in July after four years in the position. ‘The United Kingdom is respected around the world for our armed forces and that respect has only grown more since the war in Ukraine,’ Wallace wrote in his resignation letter. Shapps pledged to continue Britain’s ‘support for Ukraine in their fight against Putin’s barbaric invasion.’ The British defense company BAE Systems will open an office in Kyiv to increase its supply of weapons, equipment and other military know-how, Zelensky’s office said in a statement Thursday. BAE is Britain’s largest defense contractor, and Zelensky said it has been providing Kyiv with weapons such as the L119 and M777 artillery systems. The latest agreement ‘paves the way for us to work together to provide more direct support to the Ukrainian armed forces,’ BAE chief executive Charles Woodburn said in a statement, Reuters reported. Russia will discuss an alternative to the Black Sea grain deal with Turkey this week, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan, are expected to meet in Moscow over a proposal to send grain to Turkey with the financial help of Qatar. The grain would be processed in Turkey and exported to countries ‘in need,’ the Russian Foreign Ministry said. The Kremlin also has said the leaders of Russia and Turkey would meet in Russia ‘soon.'”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Takes the Next Step in Its Hard-Fought Counteroffensive. After breaking through the first major line of Russian defenses around Bobotyne, Ukraine appears to hold it securely enough to press on to the nearby village of Verbove. The New York Times, Thursday, 31 August 2023:

  • After taking Robotyne, Ukrainian forces face fierce fighting around a village to the east.
  • Dmitri Utkin, a Wagner leader killed in the plane crash with Prigozhin, is buried.
  • Eight others died on the plane with Prigozhin and Utkin. Who were they?
  • ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence allies link a Russian hacking group to an attack on Ukraine’s battlefield devices.
  • Russia and Turkey discuss Moscow’s grain proposal.
  • Ukraine’s military medical commissions are under review amid concerns about draft evasion.
  • The U.K. replaces its defense secretary, though its support for Ukraine is expected to remain strong.

Trump, Waiving Arraignment, Pleads Not Guilty in Georgia Case. the 19 defendants in the election interference case are sparring with prosecutors over when a trial might start, and whether it will be in state or federal court. The New York Times, Danny Hakim and Richard Fausset, Thursday, 31 August 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump pleaded not guilty on Thursday and waived his arraignment in the Georgia criminal case charging him and 18 of his allies with interfering in the 2020 election. His plea came as Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, a fellow Republican, dismissed demands from the former president and some of his supporters to start impeachment proceedings against Fani T. Willis, the prosecutor who brought the case. Without Mr. Kemp’s help, it is all the more unlikely that Mr. Trump will be able to derail the prosecution. ‘In Georgia, we will not be engaging in political theater that only inflames the emotions of the moment,’ Mr. Kemp said in a news conference at the State Capitol, where he also discussed the response to Hurricane Idalia. ‘We will do what is right, we will uphold our oath as public servants, and it’s my belief that our state will be better off for it.'” See also, Trump enters not-guilty plea in Georgia election case and waives hearing. The former president had been scheduled by Fulton county Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee to be arraigned in Atlanta next Wednesday. The Washington Post, Holly Bailey and Amy Gardner, Thursday, 31 August 2023: “Donald Trump entered a plea of not guilty to charges alleging he participated in a vast criminal conspiracy to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia, and he waived his right to an in-person arraignment hearing in the matter, according to a court filing from his attorney in the Fulton County election interference case. The written plea was filed Thursday by Steve Sadow, an Atlanta criminal defense attorney who was tapped Aug. 24 to lead the former president’s Georgia-based legal team. The filing means Trump won’t return to Atlanta on Wednesday, where Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is overseeing the proceedings, has scheduled arraignment hearings for Trump and the 18 co-defendants in the sprawling criminal racketeering case.” See also, Trump pleads not guilty in Georgia election subversion case and seeks to sever case from co-defendants who want a speedy trial, CNN Politics, Hannah Rabinowitz, Thursday, 31 August 2023: “Former President Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty in the sprawling Fulton County election interference case, according to a new court filing. Trump had been scheduled to be arraigned in person next Wednesday. Georgia law allows criminal defendants to waive their in-person appearance and enter a formal plea through court filings. Trump also formally asked a judge to sever his case from his co-defendants who want a speedy trial.”

Justice Clarence Thomas Reports Private Trips With Harlan Crow. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. had asked for extensions on their annual forms that show travel, gifts, and other financial information. The New York Times, Abbie Van Sickle, Thursday, 31 August 2023: “Justice Clarence Thomas, in his annual financial disclosure form released Thursday, responded in detail to reports that he had failed to disclose luxury trips, flights on a private jet and a real estate transaction with a Texas billionaire. In an unusual move, the justice included a statement defending his travel with the billionaire, Harlan Crow, who has donated to conservative causes, and amended earlier forms that had ‘inadvertently omitted’ information. Although Justice Thomas reported three trips taken over the past year on Mr. Crow’s private jet, the first time in nearly two decades that he has disclosed such gifts and travel, the form did not appear to be comprehensive. The acknowledgment comes as the Supreme Court faces increased scrutiny about the justices’ financial dealings after a series of reports have underlined what few disclosure requirements are in place and how compliance is often left to the justices themselves. Lawmakers have renewed their calls for a stricter ethics code after revelations that Justices Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. had accompanied billionaires on lavish vacations but did not report the trips. Although the justices, like other federal judges, are required to file annual reports that document their investments, gifts and travel, they are not subject to binding ethics rules.” See also, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas details jet travel and property deal with billionaire Harlan Crow. Thomas reports three trips on Crow’s private jet in 2022 and says one was for security reasons after leak of abortion ruling. The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow and Emma Brown, Thursday, 31 August 2023: “Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas reported three 2022 trips on the private jet of a Texas billionaire in a financial disclosure form released Thursday, and for the first time detailed the businessman’s purchase of three properties from the justice’s family years earlier. In his required annual report, Thomas said one of the trips on the private plane of his friend and benefactor, Harlan Crow, was recommended by his security detail. The justices faced heightened security risks, Thomas noted, after the May 2022 leak of the court’s majority opinion to eliminate the nationwide right to abortion and overturn Roe v. Wade. Thomas, a justice since 1991, acknowledged and corrected mistakes and omissions in past reports that involved bank accounts, a life insurance policy and the name of his wife’s real estate company. He also defended his decision to omit private jet travel from his reports in recent years, even though he previously disclosed at least one similar personal trip with Crow in a report from the 1990s.” See also, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas discloses private jet trips provided by billionaire Harlan Crow, Politico, Josh Gerstein, Thursday, 31 August 2023: “Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who has faced intense scrutiny and criticism in recent months for receiving undisclosed luxury travel, reported taking three private jet trips courtesy of billionaire Harlan Crow last year, according to disclosure forms made public Thursday. Thomas also acknowledged he’d ‘inadvertently omitted’ bank accounts now valued at more than $100,000 from his annual financial disclosures dating back to 2017, due to what he called ‘a misinterpretation of the rules.’ Crow is a commercial real estate magnate and Republican megadonor whose largess to Thomas over the past several decades has fueled much of the recent focus on the court’s ethics practices.” See also, Clarence Thomas officially discloses private trips on Republican megadonor Harlan Crow’s plane, CNN Politics, Ariane de Vogue and Devan Cole, Thursday, 31 August 2023: “Justice Clarence Thomas disclosed Thursday that Republican megadonor Harlan Crow paid for private jet trips for Thomas in 2022 to attend a speech in Texas and a vacation at Crow’s luxurious New York estate, as ethics questions continue to rock the Supreme Court. In one instance, Thomas said he took the private transportation in May because of ‘increased security risk’ following the leak of the Dobbs opinion overturning Roe v. Wade that had occurred a few days earlier. Newly released financial disclosure forms Thursday also amend prior reports to include information that had been ‘inadvertently omitted’ from past forms including a real estate deal between Thomas and Crow back in 2014.”

Proud Boys Lieutenant Sentenced to 17 Years in January 6 Sedition Case. The penalty for Joseph Biggs is the second longest in more than 1.100 criminal cases stemming from the Capitol attack. Another Proud Boys leader was sentenced to 15 years. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Zach Montague, Thursday, 31 August 2023: “Two leaders of the Proud Boys were sentenced to lengthy prison terms on Thursday for their roles in the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, with a top lieutenant in the far-right group, Joseph Biggs, given 17 years, and another key figure in the attack, Zachary Rehl, getting 15 years. Mr. Biggs’s sentence following his conviction in the spring on charges of seditious conspiracy was one of the stiffest penalties issued so far in more than 1,100 criminal cases stemming from the Capitol attack and among only a handful to have been legally labeled an act of terrorism. It was just over half of the 33 years the government had requested and just shy of the 18-year term given in May to Stewart Rhodes, the leader of another far-right group, the Oath Keepers militia, who was also found guilty of sedition in connection with the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.” See also, Proud Boys who led march to Capitol get two of the lengthiest sentences since January 6 attack. Joseph Biggs was sentenced to 17 years in prison; Zachary Rehl was sentenced to 15 years. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Thursday, 31 August 2023: “Two top leaders of the Proud Boys on Jan. 6, 2021, received the second- and third-longest sentences to date stemming from the assault on the Capitol, a significant milestone in the national reckoning with the forces unleashed against the government that day. Joseph Biggs, a Florida leader of the Proud Boys on Jan. 6, was sentenced Thursday to 17 years in prison for conspiring to derail the peaceful transfer of power. His co-defendant, Zachary Rehl, was sentenced to 15 years. Their prison terms exceed all of the hundreds handed down since Jan. 6 except for the 18-year sentence for Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes earlier this year.”

The US government says election workers have gotten death threats and warnings they will be lynched, Associated Press, Lindsay Whitehurst and Christina A. Cassidy, Thursday, 31 August 2023: “More than a dozen people nationally have been charged with threatening election workers by a Justice Department unit trying to stem the tide of violent and graphic threats against people who count and secure the vote. Government employees are being bombarded with threats even in normally quiet periods between elections, secretaries of state and experts warn. Some point to former President Donald Trump and his allies repeatedly and falsely claiming the 2020 election was stolen and spreading conspiracy theories about election workers. Experts fear the 2024 election could be worse and want the federal government to do more to protect election workers. The Justice Department created the Election Threats Task Force in 2021 led by its public integrity section, which investigates election crimes. John Keller, the unit’s second in command, said in an interview with The Associated Press that the department hoped its prosecutions would deter others from threatening election workers. ‘This isn’t going to be taken lightly. It’s not going to be trivialized,’ he said. ‘Federal judges, the courts are taking misconduct seriously and the punishments are going to be commensurate with the seriousness of the conduct.'”







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!