Aftermath of the Trump Administration, September 2023


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

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


Friday, 1 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. says Ukrainian forces advance in Zaporizhzhia, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Victoria Bisset, Robyn Dixon, Natalia Abbakumova, Miriam Berger, Karen DeYoung, and Serhiy Morgunov, Friday, 1 September 2023: “White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Friday that Ukraine has achieved ‘notable progress’ in recent days in its counteroffensive to retake territory in the southern Zaporizhzhia region. ‘They have achieved some success along that second line of Russian defenses,’ he said at a news conference. It ‘is not beyond the realm of the possible that Russia will react’ to Ukraine’s push, he said. Kirby declined to comment on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s claims overnight that Kyiv had used new domestically made long-range missiles to hit a target at some 435 miles distance. Zelensky did not offer specifics, including whether they were used in a test or against an enemy target. Hours later, the head of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, said that Moscow’s new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, which is capable of carrying nuclear warheads, had after months of delay been put on combat alert. Ukraine’s apparent advance came after several weeks of near stalemate, which has prompted concern, including within the administration, about Ukraine’s military strategy. Russia’s Ministry of Justice branded Nobel laureate Dmitry Muratov a ‘foreign agent’ on Friday. Muratov, the editor in chief of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, has been a frequent critic of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The ‘foreign agent’ designation imposes rules and restrictions relating to finances and public disclosures. The underlying law has been used to harass and burden human rights organizations and journalists in Russia. Zelensky said Kyiv’s new long-range weapons were produced by the Ministry of Strategic Industries and, according to Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, have been under development since 2020. The Washington Post could not immediately verify the Ukrainian claims. Kirby referred all questions about Ukrainian capabilities to Kyiv and reiterated the administration’s policy of not encouraging or enabling Ukrainian strikes inside Russia’s borders. ‘We are focused on making sure Ukraine can win back its own territory,’ Kirby said. Yuri Borisov, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos, announced the deployment of the Sarmat missile complex on Friday, three months after Russian President Vladimir Putin initially said it would be ready, Russian state news agency Interfax reported. The Kremlin, which has claimed that it can breach ‘any missile defense’ system, successfully test-launched one of the intercontinental ballistic missiles in April. At the time, Pentagon said it was not a significant threat to the United States or its allies. Russia said Friday that any weapons facilities in Ukraine could become a target, a day after Zelensky’s office announced that Britain’s largest defense contractor, BAE Systems, will open an office in Kyiv to streamline support for Ukrainian forces. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that the development would not ‘fundamentally change the situation,’ but warned: ‘Any weapons production facilities, especially if these weapons are fired at us, become the object of special attention by our military forces.’ BAE has been providing Ukraine with weapons such as the L119 and M777 artillery systems, Zelensky said. Putin said Friday that he would meet ‘soon enough’ with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who the Russian president called ‘his friend’ and ‘a person who does a lot for the development of Russian-Chinese relations.’ The two leaders most recently met in March and held three days of talks in Moscow — a symbolic joint stand against the United States and its Western allies. Xi and Putin agreed to expand economic ties, which have become a lifeline for Russia under Western sanctions. Ambassadors from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to attend this year’s Nobel Prize award ceremony and banquet, after the foundation behind the prize said it would invite all countries with diplomatic representation in Sweden. Both countries were uninvited from last year’s ceremony in Stockholm — which awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to a trio of Kremlin critics and human rights defenders in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia — following the invasion of Ukraine. ‘The achievements recognised by the Nobel Prize require openness, exchange and dialogue between people and nations,’ the organization wrote in a statement Thursday, adding that it wished to reach out ‘even to those who do not share the values of the Nobel Prize.’ A Pentagon spokesman, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, urged North Korea not to negotiate with Russia or provide it with arms, describing the arms in question as ‘essentially artillery ammunition’ in a briefing with reporters. The previous day, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russia and North Korea are ‘actively advancing’ negotiations for weapons that would be used in the war in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday. The announcement comes as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan. are expected to meet in Moscow to discuss a proposal to send Russian grain to Turkey with the financial help of Qatar, as an alternative to the Black Sea grain deal. The grain would be processed in Turkey and exported to countries ‘in need,’ the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Military exercises involving more than 2,500 soldiers from Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan began Friday in Belarus, and are set to last through Sept. 6. Armenia, which is part of the same military alliance of post-soviet states, declined to participate. Ukraine and Poland said they were strengthening protections at their shared borders with Belarus. Poland’s internal affairs minister, Mariusz Kaminski, said that all Belarusian crossings with the European Union will be immediately closed should any provocations arise.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine’s Offensive Makes Progress. Washington acknowledges Kyiv’s counteroffensive has advanced in the past three days. The New York Times, Friday, 1 September 2023:

  • Ukraine’s counteroffensive has made ‘notable progress’ in the last 72 hours, the White House says.
  • Russia claims its Sarmat intercontinental missile is on ‘combat duty.’
  • A U.S. official meets with a Ukrainian delegation to discuss Kyiv’s anti-corruption efforts.
  • Russia brands a Nobel Peace Prize-winning journalist a ‘foreign agent.’
  • Putin and Erdogan will meet as grain talks appear stalled.
  • Ukrainian students begin a new school year in the shadow of war.
  • New Russian high school textbooks seek to justify the war in Ukraine.

Two Proud Boys Sentenced in January 6 Sedition Case. Ethan Nordean, a ground commander of the far-right group, got 18 years, matching the longest January 6 sentence so far. Dominic Pezzola, among the first rioters to enter the Capitol, received 10 years. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Zach Montague, Friday, 1 September 2023: “Two more members of the Proud Boys were sentenced to prison on Friday for their roles in the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, with a ground commander in the far-right group, Ethan Nordean, given 18 years, and Dominic Pezzola, the man who set off the initial breach of the building by smashing a window with a riot shield, getting 10 years. The sentences imposed on Mr. Nordean and Mr. Pezzola were the third and fourth to have been handed down this week to five members of the far-right group who were tried in May for seditious conspiracy and other crimes in one of the most significant prosecutions to have emerged from the Capitol attack. While Mr. Pezzola’s sentence was only half of the 20 years the government had requested, Mr. Nordean’s was the stiffest penalty issued so far in any case related to the Capitol attack and was the same as term given in May to Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia, who was also found guilty of sedition in connection with Jan. 6.”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, September 2023:

Saturday, 2 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky claims Ukraine is ‘advancing’ as U.S. describes ‘notable progress,’ The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Victoria Bisset, Siobhán O’Grady, and Nick Parker, Saturday, 2 September 2023: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his forces were continuing to make progress in their counteroffensive after weeks of a near stalemate that had sparked concern among Kyiv’s supporters. ‘Despite everything and no matter what anyone says, we are advancing, and that is the most important thing. We are on the move,’ Zelensky wrote Saturday. His comments came after White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Ukrainian forces had achieved ‘notable progress’ in retaking territory in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia over the past three days. He added that Kyiv’s forces ‘have achieved some success along that second line of Russian defenses,’ but that ‘it is not beyond the realm of the possible that Russia will react’ to Ukraine’s push. Kirby said that the criticism of Kyiv was ‘not helpful to the overarching effort to make sure that Ukraine can succeed. And they are.’ He added that the Ukrainian progress ‘has been slow in some areas, slower than they themselves would like to go. But they have been fighting every single day.’  Billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky was held in lieu of a roughly $13 million bail Saturday after Ukraine’s state security service accused him of fraud and money laundering. The agency, known as the SBU, announced the charges on Telegram and released photos appearing to show authorities surrounding the oligarch, who previously owned Ukraine’s PrivatBank and served as governor of the country’s Dnipropetrovsk region, at his home early Saturday. The case against Kolomoisky is based on alleged fraud and laundering of criminally obtained property, the SBU reported. SBU officials reportedly raided his home earlier this year, and, in 2021, the United States imposed sanctions against him ‘due to his involvement in significant corruption’ while serving as governor of Dnipropetrovsk. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also accused him of participating in ‘current and ongoing efforts to undermine Ukraine’s democratic processes and institutions.’ The Nobel committee on Saturday reversed its decision to allow Russia and Belarus to attend this year’s Nobel Prize award ceremony in Stockholm. Both countries were uninvited from last year’s event after the invasion of Ukraine, and Friday’s plan to allow them to take part drew condemnation from Kyiv. Criticism of the decision had ‘completely overshadowed’ the intended message, the Nobel Foundation said. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson lauded the Nobel committee’s decision to disinvite Russia and Belarus to the award ceremony. ‘The many and strong reactions show that the whole of Sweden unambiguously stand on Ukraine’s side against Russia’s appalling war of aggression,’ his office posted to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. Moscow on Friday designated Nobel laureate Dmitry Muratov a ‘foreign agent,’ a label used to harass human rights organizations and journalists in Russia. Muratov is the editor in chief of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and has been a regular critic of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. He shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the Philippine journalist Maria Ressa in 2021. German prosecutors launched an investigation Friday into an attack on a 10-year old Ukrainian by a man insisting the boy speak Russian. Investigators said an unidentified man speaking Russian accosted a group of Ukrainian children in the town of Einbeck on Aug. 26, complaining that they were speaking Ukrainian and demanding that they speak Russian. He then pushed a 10-year old over a canal bridge railing, the public prosecutor’s office said in a statement, adding that the man was being investigated for attempted murder. The boy was injured in the head and foot, the statement said. Elon Musk’s X, formerly Twitter, has played a major role in allowing Russian propaganda about Ukraine to reach more people than before the war began, according to a study by the European Commission. The reach of Kremlin-aligned social media accounts has grown over the course of 2022, with further growth this year ‘driven in particular by the dismantling of Twitter’s safety standards,’ the study found.”


Sunday, 3 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky to replace defense minister; drones hit Odessa, The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Jennifer Hassan, Nick Parker, and Anumita Kaur, Sunday, 3 September 2023: “Ukraine is replacing its defense minister with a former member of parliament after a year and a half of war, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Sunday evening. The Ukrainian parliament must approve the move, and Zelensky said he expects their support. The government has been considering such a shake-up for months. South Africa’s president said Sunday that an independent inquiry did not find evidence to show that weapons and ammunition were loaded onto a Russian vessel at a South African naval base, as Washington’s envoy to the country alleged in May. The South African president declined to release the report on the matter, saying the evidence was ‘classified.’ Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov will be replaced by Rustem Umerov if the Ukrainian parliament approves the move, Zelensky said in a video Sunday evening. ‘I believe that the ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction both with the military and with society as a whole,’ he said. ‘I expect the parliament to support his candidacy.’ Umerov was a member of the parliament that will consider his appointment. He has been involved with Russia-Ukraine negotiations. Air-defense systems downed 22 of 25 Iranian-made Shahed drones headed for Odessa, Ukraine’s air force said Sunday on Telegram, noting that the attack lasted more than three hours. The Washington Post could not immediately verify the assertions. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are scheduled to meet in Russia on Monday for what could be discussions integral to reviving the grain initiative. The Turkish government wants to resume the grain deal in an effort to lower global food prices, according to the state-owned Anadolu Agency. ‘We’re cautious, but we hope we’ll achieve success because this is necessary for the whole world,’ Erdogan aide Akif Cagatay Kilic told a Turkish broadcaster. When Russia terminated its end of the agreement this summer, Zelensky called the move ‘blackmail.’ South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declined to release a report on potential weapons loaded onto a Russian vessel in Decembersaying the report’s evidence was ‘classified.’ U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety told reporters in May that South Africans loaded weapons onto a ship called the Lady R outside Cape Town. No arms were exported, Ramaphosa posted Sunday on X. ‘To reveal the details of the equipment offloaded would compromise important military operations and put our soldiers’ lives at risk,’ he said. Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence released details Sunday about the Russian Mi-8 helicopter pilot who defected in late August, identifying him as 28-year-old Maksym Kuzminov, who said he rejected Russia’s actions in Ukraine. ‘I contacted representatives of the intelligence of Ukraine, explained my situation. I was offered security guarantees, new documents, monetary compensation, a reward,’ Kuzminov said, according to the intelligence agency, and called on other Russian pilots to follow his example. Moldova’s leader denounced the strike on the Danube River port facilities in Odessa on Sunday. ‘Russia must be held accountable for every piece of infrastructure destroyed,’ Moldovan President Maia Sandu said on X, formerly known as Twitter. Moldova, a former member of the Soviet Union, has distanced itself from Russia in recent years and has characterized the Kremlin as a threat. The Danube borders the southern tip of Moldova. Zelensky discussed Odessa and the grain corridor with French President Emmanuel Macron, the Ukrainian president said Sunday on social media. He did not give further details as to what France might do to help the grain initiative, though Macron’s government has supported it in statements and reiterated Zelensky’s characterization of ‘blackmail.’ Russia has been trying to recruit citizens of neighboring countries to fight in Ukraine, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Sunday. Online advertisements in Armenia and Kazakhstan are offering 495,000 rubles ($5,140) in initial payments, the ministry said, adding that ‘exploiting foreign nationals allows the Kremlin to acquire additional personnel for its war effort in the face of mounting casualties.’ Two more ships successfully passed through a temporary Black Sea grain corridor, Zelensky said Saturday, bringing the number of vessels that have done so to four, according to Reuters. Concerns over grain transportation and global food security have been exacerbated since Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.The Nobel Foundation reversed an earlier decision to invite Russia and its ally Belarus back to this year’s awards ceremony in Sweden amid backlash from Swedish and Ukrainian officials. Russia and Belarus were excluded from the event last year because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Judge Rules Florida’s Congressional Map Illegally Hurt Black Voters. Under the ruling, Florida is forbidden to use the map in the 2024 election, and state legislators are required to draw a new none. But the decision can be appealed. The New York Times, Maggie Astor, Sunday, 3 September 2023: “A Florida judge struck down the state’s congressional map on Saturday, ruling that it violated the Florida Constitution by diminishing the influence of Black voters, and ordering the State Legislature ‘to enact a new map which complies with the Florida Constitution.’ Under state constitutional amendments that Florida voters passed in 2010, lawmakers are forbidden to draw districts ‘with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice.’ In a 55-page ruling, Judge J. Lee Marsh of the Leon County Circuit Court ruled that lawmakers had violated that prohibition with the new maps they drew after the 2020 census.”


Monday, 4 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kremlin to stay out of grain deal; U.S. officials say Kim Jong Un to meet with Putin in Russia, The Washington Post, Lyric Li, Jennifer Hassan, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Natalia Abbakumova, and Ellen Nakashima, Monday, 4 September 2023: “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un plans to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin this month to discuss North Korea possibly providing Moscow with munitions in the Ukraine war, according to senior administration officials. Russia’s military is trying to bolster its weapon supplies amid the Ukrainian counteroffensive. After meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, Putin declined to rejoin the Black Sea Grain Initiative that Moscow abandoned in July, deepening a problem for global food security. Following the negotiations, Erdogan said Ukraine needed to compromise with Russia on the deal, Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu Agency reported. Putin and Kim will probably meet in Vladivostok, a port city in eastern Russia not far from North Korea, senior administration officials said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. The White House said last week that it had intelligence showing Putin and Kim had swapped letters. The White House expects Putin and Kim to continue discussions about weapons. A spokeswoman for the National Security Council declined to address the Kim-Putin meeting, but she said their arms negotiations are ‘advancing.’ ‘We have information that Kim Jong-Un expects these discussions to continue, to include leader-level diplomatic engagement in Russia,’ Adrienne Watson said. Russia intends to send 1 million tons of grain to Turkey for delivery to the world’s poorest countries, Putin said after talks with Erdogan, but the two leaders had not agreed to reinstate the larger grain deal that had been brokered by Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations. Putin instead reiterated that Russia would rejoin the grain deal only when restrictions on Russian exports are lifted. Erdogan added that there is no alternative to the deal and that they must correct its ‘deficiencies,’ Anadolu reported, though it’s not clear which points he was referring to. Details of the smaller agreement, which the Russian president said would involve Qatar, were not immediately available. Ukraine’s foreign minister said the grain deal should not be restored by conceding to Russian demands. Dmytro Kuleba said Russia’s insistence that it would rejoin the deal when its demands are met was ‘blackmail,’ according to the Ukrainian news outlet Ukrinform. He added that if Ukraine made concessions to Russia now, in a month Moscow might call for yet additional terms to stay in the agreement. Russia is discussing the possibility of holding a joint naval exercise with North Korea, Shoigu told reporters Monday. During a visit to North Korea, Shoigu proposed a trilateral exercise that would include China, according to a report from South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. Russia and North Korea have been discussing potential weapons shipments, according to U.S. officials. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said an inquiry found no evidence that his country shipped weapons to Russia last year, though he will not release the report, citing ‘classified” information among the evidence. Reuben Brigety, the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, told reporters in May that South Africans loaded weapons onto a ship called the Lady R outside Cape Town. Russia has been trying to recruit citizens of neighboring countries, including Armenia and Kazakhstan, to fight in Ukraine, Britain’s Defense Ministry said. The ministry said that online advertisements are offering 495,000 rubles ($5,140) in initial payments, adding that hiring foreign nationals allows the Kremlin to ‘acquire additional personnel for its war effort in the face of mounting casualties.'”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin and Erdogan Meet, Showcasing Cooperation but Little Progress on Grain Deal. Hours before the Russian and Turkish leaders met, Moscow’s forces attacked Ukraine’s southern Odesa region with drones, damaging grain infrastructure. The New York Times, Monday, 4 September 2023:

  • In meeting Putin, Erdogan positions himself again as the middleman.
  • Putin restates Russian complaints about the Black Sea grain deal.
  • Russia launches another attack on Ukrainian grain facilities on the Danube.
  • Gen. Sergei Surovikin, who was detained after the Wagner mutiny, is released.
  • A Nobel Prize-winning Russian journalist will fight the Kremlin’s decision to label him a ‘foreign agent.’
  • Who is Rustem Umerov, Zelensky’s nominee for defense minister?


Tuesday, 5 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Drones downed near Moscow; Cuba says human traffickers seeking Cubans to fight for Russia, The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Natalia Abbakumova, Ellen Francis, Sarah Dadouch, and Karen DeYoung, Tuesday, 5 September 2023: “Russian authorities said air defense systems shot down three Ukrainian drones early Tuesday near Moscow and a fourth over the illegally annexed Crimean Peninsula. Moscow’s mayor said one of the drones was destroyed in Zavidovo, a village north of the capital that is home to an official presidential residence. There was no immediate comment from Kyiv, and the Russian Defense Ministry reported no damage. Cuba’s Foreign Ministry accused human traffickers operating from Russia of trying to recruit Cubans to fight for Russia. ‘Cuba has a firm and clear historical position against mercenarism,’ Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said in a statement. ‘Cuba is not part of the war in Ukraine.’ Russia’s Defense Ministry said air defenses intercepted two drones over the Kaluga and Tver regions outside Moscow and another over the Istra district, closer to the city. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that the drones were flying toward the capital and that there was no damage from the drone downed over Zavidovo in the Tver region. The Washington Post could not independently verify the claims. Moscow blames Kyiv for a recent uptick in attempted drone attacks. Officials in Kyiv have not confirmed Ukraine’s involvement in individual drone attacks targeting Moscow, but they have asserted that they see sites in Russia as part of the war. The breach of Ukraine’s Kakhovka dam in June, which caused devastating floods, caused some $1.5 billion in environmental damage, according to a Ukrainian assessment, Dmytro Zaruba, an environmental inspection official, said in a statement Tuesday. He said the full damages are difficult to calculate because areas remain off-limits due to fighting or occupation. The Kremlin declined to comment Tuesday on reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could visit Russia this month, after U.S. officials told The Post that Kim plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for possible arms negotiations as Moscow seeks to boost its arsenal for the Ukraine war. ‘We have nothing to say on this topic,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. Arms negotiations between Russia and North Korea ‘are actively advancing,’ according to Adrienne Watson, a U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman. U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity, said Putin and Kim probably would meet in the port city of Vladivostok in eastern Russia. White House officials did not publicly confirm that a meeting is expected to take place but expressed growing concern over relations between Moscow and Pyongyang. The White House said last week that Putin and Kim had swapped letters, The Post reported. The Ukrainian parliament voted Tuesday officially to dismiss Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, who took the role in November 2021, the state news agency Ukrinform reported. The parliamentary vote formalizes the resignation of Reznikov, who stepped down this week after President Volodymyr Zelensky announced plans to replace him as the ministry grapples with accusations of corruption. Putin did not rejoin the Black Sea Grain Initiative after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday to discuss grain exports. Putin said his country would rejoin the deal when restrictions on Russian exports have been lifted. Moscow withdrew in July from the agreement, which was brokered by Ankara and the United Nations to get grain exports to countries struggling with food insecurity. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba described Moscow’s insistence that its terms be met as ‘blackmail.’ Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska said her family has been forced to live separately because of the war. She was speaking in an interview published Tuesday about the personal toll of the conflict. ‘We have the opportunity to see each other but not as often as we would like. My son misses his father,’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s wife told the BBC. ‘This may be a bit selfish, but I need my husband, not a historical figure, by my side,’ she added.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Seeks to Punch 2nd Hole in Russian Lines in South. Ukrainian forces have made it past more Russian entrenchments in their campaign to reach the sea of Azov, but minefields and more enemy troops lie ahead, analysts say.  The New York Times, Tuesday, 5 September 2023:

  • Ukraine’s forces are churning slowly forward after breaching Russia’s initial defensive lines.
  • A report on cluster munitions finds Russia’s use of them in Ukraine drove a global surge in their toll.
  • Black Sea oil and gas rigs become a target in the war.
  • Ukraine’s first lady speaks of the strains of being married to a wartime president.
  • A planned meeting between Kim Jong-un and Putin suggests growing cooperation on weapons.
  • Zelensky visits troops fighting on the front lines around Bakhmut.
  • Cuba says it uncovered a Russian human trafficking ring for the war in Ukraine.

Ex-Leader of Proud Boys Sentenced to 22 Years in January 6 Sedition Case. The prison term for Enrique Tarrio was the most severe penalty handed down so far to any of the more than 1,100 people charged in connection with the Capitol attack. The New York Times, Anan Feuer, Tuesday, 5 September 2023: “Enrique Tarrio, the former leader of the Proud Boys, was sentenced on Tuesday to 22 years in prison for the central role he played in organizing a gang of his pro-Trump followers to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power. Mr. Tarrio’s sentence, stemming from his conviction this spring on charges of seditious conspiracy, was the most severe penalty handed down so far to any of the more than 1,100 people charged in connection with the Capitol attack — and was likely to remain that way, given that no other defendants currently face accusations as serious as the ones he did. Until now, the longest prison term connected to Jan. 6 had been 18 years. That sentence was issued last week to Ethan Nordean, one of Mr. Tarrio’s co-defendants. The same sentence was given in a separate case in May to Stewart Rhodes, the leader of another far-right group, the Oath Keepers militia, who also was found guilty of sedition in connection with the storming of the Capitol.” See also, Ex-Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio sentenced to 22 years for January 6. Convicted of seditious conspiracy, he recruited a group of 200 to march on the Capitol, though he wasn’t in D.C. that day. The Washington Post, Tom Jackman and Spencer S. Hsu, Tuesday, 5 September 2023: “Former Proud Boys leader Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio, described by a judge as ‘the ultimate leader’ who ‘was motivated by revolutionary zeal’ in organizing members of his far-right group to spark the breach of the U.S. Capitol, was sentenced Tuesday to 22 years in prison, the longest sentence yet among the hundreds convicted of disrupting the peaceful transfer of presidential power on Jan. 6, 2021. Tarrio, 39, was convicted of seditious conspiracy and obstructing the congressional proceeding meant to confirm the 2020 presidential election as part of a riot that U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly said broke America’s long democratic tradition of peaceful transfers of power. Tarrio was the last of five Proud Boys to be sentenced after all were convicted in May following a 15-week trial. Tarrio, of Miami, was convicted even though he wasn’t in Washington on Jan. 6. He had been arrested two days earlier for burning a ‘Black Lives Matter’ flag torn down from a D.C. church during an earlier protest in the city following President Donald Trump’s defeat. He was banned from the city as a result.”

Federal Court Again Strikes Down Alabama’s congressional Map. Republicans failed to comply with a court order to create a second majority Black district or something ‘close to it,’ the judicial panel said. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Tuesday, 5 September 2023: “A panel of federal judges rejected Alabama’s latest congressional map on Tuesday, ruling that a new map needed to be drawn because Republican lawmakers had failed to comply with orders to create a second majority Black district or something ‘close to it.’ In a sharp rebuke, the judges ordered that the new map be independently drawn, taking the responsibility away from the Republican-controlled Legislature while chastising state officials who ‘ultimately did not even nurture the ambition to provide the required remedy.’ The Legislature had hastily pushed through a revised map in July after a surprise Supreme Court ruling found that Alabama’s existing map violated a landmark civil rights law by undercutting the power of the state’s Black voters. The revised map, approved over the objections of Democrats, increased the percentage of Black voters in one of the state’s six majority white congressional districts to about 40 percent, from about 30 percent. In its new ruling, the three-judge panel in Alabama found that the Legislature had flouted its mandate under the court’s ruling.” See also, Alabama congressional map struck down again for diluting Black voting power. A three-judge federal panel said it was ‘deeply troubled’ that the state legislature had not complied with an earlier order. The Washington Post, Maegan Vazquez, Tuesday, 5 September 2023: “A panel of three federal judges rejected Alabama’s latest version of its congressional map Tuesday, saying the state’s Republican-led legislature did not follow a court order backed by the U.S. Supreme Court to comply with the Voting Rights Act when it last redrew districts in July. The ruling — which Alabama is planning to appeal — further bolsters challenges of maps drawn by GOP-led legislatures in several other Southern states, where Democrats and civil rights groups have brought lawsuits arguing that Republicans are illegally diluting the power of Black voters. The outcomes of these challenges have the potential to shift the political makeup of federal and state legislative bodies, including which party controls Congress.” See also, Alabama’s congressional map is struck down again for diluting Black voters’ power, NPR, Hansi Lo Wang, Tuesday, 5 September 2023: “Alabama is once again appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court a lower court ruling that found the state’s map of congressional election districts likely violates the Voting Rights Act by weakening Black voters’ power. The extraordinary move comes after a panel of three federal judges struck down Alabama’s latest congressional redistricting plan for not following their court order to comply with the landmark civil rights law. In a court filing, the state says it plans to formally ask the country’s highest court Thursday to put a pause on the ruling. It’s unclear whether the Supreme Court — which upheld the lower court’s earlier order about three months ago — is open to revisiting a case that has become a vehicle for not only testing the conservative justices’ appetite for undoing the court’s past rulings on Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, but also helping to determine which party controls the next U.S. House of Representatives.”


Wednesday, 6 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Blinken announces more than $1 billion in aid; Russian missile hits market in eastern Ukraine, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Ellen Francis, Loveday Morris, and Miriam Berger, Wednesday, 6 September 2023: “Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged more than $1 billion in additional military, humanitarian and budgetary support to Ukraine on Wednesday during a visit to Kyiv, in a show of support for Ukraine amid a slow-moving counteroffensive to retake territory in the country’s southeast. Blinken’s trip, his fourth to Ukraine, comes amid fierce debates in Washington over future funding for the war. The top U.S. diplomat visited the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, along with other Ukrainian officials. Earlier Wednesday, a Russian missile strike hit a crowded market in Kostiantynivka, in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, leaving at least 17 people dead and at least 32 injured in one of the deadliest attacks in recent months, Ukrainian officials said Wednesday. ‘A regular market. Shops. A pharmacy. People who did nothing wrong,’ Zelensky said on Telegram. ‘When someone in the world still attempts to deal with anything Russian, it means turning a blind eye to this reality.’ The aid package announced Wednesday includes more than $200 million for anti-corruption initiatives. It comes in the wake of a cabinet-level shake-up: Zelensky replaced his defense minister amid an anti-corruption sweep. Overall, the United States has provided more than $65 billion in security, humanitarian and financial support to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February of last year. The aid package announced by Blinken also includes up to $175 million in HIMARS rockets and other munitions and military equipment, more than $90 million for demining, $300 million for law enforcement in recaptured areas and other locations affected by the war, more than $200 million in humanitarian assistance, and more than $5 million in assets surrendered by oligarchs to support services for veterans. Ukraine’s parliament officially approved Rustem Umerov as the country’s new defense minister following the resignation of Oleksii Reznikov, who took the role in November 2021. Reznikov resigned this week after Zelensky announced plans to replace him, with the ministry embroiled in corruption allegations. ‘The Russian troops are terrorists who will not be forgiven,’ Denys Shmyhal, Ukraine’s prime minister, said in a statement confirming the Kostiantynivka [market] attack. ‘There will be just retribution for everything.’ Ukrainian soldiers positioned in the area frequent the market. The city is close to Bakhmut, which Russia captured in May after months of brutal fighting. The European Union connected the strike to a pattern of indiscriminate Russian attacks on civilians. ‘This attack follows an escalation over the past months of missile and drone attacks all over Ukraine, especially on civilian objects, killing and wounding more than 410 civilians over the past two weeks alone,’ read an E.U. statement. ‘Intentional attacks against civilians are war crimes. All commanders, perpetrators and accomplices of these atrocities will be held to account.’ Romania finds suspected Russian drone fragments. Fragments that ‘resemble drone parts’ were found on Romanian territory, said Defense Ministry spokesman Constantin Spanu. An investigation is underway to determine the exact ‘nature of these fragments,’ which were found Tuesday, he said, adding that he could not ‘make a direct connection’ with any recent attack. Investigators have searched areas in Romania bordering Ukraine for several days after Russian bombardments, Spanu said. Romania’s Defense Ministry had dismissed claims earlier this week that Russian drones entered the country during an attack on Ukrainian ports on the Danube River. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said Wednesday that if ‘elements from a Russian drone’ are confirmed to have been found on Romanian soil, ‘it would be a serious violation of Romania’s sovereignty.’ ‘Romania informed NATO Allies about this incident in today’s meeting of the North Atlantic Council, and Allies expressed strong solidarity with Romania,’ read a statement released Wednesday by NATO. ‘Since last year, in response to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, NATO has significantly increased its presence in the Black Sea region. We continue to monitor the situation closely, and we remain in close contact with our Ally Romania.’ Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen also arrived in the Ukrainian capital and addressed the parliament in Kyiv on Wednesday. Her visit comes after Denmark, along with the Netherlands, pledged to deliver the F-16 fighter jets Ukraine has long sought from its Western allies. Britain is planning to declare Russia’s Wagner Group a terrorist organization because of the nature and scale of the mercenaries’ operations, as well as ‘the threat they pose to British nationals abroad,’ the Home Office said. After Parliament agrees to the draft order, supporting or becoming a member of the Wagner Group would become illegal in the United Kingdom and punishable by up to 14 years in jail, the Home Office said. Cuba is working to ‘neutralize and dismantle’ a trafficking ring that it said targeted Cubans in Russia and their homeland to fight on behalf of the Kremlin in Ukraine, according to the Cuban Foreign Ministry. The ministry said it has begun criminal proceedings against those involved. The allegations followed a report by Telemundo about two young Cubans who said they were sent to a Russian military unit in Ukraine after accepting construction jobs in Russia.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Blinken, in Kyiv, Says U.S. Will Send $1 Billion More in Aid. The U.S. commitment includes more military assistance, but also funds to bolster Ukraine’s future defense and its own democracy and economy. The announcement came after a Russian missile strike killed at least 17 people in the city of Kostyantynivka. The New York Times, Wednesday, 6 September 2023:

  • The U.S. aid bolsters Ukraine’s military but also looks to a future after the war.
  • A fireball leaves scenes of carnage at a market in Ukraine.
  • Suspected Russian drone debris is found in Romania.
  • Before a meeting at the International Criminal Court, some U.S. lawmakers accuse Putin of genocide in Ukraine.
  • The U.S. has committed more than $70 billion to Ukraine.
  • Ukraine’s forces are churning slowly forward after breaching Russia’s initial defensive lines.
  • Ukraine’s first lady speaks of the strains of being married to a wartime president.

Lawsuit filed to remove Trump from ballot in Colorado under 14th Amendment, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Wednesday, 6 September 2023: “Having disqualified himself from public office by violating Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, Donald Trump must be removed from the ballot, according to a lawsuit filed today by six Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters including former state, federal and local officials, represented by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the firms Tierney Lawrence Stiles LLC, KBN Law, LLC and Olson Grimsley Kawanabe Hinchcliff & Murray LLC. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, also known as the Disqualification Clause, bars any person from holding federal or state office who took an ‘oath…to support the Constitution of the United States’ and then has ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.’ On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump stood before the nation and took an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’ After losing the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump violated that oath by recruiting, inciting and encouraging a violent mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in a futile attempt to remain in office.” See also, Colorado Lawsuit Seeks to Keep Trump Off Ballots Under 14th Amendment. The amendment says anyone who ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion’ against the Constitution after taking an oath to defend it is ineligible to hold office, and a long-shot effort to employ it is growing. The New York Times, Maggie Astor, Wednesday, 6 September 2023: “Six Colorado voters filed a lawsuit on Wednesday seeking to keep former President Donald J. Trump off the state’s ballots under the 14th Amendment, which says anyone who ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion’ against the Constitution after taking an oath to defend it is ineligible to hold office. The lawsuit, which was filed in a state district court in Denver with the help of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, demands that the Colorado secretary of state not print Mr. Trump’s name on the Republican primary ballot. It also asks the court to rule that Mr. Trump is disqualified in order to end any ‘uncertainty.’ The theory that the 14th Amendment disqualifies Mr. Trump has gained traction among liberals and anti-Trump conservatives since two prominent conservative law professors argued in an article last month that his actions before and during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol constituted engagement in an insurrection. But it remains a legal long shot. Mr. Trump would surely appeal any ruling that he was ineligible, and a final decision could rest with the Supreme Court, which has a conservative supermajority that includes three justices he appointed.” See also, A lawsuit seeks to bar Trump from the primary in Colorado, citing Constitution’s insurrection clause, Associated Press, Nicholas Riccardi, Wednesday, 6 September 2023: “A liberal group on Wednesday filed a lawsuit to bar former President Donald Trump from the primary ballot in Colorado, arguing he is ineligible to run for the White House again under a rarely used clause in the U.S. Constitution aimed at candidates who have supported an ‘insurrection.’ The lawsuit, citing the 14th Amendment, is likely the initial step in a legal challenge that seems destined for the U.S. Supreme Court. The complaint was filed on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. It will jolt an already unsettled 2024 primary campaign that features the leading Republican candidate facing four separate criminal cases. Liberal groups have demanded that states’ top election officials bar Trump under the clause that prohibits those who ‘engaged in an insurrection or rebellion’ against the Constitution from holding higher office. None has taken that step, looking for guidance from the courts on how to interpret a clause that has only been used a handful of times since the 1860s.” See also, Six Colorado voters sue to remove Trump from the state’s 2024 ballot. Their lawsuit contends that Trump should be disqualified from running in future elections because he violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment with his role in the January 6 insurrection. NBC News, Rebecca Shabad, Wednesday, 6 September 2023: “Six voters in Colorado filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to remove former President Donald Trump from the state’s election ballots because of his role in the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. Their suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Denver, contends that Trump should be disqualified from running in future elections under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which states that no person shall hold any office if they ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion’ after having taken an oath to support the Constitution. The group called on the court to remove Trump from the 2024 ballot and declare that it would be ‘improper’ and ‘a breach or neglect of duty’ for Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, to allow his name to appear on any future primary or general election ballots. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and several law firms filed the lawsuit on behalf of the six voters — four Republicans and two unaffiliated.”

Trump is liable in the second E. Jean Carroll defamation case, judge rules; January trial will determine damages, CNN Politics, Kara Scannell, Wednesday, 6 September 2023: “A federal judge ruled that the jury hearing E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit will only need to decide how much money Donald Trump will have to pay her, after the judge found the former president was liable for making defamatory statements. The finding is a significant blow to Trump, who is facing numerous criminal indictments and civil lawsuits – many of them coming to a head as he embarks on a presidential campaign. Judge Lewis Kaplan said that a federal jury’s verdict earlier this year against Trump will carry over to the defamation case set to go to trial in January involving statements Trump made in 2019 about Carroll’s sexual assault allegations.” See also, Trump accuser E. Jean Carroll wins liability claims in next civil case, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Wednesday, 6 September 2023: “E. Jean Carroll — the advice columnist who was awarded $5 million in damages at a civil sexual assault trial against former president Donald Trump in May — won the majority of a related defamation case in a summary judgment decision handed down Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled that the May verdict clearly proved disparaging comments Trump made about Carroll in 2019 were false. Those comments do not need to be aired again to prove liability to jurors in a civil defamation trial scheduled for January, Kaplan said. Instead, the jury will hear testimony about whether Trump should pay Carroll damages for defaming her — and decide how much, if any, to award.”

Judge rejects Trump bid to delay New York fraud trial, Reuters, Jonathan Stempel, Wednesday, 6 September 2023: “A New York state judge on Wednesday rejected Donald Trump’s bid to delay a scheduled Oct. 2 trial in state Attorney General Letitia James’ civil fraud lawsuit accusing him, family members and his business of overvaluing assets by billions of dollars. Trump and the other defendants had said the trial should be ‘briefly’ delayed until three weeks after Justice Arthur Engoron ruled on both sides’ requests for summary judgments, which seek victory on various legal issues without the need for a trial. In a Tuesday night court filing, Trump accused James of ‘callous disregard’ of a June 27 appeals court decision that prevented her from suing over loans that took place too long ago, ‘substantially’ limiting the claims remaining for trial. But in a one-sentence order, Engoron called Trump’s arguments for a delay ‘completely without merit.’ The judge had earlier this year said the Oct. 2 trial date would not change ‘come hell or high water.'” See also, Judge says Trump bid to delay $250 million New York fraud trial is ‘completely without merit,’ CNBC, Kevin Breuninger, Wednesday, 6 September 2023: “A New York judge on Wednesday rejected Donald Trump’s request to delay his sweeping civil fraud trial, calling the former president’s request ‘completely without merit.’ One day earlier, attorneys for Trump, his two adult sons and his businesses had asked the judge to stay the case until three weeks after he has ruled on competing motions for summary judgement. The trial is currently scheduled to begin Oct. 2. New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron promptly smacked down their request. ‘Decline to sign,’ Engoron wrote in a brief, handwritten note at the bottom of Trump’s proposed order for a stay. ‘Defendants’ arguments are completely without merit.'”

Georgia Judge Scott McAfee Says Two Defendants in Trump Case Will Get Early Trial Together. Sidney Powell followed Kenneth Chesebro in demanding a speedy trial, but neither defendant in the election interference case wanted to be tried with the other. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Wednesday, 6 September 2023: “Two of Donald J. Trump’s co-defendants in the Georgia election-interference case will go to trial together on Oct. 23, a judge ruled on Wednesday. The defendants, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, had asked to be tried separately from one another. The ruling from Judge Scott McAfee of Fulton County Superior Court, however, is contingent on the case remaining in state court — a situation that could change if other defendants succeed at moving the case into a federal courtroom. Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, is still holding out hope that all 19 defendants in the racketeering case can be tried together. One of her prosecutors said during a hearing on Wednesday that the state would take approximately four months to present its case, calling roughly 150 witnesses. That estimate does not include the time it would take to pick the jury. But during the hearing, Judge McAfee said he remained ‘very skeptical’ that a single trial for all 19 defendants could work. For one thing, some of the accused, including Ms. Powell and Mr. Chesebro, have invoked their right to a speedy trial while others have not.” See also, Georgia judge ‘skeptical’ of DA’s plan for Trump, 18 others to stand trial next month. Judge Scott McAfee said he’d consider prosecutors’ arguments, but in the meantime only Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell are set to stand trial October 23. NBC News, Charlie Gile, Summer Concepcion, and Dareh Gregorian, Wednesday, 6 September 2023: “The judge presiding over the election interference case against Donald Trump and his allies in Georgia said Wednesday that he was ‘very skeptical’ of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ plan to put all 19 defendants — including the former president — on trial next month. At a hearing in Fulton County Superior Court, Judge Scott McAfee said the DA’s plan seemed ‘a bit unrealistic’ given some of the complex legal and practical issues in the sprawling case, but he said he would consider additional arguments. Nathan Wade, who was representing the DA’s office at the hearing, told the judge that a trial for all 19 defendants would take about four months and that prosecutors expect 150 witnesses to testify. Willis’ office initially recommended a March trial date but moved up the time frame after former Trump lawyers Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell asked for a speedy trial. McAfee said Wednesday he was granting the request for at least those two.”

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis asks judge to keep jurors’ names secret in the criminal trials of former President Donald Trump and 18 other defendants on Georgia election conspiracy charges, CNBC, Dan Mangan, Wednesday, 6 September 2023: “The Atlanta district attorney asked a judge Wednesday to keep jurors’ names secret in the criminal trials of former President Donald Trump and 18 other defendants on Georgia election conspiracy charges. Fulton County DA Fani Willis in her motion also asked that courtroom cameras not show the jurors during any trial, and bar the publication of written descriptions of the people on a jury. Willis cited the exposure of the purported names of the 23 members of the grand jury that indicted Trump and his co-defendants. The DA used the term ‘doxing,’ which is making public personal information about individuals, often with the intent of causing them emotional distress or physical harm. She said that police protected the grand jurors to ‘prevent harassment and violence against them’ after conspiracy theory websites published their supposed names and home addresses.”

Trump was warned that FBI could raid Mar-a-Lago months ahead of time. Trump attorney Evan Corcoran saved his recollections in a series of voice memos. ABC News, Katherine Faulders and Mike Levine, Wednesday, 6 September 2023: “In May of last year, shortly after the Justice Department issued a subpoena to former President Donald Trump for all classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate, Trump’s then-lead attorney on the matter, Evan Corcoran, warned the former president in person, at Mar-a-Lago, that not only did Trump have to fully comply with the subpoena, but that the FBI might search the estate if he didn’t, according to Corcoran’s audio notes following the conversation. Only minutes later, during a pool-side chat away from Trump, Corcoran got his own warning from another Trump attorney: If you push Trump to comply with the subpoena, ‘he’s just going to go ballistic,’ Corcoran recalled. Corcoran’s recollections, captured in a series of voice memos he made on his phone the next day, help illuminate Trump’s alleged efforts to defy a federal grand jury subpoena, and appear to shed more light on his frame of mind when he allegedly launched what prosecutors say was a criminal conspiracy to hide classified documents from both the FBI and Corcoran, his own attorney.”

Mar-a-Lago IT worker Yuscil Taveras struck cooperation agreement with special counsel, CNN Politics, Hannah Rabinowitz, Wednesday, 6 September 2023: “Mar-a-Lago IT worker Yuscil Taveras has struck a cooperation agreement with the special counsel’s office in the federal case over former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents, Taveras’ former defense attorney said in a new court filing. Taveras struck the deal with prosecutors after he was threatened with prosecution, defense attorney Stanley Woodward wrote in the filing dated Tuesday. Taveras is referred to in the filing and in the superseding indictment as ‘Trump Employee 4,’ and CNN has identified him as that employee.”

Biden Administration to Bar Drilling on Millions of Acres in Alaska. The administration will cancel oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and set aside more than half of the National Petroleum Reserve. The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Wednesday, 6 September 2023: “In its most aggressive move yet to protect federal land from oil and gas exploration, the Biden administration announced on Wednesday that it would prohibit drilling in 13 million acres of pristine wilderness in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska and cancel all drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The new regulations would ensure what the administration called ‘maximum protections’ for nearly half of the petroleum reserve but would not stop the enormous $8 billion Willow oil drilling project in the same vicinity, which President Biden approved this year. Climate activists, particularly young environmentalists, were angered by Mr. Biden’s decision in March to allow the Willow project, calling it a ‘carbon bomb.’ Many called the move a betrayal of Mr. Biden’s campaign promise of ‘no new drilling, period’ on federal lands and waters. Since then, the administration has taken pains to emphasize its efforts to reduce the carbon emissions that result from burning oil and gas and that are driving climate change.” See also, Biden to block oil drilling in ‘irreplaceable’ Alaskan wildlands. In the wake of the Willow decision, such development would be banned in nearly half of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, with oil leases cancelled in an iconic wildlife refuge. The Washington Post, Timothy Puko, Wednesday, 6 September 2023: “President Biden moved Wednesday to protect more than 10 million acres of Alaska’s North Slope from development, barring oil drilling across giant swaths and canceling leases in the iconic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge issued under President Donald Trump. The conservation push covers nearly half of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), the nation’s largest expanse of public land, which provides habitat for a range of sensitive Arctic wildlife, including caribou and shorebirds. It would impose a permanent ban on oil and gas development for 10.6 million acres of the reserve but would not block ConocoPhillips’ Willow project, which Biden approved there earlier this year and is poised to produce 576 million barrels of oil over the next three decades. In a separate move, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is canceling all seven outstanding leases the Trump administration awarded for oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in the state’s northeast corner. Drilling had been banned in the refuge, one of the nation’s most pristine natural areas, for decades until Congress ordered lease sales there in 2017. As a candidate, Biden pledged to undo those leases as part of his sweeping climate agenda.” See also, Biden administration cancels years-long attempt to drill in Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, CNN Politics, Ella Nilsen, Wednesday, 6 September 2023:”The Biden administration announced Wednesday it will cancel seven Trump-era oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and protect more than 13 million acres in the federal National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, stymieing a years-long attempt to drill in the protected region. The cancellation will affect Alaska’s state-owned oil development agency, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, which bought the leases covering about 365,000 acres on ANWR’s Coastal Plain during the Trump administration. ‘With today’s action, no one will have rights to drill for oil in one of the most sensitive landscapes on Earth,’ Interior Secretary Deb Haaland told reporters on a press call. ‘Public lands belong to all Americans, and there are some places where oil and gas drilling and industrial development simply do not belong.'”


Thursday, 7 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken departs Ukraine; NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Kyiv is ‘gradually gaining ground,’ The Washington Post, Lyric Li, Ellen Francis, Serhiy Morgunov, David L. Stern, and Adam Taylor, Thursday, 7 September 2023: “NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that Kyiv’s counteroffensive is ‘gradually gaining ground’ as Ukrainian troops fight to reclaim territory from entrenched Russian forces in the country’s east and south. ‘There’s heavy fighting, difficult fighting, but they have been able to reach the defensive lines of Russian forces, and they are moving forward,’ he told the European Parliament. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up the second day of his trip to Ukraine, where he received battlefield updates from President Volodymyr Zelensky and pledged more than $1 billion in additional U.S. aid. Before departing the country, he received a tour of a hydroelectric dam. The Pentagon announced this week plans to send Ukraine depleted uranium munitions, which are capable of piercing armor — a move that Moscow decried as a U.S. escalation. Blinken visited a border guard facility in the Kyiv region, a field that is being cleared of unexploded Russian ordnance northeast of the capital and a nearby school that is being turned into a museum after Russian forces held hostages there. One of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters within the Biden administration, Blinken said the United States is backing demining efforts, as well as ‘helping communities recover and rebuild.’ A Russian missile strike on a crowded market in Kostiantynivka in eastern Ukraine killed at least 16 people and left 32 injured, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Zelensky described Wednesday’s attack on Kostiantynivka, close to the front lines in the east, as ‘utter inhumanity.’ The European Union said it ‘follows an escalation over the past months of missile and drone attacks all over Ukraine.’ The governor of Russia’s Rostov region said air defenses shot down two drones over the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, home to Russia’s Southern Military District headquarters, a strategic command center. One person was injured and cars were damaged after one drone fell in the city center and the second fell outside the city, Vasily Golubev added early Thursday. The Washington Post could not independently verify the claims. Social media footage verified by Storyful showed an explosion and emergency crews in the city near the military base. Rostov-on-Don, about 75 miles from the Ukrainian border, has come under attack during the Ukraine war. Zelensky said the tasks facing Ukraine’s new defense minister include building more confidence in the work of the ministry, which has been embroiled in corruption allegations. Rustem Umerov is the country’s new defense minister succeeding Oleksii Reznikov, who resigned in recent days after Zelensky announced plans to replace him amid an anti-corruption sweep. Ukraine has begun exporting grain from Croatian ports on the Adriatic, following the collapse of the Black Sea grain deal, according to a news release citing remarks by Yulia Svyrydenko, Ukraine’s minister of economy, at a meeting in Bucharest, Romania, of the Three Seas Imitative — a forum for countries on the Adriatic, Baltic and Black seas. NATO does not have information ‘indicating an intentional attack by Russia’ in Romania and is awaiting the outcome of an investigation, Stoltenberg said. Romanian officials have said debris from what might be a drone was found on the country’s territory, after dismissing claims earlier that Russian drones entered the country during an attack near the Danube River in neighboring Ukraine. The Kremlin said it values its relations with North Korea, declining to comment on reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could visit Russia this month to meet with President Vladimir Putin. ‘We will, of course, continue to develop relations with them without regard to the opinion of other countries,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Chinese imports from Russia surged by the most ever last month, Bloomberg reports. Commerce between the countries has been on the rise in face of massive Western sanctions on Russia. As many as 90 percent of Ukrainian prisoners of war held by Russia have faced torture or other ill treatment, according to accusations leveled by Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Andriy Kostin, during a meeting with U.N. special rapporteur on torture Alice Jill Edwards. Britain imposed new sanctions on 11 Russians accused of operating a cybercrime gang that attacks hospitals and critical infrastructure. The group is accused of hitting hospitals with ransomware attacks amid the coronavirus pandemic. Bulgaria announced Thursday that it would provide increased armaments, including missiles, to coast guard ships in the Black Sea, amid security fears over Russian naval activities.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Southern Russian Region Rocked by Explosions. Russian officials said air defenses shot down two drones in and around Rostov-on-Don, home to Russia’s southern military headquarters. Ukraine did not immediately comment. The New York Times, Thursday, 7 September 2023:

  • A drone fell in the center of Rostov-on-Don, the regional governor said.
  • The Russian military hub of Rostov-on-Don plays a key role in operations in Ukraine.
  • On his second day in Ukraine, Blinken visits war-torn areas.
  • In occupied areas of Ukraine, Russia is holding local elections that have been widely denounced.
  • The NATO chief says Ukraine’s counteroffensive is ‘gradually gaining ground.’
  • Before a meeting at the International Criminal Court, some U.S. lawmakers accuse Putin of genocide in Ukraine.
  • Suspected Russian drone debris is found in Romania.

Peter Navarro, Former Trade Adviser to Donald Trump, Is Convicted of Contempt of Congress Over January 6 Subpoena. The verdict made Mr. Navarro the second top adviser to former President Donald J. Trump to be found guilty of contempt for defying the House committee’s investigation. The New York Times, Zach Montague, Thursday, 7 September 2023: “Peter Navarro, a former trade adviser to President Donald J. Trump, was convicted on Thursday of two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. The verdict, coming after nearly four hours of deliberation in Federal District Court in Washington, made Mr. Navarro the second top adviser of Mr. Trump’s to be found guilty in connection to the committee’s inquiry. Stephen K. Bannon, a former strategist for Mr. Trump who was convicted of the same offense last summer, faces four months in prison and remains free on appeal. Mr. Navarro, 74, stood to the side of his lawyers’ table, stroking his chin as the verdict was read aloud. Each count carries a maximum of one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. A hearing to determine his sentence was scheduled for January. Speaking outside the courthouse afterward, Mr. Navarro repeatedly vowed to appeal his conviction.” See also, Peter Navarro is convicted of contempt for defying January 6 panel subpoena, The Washington Post, Paul Duggan, Thursday, 7 September 2023: “Peter Navarro, a senior Trump White House aide and vocal election denier who has said he helped hatch a legislative scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential race, was found guilty Thursday of contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. In a federal trial in Washington that included just one day of testimony from three prosecution witnesses, and no witnesses for Navarro, the 74-year-old former trade adviser was convicted of the two contempt charges he faced, each punishable by up to a year behind bars. With right-wing provocateur Stephen K. Bannon, who was found guilty last summer of contempt of Congress, Navarro is the second high-ranking Trump official to be convicted in a criminal case related to efforts to undo President Biden’s victory at the polls. Both men are loud proponents of widely debunked claims that former president Donald Trump was denied reelection because of voter fraud in key states.” See also, Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro is convicted of contempt of Congress, CNN Politics, Tierney Sneed and Hannah Rabinowitz, Thursday, 7 September 2023: “Former Donald Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro has been convicted of contempt of Congress for not complying to a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. Navarro is the second ex-aide to the former president to be prosecuted for his lack of cooperation with the committee. Steve Bannon was convicted last year on two contempt counts. Bannon’s case is currently on appeal. Navarro pledged to appeal based on executive privilege issues.”

Georgia Prosecutor Fani Willis Sharply Rebukes House Republican Investigating Her. Willis accused Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio of trying to obstruct her prosecution of the racketeering case against Donald Trump and his allies. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Thursday, 7 September 2023: “The district attorney leading a criminal case against Donald J. Trump and his allies in Georgia accused Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio of trying to obstruct her prosecution of the case in a sharply worded letter she sent on Thursday. Soon after the district attorney, Fani T. Willis, a Democrat, announced last month that she was bringing a racketeering case against Mr. Trump and 18 other defendants for their efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, Mr. Jordan, a Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that he was going to investigate Ms. Willis over whether her prosecution of Mr. Trump was politically motivated. In her letter, Ms. Willis accused Mr. Jordan of trying ‘to obstruct a Georgia criminal proceeding and to advance outrageous partisan misrepresentations,’ and of not understanding how the state’s racketeering law works. ‘Your attempt to invoke congressional authority to intrude upon and interfere with an active criminal case in Georgia is flagrantly at odds with the Constitution,’ she added. ‘The defendants in this case have been charged under state law with committing state crimes. There is absolutely no support for Congress purporting to second guess or somehow supervise an ongoing Georgia criminal investigation and prosecution.'” See also, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis tears into Ohio Republican Representative Jim Jordan over his inquiry into Trump indictment. ‘Your letter makes clear that you lack a basic understanding of the law, its practice, and the ethical obligations of attorneys generally and prosecutors specifically,’ Fani Willis wrote in a letter to the Republican investigating her. NBC News, Rebecca Shabad and Blayne Alexander, Thursday, 7 September 2023: “Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis on Thursday rebuked House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan for his decision to investigate the Georgia election interference probe that led to the indictment of former President Donald Trump and 18 other defendants. In a letter, Willis, a Democrat, accused Jordan, R-Ohio, of overstepping his congressional authority with his recent requests for information pertaining to her investigation. Willis, who was responding to a letter Jordan sent late last month, said there is ‘no justification in the Constitution for Congress to interfere with a state criminal matter.'”

From Hoover to Nixon to Obama, Presidential Centers Call to Protect Democracy. A rare statement released jointly from groups representing nearly a century of presidents stresses the importance of the pillars of democracy and civility in politics. The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Thursday, 7 September 20223: “A coalition representing nearly every former president from Herbert Hoover to Barack Obama issued a collective call on Thursday to protect the foundations of American democracy and maintain civility in the nation’s politics. The alliance of presidential centers and foundations for U.S. leaders dating back nearly a century, both Democrats and Republicans, is a historic first. Never before has such a broad coalition of legacy institutions from former administrations joined together on a single issue. The statement is largely anodyne in its prose and is careful not to include specific examples that could seem to refer to a current or a former elected leader. But some of its wording, and its timing, appear to serve as a subtle rebuke of former President Donald J. Trump, who tried to overturn the last presidential election, continues to deny he lost and is now the Republican front-runner for 2024, even as he faces four criminal indictments.” See also, Nearly every presidential center calls for protecting democracy, The Washington Post, Mariana Alfaro, Thursday, 7 September 2023: “Foundations representing nearly every former president from Herbert Hoover to Barack Obama released a joint letter on Thursday calling on Americans to engage in civil political discourse, and to remember that tolerance and respect are key to peaceful coexistence. The effort, which was organized by the George W. Bush Presidential Center, marks the first time presidential foundations and centers have come together to deliver a statement to the American public.” See also, Presidential centers from Hoover to Bush and Obama unite to warn of fragile state of US democracy. Thirteen US presidential centers dating back to Herbert Hoover made a joint call for the country’s recommitment to democratic principles, including the rule of law and respecting a diversity of beliefs. Associated Press, Gary Fields, Thursday, 7 September 2023: “Concern for U.S. democracy amid deep national polarization has prompted the entities supporting 13 presidential libraries dating back to Herbert Hoover to call for a recommitment to the country’s bedrock principles, including the rule of law and respecting a diversity of beliefs. The statement released Thursday, the first time the libraries have joined to make such a public declaration, said Americans have a strong interest in supporting democratic movements and human rights around the world because ‘free societies elsewhere contribute to our own security and prosperity here at home.’ ‘But that interest,’ it said, ‘is undermined when others see our own house in disarray.’ The joint message from presidential centers, foundations and institutes emphasized the need for compassion, tolerance and pluralism while urging Americans to respect democratic institutions and uphold secure and accessible elections.”


Friday, 8 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Missile strikes Zelensky’s hometown; Musk defends cutting Starlink during attack, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Adela Suliman, and Siobhán O’Grady, Friday, 8 September 2023: “A Russian missile strike hit Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown of Kryvyi Rih early Friday, leaving at least one dead and more than 70 injured, emergency officials said. The strike destroyed a police administration building, killing one policeman, according to Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko on Telegram. It also damaged some residential buildings, he said. Rescuers at the scene were working to pull people out ‘from under the rubble’ and extinguish fires, he added. A top Ukrainian official criticized SpaceX owner Elon Musk after a new biography revealed details about how the company cut off Starlink satellite internet services to Ukrainian submarine drones last year, just as they were launching an attack on a Russian fleet based in Crimea. Musk defended his decision overnight, saying he did not want SpaceX to be ‘explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation.’ Ukraine on Friday froze the assets of Ihor Kolomoisky, a tycoon facing graft allegations, already under indictment and sanctions in the United States over accusations of bank fraud. Ukraine’s anti-graft office said it had frozen shares in more than 300 companies under his control, along with real estate and vehicles, amounting to a value of more than $80 million. Kolomoisky was the main owner of PrivatBank, the country’s largest savings bank, which was nationalized after he was accused of being responsible for the disappearance of billions of dollars of bank assets. Musk told engineers to turn off Starlink coverage near the Crimean coast after learning about the planned submarine drone attack in the fall of 2022, according to a new biography of Musk, which was excerpted in a Washington Post opinion article. As a result, it said, ‘when the Ukrainian drone subs got near the Russian fleet in Sevastopol, they lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly.’ Ukrainian and American officials scrambled to get service restored, according to the biography, appealing to Musk directly. Musk, who at one point threatened to stop funding the satellite service altogether, eventually agreed. Musk said that the drone attack had been intended ‘to sink most of the Russian fleet at anchor’ and that he had received an ’emergency request’ from Ukrainian authorities to ‘activate Starlink all the way to Sevastopol.’ He said that if he had agreed to the request, his company would have been ‘complicit in a major act of war.’ However, Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak claimed Musk’s interference led to the deaths of civilians, calling them ‘the price of a cocktail of ignorance and big ego.’ Russia has illegally occupied Crimea since 2014. Biden and other world leaders are arriving in New Delhi for the Group of 20 economic summit, with the war in Ukraine among issues taking center stage. The summit gets underway Saturday. Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be attending; Russia’s defense minister is expected to take his place. Charles Michel, president of the European Council, wrote on social media that the war in Ukraine would be a key issue. Ukraine has lambasted Russian elections in occupied areas of Ukraine as a ‘sham.’ Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said Friday that elections being staged by Russia are ‘worthless’ and have no legal standing, Reuters reported. Moscow is holding regional elections in four Ukrainian areas that it does not fully control — Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. The United States, Europe and others have also condemned the move. Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised the ‘extraordinary resilience of the Ukrainian people’ on Thursday while visiting a school where Russian forces had held more than 100 Ukrainians hostage. Before leaving Ukraine, where he pledged more than $1 billion in additional U.S. aid, Blinken also visited a border guard facility in the Kyiv region and a field that is being cleared of unexploded Russian ordnance. Russia has ‘no place’ at next year’s Paris Olympics at a time ‘when it has committed war crimes and deported children,’ French President Emmanuel Macron told L’Equipe newspaperaccording to the Associated Press. Vice President Harris said it would be a ‘huge mistake’ for North Korea to provide military support to Russia in an interview with CBS News. Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are expected to meet in Russia this month to discuss possible weapons deals. Spanish importation of Russian gas is on the rise, according to new government data, Reuters reported. Even as overall imports fell, and amid E.U. pressure to reduce dependence on Russian gas, Madrid is becoming more reliant on Moscow for energy: Some 28 percent of Spain’s gas came from Russia in July, a nearly 100-percent jump in share year-on-year.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky Says Future of War in Ukraine Hinges on U.S. Presidential Election. The Ukrainian president, who has treaded lightly in his public comments on American politics, weighed in on the 2024 race at an event in Kyiv. The New York Times, Friday, 8 September 2023:

  • Zelensky says Russia is counting on the U.S. elections to stop flow of aid to Ukraine.

  • A U.S. citizen is among Navalny supporters detained in Russia.

  • Dozens are wounded in an attack in Kryvyi Rih.

  • The U.S. will expand F-16 patrols over Romania, amid concerns over debris after a Russian drone attack.

  • The destruction of a Challenger 2 tank suggests Ukraine is using its most sophisticated weapons in the counteroffensive.

  • Biden will try to make the U.S. case against Russia at the G20 summit.

Judge Denies Meadows’s Request to Move Georgia Election Interference Case to Federal Court. Moving the case to federal court would have given Mark Meadows, a former White House chief of staff, one key advantage: a jury pool that was more favorable to Donald J. Trump. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Friday, 8 September 2023: “Georgia prosecutors leading the criminal election interference case against former President Donald J. Trump and 18 of his allies notched a victory on Friday when a judge rejected an effort by Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s former White House chief of staff, to move his case from state court to federal court. Mr. Meadows would have faced the same state felony charges had his case been heard by a federal judge and jury, including a racketeering charge for his role in what prosecutors have described as a ‘criminal organization’ that sought to overturn Mr. Trump’s 2020 election loss in the state. But removal to federal court would have given him key advantages, including a jury pool that was more favorable to Mr. Trump. Conducting a trial in federal court would have also increased the likelihood that the United States Supreme Court, a third of whose members were nominated by Mr. Trump, would ultimately get involved in the case. The setback for Mr. Meadows came in the first of many rulings that are expected for the defendants who are seeking to have their cases moved out of state court. Mr. Trump has not filed for a removal to federal court, but he is widely expected to do so.” See also, Judge denies Mark Meadows’s effort to move Georgia case to federal court. The ruling is a blow to Meadows’s efforts in federal court to dismiss his case and could influence former president Donald Trump as he decides whether to seek removal himself. The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Friday, 8 September 2023: “A federal judge denied a request Friday from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to move the Georgia election-interference case against him from state to federal court, a shift he had sought on the grounds that he was a federal officer at the time of the actions that led to his indictment. A federal judge denied a request Friday from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to move the Georgia election-interference case against him from state to federal court, a shift he had sought on the grounds that he was a federal officer at the time of the actions that led to his indictment. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones in the Atlanta-based Northern District of Georgia represents a setback for Meadows, who had asked for removal under a federal law that allows people charged with crimes while carrying out their official duties to be prosecuted in federal court, even in cases involving state law and state prosecutors. Meadows had hoped a move to federal court could lead to a quick dismissal of the case against him because he had argued to Jones that as a federal officer, he is immune from prosecution for acts taken in the course of his normal work. Instead, Jones found that the actions ‘at the heart of the State’s charges against Meadows were taken on behalf of the Trump campaign with the ultimate goal of affecting state election activities and procedures.’ He added: ‘Meadows himself testified that working for the Trump campaign would be outside the scope of a White House Chief of Staff.’ Meadows’s lawyers Friday evening quickly filed a notice to appeal the ruling.” See also, Judge rejects Mark Meadows’ bid to move Georgia election interference case to federal court, CNN Politics, Marshall Cohen, Jeremy Herb, and Tierney Sneed, Friday, 8 September 2023: “A federal judge on Friday rejected former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ bid to move his Georgia criminal case to federal court, a significant setback for Meadows and a troubling sign for former President Donald Trump. US District Judge Steve Jones found that the allegations against Meadows contained in the Fulton County district attorney’s indictment on election subversion charges were largely ‘related to political activities’ and not to Meadows’ role as White House chief of staff. ‘The evidence before the Court overwhelmingly suggests that Meadows was not acting in his scope of executive branch duties during most of the Overt Acts alleged,’ wrote Jones, a Barack Obama appointee.”

A Special Grand Jury That Investigated Election Interference Allegations in Georgia Last Year Recommended Indicting More Than Twice as Many Trump Allies as Prosecutors Eventually Sought to Charge, The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Friday, 8 September 2023: “A special grand jury that investigated election interference allegations in Georgia last year recommended indicting more than twice as many Trump allies as prosecutors eventually sought to charge, including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the former senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, and Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser. In its final report, which a judge unsealed on Friday, the panel also recommended charges against Boris Epshteyn, one of former President Donald J. Trump’s main lawyers, as well as a number of other Trump-aligned lawyers, including Cleta Mitchell and L. Lin Wood. Mr. Trump and 18 allies were charged in a racketeering indictment that was handed up last month by a regular grand jury in Fulton County, Ga. But the special grand jury, whose role was advisory, recommended bringing charges against an even wider web of Trump allies who tried to change the election results. Officials with the Fulton County District Attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment on Friday. But the report provides a window on the office’s exercise of prosecutorial discretion, with prosecutors seemingly concluding that some of the people named in the report had committed acts that would be too difficult to prove were criminal.” See also, Fulton County special grand jury recommended charges against Lindsey Graham, David Perdue, and Kelly Loeffler, CNN Politics, Sara Murray, Jason Morris, Jeremy Herb, and Marshall Cohen, Friday, 8 September 2023: “The special grand jury in Fulton County investigating the 2020 presidential election in Georgia recommended charges against Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, according to the special counsel grand jury report released Friday. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis did not charge the lawmakers when she returned an indictment last month against former President Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants in the sprawling racketeering case. It was up to the district attorney to decide how closely to stick to the special grand jury’s recommendations.”

Eight Years After World Leaders Approved a Landmark Agreement in Paris to Fight Climate Change, Countries Have Made Only Limited Progress in Staving Off the Most Dangerous Effects of Global Warming, The New York Times, Brad Plumer, Friday, 8 September 2023: “Eight years after world leaders approved a landmark agreement in Paris to fight climate change, countries have made only limited progress in staving off the most dangerous effects of global warming, according to the first official report card on the global climate treaty. Many of the worst-case climate change scenarios that were much feared in the early 2010s look far less likely today, the report said. The authors partly credit the 2015 Paris Agreement, under which, for the first time, almost every country agreed to submit a voluntary plan to curb its own planet-warming emissions. Since then, the rise in global greenhouse gases has notably slowed. Yet those efforts still aren’t enough to avoid calamity, according to the report, which was written by representatives from the United States and South Africa and based on contributions from hundreds of governments, scientists and civil society groups from around the world.”


Saturday, 9 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Romania says new drone fragments found on its territory; G-20 underway with Ukraine at fore, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Adela Suliman, and David L. Stern, Saturday, 9 September 2023: “Romania found new drone fragments on its territory near the Ukrainian border, the Defense Ministry said Saturday, describing the pieces as ‘similar to those used by the Russian army.’ Earlier this week, drone parts were recovered from the same area. The discovery Saturday indicated ‘an absolutely unacceptable violation of the sovereign airspace of Romania, a NATO ally,’ President Klaus Iohannis said in a statement. He said he spoke with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, who called the strikes ‘destabilizing’ and said he welcomes the U.S. decision to ‘deploy more F-16s for NATO air policing.’ At a Group of 20 economic summit in New Delhi, world leaders adopted a declaration that avoided openly condemning Russia for the war in Ukraine. But the document, which included language agreed on by all members, including the United States and Russia, also urged states to ‘refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition.’ In an interview with CNN, Zelensky said there is no possibility of compromising with Putin to end the war. He said that he is willing to talk to ‘the people who are ready to compromise’ but that Putin was not one of them. ‘When you want to have a compromise or a dialogue with somebody, you cannot do it with a liar,’ Zelensky said. Putin vowed Russia would ‘continue to systematically build up bilateral communications in all directions’ with North Korea. The Kremlin published a letter from Putin to his counterpart Kim Jong Un on Saturday to mark the founding 75 years ago of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Kim plans to visit Putin later this month, probably in the Russian port city of Vladivostok, to discuss possible weapons deals to bolster Russia’s fighting force in Ukraine, The Post previously reported. Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak criticized SpaceX owner Elon Musk for cutting off Starlink satellite internet services to Ukrainian submarine drones last year. The drones were launching an attack on a Russian fleet based in Crimea. Musk has defended his decision, saying he did not want SpaceX to be ‘explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation.’ In Ukraine, more than 800 educational facilities ‘have been damaged or destroyed due to the war,’ the United Nations human rights office in the country said Saturday. ‘During war, schools should be a sanctuary for children,’ the group said. ‘Yet in Ukraine, far too often they have come under shelling and attacks by missiles, loitering munitions and airstrikes in the wake of Russia’s large-scale attack.’ It added that schools in the regions of Kherson, Kharkiv and Mykolaiv had been especially damaged. Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi arrived in Kyiv on Saturday, where he will meet with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said. Hayashi is expected to reaffirm Tokyo’s support for Kyiv in the war against Russia while several Japanese business executives will accompany him to discuss Ukraine’s reconstruction, it added. The CIA has published a video aimed at recruiting disaffected Russian officials. The video, titled ‘Why I made contact with the CIA: For myself,’ shows a Russian government official walking through what appears to be the snowy streets of a Russian city before entering a secured facility, and appears aimed to entice recruits. Cuba has arrested 17 people for allegedly recruiting Cubans to fight for Russia in Ukraine, the Associated Press reported. A Cuban prosecutor told local media that the suspects could face sentences of up to 30 years or life in prison, or even the death penalty. ‘Cuba is not part of the war in Ukraine,’ Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said in a news release, according to the AP.”


Sunday, 10 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: G-20 declaration avoids criticizing Moscow; Romania summons Russian envoy over drone debris, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Leo Sands, and Paulina Vilegas, Sunday, 10 September 2023: “World leaders at the Group of 20 summit in New Delhi adopted a declaration that called on all member states to refrain from the use of force for territorial gain, but avoided directly criticizing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. In language agreed upon by all members — including Russia and China — the group pledged to ‘refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state.’ Romania’s Foreign Ministry summoned the chargé d’affaires of Russia’s embassy in Bucharest for a meeting after officials found drone fragments similar to those used by Russian forces near Romania’s border with Ukraine. The G-20 declaration noted that the Black Sea Grain Initiative was crucial for delivering grain to developing nations, especially those in Africa. The declaration called for the ‘full, timely and effective implementation’ of the deal — which seeks safe passage for fertilizer and grain from three Ukrainian ports — though Moscow pulled out of the deal in July. There is ‘no way’ Russian President Vladimir Putin will be arrested if he attends the G-20 summit in Rio de Janeiro next year, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said. Lula said in a Saturday interview with the Firstpost news outlet that he expects Putin to attend next year’s summit despite the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant issued against the Russian leader for allegations of war crimes. Brazil is a signatory to the Rome statute that created the ICC, which relies on member nations to enforce warrants. The G-20 is ‘not an appropriate forum’ for discussing the war, Lula told Firstpost. ‘We do not want to participate in the war efforts. Brazil wants to participate in the peace effort,’ Lula said. He has condemned Russia’s invasion but has refused to provide weapons to Ukraine and has argued that the robust military aid provided by Western countries has prolonged the conflict. Romanian Foreign Ministry state secretary Iulian Fota protested the violation of his country’s airspace in his meeting with Russia’s chargé d’affaires, according to a statement shared with The Washington Post on Sunday. President Klaus Iohannis previously said in a statement that the incursion signified ‘an absolutely unacceptable violation of the sovereign airspace of Romania, a NATO ally.’ Two international volunteer aid workers were killed in Ukraine’s Donetsk region after Russian forces opened fire on their vehicle. Road to Relief, which helps evacuate civilians from the front line, said in an Instagram post that Canadian national Anthony ‘Tonko’ Ihnat was killed in the attack, while Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez confirmed on Twitter the death of Spanish national Emma Igual, 32. The aid organization said ‘the vehicle flipped over and lit on fire’ after it was hit directly near the city of Chasiv Yar, and that the attack severely injured two other volunteers. In his nightly address on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his condolences for the deaths of the two aid workers who were killed in what he described as a Russian antitank missile attack. Zelensky added that the two other wounded volunteers — German citizen Ruben Mawick and Swedish citizen Johan Mathias — were taken to Dnipro for medical care. Russia is enlisting local volunteers to defend an airfield in the northwestern Pskov region, Britain’s Defense Ministry said. Volunteers will patrol in groups of 50, acting as a deterrent against operators piloting drones in the immediate vicinity, the ministry said Sunday. Last month, a swarm of drones targeted the Russian site, reportedly destroying two cargo planes. ‘The use of volunteers highly likely indicates a shortage of trained security personnel within Russia,’ the update said. Zelensky said Japan and Ukraine agreed to begin drafting a bilateral agreement on security guarantees. ‘I am confident that our partnership — between Ukraine and Japan — will become a global example,’ he said in his nightly address. Over the weekend, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi met with Zelensky and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Sunday that the Russian invasion of Ukraine could ‘shake’ the very foundation of economic cooperation at the G-20. He added that it has already caused an ‘enormous’ impact on the world economy through factors such as the protracted increase in food and energy prices.”

What Ginni Thomas and Leonard Leo wrought: How a Supreme Court justice’s  wife and a key activist started a movement. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, a trove of so-called ‘dark money’ was about to be unleashed. Two activists prepared to seize the moment. Politico, Heidi Przybyla, Sunday, 10 September 2023: “The Supreme Court’s decision in the 2010 Citizens United case transformed the world of politics. It loosened restrictions on campaign spending and unleashed a flow of anonymous donor money to nonprofit groups run by political activists. In the months before the ruling dropped in January of that year, a group of conservative activists came together to create just such an organization. Its mission would be to, at the time, block then-President Barack Obama’s pet initiatives. The activists included Federalist Society leader Leonard Leo and his ideological soulmate, a hard-edged activist named Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. ‘Ginni really wanted to build an organization and be a movement leader,’ said a person familiar with her thinking at that time. ‘Leonard [Leo] was going to be the conduit of that.’ She also had a rich backer: Harlan Crow, the manufacturing billionaire who had helped Thomas and her husband in many ways, from funding luxury vacations to picking up tuition payments for their great-nephew. At the time, the Citizens United ruling was widely expected, as the court had already signaled its intentions. When it came, it upended nearly 100 years of campaign spending restrictions. The conservative legal movement seized the moment with greater success than any other group, and the consequences have shaped American jurisprudence and politics in dramatic ways.” See also and note the date: Clarence Thomas’s Wife Ginni Teams With Federalist Society Executive Leonard Leo on New Conservative Lobby Group, Talking Points Memo, Zachary Roth, 15 March 2010: “The new conservative advocacy group launched by Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has close ties to Washington’s powerful conservative legal community. As the Los Angeles Times reported over the weekend, Virginia Thomas recently created Liberty Central, a new lobbying group that seeks to tap into the grassroots energy unleashed by the Tea Party movement. But Thomas will have help from some Republican players with a rather more inside-the-Beltway profile. Leonard Leo, a top official with the Federalist Society, is a director of the new group, according to business records kept by the state of Virginia, and reviewed by TPMmuckraker.”


Monday, 11 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. urges Kim not to arm Putin; foreign aid volunteers killed in Donetsk shelling, The Washington Post, Lyric Li, Leo Sands, and Adam Taylor, Monday, 11 September 2023: “Russian President Vladimir Putin invited North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for an official visit set to take place in the next few days, the Kremlin announced. It would mark their first meeting since 2019. Kim has departed for Russia by train, South Korean news outlets reported Monday. The rail journey from Pyongyang to Vladivostok is estimated to take 20 hours. The U.S. government has said it expects the two leaders to discuss arms deals and warned North Korea to not supply Russia. ‘We don’t think it’s a social visit,’ State Department spokesman Matt Miller said at a news briefing Monday, adding that the U.S. would be watching closely. A pair of volunteer aid workers killed near Ukraine’s front line have been identified as 32-year-old Spanish national Emma Igual and Canadian Anthony ‘Tonko’ Ihnat, according to the Spanish government and the international aid group they worked for. They were traveling to visit residents on the outskirts of Bakhmut on behalf of Road to Relief, established to help civilians in the Donetsk and Kherson regions, when their van was hit by Russian shelling, the charity said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his condolences for the deaths of the two aid workers. In his nightly address Sunday, Zelensky added that two other wounded volunteers — German citizen Ruben Mawick and Swedish citizen Johan Mathias Thyr — were taken to Dnipro for medical care. Ukrainian forces recaptured a group of oil and gas drilling platforms off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula, Kyiv’s military intelligence agency said Monday. According to the agency’s Telegram channel, Ukrainian special forces used boats to retake the rigs known as the ‘Boika Towers,’ which Russian forces had seized in 2015 and since equipped with radar and used for military purposes, notably as helipads. A video posted to that Telegram channel Monday and verified by The Post showed Ukrainian soldiers climbing onto the ‘Tavrida’ drilling platform. Ukrainian soldiers can be seen removing a radar system and engaging a Russian Su-30 fighter jet from their speedboats. Poland said it is ready to impose a unilateral ban on the import of Ukrainian grain if the European Commission refuses to extend the current restrictions past Sept. 15, when they are due to end, Polish Development Minister Waldemar Buda told Polskie Radio 24 on Monday. Ukrainian grain is subject to a European Union import ban in the markets of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia, where local governments have been angered by the flood of cheaper produce that undercuts their own farmers. Most other E.U. countries are against extending the ban, marking a significant break over Ukraine within the bloc. Germany’s foreign minister said Ukraine must do more to battle corruption. ‘There is still a long way to go,’ Annalena Baerbock said on an unannounced visit to Kyiv, while reiterating her support for Ukraine’s path toward the E.U. ‘Just as Ukraine is standing up for us, it can also rely on us and on our understanding of E.U. enlargement as a necessary geopolitical consequence of Russia’s war,’ Baerbock said upon her arrival in Kyiv, according to a statement shared by Germany’s Foreign Ministry. The trip marks Baerbock’s fourth visit to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in February 2022. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke by phone with newly appointed Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov. Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters that Austin ‘provided an update on U.S. security assistance efforts and exchanged views with the minister on priorities to support Ukraine’s immediate battlefield needs and capability requirements over the long term.’ Umerov, a Crimean Tatar who has a reputation as a negotiator and anticorruption campaigner, replaced Oleksii Reznikov, who resigned amid a wide-ranging crackdown on corruption in the Defense Ministry. A declaration adopted by world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in New Delhi avoided directly criticizing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, despite a carefully worded pledge to refrain from the use of force for territorial gain. The declaration also called for the ‘full, timely and effective implementation’ of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which seeks safe passage for fertilizer and grain from three Ukrainian ports. Moscow pulled out of the deal in July. Russia began offering visa-free travel to tourists from four Persian Gulf states and Malaysia last month, Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov said Monday, in addition to recently introduced visa-free travel to groups from China and Iran. ‘Foreign tourists need to visit us at least once so that they can fall in love with our country,’ he said. Tourism to Russia has fallen sharply since the Ukraine invasion, according to local tour operators — who reported that visitor numbers dropped from some 5.1 million in 2019 to 200,000 in 2022. Romania and the United States are holding joint naval exercises in the Black Sea and Danube Delta starting Monday, the Romanian navy announced. Bulgaria, France, Turkey, Ukraine and Britain will also participate in the drills, which are aimed at combating explosive devices on and over the sea to ensure freedom of navigation. South Korea pledged $2.3 billion in aid to Ukraine starting in 2025, in addition to the $300 million previously pledged for next year, Yonhap news agency reported. President Yoon Suk Yeol made the announcement Sunday at a session of the G-20 summit in India.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kim Jong-un Will Visit Russia in ‘Coming Days,’ Kremlin Says. North Korea’s leader is expected to discuss military cooperation with President Vladimir V. Putin, including the possibility of sending more weapons for Russia’s war in Ukraine. The New York Times, Monday, 11 September 2023:

  • Kim Jong-un is headed to Russia for talks with Vladimir Putin.

  • Ukraine claims to have retaken oil and gas platforms in the Black Sea.

  • Zelensky renews pleas for more military aid as Ukraine claims additional gains.

  • For clues about Kim Jong-un’s travels, look for his mystery train.

  • Russian torture of Ukrainians points to a state policy, a U.N. expert says.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kim Jong Un to meet with Putin; G20 statement; Blinken visits Kyiv, NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 11 September 2023: “Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: The Kremlin confirms that a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will take place in Vladivostok, in Russia’s Far East, ‘in the coming days.’ The meeting comes amid U.S. claims that Putin is eager to secure additional North Korean arms for Russia’s war in Ukraine — perhaps in exchange for food aid or technological support. The two leaders last met in 2019. Justice ministers from Council of Europe member states are meeting to discuss support for the Ukrainian justice system, with a focus on war crimes investigation and Russian abduction of Ukrainian children. Russia’s Central Bank will meet Friday on rates, a month after it hiked them. What happened last week: Leaders at the G20 summit in New Delhi issued a statement saying ‘all states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state. The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.’ The statement took note of ‘human suffering and negative added impacts of the war in Ukraine,’ but did not name Russia as the aggressor in the war. Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesman criticized the joint statement, calling it ‘nothing to be proud of.’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced visit to Kyiv, to show U.S. support and assess Ukraine’s counteroffensive. He announced $1 billion in new assistance. The Pentagon said depleted uranium anti-tank shells would be included in a package that is part of the new aid. Blinken’s visit came as Russian missile strikes on a market in eastern Ukraine killed at least 17 and wounded many more. International volunteers with the Road to Relief aid group came under attack by Russian shelling as they were driving from Sloviansk toward Bakhmut, leaving two of the aid workers dead and two severely wounded. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed condolences to the families of the victims and thanked everyone who helps Ukraine survive and save lives. Rustem Umerov, a Crimean Tatar businessman, was named Ukraine’s new defense minister, replacing Oleksii Reznikov, who was seen as instrumental in securing Western weapons — but also tarnished by a series of procurement scandals in his ministry. A new biography of Elon Musk reveals that Musk withheld access to his Starlink satellite internet service for the Ukrainian military at a point last year when it intended to conduct a drone attack on a Russian naval fleet. Musk defended his decision in a tweet, saying, ‘If I had agreed to their request, then SpaceX would be explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation.’ Meanwhile, The Financial Times, quoting Ukrainian deputy prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov, reports that the new biography includes Ukrainian government messages without authorization. UNESCO announced ‘enhanced protection’ of 20 Ukrainian cultural sites and said it would train Ukrainian security forces and judiciary personnel in protection of heritage. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Russian strikes have damaged or destroyed at least 26 civilian port infrastructure facilities, warehouses, silos and grain elevators since July. Sunak’s office confirmed that the U.K. is conducting surveillance and reconnaissance flights in the Black Sea to ‘deter Russia from carrying out illegal strikes against civilian vessels transporting grain.'”

Trump Seeks Recusal of Judge in Federal Elections Case. The former president said Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, who is hearing the Justice Department’s case accusing him of seeking to overturn the 2020 election, had shown bias against him in public statements. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Monday, 11 September 2023: “Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump on Monday asked the federal judge overseeing his looming trial on charges of trying to overturn the 2020 election to recuse herself, claiming that she has shown a bias against Mr. Trump in public statements made from the bench in other cases. The recusal motion was a risky gambit by Mr. Trump’s legal team given that the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, will have the initial say about whether or not to grant it. Mr. Trump’s lawyers have tried this strategy before, attempting — and failing — to have the judge overseeing his state felony trial in Manhattan step aside.” See also, Trump demands recusal by Judge Chutkan in D.C. January 6 trial, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, Monday, 11 September 2023: “Attorneys for Donald Trump on Monday asked U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan to disqualify herself from presiding over Trump’s federal election obstruction case, saying Chutkan appears to have prejudged the former president’s guilt based on statements she made in past cases involving Jan. 6, 2021, riot defendants…. By law, federal judges are supposed to disqualify themselves from any proceeding in which their ‘impartiality might reasonably be questioned,’ or in which they have ‘a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party.’ However, the law leaves it up to the judges themselves to decide after hearing from both sides. Chutkan gave prosecutors until Thursday to respond to the motion, and Trump’s defense until Sunday to make any reply. If Chutkan refuses the request, Trump’s defense lawyers may appeal. The question is not necessarily what judges have said in other court proceedings but their fairness toward a specific defendant in a specific case, legal analysts said.” See also, Trump lawyers seek recusal of judge in DC presiding over federal election subversion case, Associated Press, Eric Tucker and Alanna Durkin Richer, Monday, 11 September 2023: “Lawyers for Donald Trump on Monday asked the federal judge presiding over his election subversion case in Washington to recuse herself, saying her past public statements about the former president and his connection to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol call into question whether she can be fair. The recusal motion from Trump’s lawyers takes aim at U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, a former assistant public defender who was nominated to the bench by President Barack Obama and has stood out as one of the toughest punishers of Jan. 6 defendants. The request is a long shot given the high threshold for recusal and because the decision on whether to recuse belongs to Chutkan, who is unlikely to see cause to step aside from the case.”


Tuesday, 12 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kim Jong Un arrives in Russia; Kyiv recaptures strategic oil rigs, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Min Joo Kim, Annabelle Timsit, and Adam Taylor, Tuesday, 12 September 2023: “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia for a rare summit with President Vladimir Putin, during which Washington expects the two leaders to discuss an arms deal. Kim appeared to have crossed into Russia early Tuesday aboard his private train, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said in a statement. Washington has accused Moscow of seeking North Korean weapons. ‘We remain concerned that North Korea is contemplating providing any type of ammunition or materiel support to Russia, in support of their war against Ukraine,’ Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters Monday. Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said its forces recaptured a strategic group of oil and gas drilling platforms off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula, which were seized by Russia in 2015 and used for military purposes. A video posted to the agency’s Telegram channel Monday and verified by The Washington Post showed Ukrainian soldiers climbing onto a drilling platform and removing a radar system. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a Russian reporter to expect a ‘full-blown’ visit by Kim, including talks between delegations and a ‘formal dinner.’ Putin and Kim last met in 2019 and have become increasingly aligned in efforts to curb U.S. influence in the region. Kim is expected to meet Putin, who is attending an economic forum in the Russian port city of Vladivostok this week. Peskov said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu will also participate in the talks between Kim and Putin. Kim departed for Russia late Sunday, joined by his foreign minister and senior military officials, North Korea’s official Korea Central News Agency said. The Russian Natural Resources Ministry said Kim disembarked for a stop in Khasan, a town on Russia’s border with North Korea, and was met by Russian Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov. The Russian state news agency RIA Novosti posted a video Tuesday that appeared to show Kim stepping off his train. The Post could not independently verify the footage. Kim’s journey from Pyongyang is his first known trip outside North Korea in nearly four years and was estimated to take 20 hours. On Tuesday, Putin announced plans to visit the Vostochny Cosmodrome — Russia’s main spaceport since 2016, and a symbol of Moscow’s national ambitions for space flight. Citing unnamed Russian officials, Japanese media reported that it was where Putin is scheduled to meet Kim. State Department spokesman Matt Miller said that if North Korea arms Russia, more sanctions could follow. The United States has ‘aggressively enforced our sanctions against entities that fund Russia’s war effort,’ Miller told reporters Monday, adding that the United States ‘will not hesitate to impose new sanctions if appropriate.’ Zelensky vetoed a law passed by Ukraine’s parliament that would have reinstated mandatory disclosures of assets by Ukrainian lawmakers — with a year-long delay. ‘I think everyone perfectly understands the reason for this veto: Declarations must be open. At once. Not in a year,’ Zelensky wrote on Telegram. The requirement was first instated as part of an economic assistance deal with the International Monetary Fund but was suspended after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As The Post reported, the delay voted on by lawmakers raised questions about Ukraine’s commitment to fighting graft at the highest levels of government — a key issue among Kyiv’s international backers. Zelensky will meet Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week. Israeli and Ukrainian officials confirmed Wednesday that the meeting would happen, though they did not specify a date. Zelensky is expected to be in New York City for the high-level meetings of U.N. leaders and is scheduled to give a speech to the General Assembly on Monday. Tensions between the two nations have been high due to Israel’s continued relationship with Russia, as well as a pending visit from Israeli pilgrims to Uman in Ukraine for Rosh Hashanah. Putin said Russia’s economic ties with China are growing exponentially and yielding ‘excellent’ results. Speaking Tuesday during a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Guoqing on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Putin said annual bilateral trade with China may reach $200 billion — a goal announced last year — ‘in the near future,’ according to Russian state media outlets. Russian outlets reported that Zhang said that milestone could be reached this year. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to newly appointed Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov by phone. Ryder, the Pentagon spokesman, said at a news conference that Austin updated Umerov on U.S. security assistance efforts and discussed priorities to support Ukraine’s ‘immediate battlefield needs and capability requirements over the long term.'”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: North Korea’s Leader Arrives in Russia as the Two Nations Seek Closer Military Ties. North Korea has one of the world’s largest arsenals, offering Russia access to munitions that could help its forces fighting in Ukraine. The New York Times, Tuesday, 12 September 2023:

  • Kim and Putin will discuss trade and economic issues, the Kremlin says.
  • Putin says the cases against Donald Trump show the ‘rottenness’ of the U.S. system.
  • The Russian leader also urged Ukraine to negotiate and criticized Western limits on China.
  • A fight is playing out on three continents for control of Prigozhin’s sprawling interests.
  • Putin’s meeting with Kim could herald a new era of cooperation.
  • For clues about Kim Jong-un’s travels, look for his mystery train.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Facing an Ouster and a Shutdown, Orders an Impeachment Inquiry. The move against President Biden, which McCarthy has been signaling for weeks, comes as some far-right House Republicans are irate over spending and threatening to depose him. The New York Times, Carl Hulse, Luke Broadwater, and Annie Karni, Tuesday, 12 September 20223: “Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday opened an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, working to appease far-right lawmakers who have threatened to oust him if he fails to accede to their demands for deep spending cuts that would force a government shutdown at the end of the month. Mr. McCarthy’s decision to unilaterally announce an impeachment investigation with no formal House vote entwined the Republican investigations into Mr. Biden with the funding fight that is rattling the Capitol. It appeared to be a bid to quell a brewing rebellion among ultraconservative critics who have accused the speaker of not taking a hard enough line on spending, by complying with their demands to more aggressively pursue the president. Mr. McCarthy said he would task three committees — Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means — with carrying out the inquiry into the president and his family as Republicans hunt for evidence of financial wrongdoing or corruption. After months of digging, Republicans have found no such proof, though they argue they have enough information to warrant more investigation.” See also, Kevin McCarthy directs House committees to open Biden impeachment inquiry, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang and Marianna Sotomayor, Tuesday, 12 September 2023: “House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Tuesday that he is directing House committees to open an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, amid pressure from some hard-right members of the Republican caucus to do so. The inquiry will center on whether Biden benefited from his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings, among other issues, McCarthy said…. House Republicans have not put forth evidence directly showing that President Biden benefited from his son’s business dealings in Ukraine and elsewhere.” See also, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy calls for formal impeachment inquiry into Biden amid pressure from conservatives, CNN Politics, Melanie Zanona, Haley Talbot, Lauren Fox, and Annie Grayer, Tuesday, 12 September 2023: “House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced Tuesday he is calling on his committees to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, even as they have yet to prove allegations he directly profited off his son’s foreign business deals. The move comes amid increasing pressure from his right flank to move ahead with the inquiry, including some on his far right who have threatened to oust McCarthy from his speakership if he does not move swiftly enough on such an investigation. McCarthy is also trying to secure votes as part of negotiations to keep the government funded beyond the September 30 deadline to avert a shutdown.”

Petition filed to block Trump from Minnesota’s 2024 ballot under ‘insurrection clause,’ Associated Press, Tuesday, 12 September 2023: “A group of Minnesota voters filed a legal challenge Tuesday to try to block former President Donald Trump from appearing on the state’s presidential ballot next year. The petition, filed with the Minnesota Supreme Court, argues that Trump is disqualified from public office under the rarely used ‘insurrection clause’ of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The petitioners, including Democratic former Minnesota Secretary of State Joan Growe, argue that anyone who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, and then engages in insurrection, is barred from ever holding public office again. It’s the latest in what’s expected to be a series of similar challenges being filed by liberal groups across the country over Trump’s to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden and his alleged support for the assault of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. One was filed in Colorado last Thursday. The lawsuits appear destined to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.” See also, Trump faces another 14th Amendment candidacy challenge, this time in Minnesota, CNN Politics, Marshall Cohen, Tuesday, 12 September 2023: “A liberal group filed a lawsuit Tuesday to block former President Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot in Minnesota, the second major lawsuit in two weeks that hopes to invoke the 14th Amendment’s arcane ‘insurrectionist ban.’ The cases are seen as legal long shots. Trump denies wrongdoing and has vowed to fight to remain on the presidential ballot. The new Minnesota lawsuit was filed in state court by Free Speech For People, one week after another group initiated a similar challenge in Colorado. A post-Civil War provision of the 14th Amendment says any American official who takes an oath to uphold the US Constitution is disqualified from holding future office if they ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion’ or have ‘given aid or comfort’ to insurrectionists.”


Wednesday, 13 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia ‘discussing’ military cooperation with North Korea, Putin says, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Annabelle Timsit, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, and Mikhail Klimentov, Wednesday, 13 September 2023: “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un used his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in four years to state that his country views relations with Russia as a ‘first priority,’ and he offered a complete endorsement of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and violation of recognized international borders. After the two leaders met, at a space facility in Russia’s far east, Putin said Russia is ‘discussing, thinking about’ ways to cooperate with North Korea militarily and technically despite global restrictions, including sanctions, imposed in recent years on Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile development and tests. U.S. officials previously warned that Kim and Putin were likely to discuss a potential arms deal to restock the arsenal of Russia’s military, which has expended much of its munitions in the war in Ukraine. The sister of Paul Whelan, the American currently imprisoned in Russia on charges of espionage, is in Washington this week to meet with officials in Congress and members of the Biden administration. At a White House briefing, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Elizabeth Whelan’s visit would be ‘a good opportunity for us to update her on our efforts to get Paul back. And those efforts are very active and they’re very ongoing.’ She told CNN on Wednesday that she hoped to meet with President Biden. According to the Kremlin, Kim told Putin at the summit, ‘We have always supported and stand by all decisions of President Putin and the Russian government.’ The North Korean leader reportedly said that ‘Russia is now rising to the sacred struggle to defend its state sovereignty and protect its security,’ adding that he hoped Pyongyang and Moscow would ‘always stand together in the fight against imperialism.’ Putin said Russia would look for ways to deepen military collaboration with North Korea ‘within the framework of the current rules.’ ‘There are certain restrictions, and Russia abides by them,’ he told the ’60 Minutes Live’ television program, ‘but there are things we can talk about.’ Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the sanctions that Russia introduced against Pyongyang in the past ‘were adopted in a completely different geopolitical environment.’ Kim is expected to visit more sites in Russia after his meeting with PutinRussian state media reported. The North Korean leader will travel to Vladivostok, a Russian city near the border with North Korea and China, the Russian state news outlet RIA Novosti reported, citing Putin. The Russian president also reportedly said Kim would visit factories for civilian and military equipment in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, more than 700 miles away, according to the news agency. In remarks, Putin said that Kim would fly to Komsomolsk-on-Amur. If so, the trip would constitute a break from his preference of traveling by armored train. The White House is watching for the outcome of Putin and Kim’s meeting, said Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman, on Wednesday. ‘We’ve got to see what actually shakes out of this meeting and the degree to which any kind of an arms deal was consummated,’ Kirby said. ‘If they decide to move forward with some sort of arms deal, we’ll obviously take the measure of that and we’ll deal with it appropriately.’ Before the summit between Kim and Putin, the Pentagon warned North Korea not to supply arms to Russia. North Korea is thought to have artillery shells and rockets compatible with Soviet and Russian weapons systems that Russia is using in Ukraine. The Biden administration has drawn up a new system for responding to reports of civilians injured or killed by foreign forces using American-made weapons. The Civilian Harm Incident Response Guidance, or CHIRG, will prompt officials to investigate such incidents, and outlines actions that can be taken in response, including the halting of arms sales. The news follows Biden’s decision in July to send controversial, U.S.-made cluster munitions to Ukraine. The weapons are banned by much of the world because unexploded bomblets can pose risks to civilians years after the weapon is fired. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Ukraine is making ‘great strides’ toward joining the European Union, but she stressed that membership is a merit-based process, and she did not offer a timeline for Ukrainian membership. In her annual State of the European Union speech Wednesday, von der Leyen said the European Commission would propose to extend temporary protection to Ukrainians. The program gives Ukrainian refugees the right to live, study and work in the 27-member bloc. But as The Post has reported, E.U. countries have in some cases fallen short of the program’s ambitious promise, with many Ukrainian refugees struggling to find jobs, register their children in schools and otherwise integrate into their host countries. The E.U. on Wednesday removed sanctions on three Russian oligarchs, a rare move amid the war in Ukraine, during which the E.U. has imposed rafts of new sanctions on Russian people and entities. Of the three named in the rollback, Farkhad Akhmedov, Grigory Berezkin and Alexander Shulgin, Shulgin had won a court case last week arguing that the basis for the sanctions, his influence as the head of Russian online retail platform Ozon, no longer applied because he had stepped down from the position. Romania’s Defense Ministry said that possible fragments of a Russian drone were found near Romania’s border with Ukraine — the third time in recent weeks that Romania, a NATO country, reported such a discovery, according to Reuters. The ministry said Wednesday in a statement that Romanian authorities were notified of the incident shortly before 1 a.m., amid an overnight attack against two Ukrainian port towns in Odessa. ‘The Romanian authorities remain on alert and are conducting a full investigation,’ acting NATO spokesperson Dylan White said of the incident. ‘NATO has no information indicating any intentional attack by Russia against Allied territory.’ A representative of the Catholic pope is expected to arrive in China as part of a push to facilitate peace in UkraineChinese and Vatican officials confirmed. China and the Vatican have offered to help broker an end to the fighting in Ukraine, but it is not clear how much of a role they could play. Pope Francis has blamed both Russia and NATO for the war, and Ukrainians have at times accused him of creating false equivalencies. China, meanwhile, has declared itself to be neutral in the conflict in Ukraine but has not condemned the Russian offensive and has deepened economic and political ties with Moscow.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Strikes Headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. The pre-dawn attack damaged two ships and triggered a large blaze at a naval shipyard in Crimea that plays a critical role in Russia’s war effort. The New York Times, Wednesday, 13 September 2023:

  • The shipyard strike underscores Ukraine’s growing capacity to hit targets deep into Russian-held territory.
  • Evan Gershkovich’s family appeals to the U.N. for help in securing his release.
  • Putin, hungry for ammunition, makes a lavish welcome for the leader of North Korea.
  • More suspected Russian drone debris is found in Romania.
  • A papal envoy heads to China, his latest trip in pursuit of an elusive peace for Ukraine.
  • North Korea test-fires two missiles as Kim meets with Putin in Russia.
  • The E.U.’s top official calls for expanding the bloc amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Judge Tells Trump to Use Secure Facility for Secret Evidence in Documents Case. Judge Aileen Cannon’s order did not specify where the former president could discuss the classified material but suggested it should not be Mar-a-Lago. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Wednesday, 13 September 2023: “For the past few weeks, lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump and federal prosecutors have been arguing about a touchy subject: Should Mr. Trump, accused of mishandling classified documents, be allowed to discuss the secret papers with his lawyers in the secure facility he once used as president at Mar-a-Lago — the very place the F.B.I. swooped down on last summer to retrieve some of the records after he failed to return them? On Wednesday, Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who is presiding over the documents case, gave an answer to that question — albeit one that was somewhat vague. In an order setting up a series of rules to protect the classified materials at the heart of the proceeding, Judge Cannon said that Mr. Trump would indeed need to use a secure facility to review the sensitive records, suggesting but not specifically declaring that it should not be housed at his private club and residence in Florida.” See also, Judge Aileen Cannon appears to reject Trump bid to talk about classified information at Mar-a-Lago. Cannon issued a protective order regarding classified information, noting that the former president’s lawyers do not yet have full security clearances. The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Wednesday, 13 September 2023: “After he was charged in June with mishandling national security papers, former president Donald Trump asked to be allowed to discuss classified evidence in the case right where he allegedly had kept the documents: at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida home and private club. On Wednesday, the federal judge overseeing the case appeared to tell him no. U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon issued a 16-page protective order granting prosecutors’ request for a set of rules about how classified information and documents should be handled in the case — rules that conform to the general practice of federal courts.”

Trump Has Been Privately Encouraging Republican Lawmakers to Impeach Biden. The former president has talked regularly with members of the House Freedom Caucus and other congressional Republicans who pushed for impeachment. The New York Times, Jonathan Swan, Maggie Haberman, and Alyce McFadden, Wednesday, 13 September 2023: “Over the past several months, Mr. Trump has kept a close watch on House Republicans’ momentum toward impeaching Mr. Biden. Mr. Trump has talked regularly by phone with members of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus and other congressional Republicans who pushed for impeachment, according to a person close to Mr. Trump who was not authorized to publicly discuss the conversations. Mr. Trump has encouraged the effort both privately and publicly.”

Judge denies Trump aide Mark Meadows’ request to pause ruling that sent Georgia election case back to state court, CNBC, Kevin Breuninger, Wednesday, 13 September 2023: “A federal judge denied former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ request for an emergency stay of a ruling that sent his Georgia election interference case back to state court, a court filing showed Wednesday. Meadows, former President Donald Trump’s final chief of staff, had asked U.S. District Judge Steve Jones to pause his ruling pending an appeal in a higher court. But Jones sided with Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis, who on Tuesday urged the judge to reject Meadows’ latest move in his ongoing push to try and move his case to federal court. Meadows ‘has not shown he is entitled to an emergency stay,’ Jones ruled in an order dated Tuesday and made public Wednesday morning on the docket in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. Jones on Friday had denied Meadows’ initial bid to move the sweeping Georgia RICO case out of Fulton County and into federal court.”


Thursday, 14 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin accepts Kim’s invitation to visit North Korea; Senate is probing Starlink vulnerabilities, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Annabelle Timsit, Adam Taylor, and Mikhail Klimentov, Thursday, 14 September 2023: “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un continues his visit to Russia’s Far East, where he is expected to tour an aviation factory and inspect Russia’s Pacific naval fleet this week. The visit is a display of closeness between Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who met yesterday in Russia’s far eastern Amur region and have indicated an interest in military cooperation. The two leaders probably discussed arms sales from North Korea to Russia and food aid for North Korea, though there was no announcement of a deal at the summit. According to U.S. intelligence assessments, Russia is looking to obtain weaponry from North Korea to bolster its supplies, which have shrunk amid its war in Ukraine. U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said that the Senate Armed Services Committee is “aggressively probing” possible vulnerabilities relating to the use of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites in Ukraine. ‘Neither Elon Musk, nor any private citizen, can have the last word when it comes to U.S. national security,’ wrote Reed, the chairman of that committee, in a statement Thursday. ‘We’ve got to look at the broader satellite markets and the role of government outsourcing, the outsize role Mr. Musk and his company have taken on here, and the Pentagon’s actions and contractual arrangements.’ Earlier this month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is also on the Armed Services Committee, made similar calls, saying it would be improper for ‘one billionaire’ to have sway over U.S. foreign policy. Putin accepted Kim’s invitation to visit North Korea ‘with gratitude,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday in a news briefing. Peskov said a visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov next month to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, is being planned first. During their meeting, Putin gifted Kim a glove from a spacesuit that had been in space, as well as a domestically made carbine, Peskov said. Kim presented Putin with a carbine made by Korean craftsmen and other gifts, the Kremlin spokesman said. Kim reaffirmed his support for Moscow, saying, ‘We have always supported and stand by all decisions of President Putin and the Russian government,’ according to the Kremlin. Kim apparently praised Russia’s ‘sacred struggle to defend its state sovereignty and protect its security,’ repeating rhetoric used by Putin to defend his invasion of Ukraine. South Korea condemned the meeting between Kim and Putin. ‘Despite repeated warnings from the international community, North Korea and Russia discussed military cooperation issues, including satellite development, during their summit,’ Lim Soo-suk, a spokesman for South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, said in a news briefing Thursday, according to the Associated Press. South Korea’s National Security Council urged North Korea and Russia not to trade weapons, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported. The head national security officials of the U.S., Japan and South Korea held a trilateral call Thursday, affirming that ‘any arms exports from the DPRK to Russia would directly violate multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions, including resolutions that Russia itself voted to adopt,’ according to a White House readout of the call. The White House is monitoring developments from the Putin-Kim summit, according to White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. ‘We’ve got to see what actually shakes out of this meeting and the degree to which any kind of an arms deal was consummated,’ he said. ‘If they decide to move forward with some sort of arms deal, we’ll obviously take the measure of that, and we’ll deal with it appropriately.’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will visit Washington after the United Nations General Assembly meeting next week in New York, The Washington Post reported. The visit, which was coordinated with the Biden administration, is aimed at pushing Congress to grant the White House’s request for more than $24 billion in additional aid to Ukraine. Zelensky and Biden last met during the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July. This trip will be Zelensky’s second visit to Washington since the war began. Russia said it had declared two U.S. diplomats working in Moscow as ‘persona non grata,’ asking them to leave the country within seven days. The two diplomats were accused of maintaining contact with a Russian citizen performing ‘tasks for financial remuneration with the aim of damaging the national security of the Russian Federation,’ according to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Russian has been named as Robert Shonov, a former employee of the U.S. Consulate in Vladivostok, in other news releases. The U.S. State Department condemned Shonov’s arrest earlier this year and said the accusations against him ‘are wholly without merit.’ The U.S. Treasury announced nearly 100 new sanctions on elites and companies it says are aiding Russia’s war effort. Those sanctioned include not only Russians who had previously avoided rounds of sanctions, such as Mkrtich Okroyan, the chief designer for Soyuz, a company that manufactures engines for many of the missiles being fired at Ukraine, but also Turkish firms involved in the trade of sanctioned goods to Russia. Ukraine’s plans ‘to diversify its supply’ of nuclear fuel away from Russian sources hit a milestone earlier this week, Britain’s Defense Ministry said, when ‘Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear power plant operator, announced that it had a successfully refueled a reactor at its Rivne Nuclear Power Plant’ in northwestern Ukraine near the border with Poland and Belarus, ‘using Western-produced nuclear fuel assemblies.’ The ministry said Thursday that Ukraine’s nuclear sector was dependent on Russian fuel and Soviet-era designs but that, since the invasion, Kyiv has ‘accelerated’ plans for a ‘long-term decoupling from Russia, whose influence over Ukraine’s energy supply is severely diminished.'”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine’s Increased Attacks in Crimea Target Russian Combat Capabilities. Ukraine’s military said it struck air defense systems in its latest attacks on the Russian-occupied region as Russian officials claimed they thwarted a Ukrainian assault on a patrol boat in the Black Sea. The New York Times, Thursday, 14 September 2023:

Georgia Judge Orders 2 Trials for Defendants in Trump Election Case. Two defendants will get a speedy trial starting in October, but the others, including Donald J. Trump, can have more time to prepare, the judge ruled. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Thursday, 14 September 2023: “A judge on Thursday granted former President Donald J. Trump and 16 others a separate trial from two of their co-defendants who will go to trial next month in the Georgia election interference case. The judge, Scott McAfee of Fulton County Superior Court, has laid out an expedited trial schedule for Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, two lawyers who helped Mr. Trump try to stay in power after losing the 2020 election. The two had invoked their right under Georgia law to seek a speedy trial, in part to avoid the high cost of a more protracted legal fight…. A trial date for Mr. Trump and the other 16 co-defendants has not been set. In his order, Judge McAfee described what was to come as a ‘mega-trial.’ But he also raised the possibility that those 17 might not all be tried together in the end, if some make successful arguments to break off their cases.” See also, Judge says Trump’s Georgia trial won’t start in October, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey, Thursday, 14 September 2023: “A Georgia judge ruled Thursday that Donald Trump and 16 of his co-defendants won’t have to go to trial in October with two defendants who have sought a speedy trial, effectively denying an Atlanta-area prosecutor’s bid to try all 19 together in the sprawling criminal case alleging interference in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said in a Thursday order that he could move to sever additional cases but said for now that former Trump campaign attorneys Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell will stand trial beginning Oct. 23. He did not issue a trial date for Trump and 16 other associates, but he denied a bid by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and others seeking to pause proceedings while their efforts to move their cases to federal court play out.” See also, Georgia judge shuts down District Attorney’s effort to try Trump and co-defendants together, CNN Politics, Tierney Sneed and Zachary Cohen, Thursday, 14 September 2023: “A Georgia judge shut down the effort by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to have all 19 defendants, including former President Donald Trump, to be tried together in October in the Georgia election subversion case. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee announced Thursday that Trump and 16 co-defendants will move forward on their own schedule, with a trial date yet be announced. The two remaining co-defendants, Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, sought speedy trials and are scheduled to begin in October. Thursday’s order is a victory for Trump and his fellow co-defendants who did not want to go to trial this October. The schedule laid out by the judge only cemented some of the steps in the pre-trial process, setting up the possibility that the trial itself does not happen until well into 2024, or even later. Trump’s legal calendar during the first half of next year is already clogged with plans for trials in the other criminal cases he faces, and he is juggling those proceedings with his 2024 presidential run.”

Trump’s New York Bank Fraud Trial in Limbo After His Legal Gambit Works. Trump’s lawyers are going after Judge Arthur F. Engoron, saying he overstepped his bounds. The Daily Beast, Jose Pagliery, Thursday, 14 September 2023: “An appellate judge has taken the remarkable step of hitting pause on the New York Attorney General’s upcoming bank fraud trial against Donald Trump—granting the former president’s request in a surprise hearing on Thursday that was closed to the public. Now, a full five-judge appellate panel is set to make a decision that could fundamentally alter the case on the eve of trial. And if they take longer than a few days, it will delay the trial altogether. Appellate Justice David Friedman’s rapid decision—following a brief 3:45 p.m. virtual hearing—acquiesced to Trump’s frantic last-minute attempt to derail a trial that threatens to destroy his corporate empire. The former president’s lawyers have turned the heat on the judge overseeing this case—by suing him directly. Trump was represented by Florida attorney Christopher Kise, according to court employee conversations overheard by this reporter. According to paperwork obtained by The Daily Beast, three lawyers from the AG’s office were also present at the virtual hearing. Shortly after the appellate judge’s decision, Attorney General Letitia James released a statement, saying, ‘We are confident in our case and will be ready for trial.'” See also, Trump Lawsuit Against Judge Arthur F. Engoron Could Delay New York Bank Fraud Trial. The delay came as federal prosecutors pushed back against the former president’s efforts to attack another judge in his election interference case in Washington. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich, Ben Protess, and Alan Feuer, Thursday, 14 September 2023: “Donald J. Trump has sued the judge overseeing the New York attorney general’s civil fraud case against him, a move that could delay his upcoming trial. The lawsuit was not immediately made public, but two people with knowledge of the matter said that it accused the judge of ignoring an earlier appeals court decision that Mr. Trump’s lawyers believe should significantly limit the case against him. And on Thursday, the appeals court provisionally paused the trial so it can consider Mr. Trump’s action against the judge. It was the former president’s latest direct challenge of a judge presiding over one of his many legal proceedings. Earlier this week, his lawyers asked the judge in one of his criminal cases to voluntarily step aside. The civil trial stems from a lawsuit brought by the New York attorney general, Letitia James, who accused Mr. Trump, his business and members of his family of fraudulently overvaluing their assets by billions of dollars. It is scheduled to begin on Oct. 2, and it still might. But Mr. Trump has been seeking to delay the trial, and in an escalation of that effort, his lawyers this week quietly filed their lawsuit against Ms. James and the judge in the case, Arthur F. Engoron. Their move was first reported by the Daily Beast.”

Special counsel Jack Smith fights Trump bid to oust judge Chutkan from January 6 case. Prosecutors say veteran D.C. judge Tanya Chutkan’s statements in sentencing two Capitol attack defendants do not show she has prejudged Trump. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, Thursday, 14 September 2023: “Prosecutors working with special counsel Jack Smith urged U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan on Thursday to deny a request by Donald Trump’s attorneys that she disqualify herself from his federal election obstruction case. The prosecutors said Trump’s team had cherry-picked statements by her out of context and misapplied the law to wrongly argue that she was biased against him. Trump’s defense on Monday asked for Chutkan’s recusal, saying the veteran jurist appeared to have prejudged the former president’s guilt when she noted while sentencing two defendants in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack that Trump and other leaders claiming the election was stolen had not been charged with crimes. But prosecutors said in a late-evening court filing that Chutkan was appropriately responding to an argument raised by scores of Capitol attack defendants: that they deserved leniency because they were inspired by or less culpable than others who had not been held responsible, including Trump. ‘The Court’s statements addressing this sentencing mitigation argument were factually accurate, responsive to arguments presented to the Court, and evidenced no improper bias or prejudgment of the current case,’ senior assistant special counsels Molly Gaston and Thomas Windom wrote. Far from presenting clear and convincing evidence of prejudice, Trump’s defense was relying on ‘suggestion and innuendo to insinuate something sinister in the Court simply doing its job by addressing sentencing arguments,’ they wrote.”

Inside Exxon’s Strategy to Downplay Climate Change. Internal documents show what the oil giant said publicly was very different from how it approached the issue privately in the Tillerson era. The Wall Street Journal, Christopher M. Matthews and Collin Eaton, Thursday, 14 September 2023: “Exxon Mobil issued its first public statement that burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change in 2006, following years of denial. In public forums, the company argued that the risk of serious impact on the environment justified global action. Yet behind closed doors, Exxon took a very different tack: Its executives strategized over how to diminish concerns about warming temperatures, and they sought to muddle scientific findings that might hurt its oil-and-gas business, according to internal Exxon documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and interviews with former executives. Exxon’s public acceptance in 2006 of the risks posed by climate change was an early act of Rex Tillerson, an Exxon lifer who became CEO that year. Some viewed him as a moderating force who brought Exxon in line with the scientific consensus. The documents reviewed by the Journal, which haven’t been previously reported, cast Tillerson’s decadelong tenure in a different light. They show that Tillerson, as well as some of Exxon’s board directors and other top executives, sought to cast doubt on the severity of climate change’s impacts. Exxon scientists supported research that questioned the findings of mainstream climate science, even after the company said it would stop funding think tanks and others that promoted climate-change denial. Exxon is now a defendant in dozens of lawsuits around the U.S. that accuse it and other oil companies of deception over climate change and that aim to collect billions of dollars in damages. Prosecutors and attorneys involved in some of the cases are seeking some of the documents reviewed by the Journal, which were part of a previous investigation by New York’s attorney general but never made public.”


Friday, 15 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kim Jong Un visits jet factory in Russia; Zelensky to head to Washington, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Min Joo Kim, Victoria Bisset, Natalia Abbakumova, and Adam Taylor, Friday, 15 September 2023: “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited a plant that builds fighter jets during his ongoing Russia trip, which comes as Washington continues to voice suspicions that Moscow and Pyongyang seek to engineer an arms deal that could deliver North Korean weapons to Russian forces on the battlefields of Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will visit Washington next week after stopping by the United Nations General Assembly in New York, The Washington Post reported. The trip will be his second to Washington since the war began last year. He last met President Biden in July, during the NATO summit in Lithuania. Kim rolled into the far eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur early Friday, Russian news agencies reported. There, he toured a Russian factory that builds Sukhoi fighter jets alongside Russian Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov, who said Moscow sees potential for cooperation with North Korea in the field of aircraft manufacturing, according to Russian news reports. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that Kim’s trip will continue for several days. His next destination is expected to be the eastern port city of Vladivostok, where he will inspect Russia’s Pacific naval fleet. Russia had not signed any agreements ‘with North Korea in the area of military-technical cooperation’ yet, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed as ‘nonsense’ reports that Russia is accepting North Korean volunteers for the war in Ukraine. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko proposed three-way cooperation with Russia and North Korea, at a meeting with Putin in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, the Associated Press reported. Lukashenko did not cite specifics, but said Belarus would ‘look for opportunities.’ Zelensky’s Washington visit was coordinated with the Biden administration in a joint push to get Congress to provide $24 billion in additional aid to Ukraine, The Post reported. Republican leaders, Democrats and the White House insist that a majority of Congress continues to support helping Ukraine. But there has been growing tension within the Republican Party — and among a small number of Democrats — over how much assistance the United States should grant Ukraine. Zelensky is ‘very much abreast’ of the debate in Washington, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters. ‘I don’t believe President Zelensky needs our advice to be an advocate for what Ukraine needs,’ Sullivan said. ‘He has proven over the course of the past 18, 19 months that there is no better advocate for his country, for his people, and for the urgent and continuing need for countries like the United States and our allies and partners to step up to provide the necessary tools and resources that Ukraine needs to be able to effectively defend itself.’ Authorities in Ukraine filed further charges against oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky — one of the country’s richest men, who was detained in a fraud case this month. Ukraine’s main internal security service, the SBU, wrote on Telegram on Friday that Kolomoisky was accused of embezzling the equivalent of around $157 million. Ukraine has doubled down on anticorruption efforts since the war began, as it seeks membership in the European Union. The Senate Armed Services Committee is ‘aggressively probing’ possible vulnerabilities related to the use of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites in Ukraine, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said. ‘Neither Elon Musk, nor any private citizen, can have the last word when it comes to U.S. national security,’ Reed, the chairman of that committee, wrote in a statement Thursday. Earlier this month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is also on the Armed Services Committee, made similar calls, saying it would be improper for ‘one billionaire’ to have sway over U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. ambassador to Russia visited detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. Lynne Tracy met with Gershkovich at the Lefortovo pretrial detention center in Moscow, where the American reporter has been detained for well over 100 days on espionage charges that the United States says are politically motivated. ‘He remains strong and is keeping up with the news,’ the U.S. Embassy in Moscow wrote in a tweet, reiterating a call for Russia to release Gershkovich and another detained U.S. citizen, Paul Whelan. A senior Russian security official said Moscow has ‘identified and neutralized’ hundreds of foreign spies in recent years. Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said in an article published in the Russian foreign intelligence agency’s magazine Friday: ‘In recent years, hundreds of employees of foreign intelligence services, as well as other persons involved in organizing intelligence and subversive activities against our country and our strategic partners, have been identified and neutralized.’ Patrushev provided no evidence for his claims. Western security officials have said that Russia has significant spying capabilities despite the exposure of multiple operatives in Europe. It is too early to comment on the cause of the plane crash that killed Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeniy Prigozhin, Peskov said Friday. ‘This is not a simple investigation, not a simple accident, an investigation is underway, so it would be premature to comment now,’ Peskov said.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kim’s Tour in Russia Highlights Risk of Increasing Military Ties. While in Russia, the North Korean leader has visited a plant that makes fighter jets and viewed rockets similar to the ones his country hopes to build to launch military satellites. The New York Times, Friday, 15 September 2023:

  • Kim Jong-un’s visit underscores how Moscow could exacerbate the North Korean threat.

  • The U.S. ambassador visits Evan Gershkovich, a WSJ reporter detained in Russia.

  • UNESCO adds two more cultural sites in Ukraine to its endangered list.

  • Volodymyr Zelensky will visit Washington next week, U.S. officials say.

  • Ukraine’s military says it has retaken the eastern village of Andriivka.

  • Russia raises interest rates again amid persistent concerns about inflation.

  • A report of a Pegasus attack on one Russian journalist sets off a flurry of concern among others.

Special Counsel Jack Smith Is Seeking Gag Order on Trump in Election Case. Prosecutors have asked Judge Tanya S. Chutkan to curb statements from the former president that could intimidate witnesses, influence potential jurors or lead to harassment of others in the case. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Friday, 15 September 2023: “Prosecutors have asked the judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s federal indictment on charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election to impose ‘a narrowly tailored’ gag order on him, citing his ‘near-daily’ social media attacks on people involved in the case, according to court papers released on Friday. The request to Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of Federal District Court in Washington, who has herself been the subject of some of Mr. Trump’s verbal assaults, brought to a head the simmering issue of the former president’s online statements. In a 19-page motion, prosecutors said that some of the people Mr. Trump has gone after on social media — including the special counsel, Jack Smith, who has filed two indictments against him — have experienced subsequent threats from others. Mr. Trump’s statements, they said, could also affect witnesses and the potential jury pool for the trial, which is scheduled to take place in Washington starting in March. ‘Since the indictment in this case, the defendant has spread disparaging and inflammatory public posts on Truth Social on a near-daily basis regarding the citizens of the District of Columbia, the court, prosecutors and prospective witnesses,’ federal prosecutors wrote. ‘Like his previous public disinformation campaign regarding the 2020 presidential election,’ they wrote, ‘the defendant’s recent extrajudicial statements are intended to undermine public confidence in an institution — the judicial system — and to undermine confidence in and intimidate individuals — the court, the jury pool, witnesses and prosecutors.’ The gag order sought by the government would prevent Mr. Trump from making any statements about the identity or testimony of witnesses in the case or any remarks about anyone involved in the proceeding that could be considered ‘disparaging and inflammatory, or intimidating.’ ‘The government seeks a narrow, well-defined restriction that is targeted at extrajudicial statements that present a serious and substantial danger of materially prejudicing this case,’ prosecutors wrote.” See also, Special counsel seeks ‘narrowly tailored’ gag order against Trump, citing ‘disparaging and inflammatory attacks.’ The court filing accuses Trump of engaging in a campaign of disinformation. ABC News, Katherine Faulders and Alexander Mallin, Friday, 15 September 2023: “Special counsel Jack Smith and his team have requested a federal judge in Washington, D.C., impose a ‘narrowly tailored’ order restricting former President Donald Trump from making public statements that they argue could ‘present a serious and substantial danger of prejudicing” his 2020 federal election interference case. In an extraordinary filing released Friday, Smith’s office accused Trump of engaging in a sweeping campaign of ‘disinformation’ and harassment intended to intimidate witnesses, prosecutors and others involved in the prosecution he is facing.”

Biden administration proposes new rule that would limit Trump purge of career federal government employees. The measure is an attempt to thwart plans by the former president and his allies to replace career government officials with political loyalists if he’s reelected. The Washington Post, Tyler Pager and Lisa Rein, Friday, 15 September 2023: “The Biden administration proposed a new rule Friday seeking to bolster protections for federal workers, an explicit attempt to thwart plans by former president Donald Trump and his allies to replace career government officials with political loyalists should he be reelected. The rule seeks to halt any attempt to gut the foundation of the federal civil service, whose 2.2 million career employees serve any occupant of the White House without regard to partisanship — and have rights to due process at every level. In the waning days of his administration, Trump tried to subvert those principles with a sweeping executive order that stripped job protections from employees in policy roles across the government. President Biden revoked that executive order on the third day of his presidency, and the new rule Friday seeks to further protect those officials. The rule comes as Trump continues to dominate the Republican primary field and appears likely to once again capture his party’s nomination for president.” See also, Biden Administration Aims to Trump-Proof the Federal Work Force. If Donald Trump wins a second term, he and his allies want to revive a plan to allow a president to fire civil service workers who are supposed to be hired on merit. The Biden administration is trying to thwart it. The New York Times, Jonathan Swan, Charlie Savage, and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 15 September 2023: “When President Biden took office, he swiftly canceled an executive order his predecessor Donald J. Trump had issued that could have enabled Mr. Trump to fire tens of thousands of federal workers and replace them with loyalists. But Democrats never succeeded in enacting legislation to strengthen protections for the civil service system as a matter of law. Now, with Mr. Trump seemingly poised to win the G.O.P. nomination again, the Biden administration is instead trying to effectively Trump-proof the civil service with a new regulation. On Friday, the White House proposed a new rule that would make it more onerous to reinstate Mr. Trump’s old executive order if Mr. Trump or a like-minded Republican wins the 2024 election. But Trump allies who would most likely have senior roles in any second Trump administration shrugged off the proposed Biden rule, saying they could simply use the same rule-making process to roll back the new regulation and then proceed. Legal experts agreed.”

California Sues Giant Oil Companies, Citing Decades of Deception. Launching one of the most prominent climate lawsuits in the nation, the state claims Exxon, Shell, BP, and others misled the public and seeks creation of a special fund to pay for recovery. The New York Times, David Gelles, Friday, 15 September 2023: “The state of California sued several of the world’s biggest oil companies on Friday, claiming their actions have caused tens of billions of dollars in damage and that they deceived the public by downplaying the risks posed by fossil fuels. The civil case, filed in superior court in San Francisco, is the latest and most significant lawsuit to target oil, gas and coal companies over their role in causing climate change. It seeks creation of an abatement fund to pay for the future damages caused by climate related disasters in the state. The lawsuit targets five companies: Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron, which is headquartered in San Ramon, Calif. The American Petroleum Institute, an industry trade group based in Washington, is also listed as a defendant. Seven other states and dozens of municipalities have filed similar lawsuits in recent years. But the California lawsuit immediately becomes one of the most significant legal challenges facing the fossil fuel industry. Beyond being the most populous state in the country, California is a major producer of oil and gas, and its attorney general’s office has a track record of bringing landmark cases that are emulated by smaller states. California is also on the front lines of climate-change-fueled extreme weather, with wildfires, floods, sea-level rise, searing heat and even tropical storms battering the state.”


Saturday, 16 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kim Jong Un views missiles in Vladivostok; first vessels use Ukraine’s new shipping corridor, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Victoria Bisset, and Tobi Raji, Saturday, 16 September 2023: “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Vladivostok, a city in far-eastern Russia close to the Chinese and North Korean borders. He was met by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and viewed aviation equipment and missile systems, state media outlet Tass reported. It is the latest stop on Kim’s trip to the country, which has sparked concern in Washington over a possible arms deal between Moscow and Pyongyang. Two merchant ships approached Ukrainian ports Saturday, becoming the first civilian vessels to use a temporary shipping corridor in the Black Sea following the collapse of a grain deal with Russia, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said. The Palauan-flagged ships – Resilient Africa and Aroyat – are headed to Chornomorsk, where they will load nearly 20,000 tons of wheat for Africa and Asia, Kubrakov said. A Ukrainian minister vowed there would be further attacks on Russian warships. ‘There will be more drones, more attacks, and fewer Russian ships. That’s for sure,’ Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said in an interview with Reuters. According to the British Defense Ministry, an attack on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet earlier this week ‘almost certainly’ caused major damage to a landing ship and submarine at the Sevastopol naval base in occupied Crimea. Poland, Hungary and Slovakia imposed restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports after a European Commission block on shipments entering five bordering E.U. countries expired Friday. Limited access to Black Sea ports during the war has caused a surge in Ukrainian grain passing through neighboring countries, driving down prices and angering local producers. The European Commission said in a statement market distortions have now ‘disappeared,’ but some leaders were not convinced. The restrictions do not apply to the transport of Ukrainian goods through the respective countries. UNESCO added Kyiv’s St. Sophia’s Cathedral and Lviv to its World Heritage in Danger list Friday. The sites face the ‘risk of direct attack’ and are ‘vulnerable to the shock waves caused by the bombing of the two cities,’ the organization said. UNESCO’s list designates 56 sites ‘in danger,’ including the Black Sea port city of Odessa, which was added in January. Poland will ban Russian-registered cars from entering its territory from Sunday, Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski announced Saturday according to Polish news agency PAP. The move comes a day after Finland followed its Baltic neighbors Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in imposing similar restrictions, Finnish media reported. An update to European Commission guidelines has asked member states to stop Russian citizens from bringing cars and other goods into the European Union in an effort to prevent sanction-dodging. Eighty-six defense firms from 21 countries will participate in Ukraine’s upcoming Defense Industries Forum, Zelensky said during his nightly address Saturday. The event, which will take place this fall, is the first of its kind to be held in Ukraine, he said. ‘Our task is absolutely clear – to provide Ukraine with all the opportunities to produce weapons and ammunition, to provide modern technology to have reliable protection against any form of aggression,’ Zelensky said. Ukraine’s foreign minister previously said top firms within France and the Czech Republic’s defense industry have been invited to attend the forum. The U.S. ambassador to Russia, Lynne M. Tracy, visited detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich at the Lefortovo pretrial detention center in Moscow, where the American reporter has been held for months on espionage charges that the United States says are politically motivated. ‘He remains strong and is keeping up with the news,’ the U.S. Embassy in Moscow wrote on social media. Tens of thousands of Jewish pilgrims have gathered in central Ukraine to mark the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, which began on Friday evening. Cherkasy regional Gov. Ihor Taburets wrote on Telegram on Thursday morning that about 22,000 pilgrims had already arrived in Uman — a significant city for the Hasidic community. Most of the arrivals were from Israel, the United States and a number of European countries, he said, adding that security had been tightened. Zelensky is expected to make a trip to Washington next week, which would be his second since the war began last year, The Washington Post reported. The visit was coordinated with the Biden administration amid efforts to push Congress to provide $24 billion in additional aid to Ukraine, and comes as tensions grow over support for Ukraine within the Republican Party and among a small number of Democrats. Zelensky is ‘very much abreast’ of the debate in Washington, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters. Britain officially banned Russia’s Wagner Group and designated it a terrorist organization, making support for the group punishable by up to 14 years in jail, according to a statement from the government. The ban, which was approved Friday, comes weeks after group leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin died in a plane crash and months after his short-lived mutiny.”


Sunday, 17 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukrainian commanders say village near Bakhmut recaptured; Zelensky expected in D.C., The Washington Post, Siobhán O’Grady, Kostiantyn Khudov, Jennifer Hassan, Bryan Pietsch, and Ben Brasch, Monday, 17 September 2023: “Ukrainian forces have retaken control of the Ukrainian village of Klishchiivka, south of the eastern city of Bakhmut, Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, announced Sunday. A police assault brigade commander whose forces have been fighting in the village confirmed the gains in a message to The Washington Post, saying Ukraine has ‘full control.’ The country’s much-hyped counteroffensive has focused largely on the south, where troops are moving slowly, in large part due to heavily mined territory. But the retaking of Klishchiivka could mark an important development for Ukraine’s prospects in the country’s east, where Russian forces seized control of the destroyed city of Bakhmut earlier this year after a bloody, months-long fight. Gaining control of villages on the outskirts of Bakhmut could now position Ukrainian forces to pursue control of the city again. Earlier this year, some of Ukraine’s allies, including Washington, were skeptical of Kyiv’s insistence on pouring so many resources into trying to maintain its positions in the city. Leaked U.S. documents showed American officials had urged Ukraine to abandon the fight. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to travel to Washington this week to appeal for more assistance, The Post has reported. His visit to Capitol Hill is tentatively expected Thursday, when — backed by the Biden administration — he will try to persuade members of Congress to vote for Ukraine aid. The trip would be his second to the United States since the war began. Zelensky’s visit to the Hill will be ‘very, very persuasive’ in getting members to vote for Ukraine aid, Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told ‘Face The Nation’ on CBS. While Turner said ‘the House and certainly the Republican caucus overwhelmingly supports aid for Ukraine,’ there has been growing tension throughout the GOP, and among some Democrats, over the vast sums of U.S. weaponry and money sent to Ukraine. ‘There will be issues over what the administration has asked for and what Congress ultimately gives,’ Turner told CBS. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un concluded his trip to Russia, boarding a specially equipped armored train to the fanfare of a military orchestra in the far-eastern city of Artyom on Sunday, Russian state news outlet RIA Novosti reported. Kim’s visit has drawn attention in Washington and beyond over a possible arms deal between Moscow and Pyongyang, as Russia seeks artillery for its waning stockpiles. In Russia, Kim viewed aviation equipment and missile systems in the city of Vladivostok, where he was met by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, state media outlet Tass reported. Over the weekend, the leader of North Korea attended ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ ballet on the Primorsky Stage of the Mariinsky Theatre. Kim also visited an aquarium, where he watched marine animals perform, Russian media reported. Kim was gifted five kamikaze drones, a reconnaissance drone and a bulletproof vest by the governor of the Primorsky region, which borders China and North Korea, Tass reported Sunday. Two merchant ships approached Ukrainian ports on Saturday, the first civilian vessels to travel through a temporary shipping corridor in the Black Sea since the collapse of a grain deal with Russia in July. Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the Palauan-flagged ships, Resilient Africa and Aroyat, are headed to Chornomorsk, where they will load nearly 20,000 tons of wheat for Africa and Asia. Jewish pilgrims gathered in central Ukraine to mark Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish new year, which began at sunset Friday and ended at sundown Sunday. More than 35,000 pilgrims — mostly from the United States, Israel and Europe — gathered in the city of Uman, which holds historical significance for the Hasidic community, according to the regional governor, Ihor Taburets. Ukrainian and Israeli police were patrolling the area, which was under air raid alerts Sunday morning. An apartment in occupied Crimea owned by Zelensky is among 100 properties on the peninsula that Russian authorities there plan to sell, according to an announcement Saturday by Volodymyr Konstantinov, the speaker of Crimea’s parliament. He wrote on Telegram that eight auctions had concluded, generating about $8.8 million. The other sales will take place soon, he added. Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014 from Ukraine. There will be no swift end to Russia’s war in Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told German media in an interview published Sunday.Most wars last longer than expected when they first begin,’ he told the Funke media group. ‘There is no doubt that Ukraine will eventually be in NATO,’ he said, adding, ‘We are all wishing for a quick peace.’ The war in Ukraine was a topic of conversation between national security adviser Jake Sullivan and China’s top diplomat, Wang Yiaccording to a U.S. readout of their Sunday conversation. ‘The two sides discussed key issues in the U.S.-China bilateral relationship, global and regional security issues, Russia’s war against Ukraine, and cross-Strait issues, among other topics,’ per the readout. Poland will ban Russian-registered cars from entering its borders starting Sunday, Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski announced. Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have imposed similar restrictions. An update to European Commission guidelines asked member states to stop Russian citizens from bringing cars and other goods into the European Union in an effort to prevent sanctions-dodging. Defense firms from 21 countries will participate in Ukraine’s Defense Industries Forum, Zelensky said in his nightly address Saturday. The event, which is set to take place this fall, is the first of its kind to be held in Ukraine, he said. ‘Our task is absolutely clear — to provide Ukraine with all the opportunities to produce weapons and ammunition, to provide modern technology to have reliable protection against any form of aggression,’ Zelensky said. Ukraine’s foreign minister previously said top defense industry firms in France and the Czech Republic have been invited to the forum. U.K. officials are supporting the family of a British man who reportedly died in Ukraine and are in contact with local authorities, a British Foreign Office spokesman told The Post. Daniel Burke, 36, a former British soldier, was reported missing by his family on Aug. 16 after traveling to the Ukrainian front to fight against Russian forces, according to BBC News. Burke’s family told the outlet that Ukrainian authorities recently recovered the former paratrooper’s body in the Zaporizhzhia region. The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said he was skeptical that any munitions North Korea might provide to Russia would be decisive in Moscow’s war against Ukraine. ‘Would it [make] a huge difference? I’m skeptical,’ Gen. Mark A. Milley said following Kim’s rare trip outside his nation to meet with President Vladimir Putin in Russia. ‘The impact, I wouldn’t want to downplay it too much, but … I doubt that it will be decisive,’ Milley told reporters traveling with him overseas.”

Trump says it was his decision to persist with 2020 election challenges, Reuters, Jason Lange, Sunday, 17 September 2023: “Former U.S. President Donald Trump said he dismissed the views of his own lawyers in continuing to challenge his 2020 defeat because he did not respect them, saying in an interview aired on Sunday that he had made up his own mind that the election had been ‘rigged’ – a false claim that he continues to make. Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination to take on Democratic President Joe Biden in the 2024 election, is now facing four concurrent criminal prosecutions, including two involving his attempts to overturn his 2020 loss to Biden. ‘It was my decision,’ Trump told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ program, that the election was ‘rigged’ against him, adding that he relied heavily upon his own ‘instincts’ in coming to that conclusion. Trump has continued to make false claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud.” See also, Trump says it was ‘my decision’ to try to overturn the 2020 election results, CNN Politics, Kate Sullivan, Sunday, 17 September 2023: “Former President Donald Trump said that he received counsel from numerous people shortly after the 2020 election but that it was his decision to push the false claim he won the presidency and try to overturn the results. ‘It was my decision, but I listened to some people,’ Trump told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ in an interview that aired Sunday…. A central premise of special counsel Jack Smith’s case, according to his indictment of the former president, is that Trump knew the election claims he was making were false after being told by close aides that he had lost but disseminated them anyway to make them appear legitimate – all in service of an alleged criminal conspiracy. ‘I was listening to different people, and when I added it all up, the election was rigged,’ Trump told Kristen Welker in the interview, again pushing the false claim as he seeks the 2024 Republican nomination for president. ‘You know who I listen to? Myself. I saw what happened,’ Trump said. The former president said he didn’t listen to his attorneys who told him he lost the election because he didn’t respect them.” See also, Trump Says He Hopes Mark Meadows Will Remain ‘Loyal’ to Him in Election Case. The former president, who has been warned against saying anything that could influence witnesses in his election interference case, made the statements during an interview on ‘Meet the Press.’ The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan, Sunday, 17 September 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump said he hoped Mark Meadows — his final White House chief of staff and a co-defendant in a sweeping racketeering indictment in Georgia stemming from efforts to thwart the 2020 election — was still ‘loyal’ to him. Mr. Trump made his comment during a lengthy interview with Kristen Welker, the new moderator of NBC’s ‘Meet The Press,’ broadcast on Sunday morning. Mr. Trump has been warned by the federal judge in a case also stemming from his efforts to stay in office, brought against him by the special counsel Jack Smith, to avoid saying anything that might affect the testimony of witnesses. His comment about Mr. Meadows could attract new interest.”

Trump Criticizes DeSantis on Abortion Ban: ‘A Terrible Mistake.’ The former president, while denouncing his chief rival for the Republican nomination, also largely evaded questions on the issue. The New York Times, Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman, Sunday, 17 September 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump, whose Supreme Court appointments led to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, harshly criticized his top rival in the Republican presidential primary, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, for a six-week abortion ban that he called a ‘terrible thing.’ Mr. Trump issued his broadside — which could turn off socially conservative Republican primary voters, especially in Iowa, where evangelicals are a crucial voting bloc — during an interview with the new host of NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ Kristen Welker, that was broadcast on Sunday morning. Asked whether Mr. DeSantis went too far by signing a six-week abortion ban, Mr. Trump replied: ‘I think what he did is a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.'” See also, Trump calls DeSantis abortion ban ‘a terrible mistake,’ sparking anger from some key Republicans, Associated Press, Sara Burnett, published on Monday, 18 September 2023: “Donald Trump is facing new blowback from anti-abortion activists for refusing to commit to national abortion restrictions and for calling Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing of a six-week ban on the procedure a ‘terrible mistake.’ Speaking Sunday on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ Trump repeatedly declined to say whether he would support a federal ban on abortion. He said he could ‘live with’ the procedure being banned by individual states or nationwide through federal action, though he said ‘from a legal standpoint, I think it’s probably better’ to be handled at the state level. Regarding the bill signed by DeSantis, which bans abortions before many women know they are pregnant, Trump said, ‘I think what he did is a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.'”


Monday, 18 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kyiv dismisses 7 top defense officials; Zelensky to address U.N. and Congress, The Washington Post, Jennifer Hassan, Lyric Li, and Sarah Dadouch, Monday, 18 September 2023: “Ukraine’s cabinet dismissed Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar from her post, along with six other top officials in the Defense Ministry, according to an update Monday shared on Telegram. The announcement comes after President Volodymyr Zelensky ousted defense chief Oleksii Reznikov this month, as the ministry grappled with corruption claims. Zelensky is expected to lobby for more support for Ukraine when he speaks at the U.N. General Assembly meetings that start Tuesday in New York. Maliar was dismissed two weeks after Zelensky announced that her former boss, Reznikov, was to be replaced. Five other deputy defense ministers were also ousted, along with State Secretary Kostyantyn Vashchenko. No reason was provided for the dismissals in the announcement. Zelensky is expected to hold meetings with other world leaders on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meetings this week before taking his message to Washington. He is tentatively expected to visit Capitol Hill on Thursday, The Washington Post reported. His visit was coordinated with the Biden administration in a push to get Congress to provide $24 billion in additional aid to Ukraine. A damaged drone carrying explosives was discovered in the Bulgarian Black Sea resort of Tyulenovo on Sunday, the government in Sofia said Monday. The weapon can ‘certainly be assumed’ to be related to the war in Ukraine, Bulgarian Defense Minister Todor Tagarev told reporters. According to the ministry, a specialist team was deployed to the scene on Monday and deactivated the device. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to extend an embargo on imports from countries that imposed sanctions on Russia, or that support such sanctions. A U.N. special rapporteur said in a report the human rights situation in Russia had ‘significantly deteriorated’ since the Ukraine invasion, with Moscow having ‘severely curtailed’ freedoms of association and peaceful assembly, both online and offline and undermined judicial independence. The report, presented by Special Rapporteur Mariana Katzarova to the U.N. Human Rights Council, documented legislative restrictions passed recently that are ‘being used to muzzle civil society and punish human rights activists and others for their antiwar stance.’ National security adviser Jake Sullivan discussed the war in Ukraine with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, according to U.S. and Chinese readouts of their Sunday conversation, which focused on bilateral relations and Taiwan, among other issues. Both readouts called the talks ‘candid, substantive, and constructive,’ though neither side revealed details. Wang will be in Moscow from Monday through Thursday to attend a strategic security meeting with top Russian officials, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman announced Monday. Chinese state media outlets say the meeting, held annually since 2005, serves to keep Beijing and Moscow aligned on core interests. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un returned to North Korea after concluding his six-day trip to Russia, the country’s state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported. Kim’s visit has drawn attention in Washington and beyond over a possible arms deal between Moscow and Pyongyang, as Russia seeks artillery for its waning stockpiles.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Overhauls Senior Ranks of Defense Ministry. All six of Ukraine’s deputy defense ministers were dismissed on Monday, a senior government official said, weeks after the defense minister was replaced. The New York Times, Monday, 18 September 2023:

  • Ukraine gave no reason for its latest defense ministry shake-up.

  • Bulgaria, a NATO member, says it found debris from a drone.

  • Russia’s position in the global arms market has slipped as the war drags on, researchers say.

  • White House meeting and Gershkovich appeal: What to watch for this week.

  • Ukraine says it has retaken Klishchiivka, a strategic village outside Bakhmut.

  • The war is background noise in Moscow, but it’s always present.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: China’s foreign minister visits Russia after Kim Jong Un’s trip, NPR, International Desk, Monday, 18 September 2023: “Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: The International Court of Justice in The Hague holds hearings this week on a case Ukraine filed alleging Russia abused international law in its claimed reasons for invading Ukraine in February 2022. Russia presents its arguments on Monday and Ukraine does on Tuesday. Analysts are watching for explanations around Ukraine’s dismissal of all six deputy defense ministers on Monday. The reshuffle comes weeks after the government fired its defense minister. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi begins a four-day trip to Russia Monday, which includes talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Starting Tuesday, the United Nations General Assembly convenes in New York. Opening day speakers are to include President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The Ukrainian leader is expected this week to meet with Biden as well as Pentagon officials and lawmakers. Russia’s foreign minister is due to speak at the UNGA on Saturday. On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council is scheduled to hold an open debate on Ukraine. On Thursday, the U.N. Human Rights Council discusses Russia in Geneva. What happened last week: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited Russia, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and vowed to fully support Moscow’s fight against ‘imperialism.’ Putin offered to help North Korea put a satellite into orbit. The United States and South Korea warned that the two leaders could be pursuing a weapons deal. The International Criminal Court opened an office in Kyiv, expected to increase efficiency in responding to reports of war crimes. Ukraine’s prosecutor general said it is the largest ICC office outside The Hague. The European Parliament adopted a resolution calling the Belarusian government an ‘accomplice’ in Russia’s war in Ukraine. The country, bordering both Russia and Ukraine, has allowed Russian military and mercenary forces to be stationed on its territory, which Russia used as a staging ground for its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The U.S. issued sanctions on more than 150 people and entities that officials said are benefiting from closeness to the Kremlin and its war. Ukraine took back eastern villages on Bakhmut’s southern flank, the nation’s military said. Recapturing the villages of Andriivka earlier in the week and Klishchiivka on Sunday — both destroyed by fighting — could allow Ukrainian forces to move farther into enemy lines around Bakhmut, an eastern city that fell to Russian forces in May after months of fighting. More than 2,000 people in different countries sent letters in support of Evan Gershkovich for the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana. The American Wall Street Journal reporter has been imprisoned in Russia since March.”

Trump accuses ‘liberal Jews’ of voting to ‘destroy America and Israel’ in Rosh Hashanah message. The post on Trump’s Truth Social account came on the weekend of the Jewish New Year. NBC News, Summer Concepcion, Monday, 18 September 2023: “Former President Donald Trump on Sunday night shared a post on his Truth Social platform that accused ‘liberal Jews’ of voting to ‘destroy’ America and Israel. ‘Just a quick reminder for liberal Jews who voted to destroy America & Israel because you believed in false narratives!’ said the post, which came on the weekend of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. ‘Let’s hope you learned from your mistake & make better choices moving forward!'”

Trump wrote to-do lists for assistant on White House documents marked classified. Molly Michael told investigators about the documents. ABC News, Katherine Faulders, Mike Levine, and Alexander Mallin, Monday, 18 September 2023: “One of former President Donald Trump’s long-time assistants told federal investigators that Trump repeatedly wrote to-do lists for her on documents from the White House that were marked classified, according to sources familiar with her statements. As described to ABC News, the aide, Molly Michael, told investigators that — more than once — she received requests or taskings from Trump that were written on the back of notecards, and she later recognized those notecards as sensitive White House materials — with visible classification markings — used to brief Trump while he was still in office about phone calls with foreign leaders or other international-related matters. The notecards with classification markings were at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate when FBI agents searched the property on Aug. 8, 2022 — but the materials were not taken by the FBI, according to sources familiar with what Michael told investigators. When Michael, who was not present for the search, returned to Mar-a-Lago the next day to clean up her office space, she found the documents underneath a drawer organizer and helped transfer them to the FBI that same day, sources told ABC News.”


Tuesday, 19 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: At U.N. General Assembly, Zelensky calls for complete Russian withdrawal, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Adela Suliman, Isabelle Khurshudyan, and Miriam Berger, Tuesday, 19 September 2023: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told fellow world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday that Ukraine would not settle for any peace plan that did not include Russia’s full withdrawal from Ukrainian territory. In an impassioned speech, Zelensky pushed for sustained backing for an embattled Ukraine, even as support for the war appears to be flagging in the United States and abroad. ‘Mass destruction is gaining momentum,’ Zelensky said. ‘The aggressor is weaponizing many other things, and those things are used not only against our country, but against all of yours as well, fellow leaders.’ President Bidenspeaking earlier Tuesday, also called on the assembly to continue to back Ukraine to ‘deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow. If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?’ Biden asked. ‘I’d respectfully suggest the answer is no.’ Biden and Zelensky must win the hearts and minds of developing nations that have increasingly called for a negotiated settlement with Russia because of the war’s toll on global food and energy prices. ‘If we abandon the core principles of the [U.N. Charter] to appease an aggressor, can any member state in this body feel confident that they are protected?’ Biden asked the assembly on Tuesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are not scheduled to attend the U.N. summit this week. Zelensky used his address to emphasize how the Kremlin’s invasion violates the United Nations’ principle of sovereignty of borders. His speech, which marked his first in-person visit to the United Nations since the invasion began, also aimed to promote Ukrainian food security, defense and recovery initiatives. ‘We see towns, we see villages in Ukraine, wiped out by Russian artillery, leveled to the ground completely,’ he said. ‘We see the war of drones. We know the possible effects of spreading the war into the cyberspace.’ Zelensky is expected to meet with Biden in Washington later this week, his foreign minister said. The pair will hold talks, and Zelensky will also meet with leaders of both chambers and parties in Congress, as well as other senior American officials, Kuleba said. Zelensky is also expected to take part in U.N. Security Council meetings and hold bilateral talks with other leaders, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told The Washington Post. A Moscow City Court on Tuesday rejected Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich’s appeal of his pretrial detention, according to the Russian news agency Interfax. U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne M. Tracy attended the hearing. Gershkovich was arrested in March and charged with espionage, allegations he strongly denies. The Journal petitioned the United Nations last week to declare Gershkovich arbitrarily detained and accused Russia of ‘holding him hostage’ as political leverage against the United States. Russia’s Foreign Ministry called for Baku and Yerevan to ‘to immediately cease hostilities’ after Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday launched what it called an ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region under Armenian control. Russia has leverage with parties to both sides of the conflict, but the renewed hostilities raise the risk of another regional war while the Kremlin is bogged down in Ukraine. Armenia heavily relies on Russia in security matters, though Russia has been mostly inactive in recent months as tensions rose after Azerbaijani forces blockaded the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, discussed Ukraine, among other topics, during a meeting in Moscow on Tuesday. They compared notes and ‘coordinated positions’ on where the two countries stand on regional and international issues of common concern, including Ukraine, according to a readout from China’s Foreign Ministry. Putin is set to travel to China in October to meet Xi for bilateral talks in Beijing during a forum for China’s ‘Belt and Road’ infrastructure initiative, Russian state media outlets reported Tuesday. Ukraine will file a complaint with the World Trade Organization against Poland, Slovakia and Hungary over bans on food imports from Ukraine, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said. He called the import bans a ‘violation of the norms’ of trade and said Kyiv would launch an ‘anti-discrimination investigation against the unfriendly actions of these countries in the trade sphere.’ He added that Ukraine could also impose similar bans on certain food items from those countries in retaliation.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: First Ukraine Grain Ship Arrives in Romanian Waters Via New Black Sea Route. Kyiv is testing out a new corridor for its exports of grain and other food crops that steers away from Russian naval threats. The New York Times, Tuesday, 19 September 2023:

  • The first grain ship to use a new Black Sea route leaves Ukrainian waters.

  • The arrival of the Abrams tanks will bring a powerful new weapon to the battlefield.

  • Zelensky says Russia has weaponized food, fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

  • In his U.N. speech, President Biden called for collective action on Ukraine and other major crises.

  • A Russian court keeps Evan Gershkovich in pretrial detention.

  • Russian attacks kill nine and destroy humanitarian aid, Ukrainian officials say.

  • Ukraine files a complaint to the World Trade Organization over grain bans.

Trump Is Said to Have Told Aide Molly Michael Not to Acknowledge She Knew of Documents. Michael, a former assistant to Donald Trump, told investigators he had instructed her not to tell them about classified files he kept at Mar-a-Lago: ‘You don’t know anything about the boxes.’ The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Alan Feuer, Tuesday, 19 September 2023: “A former assistant to Donald J. Trump has informed investigators that the former president told her to say she did not know anything about the boxes containing classified documents that he had stashed at his private club in Florida after leaving the White House, according to a person briefed on her comments. The assistant, Molly Michael, who worked for Mr. Trump in the area outside the Oval Office and then in his post-presidential office, told the investigators about Mr. Trump’s comments when she was interviewed as part of the inquiry into his handling of sensitive government documents. ‘You don’t know anything about the boxes,’ Mr. Trump told Ms. Michael when he learned that federal officials wanted to talk to her in the case. Her account was first reported by ABC News and was confirmed by the person briefed on her comments. Ms. Michael also told investigators that Mr. Trump would write notes to himself on documents that he gave her listing tasks he wanted done. She later realized that in some cases the documents had classified markings, the person briefed on her comments said. The specific nature of the documents in question remained unclear, the person said.”


Wednesday, 20 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky urges U.N. Security Council to broaden membership and eliminate Russian veto, The Washington Post, Wednesday, 20 September 2023: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke at a special U.N. Security Council session Wednesday on the war ravaging his country. He offered criticism of the United Nations’ ability to prevent conflict. ‘We should recognize that the U.N. finds itself in a deadlock on the matter of aggression,’ he said. ‘Humankind no longer pins its hopes on the U.N. when it comes to the defense of the sovereign border of nations.’ In his remarks Wednesday, Zelensky called on the U.N. General Assembly to remove Russia’s veto power on the Security Council, a reform that would cut to the bones of the institution. He said support for Ukraine amounted to support for the goals of the U.N. Charter, and he called on governments to back Kyiv’s 10-point peace plan, which Moscow has rejected. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was also scheduled to attend the meeting, Russian state media reported, setting up a potentially dramatic encounter between the pair — 19 months after Moscow launched its invasion. But he was not in the room when Zelensky spoke. Addressing fellow world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Zelensky reiterated his stance that Ukraine would not settle for any peace plan that did not include Russia’s full withdrawal from Ukrainian territory. Meanwhile, President Biden vowed sustained U.S. support for Kyiv. ‘Russia alone has the power to end this war immediately,’ he said. After New York, Zelensky is set to travel to Washington, where he is expected to meet with Biden. Zelensky will also meet with leaders of both chambers and parties in Congress, as well as other senior U.S. officials. In St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. In an increasingly multipolar world, Yi said Wednesday that Moscow and Beijing share special global responsibilities.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Grain Tensions Escalate Between Ukraine and Staunch Ally Poland. Both have taken retaliatory measures after Poland and two other Eastern European nations said they would defy an E.U. decision to end a ban on the import of Ukrainian grain. The dispute could threaten Europe’s cohesive support for Ukraine. The New York Times, Wednesday, 20 September 2023:

  • Poland says it summoned the Ukrainian ambassador after Zelensky’s earlier comments at the U.N. General Assembly.

  • Zelensky says U.N. is ineffective in stopping conflicts and calls for Russia to lose its Security Council veto.

  • The leaders of Ukraine and Brazil strike a friendly note in person.

  • Russia’s foreign minister again lays blame on the West for the Ukraine war.

  • Ukraine turns to private companies to help clear land mines, aiming to build a new industry.

  • South Africa will host a major U.S. trade conference after months of tensions over Ukraine.

Lawyers for Fake Trump Electors Hint at Defense Strategy in Georgia Case. The details came at a hearing on whether the three electors, co-defendants of Donald J. Trump in an election interference case, could have their cases moved to federal court. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Wednesday, 20 September 2023: “Lawyers for three Georgia Republicans charged in a racketeering indictment for casting false Electoral College votes for former President Donald J. Trump offered a glimpse of their defense strategy on Wednesday, telling a federal judge that they submitted the votes as part of their ‘duty’ under federal law. The three defendants — David Shafer, the former chairman of the Georgia Republican Party; Cathy Latham, a party activist from a rural part of the state; and State Senator Shawn Still — were among 16 Republicans recruited to cast electoral votes for Mr. Trump at the Georgia State Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020, the same day that the legitimate electors for President Biden met to cast their votes for him. The three are among 19 people, including Mr. Trump, who were charged last month in an indictment that sketches out a multifaceted scheme to illegally overturn the former president’s 2020 election loss in Georgia. Crucial to the plan, the indictment says, was an effort to recruit Trump loyalists to ‘convene and cast false Electoral College votes’ in Georgia.”

Nora Dannehy, former federal prosecutor who resigned from Trump-Russia origins investigation, says she left over concerns with then-Attorney General William Barr, Associated Press, Susan Haigh and Eric Tucker, Wednesday, 20 September 2023: “A former federal prosecutor who helped investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe said Wednesday she left the team because of concerns with then-Attorney General William Barr’s public comments about the case and because she strongly disagreed with a draft of an interim report he considered releasing before the election. ‘I simply couldn’t be part of it. So I resigned,’ Nora Dannehy told Connecticut state legislators during her confirmation hearing as a nominee to the state Supreme Court. It marked the first time Dannehy has spoken publicly about her sudden resignation from the probe overseen by former special counsel John Durham. Durham, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, was appointed in the spring of 2019 by Barr to investigate potential wrongdoing by government officials and others in the early days of the FBI probe into ties between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russia. Trump expected the investigation to expose what he and his supporters alleged was a ‘deep state’ conspiracy to undermine his campaign, but the slow pace of the probe – and the lack of blockbuster findings – contributed to a deep wedge between the president and Barr by the time the attorney general resigned in December 2020. The investigation concluded last May with underwhelming results: A single guilty plea from a little-known FBI lawyer, resulting in probation, and two acquittals at trial by juries.”


Thursday, 21 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Biden announces new aid package during Zelensky meeting, The Washington Post, Thursday, 21 September 2023: “After visits to the White House, the Pentagon and Congress, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ended his day in Washington with an emotional speech at the National Archive on Thursday evening, thanking Americans for supporting his country in its war with Russia. The speech came after President Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed Zelensky for the Ukrainian leader’s third visit to the White House. The Biden administration is seeking approval from Congress for an additional $24 billion in aid to Ukraine, but it announced that the United States would send ‘more artillery, more ammunition or antitank weapons’ to the country. And next week, the first U.S. Abrams tanks will be delivered to Ukraine.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky Thanks Americans in Emotional Speech to End Washington Visit. ‘There is not a soul in Ukraine that does not feel gratitude to you, America,’ the Ukrainian president said after a long day of lobbying Congress for more aid and a meeting with President Biden. The New York Times, Thursday, 21 September 2023: “President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine finished a long day of lobbying in Washington at the White House, where he met Thursday with President Biden after receiving a $325 million air-defense package, but appeared to have made little immediate progress in persuading House leadership to approve another $24 billion in military and humanitarian aid. Mr. Zelensky, accompanied by his wife, Olena Zelenska, capped off his visit with an emotional speech at the National Archive on Thursday evening, during which he and his wife thanked Americans for their support.”

Rupert Murdoch to Retire From Fox and News Corporation Boards. The move leaves his son Lachlan as the sole executive in charge of the global media empire. The New York Times, Jim Rutenberg, Thursday, 21 September 2023: “Rupert Murdoch is retiring from the Fox and News Corporation boards, the companies announced Thursday morning, making his son Lachlan the sole executive in charge of the powerful global media empire he built from a small local newspaper concern in Australia 70 years ago. The elder Mr. Murdoch will become chairman emeritus of the two businesses, the companies said. Mr. Murdoch, 92, had shown no intention of stepping down or even slowing down — including after he named Lachlan as the operating heir to his business empire in 2019, when he sold his vast entertainment holdings to the Walt Disney Company.” See also, Rupert Murdoch Turned Passion and Grievance Into Money and Power. The retiring Fox leader built a noise-and-propaganda machine by giving his people what they wanted–and sometimes by teaching them what to want. The New York Times, James Poniewozik, Thursday, 21 September 2023. See also, Rupert Murdoch’s reign at Fox News is over. The media tycoon wreaked untold havoc on American democracy and beyond. The Guardian, Margaret Sullivan, Thursday, 21 September 2023: “Rupert Murdoch … co-found[ed] Fox News with Roger Ailes in 1996. And these two princes of darkness would not only make billions in profit in the decades to come. They would wreak untold havoc on American democracy. They would plow the fields and plant the seeds that gave us Donald Trump, and all that has followed. ‘In Fox News, Murdoch created a uniquely destructive force in American democracy and public life, one that ushered in an era of division where racist and post-truth politics thrive,’ said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, reacting to Murdoch’s decision to step down from the Fox and Fox News boards and to be succeeded by his son Lachlan. I’ve been watching this damage unfold for many years, and often writing about it. At the Washington Post, where I was the media critic during the end of Trump’s 2016 campaign and during his entire presidential term, I wrote a piece once that my editor would later call ‘your Fox-is-the-actual-devil column.’ I was urging the news media and the public not to treat Fox as a normal news organization but to see it for what it was – a shameless propaganda outfit, reaping massive profits even as it attacked core democratic values such as tolerance, truth and fair elections. ‘Despite the skills of a few journalists who should have long ago left the network in protest,’ I wrote, ‘Fox has become an American plague.’ (Now, many of those journalists have left, including Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith.) Who could have reined in this destructive force? After Ailes’s death in 2017, only one person: Rupert Murdoch. But he didn’t.”


Friday, 22 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky visits Canada; Russia says missile attack hits Black Sea Fleet Crimea HQ, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Victoria Bisset, Natalia Abbakumova, Robyn Dixon, Miriam Berger, and Mikhail Klimentov, Friday, 22 September 2023: “After a whirlwind Thursday in Washington, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is in Canadawhere he delivered an address to Parliament, thanking the country’s people and leadership for their support, and accusing Russia of perpetrating a genocide in Ukraine. ‘Moscow now, as always, is bent on controlling Ukraine, and makes use of all available means to do that, including genocide,’ Zelensky said. ‘It is genocide what Russia occupiers are doing to Ukraine. … When we call on the world to support us, it is not just about an ordinary conflict. It is about saving lives of millions of people. Literally, physical salvation.’ The Ukrainian military said a missile strike Friday damaged the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Russian-occupied Crimea, the latest in a series of strikes on Russian military infrastructure throughout the peninsula. Geolocated video posted to social media on Friday, verified by Storyful and confirmed by The Washington Post, showed smoke rising from the Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters building. Russia had maintained the headquarters since the collapse of the Soviet Union under a lease agreement. Russian military personnel stationed there are believed to have participated in the invasion of Crimea in 2014. The Russian-installed governor Mikhail Razvozhayev wrote on Telegram that a piece of shrapnel fell near a theater, but he later said there was no further ‘missile and aviation danger in Sevastopol.’ The commander of Ukraine’s air force issued a statement that appeared to mock Russia’s claims that the missiles fired at the Sevastopol headquarters had been shot down. ‘All missiles were intercepted!’ Mykola Oleschuk wrote, with evident sarcasm. ‘I hope that next time Russian air defense will again not let us down.’ Russian news channels reported that six people were injured when a missile struck the Black Sea Fleet headquarters, though officials have not confirmed the number of wounded. Ukraine’s armed forces called it a ‘successful attack.’ ‘The Russian Black Sea fleet will be sliced up like a salami’ unless Russia retreats, wrote Oleksiy Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. Earlier Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry said a Ukrainian missile and two drones were destroyed off the Crimean coast. Before Zelensky’s address to Parliament, Trudeau framed the war in Ukraine as load-bearing for global democracy. ‘You and the Ukrainian people are holding the rules-based order in the balance,’ he said. ‘You are on the front lines, not just of the fight for Ukraine, but in the fight for the kind of future we are all going to be living in.’ Zelensky will spend Friday in Canada, Trudeau’s office said. After addressing Parliament, Trudeau and Zelensky ‘will then travel to Toronto, where they will meet with Canadian business leaders to strengthen private sector investment in Ukraine’s future.’ Canada has provided more than 8.9 billion Canadian dollars ($6.6 billion U.S.) since January 2022, in direct financial aid and military equipment, according to the office. During Zelensky’s D.C. visit on Thursday, the Biden administration announced a $325 million military aid package for Ukraine. In his nightly address, Zelensky thanked ‘both parties, both houses’ after his meeting with U.S. congressional leaders. Zelensky said he had ‘very frank, detailed conversations’ with U.S. lawmakers. He met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), whose party includes lawmakers who oppose additional aid to Kyiv. He also spoke to a large forum of senators to make his case for why U.S. lawmakers should approve the Biden administration’s request for an additional $24 billion aid package. The cluster-armed ATACMS that Washington is close to agreeing to provide to Kyiv could allow Ukraine to strike command posts, ammunition stores and logistics routes far behind Russian front lines and dug-in defenses. Ukraine, with backing from a number of U.S. lawmakers, has been asking since last year for ATACMS, which stands for Army Tactical Missile System. Washington has resisted providing them, in part over concerns about their range — 45 to 190 miles, depending on the version chosen. Poland threatened to stop sending more arms to Ukraine. Warsaw will fulfill only existing contracts, Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller said, citing Ukraine’s ‘totally unacceptable statements and public gestures.’ Polish President Andrzej Duda appeared to backtrack on the threat, saying it would still be possible for Warsaw to transfer weapons from its old army stocks ‘just as we have done before.’ Poland and Ukraine have been engaged in a trade feud over Ukrainian grain exports that have spilled into the markets of Central and Eastern Europe, as Russian warships maintain a blockade of many of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. The European Union has disbursed another 1.5 billion euros to Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted Friday. ‘Just this year, we paid €13.5 billion to help Ukraine keep hospitals, schools and other services running,’ she said. British police charged five Bulgarians with espionage, Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service reported. The individuals, who are between 29 and 45, are accused of conducting surveillance on targets, forging passports and identification cards, and passing information to Russian state security services from August 2020 to February of this year, the BBC reports. During Zelensky’s visit, Canada expanded sanctions on Russian entities including a number of universities, think tanks, publications and youth organizations.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky, in Ottawa, Thanks Canadian Lawmakers for Unwavering Support. The Ukrainian president received standing ovations during an address to a crucial ally’s Parliament after a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Now he’s headed to Toronto to talk with businesspeople. The New York Times, Friday, 22 September 2023:

  • In Canada, Zelensky warns cutting military aid would only lead to more Russian aggression.
  • A Ukrainian attack targets the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.
  • Cluster munitions, shunned by much of the world, remain on the list of U.S. military hardware going to Ukraine.
  • Zelensky predicts during U.S. visit that Ukraine will win back Bakhmut.
  • Ukrainian armored vehicles breach some Russian defenses, reflecting slight progress in a halting counteroffensive.
  • The U.S. is expanding F-16 patrols over Romania amid concerns about drone debris.
  • Here are some of the highlights of President Zelensky’s trip to the U.S.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Secretly Participated in Koch Network Donor Events. Thomas has attended at least two Koch donor summits, putting him in the extraordinary position of having helped a political network that has brought multiple cases before the Supreme Court. ProPublica, Joshua Kaplan, Justin Elliott, and Alex Mierjeski, Friday, 22 September 2023: “On Jan. 25, 2018, dozens of private jets descended on Palm Springs International Airport. Some of the richest people in the country were arriving for the annual winter donor summit of the Koch network, the political organization founded by libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch. A long weekend of strategizing, relaxation in the California sun and high-dollar fundraising lay ahead. Just after 6 p.m., a Gulfstream G200 jet touched down on the tarmac. One of the Koch network’s most powerful allies was on board: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. During the summit, the justice went to a private dinner for the network’s donors. Thomas has attended Koch donor events at least twice over the years, according to interviews with three former network employees and one major donor. The justice was brought in to speak, staffers said, in the hopes that such access would encourage donors to continue giving. That puts Thomas in the extraordinary position of having served as a fundraising draw for a network that has brought cases before the Supreme Court, including one of the most closely watched of the upcoming term.”

Jack Smith adds war crimes prosecutor–his deputy from the Hague–to special counsel team. The special counsel’s office is gearing up to put Donald Trump on trial in two criminal cases next year. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Friday, 22 September 2023: “Special counsel Jack Smith has added a veteran war crimes prosecutor — who served as Smith’s deputy during his stint at the Hague — to his team as it prepares to put former President Donald Trump on trial in Washington and Florida. Alex Whiting worked alongside Smith for three years, helping prosecute crimes against humanity that occurred in Kosovo in the late 1990s. The Yale-educated attorney also worked as a prosecutor with the International Criminal Court from 2010 to 2013. He has taught law classes at Harvard since 2007 as well, hired as an assistant professor by then-Dean Elena Kagan — now a Supreme Court justice — and rising to a visiting professorship in 2013.”


Saturday, 23 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine breaches Russian lines of defense near the southern village of Verbove; Kyiv’s special forces say senior Russian leaders killed in Black Sea strike, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Victoria Bisset, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Kamila Hrabchuk, Alex Hortoh, and Kim Bellware, Saturday, 23 September 2023: “Ukrainian armored vehicles have pushed through Russian lines of defense near the southern village of Verbove, a local commander told The Washington Post on Saturday. The small village in Zaporizhzhia has been the site of intense fighting in recent weeks, and is located a few miles from Robotyne, which Ukrainian forces recently liberated. Ukraine’s special forces claimed on Telegram early Saturday that its strike on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters in occupied Crimea had targeted a meeting of the fleet’s leadership, and killed and wounded dozens, including top officials. Russia confirmed damage to the building from Friday’s strike, but gave few details on casualties. Ukrainian armored vehicles had breached the ‘Surovikin line’ near Verbove, the commander said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss battlefield developments candidly. The ‘Surovikin line’ refers to three defensive belts with minefields and trenches, which Russia constructed to slow Ukraine’s counteroffensive. General Oleksandr Tarnavsky told CNN his troops had made a ‘breakthrough’ near Verbove, although progress was ‘not as fast as expected.’ Meanwhile, the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank, has described Ukraine’s ability to push through Russian defenses and operate armored vehicles ‘near prepared Russian defensive positions’ as ‘important signs of progress in the Ukrainian counteroffensive.’ The armored vehicles observed in the breach underscore the need for soldiers to retake territory on foot. Open source imagery of the operation shows U.S.-provided Strykers, which have limited protection against threats like tanks and anti-armor rockets, heading into the fight. Their biggest value is quickly reaching a position to drop off 11 soldiers at a time, which is a greater capacity than vehicles like Bradleys and Humvees provide. The imagery also shows vehicles like Western mine resistant vehicles, which offer protection for soldiers on their way to the fight, and German-made Marder vehicles, which use heavier weapons to destroy enemy vehicles and help defend friendly personnel carriers. Russian media reported that six people were injured in Friday’s strike on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Crimea, but officials have not confirmed the number. Initially, Russia’s Defense Ministry said one service member was killed but later issued a statement saying he was missing. Ukraine’s armed forces described it as a ‘successful attack.’ A geolocated video, verified by Storyful and confirmed by The Washington Post, showed smoke rising from the building in Sevastopol, a strategic target that was thought to be well-defended. The Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol acknowledged a second attack Saturday, saying Russian air defenses downed rockets fired on the peninsula. Saturday’s strike is the latest attack on Russian military infrastructure throughout the peninsula, which was illegally annexed in 2014. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Pyongyang in October, he told reporters after a U.N. speech Saturday. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited Russian President Vladimir Putin this month, signaling negotiations on military support. Lavrov will discuss the furtherance of those negotiations with his North Korean counterpart, Reuters reported. Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky gave state awards to two Polish nationals, TV journalist Bianka Zalewska and civilian medic Damian Duda, on Saturday. Zelensky’s gesture follows several days of tension with Warsaw after he angered its leaders with remarks to the U.N. General Assembly about countries that blocked grain imports. On Saturday, Zelensky shared a short video on X announcing the honors and said in an English translation, ‘I thank Poland for its invaluable support and solidarity that helps defend freedom of our entire Europe!’ Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he wanted ‘to tell President Zelensky to never insult Poles again,’ in an interview that Polish media published earlier, referring to Zelensky’s speech. Poland threatened to stop sending more arms to Ukraine as a result of the spat, though Polish President Andrzej Duda appeared to backtrack the threat. Ex-Wagner commander Andrey Medvedev was arrested in Norway on Saturday after police suspected him of trying to illegally cross back into Russia, Reuters reportsMedvedev fled to Norway in January to request asylum after reportedly witnessing the mercenary group’s fighters capturing and executing deserters. Brynjulf Risnes, Medvedev’s Norwegian lawyer, told Reuters that his client’s arrest was a ‘misunderstanding’ and that Medvedev wasn’t trying to flee. Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu will visit Kyiv to finalize discussions on Ukrainian grain imports, local media reported. A surge of Ukrainian grain in neighboring countries, as a result of war blockages in Black Sea ports, has driven down prices, angering local farmers and prompting the European Commission to temporarily ban Ukrainian grain imports in its five E.U. neighbors. The ban expired this month, causing Poland, Hungary and Slovakia to impose their own restrictions.”


Sunday, 24 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Lawyer says Washington Post contributor Vladimir Kara-Murza moved to ‘punishment cell’ in Siberian prison, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Jennifer Hassan, and Paulina Villegas, Sunday, 24 September 2023: “Vladimir Kara-Murza, a prominent Russian opposition figure and critic of the Kremlin who has been imprisoned for speaking out against the war on Ukraine, has been transferred to a maximum-security prison in Siberia, his lawyer said Sunday. Kara-Murza, a Washington Post opinions contributor, was convicted of treason and sentenced to 25 years in prison in April after publicly denouncing Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. The U.S. State Department has said he is being held unjustly on politically motivated charges. Kara-Murza has been placed in a tiny ‘punishment cell’ in a maximum-security facility in Omsk after being transferred from a detention center in Moscow, his lawyer Vadim Prokhorov said in a Facebook post. According to Kara-Murza’s Washington Post author page, the politician, historian and author has led diplomatic efforts to denounce Russia’s human rights abuses and contributed to the adoption of targeted sanctions on Russian human rights violators in the United States. Kara-Murza has been poisoned twice, in 2015 and 2017, in attacks that his family and lawyers believe were retaliation for his political activity against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime. The 2017 attack left him temporarily comatose, and as a result of the poisonings, he developed a rare disease called polyneuropathy, a condition in which peripheral nerves are damaged. Since he was detained, his health has deteriorated and it has been extremely difficult to treat the disease, making his imprisonment ‘a death penalty,’ Prokhorov, his lawyer, previously told The Post. Canada will provide Ukraine with defense support worth $482 million over the next three years, which will fund armored medevac vehicles that ‘are very much needed at the front,’ President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday. Zelensky met with Canadian leaders after his visit to Washington on Thursday. Canada will also provide funding for a museum to recognize the Holodomor in Ukraine, Zelensky said in his nightly address, which will be a memorial to the victims of the famine of 1932–1933 under Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Zelensky on Sunday lauded what he called a ‘historic decision’ by the United States to jointly produce weapons and defense systems, especial air defenses to fend off aerial attacks on Ukrainian cities. The plans will also help Ukraine’s economy, Zelensky said in his nightly address, by creating jobs and new businesses for both nations. Ukraine waged another attack in Sevastopol on the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula over the weekend, according to a Kremlin-installed official, one day after a Ukrainian strike on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Russian air defenses intercepted missiles headed toward Sevastopol, the largest city on the peninsula, Gov. Mikhail Razvozhayev wrote Saturday on Telegram. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with U.S. business leaders to discuss private-sector investment in Ukrainehe said Sunday. While on his trip to the United States, Zelensky said, he met with Mike Bloomberg, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink. According to Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Zelensky discussed the ways in which large American businesses could contribute to Ukraine’s reconstruction after the war. The internet is being censored in Ukraine’s occupied Donetsk region after a decree from its Russian-backed leader, according to an exiled Ukrainian official. Petro Andrushchenko, an adviser to Mariupol’s Ukrainian mayor, said Sunday that the Kremlin’s spy agency has control of web traffic in the eastern region and that a Monday-through-Friday curfew has been reinstated and demonstrations must be approved by Russian-backed authorities. Latvia, a NATO member, has lost contact with one of its unmanned aerial vehicles used for surveillance along the Latvian-Russian border and warned it is likely the aircraft landed on Russian territory, the Defense Ministry said Sunday. Throughout the war in Ukraine, allegations that war materiel has crossed borders have periodically been raised by various countries, including NATO members, sometimes raising fears of spillover and saber-rattling. Since the Ukraine invasion, Latvia has increased surveillance of its airspace, land and territorial waters, the ministry said. Russian consumers are probably experiencing localized diesel and gas shortages, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Sunday, noting how Moscow had suspended almost all fuel exports last week. ‘The shortages are unlikely to be a direct result of the war,’ officials said, suggesting that there were probably multiple causes, including seasonal maintenance of refineries and an increase in demand from the agriculture sector. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indicated little hope of resuming a Black Sea grain deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations to export grain by sea from Ukraine. After a speech at the United Nations, he described proposals to revive the deal, which Russia pulled out of this summer, as ‘not realistic.’ Lavrov also said he will visit Pyongyang in October. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a rare summit this month in Russia’s Far East, signaling that they will support each other in the face of broad condemnation from the West over their military and nuclear activities. In his speech Saturday, Lavrov criticized the United States and the West, accusing Washington of ‘whipping up hysteria on the Korean Peninsula.’ Australia is calling for changes to the U.N. Security Council to make it more representative and to constrain veto powers. Russia, as one of five permanent members with veto power, ‘mocks the United Nations every day it continues its illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine,’ Foreign Minister Penny Wong said. Canberra wants more representation for Africa, Latin America and Asia, and permanent seats for India and Japan.”


Monday, 25 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: First U.S.- supplied M1 Abrams tanks arrive in Ukraine, The Washington Post, Alex Horton, Jennifer Hassan, Rachel Pannett, and Adam Taylor, Monday, 25 September 2023: “The first batch of U.S.-provided M1 Abrams tanks has arrived in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday — nine months after President Biden reversed course by committing to send 31 of the advanced battle tanks. U.S. military officials have said the deliveries would be gradual but that they expected them all to arrive in the coming weeks. “I am grateful to the allies for fulfilling the agreements,’ Zelensky said, hailing the tanks’ arrival. In March, the Pentagon said it would send the tanks by the fall, after facing scrutiny for initially saying it could take a year or two to get the weapons to the battlefield. Less than half the total number of expected M1 Abrams tanks have arrived so far, a senior Ukrainian military official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive military preparations. Russian forces launched an aerial attack on the Black Sea port of Odessa early Monday, Ukraine’s air force and local officials said. Drones and missiles destroyed granaries and ‘significantly damaged’ the city’s port, according to Ukraine’s southern command. The barrage came after Ukraine struck the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea. Russia stepped up attacks on Odessa’s port infrastructure after pulling out of a United Nations-brokered grain deal in July. The deal had allowed Ukraine to safely export agricultural goods across the Black Sea. The Odessa attack was launched from the sea, using a surface missile carrier and a submarine, Ukrainian military officials said. At least two people died, governor Oleh Kiper said. Most of the missiles and drones were shot down by Ukrainian air defenses, but the port took a hit, and a fire broke out in a hotel that hasn’t been used in years, officials wrote on Telegram. Canada’s House of Commons speaker apologized after praising a 98-year-old Ukrainian man who had served in a notorious Nazi military unit during World War II. Speaker Anthony Rota introduced Yaroslav Hunka following Zelensky’s address to Parliament on Friday, calling him a ‘Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero.’ Jewish groups condemned the honor. A prominent Russian opposition figure has been transferred to a maximum-security prison in Siberia, his attorney said Sunday. Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Washington Post opinions contributor, was convicted of treason and sentenced to 25 years in prison in April after publicly denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Some Ukrainian citizens were tortured to death under Russian occupation, a U.N. panel announced Monday. ‘In some cases, torture was inflicted with such brutality that it caused the death of the victims,’ Erik Mose, chairman of the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva as his team presented its latest findings. Mose, a Norwegian judge with experience in international human rights, also said that Russian soldiers ‘raped and committed sexual violence against women of ages ranging from 19 to 83 years’ in Kherson, with family members often kept next door to hear the abuses. Russia did not respond to the commission’s requests for communication, Mose added. A bipartisan group of senators who visited Ukraine recently said there is no evidence that weapons provided by Washington are making their way onto the black market. ‘We’re monitoring. We’re following every piece of equipment. There has been no diversion. No evidence of misappropriation,’ Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in an interview with CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ that aired Sunday. The Biden administration is seeking approval from Congress for an additional $24 billion in aid to Ukraine but faces resistance from some Republicans who have taken issue with the vast sums of weaponry and money being provided. The United States has offered a $2 billion loan to Poland to help with its defense modernization, the State Department said in a statement Monday. ‘Poland is a stalwart U.S. Ally, and Poland’s security is vital to the collective defense of NATO’s Eastern Flank,’ the statement said. ‘In addition to its central support role in facilitating international assistance to neighboring Ukraine, Poland has demonstrated its ironclad commitment to strengthening regional security through its robust investments in defense spending.’ The announcement comes after some Polish officials, expressing anger over cheap imports of Ukrainian grain that had flooded Europe, said Poland would stop sending arms to Ukraine. Canada will provide Ukraine with defense support worth $482 million over the next three years, which will fund armored medevac vehicles that ‘are very much needed at the front,’ Zelensky said in his Sunday night address. Zelensky met with Canadian leaders after his visit to Washington on Thursday. Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs added the president of the International Criminal Court to its wanted list on Monday. The Ministry did not publicly specify the charges against Piotr Hofmanski, the Polish lawyer who was elected the court’s president in 2021. The ICC previously issued a warrant for Putin, accusing him of unlawful deportation of children from Ukraine. Finland’s top diplomat said aiding Ukraine is ‘not charity.’ In an interview with The Post’s Ishaan Tharoor, Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen said ‘it feels good’ to be a fully fledged member of NATO now. She also spoke about the dawning realization that ‘this is not just Putin’s war’ — but one that the ‘machinery’ of Russia has been gearing up to wage for ‘a very long time.'”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine’s Military Claims to Have Killed the Head of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Ukraine’s special forces said new information revealed that an attack last week in Crimea killed the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, a claim that could not be verified. The New York Times, Monday, 25 September 2023:

  • Ukraine claims that last Friday’s attack in Sevastopol killed more than 30 Russian officers.

  • Ukrainian strikes on occupied Crimea aim to weaken Russia’s control of the region, experts say.

  • Russian forces tortured some Ukrainians to death, U.N. investigators say.

  • Two people are killed in an attack on Odesa’s port, officials say.

  • The first U.S.-made Abrams tanks have arrived in Ukraine, Zelensky says.

  • Canada’s speaker apologizes after a Ukrainian who fought for the Nazis was honored in Parliament.

Former President Donald Trump and Republican Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona suggested that outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley is a traitor who deserves to be executed, CNBC, Amanda Macias, Monday, 25 September 2023: “Trump blasted Milley, an Army general, in a social media post Friday that accused Milley of going behind his back by making phone calls to Chinese counterparts in the final months of Trump’s administration. ‘If the Fake News reporting is correct, [Milley] was actually dealing with China to give them a heads up on the thinking of the President of the United States,’ Trump wrote in the post on his Truth Social site. ‘This is an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been death! A war between China and the United States could have been the result of this treasonous act,’ wrote Trump, who by a wide margin is leading in polls of 2024 GOP presidential nomination contenders. Milley in September 2021 told Congress he had made it clear to Chinese officials that Trump was not planning to attack China in his final weeks as president. ‘My task at that time was to de-escalate,’ Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee. ‘My message again was consistent: Stay calm, steady, and de-escalate. We are not going to attack you.'”

Former President Trump pledged to investigate Comcast, the parent company for NBC and MSNBC, if he is elected in 2024, saying it ‘will be thoroughly scrutinized for their knowingly dishonest and corrupt coverage of people, things, and events.’ The Hill, Rachel Scully, Monday, 25 September 2023: ‘They are almost all dishonest and corrupt, but Comcast, with its one-side and vicious coverage by NBC NEWS, and in particular MSNBC, often and correctly referred to as MSDNC (Democrat National Committee!), should be investigated for its Country Threatening Treason,’ Trump wrote in a Truth Social post Sunday. ‘I say up front, openly, and proudly, that when I WIN the Presidency of the United States, they and others of the LameStream Media will be thoroughly scrutinized for their knowingly dishonest and corrupt coverage of people, things, and events,’ the former President wrote. Trump also rehashed a phrase he has often used for news media in the past, calling it the ‘enemy of the people.’ ‘The Fake News Media should pay a big price for what they have done to our once great Country!’ Trump added.” See also, Donald Trump said Comcast, the owner of NBC and MSNBC, ‘should be investigated for its Country Threatening Treason’ and promised to do so should he be re-elected president next year, The Guardian, Martin Pengelly, Monday, 25 September 2023: “In response, one progressive group said the former US president and current overwhelming frontrunner in the Republican 2024 presidential nomination race had ‘gone full fascist.’ The Biden White House said Trump threatened ‘an outrageous attack on our democracy and the rule of law.’ The US media was ‘almost all dishonest and corrupt,’ Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform on Sunday, ‘but Comcast, with its one-side and vicious coverage by NBC News, and in particular MSNBC … should be investigated for its Country Threatening Treason.’ Listing familiar complaints about coverage of his presidency – during which he regularly threatened NBC, MSNBC and Comcast – Trump added: ‘I say up front, openly, and proudly, that when I win the presidency of the United States, they and others of the lamestream media will be thoroughly scrutinized for their knowingly dishonest and corrupt coverage of people, things, and events.’ Trump also used familiar terms of abuse for the press: ‘the enemy of the people’ and ‘the fake news media.’ Observers reacted to Trump’s threat to NBC, MSNBC and Comcast with a mixture of familiarity and alarm. In a statement, Andrew Bates, White House deputy press secretary, said: ‘President Biden swore an oath to uphold our constitution and protect American democracy. Freedom of the press is a fundamental constitutional right. To abuse presidential power and violate the constitutional rights of reporters would be an outrageous attack on our democracy and the rule of law. Presidents must always defend Americans’ freedoms – never trample on them for selfish, small and dangerous political purposes.’ Elsewhere, Paul Farhi, media reporter for the Washington Post, pointed to Trump’s symbiotic relationship with outlets he professes to hate, given that only last week Trump was ‘the featured interview guest last week on Meet the Press, the signature Sunday morning news program on … NBC.'”


Tuesday, 26 September 2023:


New York Judge Rules Trump Committed Fraud and Stripped Trump of Control Over Some of His Signature New York Properties. The decision in a lawsuit that could go to trial next week is a major win for Attorney General Letitia James, who says former President Donald Trump overvalued his holdings by as much as $2.2 billion. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich and Ben Protess, Tuesday, 27 September 2023: “A New York judge ruled on Tuesday that Donald J. Trump persistently committed fraud by inflating the value of his assets, and stripped the former president of control over some of his signature New York properties. The surprising decision by Justice Arthur F. Engoron is a major victory for Attorney General Letitia James in her lawsuit against Mr. Trump, effectively deciding that no trial was needed to determine that he had fraudulently secured favorable terms on loans and insurance deals. Ms. James has argued that Mr. Trump inflated the value of his properties by as much as $2.2 billion and is seeking a penalty of about $250 million in a trial scheduled to begin as early as Monday. Justice Engoron wrote that the annual financial statements that Mr. Trump submitted to banks and insurance companies ‘clearly contain fraudulent valuations that defendants used in business.’ Ms. James, in a brief statement, said, ‘We look forward to presenting the rest of our case at trial.'” See also, Judge rules Donald Trump defrauded banks and insurers while building his real estate empire, Associated Press, Michael R. Sisak, Tuesday, 26 September 2023: “A judge ruled Tuesday that Donald Trump committed fraud for years while building the real estate empire that catapulted him to fame and the White House, and he ordered some of the former president’s companies removed from his control and dissolved. Judge Arthur Engoron, ruling in a civil lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, found that Trump and his company deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing loans. Engoron ordered that some of Trump’s business licenses be rescinded as punishment, making it difficult or impossible for them to do business in New York, and said he would continue to have an independent monitor oversee Trump Organization operations. If not successfully appealed, the order would strip Trump of his authority to make strategic and financial decisions over some of his key properties in the state.” See also, New York judge finds Trump committed fraud and sanctions his attorneys, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Tuesday, 26 September 2023: “A judge overseeing a $250 million lawsuit against Donald Trump ruled the former president and his company committed fraud by inflating his net worth in business transactions, narrowing the scope of what the state’s attorney general must prove at an upcoming civil trial. New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron also ordered the cancellation of Trump business certificates and imposed sanctions on attorneys representing him, two of his adult children, two other company executives and the business for repeating arguments that failed multiple times previously and were called ‘borderline frivolous.’ The judge’s ruling represents a significant setback for Trump by revoking his company’s authority to do business in New York, where the Trump Organization is headquartered and where Trump has major real estate interests. It also represents a victory for Attorney General Letitia James (D), who had asked that Engoron simplify the upcoming trial by deciding in advance that fraud was broadly committed so the state would need to prove only specific illegal acts. Trump and his attorneys have denied any wrongdoing. Trump spokeswoman Alina Habba said the judge’s ruling Tuesday would be appealed.” See also, Ruling against Trump Cuts to the Heart of His Identity. The finding by a judge in a New York civil case that Donald Trump committed fraud in valuing his real estate properties undermined the narrative of the business career that launched him in politics. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Alan Feuer, published on Wednesday, 27 September 2023: “Nearly every aspect of Donald J. Trump’s life and career has been under scrutiny from the justice system over the past several years, leaving him under criminal indictment in four jurisdictions and being held to account in a civil case for what a jury found to be sexual abuse that he committed decades ago. But a ruling on Tuesday by a New York State judge that Mr. Trump had committed fraud by inflating the value of his real estate holdings went to the heart of the identity that made him a national figure and launched his political career. By effectively branding him a cheat, the decision in the civil proceeding by Justice Arthur F. Engoron undermined Mr. Trump’s relentlessly promoted narrative of himself as a master of the business world, the persona that he used to enmesh himself in the fabric of popular culture and that eventually gave him the stature and resources to reach the White House.” See also, Six Takeaways From a New York Judge’s Ruling Against Donald Trump. Justice Arthur f. Engoron’s finding that the former president committed fraud has major implications for his businesses. But Mr. Trump still has cards left to play. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich and Ben Protess, published on Wednesday, 27 September 2023

Trump’s lawyers urge judge to reject proposed gag order in federal election case. Prosecutors have asked Judge Tanya Chutkan to order Trump to stop attacking potential witnesses. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Tuesday, 26 September 2023: “Donald Trump’s lawyers said Monday that a gag order proposed by prosecutors would unconstitutionally silence him during key months of the 2024 presidential campaign, urging a federal judge in Washington, D.C. to reject the proposed limits. In a 25-page filing that mirrored some of Trump’s own heated political rhetoric, Trump’s attorneys said the former president’s attacks on potential witnesses, special counsel Jack Smith and even U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan herself are protected by the First Amendment and were not actual threats or incitement of attacks. ‘The prosecution may not like President Trump’s entirely valid criticisms,’ attorneys Gregory Singer, John Lauro and Todd Blanche wrote in the late-night filing, ‘but neither it nor this court are the filter for what the public may hear.’ Smith’s team sought the gag order earlier this month, citing Trump’s recent inflammatory attacks on potential witnesses in his upcoming trial on charges related to his bid to subvert the 2020 election. They also cited his attacks on prosecutors and Chutkan, as well as on figures like Mike Pence, who is expected to be a key witness in the case. Prosecutors want Chutkan to order Trump to refrain from further attacks or risk punishment. They are expected to reply to Trump’s filing later this week.” See also, Trump fights Jack Smith request for narrow gag order in January 6 case. Prosecutors asked a judge to bar the former president’s ‘inflammatory’ attacks on case participants, citing a threat of violence and intimidation of jurors and others. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Amy Gardner, Tuesday, 26 September 2023: “Attorneys for former president Donald Trump on Monday blasted U.S. prosecutors’ request for a narrow gag order that would bar him from attacking participants in the criminal case charging him with conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election, claiming he must be free to campaign for the Republican nomination in 2024. After the government request was made public Sept. 15, Trump called special counsel Jack Smith ‘a deranged person’ who ‘wants to take away my rights under the First Amendment.’ His attorneys struck a similar if more restrained tone in a 25-page court filing in Washington, D.C., saying it is prosecutors who are using ‘inflammatory rhetoric’ against Trump, and the Biden administration that is trying to ‘silence its most prominent political opponent.'”

Supreme Court Declines to Revisit Alabama Voting Map Dispute. For the second time in recent months, the Supreme Court ruled against Alabama lawmakers and their proposed congressional district map. The New York Times, Abbie VanSickle, Tuesday, 26 September 2023: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused Alabama’s request to reinstate a congressional map drawn by Republican lawmakers that had only one majority-Black district, paving the way for a new map to be put in place before the 2024 election. Alabama’s request to keep its map was the second time in under a year that it had asked the Supreme Court to affirm a limited role of race in establishing voting districts for federal elections, in what amounted to a defiant repudiation of lower-court rulings. In the latest twist in the case, the lower court had found that the state had brazenly flouted its directive to create a second majority-Black district or something ‘close to it.'” See also, Supreme Court won’t let Alabama use disputed House map for 2024, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Tuesday, 26 September 2023: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused Alabama’s attempt to hold 2024 elections under a new congressional map judged to be an unlawful attempt to diminish the power of the state’s Black voters. It was the second time in four months that the high court has sided with a three-judge panel that found that Alabama’s legislature probably violated the Voting Rights Act by failing to create a second congressional district where minority voters have a large enough share of the electorate to elect their candidate of choice. The state has seven districts, and its voting population is about 27 percent Black.” See also, Supreme Court rejects Alabama Republican redistricting appeal, clearing the way for a Democratic pickup. A federal court will choose a map that will likely result in an additional Black member of Congress. Politico, Kierra Frazier and Zach Montellaro, Tuesday, 26 September 2023: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday handed down a win to Democrats by rejecting Alabama’s request to use a congressional map drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature. Instead, the Supreme Court declined to touch a lower court’s ruling overturning that map for likely violating the Voting Rights Act. The court-driven mapmaking process happening now will likely result in Alabama adding an additional Black — and Democratic — member of Congress.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia criticizes delivery of U.S.-made M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Adela Suliman, Kostiantyn Khudov, Natalia Abbakumova, and Adam Taylor, Tuesday, 26 September 2023: “Russia has denounced the arrival in Ukraine of the first batch of U.S.-made M1 Abrams tanks. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday the delivery would ‘in no way’ affect the outcome of the war. ‘There is no panacea and one kind of weapon that can change the balance of forces on the battlefield. There is no such weapon,’ he told reporters. He acknowledged that ‘Abrams tanks are serious weapons’ but asserted that they, too, would ‘burn’ as other weapons have done. ‘The Americans continue to increase their indirect involvement in this conflict,’ he said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that the first M1 Abrams tanks are ‘already in Ukraine.’ The tanks will ‘reinforce our actions against the occupiers. And it will be a significant reinforcement,’ he said late Monday in his nightly address. President Biden committed in January to sending 31 of the advanced battle tanks. U.S. military officials have said the deliveries will be gradual, but they expect them all to arrive in the coming weeks. Ukraine said it killed Adm. Viktor Sokolov, the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, in an attack on the Fleet’s headquarters in Sevastopol last week. In refutation of that claim, Russia’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday released footage that appeared to show Sokolov alive, attending by video link a meeting chaired by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. The Washington Post did not detect any signs of obvious manipulation in the video but could not independently verify its authenticity. The speaker of Canada’s House of Commons, Anthony Rota, resigned Tuesday after he honored a Ukrainian veteran who fought in a Nazi unit in Parliament last week. Calls for Rota’s resignation had piled up since he invited 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka to President Zelensky’s address to Parliament on Friday. Zelensky is Jewish, and has relatives who were killed by the Nazis. Rota called Hunka a ‘hero,’ but over the weekend, several Jewish groups pointed out that Hunka had been a member of a Waffen-SS unit made up of ethnic Ukrainians. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the incident ‘deeply embarrassing.’ At least 504 children have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began, according to data from Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office released Tuesday. It added that more than 1,125 children have been injured to ‘various degrees of severity’ since the war started in February 2022. The United Nations has confirmed that at least 9,614 civilians have been killed since the war began, with the toll incomplete and likely to be much higher. Children and young people have been affected by the war as schools and educational facilities closed or were damaged. Many are displaced with their family members because of the fighting. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has suffered ‘damaging’ and ‘coordinated’ attacks in recent weeks, according to Britain’s Defense Ministry. ‘A dynamic, deep strike battle is underway in the Black Sea,’ it said, forcing Russia into a ‘reactive posture’ and demonstrating Ukraine’s ability to undermine the Kremlin. However, the physical damage to the fleet will not diminish Moscow’s ability to fulfill ‘its core wartime missions of cruise missile strikes and local security patrols,’ the ministry added, although it’s ‘likely that its ability to continue wider regional security patrols and enforce its de facto blockade of Ukrainian ports will be diminished.’ The United States offered a $2 billion loan to Poland to help modernize its military, the State Department said. ‘Poland is a stalwart U.S. Ally, and Poland’s security is vital to the collective defense of NATO’s Eastern Flank,’ it said in a statement. The announcement comes after some Polish officials expressed anger over cheap imports of Ukrainian grain flooding European markets, prompting them to threaten to stop sending arms to Ukraine. Russia is seeking to rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council, the BBC reported. The broadcaster said it obtained a copy of a Russian position paper circulating among U.N. members asking for their support. Russia was expelled from the human rights body shortly after it invaded Ukraine. Now, Russian diplomats are seeking reelection to the body for a three-year term, the BBC reported. Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs added the president of the International Criminal Court to its wanted list. The ministry did not publicly specify the charges against Piotr Hofmanski, the Polish lawyer who was elected as the court’s president in 2021. In March, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of the unlawful transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia, a war crime. One year since underwater explosions damaged the Nord Stream pipelines, official investigations in three countries have yielded few answers, and the question of who was behind the blasts endures. The attack on two pipelines that were built to carry natural gas from Russia to Europe inflamed geopolitical tensions that were already heightened by the invasion of Ukraine. Western officials quickly denounced the attack as a brazen and dangerous act of sabotage, but Russia has also pointed the finger at Ukraine and its Western allies. Here’s what we know a year on.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Acknowledges Doubt After Russia Shows Video of Naval commander ‘Allegedly Alive.’ A day after Ukraine claimed to have killed the commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, Russian state media broadcast footage of the admiral, Viktor Sokolov, in a meeting of defense officials. The New York Times, Tuesday, 26 September 2023:

  • Ukraine says it is ‘clarifying’ the results of a strike last week on a Russian naval headquarters.
  • Canada’s speaker of the House of Commons quits after honoring a Ukrainian who fought for the Nazis.
  • Disinformation is a weapon regularly deployed in Russia’s war in Ukraine.
  • Erdogan says Turkey’s parliament will ratify Sweden’s entry into NATO if the U.S. sells Turkey fighter jets.
  • The White House urges Ukraine to take actions to fight waste and corruption.
  • A Russian strike in the Odesa region hits port infrastructure.
  • Russian forces tortured some Ukrainians to death, U.N. investigators say.
  • The U.S. is sending depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine. What does that mean?


Wednesday, 27 September 2023:


Russian invasion of Ukraine: Russia releases more video of Black Sea Fleet commander, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Adela Suliman, Natalia Abbakumova, and Miriam Berger, Wednesday, 27 September 2023: “Russia on Wednesday published more video of Adm. Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, in efforts to counter Kyiv’s claims that he died in a Ukrainian strike on the fleet’s headquarters in occupied Crimea last week. Russia’s state-run defense TV channel, a local TV channel and pro-Russian Telegram channels released video of Sokolov speaking — but it is not clear when the footage was filmed. Ukraine’s special operations forces said Tuesday that it was ‘clarifying the information’ regarding Sokolov’s status. Sokolov would be the highest-ranking official killed by Ukraine since the war began. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Wednesday accused the West of aiding Ukraine on Friday’s attack on the fleet headquarters. ‘Western intelligence, [meaning] NATO satellite assets and reconnaissance planes,’ as well as ‘advice of American and British security agencies,’ had aided Ukraine in planning and carrying out the attack, she saidFriday’s strike on Sevastopol was an embarrassing failure for Russian air defenses and could disrupt the fleet’s operations. Russian state-run defense TV channel Zvezda News published video Wednesday that showed Sokolov speaking to reporters. ‘Surface forces, submarine forces, naval aviation and coastal troops are successfully fulfilling their tasks,’ Sokolov said. However, the date the video was filmed remains unclear — in the clip, Sokolov describes an award issued to his unit by Russian President Vladimir Putin in August. Pro-Russian telegram channels in Sevastopol published video of Sokolov giving awards to a soccer team that won a tournament on Sept. 18. A Sevastopol local TV channel also aired footage that appeared to be from the same competition. ‘Nothing has happened; life goes on,’ Sokolov says in the video. ‘The Black Sea Fleet fulfills the tasks set by the command confidently and successfully.’ The date of these videos remains unclear. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that Sokolov had attended a defense meeting this week, but directed further queries to the Defense Ministry. Russia’s Defense Ministry had released a video on Tuesday purporting to show Sokolov attending a meeting via video link. In the video, Sokolov briefly appears on screen, but does not speak. The Washington Post did not detect any signs of obvious manipulation in the video but could not independently confirm its authenticity. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment Tuesday on whether Sokolov was alive. She told reporters that the White House was aware of the meeting video released earlier by Russia’s Defense Ministry but that she did not ‘have anything to confirm at this time.’ Ukraine’s special operations forces said that since Russia had been ‘urgently forced to publish an answer with an apparently alive Sokolov … our units are clarifying the information.’ A Polish cabinet minister called for a probe into the possible extradition from Canada of a 98-year-old Ukrainian veteran, Yaroslav Hunka, who fought in a Nazi unit during World War II. Anthony Rota, the speaker of Canada’s House of Commons, resigned Tuesday after he sparked widespread backlash for hosting Hunka at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s address before Canada’s Parliament last week. Polish Education Minister Przemyslaw Czarnek on Wednesday called the event ‘scandalous’ and said he would take steps to extradite Hunka to Poland to face legal proceedings. In 2018, Poland passed a law criminalizing mention of Polish complicity in Nazi atrocities, although Warsaw largely walked back the law after an international outcry. The Ukrainian soccer federation said it would boycott any youth tournaments with Russian players after Europe’s governing soccer body, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), on Tuesday said it would readmit Russians younger than 17 in the upcoming season. The UEFA banned Russian national and club teams after the war began, and this week’s announcement marked the first easing of restrictions. The Kyiv-based Ukrainian soccer federation said the UEFA’s decision ‘tolerates Russia’s aggressive policy.’ The UEFA said in a statement that ‘children should not be punished for actions whose responsibility lies exclusively with adults.’ Kyiv called on other countries to join its boycott. Latvia and England voiced support, and other countries are expected to follow. Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the exiled mayor of Mariupol, said Russia had begun constructing a railway to the occupied cities of Mariupol, Volnovakha and Donetsk in southeastern and eastern Ukraine. ‘Now it’s not just talk; they have begun construction,’  he wrote in a Telegram post, alongside unverified photos of what appear to be tracks under construction. The railway, Andryushchenko said, would allow Russia to move bodies, weapons and resources into eastern Ukraine without relying on the Crimean Bridge, on which Ukraine has carried out attacks. The Ukrainian government has fully implemented seven recommendations from the European Commission to further its path to E.U. membership, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said. In the announcement, included in a statement unveiling a program aimed at improving opportunities for minorities and Indigenous people, Shmyhal cautioned that there was ‘still a long and difficult way ahead’ on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union bloc. The E.U. granted Ukraine candidate status last year, although experts warn that full membership could still be decades away.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine’s Influence Increases in Disputed Black Sea Waters. Several ships have sailed a new shipping corridor established to evade Russia’s de facto blockade. A military campaign has helped Ukraine gain some control, experts say. The New York Times, Wednesday, 27 September 2023:

  • A new grain corridor highlights Ukraine’s military successes in the Black Sea, experts say.

  • A Ukrainian military spokesman says Wagner fighters are returning to the eastern front.

  • Ukraine and Russia clash at an international court at The Hague.

  • Russia puts out another video of the admiral Ukraine claims to have killed.

  • Trudeau apologizes after a Ukrainian who served in a Nazi unit was hailed in Parliament.

  • Oil prices near $100 a barrel, reflecting Saudi and Russian supply cuts.

  • The U.S. announces sanctions targeting a global network supporting Iranian drones used in Russia.

  • Disinformation is a weapon regularly deployed in Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Judge Tanya Chutkan Denies Trump’s Request That She Recuse Herself in Election Case. Chutkan rejected arguments from the former president’s legal team that she could not fairly conduct his trial on federal charges of plotting to overturn the 2020 election. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Wednesday, 27 September 2023: “The judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s trial on charges of seeking to overturn the 2020 election denied on Wednesday his attempt to disqualify her from the case for supposedly being biased against him. In a strongly worded order, the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan of Federal District Court in Washington, rejected claims by Mr. Trump’s lawyers that she had shown bias against the former president in statements she made from the bench in two cases related to the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, 2021. In the order, Judge Chutkan not only chided Mr. Trump’s lawyers for putting words in her mouth, but she also asserted that the remarks did not betray any animus or unfairness toward Mr. Trump that would warrant the extraordinary step of removing her from the election interference case. ‘The statements certainly do not manifest a deep-seated prejudice that would make fair judgment impossible,’ she wrote. Seeking to disqualify a judge is a challenging and precarious move — one that, if it fails (which it often does), runs the risk of annoying the person granted the power to make critical decisions in the case.” See also. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejects Trump request to step aside as judge in his D.C. trial, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, Wednesday, 27 September 2023: “U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan on Wednesday denied Donald Trump’s demand that she recuse herself from his federal election obstruction case, saying attorneys for the former president had applied a ‘hypersensitive, cynical, and suspicious’ reading, of two of her statements in sentencing Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack defendants to accuse her of bias. In a 20-page opinion, Chutkan wrote that ‘a reasonable person … would understand that in making the statements contested here, the court was not issuing vague declarations about third parties’ potential guilt in a hypothetical future case,’ or Trump, as his attorneys claimed. The judge continued, ‘Instead, it was fulfilling its duty to expressly evaluate the defendants’ arguments that their sentences should be reduced because other individuals whom they believed were associated with the events of January 6 had not been prosecuted.’ Trump’s defense can ask an appellate court to weigh in, but the standard for a federal appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court to review the ruling is very high, requiring ‘clear and indisputable’ proof a judge has failed her duty, and showing that assigning a new judge is ‘appropriate’ considering all the circumstances and there is no adequate alternative.” See also, Judge Tanya Chutkan denies Trump’s request to recuse herself in federal election subversion case, Associated Press, Alanna Durkin Richer and Eric Tucker, Wednesday, 27 September 2023: “U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said Wednesday she won’t recuse herself from Donald Trump’s 2020 election interference case in Washington, rejecting the former president’s claims that her past comments raise doubts about whether she can be fair. Chutkan, who was nominated to the bench by President Barack Obama and was randomly assigned to Trump’s case, said in her written decision that she sees no reason to step aside. The case, scheduled for trial in March, accuses the Republican of illegally scheming to overturn his election loss to Democrat Joe Biden. There’s a high bar for recusal, and legal experts had widely considered Trump’s request to be a long shot aimed at undermining the legitimacy of the case publicly that could only sour the relationship between the judge and the defense in court.”


Thursday, 28 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: NATO Secretary General visits Kyiv; Kremlin critic Alexi Navalny moved to stricter jail, The Washington Post, Niha Masih, Frances Vianll, Ellen Francis, Emily Rauhala, and Miriam Berger, Thursday, 28 September 2023: “NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is in Kyiv, where he held talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday about the country’s ‘most urgent needs’ as its efforts to reclaim territory from Russian forces grind on. Stoltenberg said that NATO countries are working on procuring more weapons to replenish their stocks while maintaining supplies for Ukraine. French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu is also visiting the Ukrainian capital, after Zelensky said he met with Britain’s new defense secretary, Grant Shapps, in Kyiv and discussed boosting Ukraine’s air defenses. Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has tweeted that he will be moved to a stricter prison for one year. He faces a transfer to ‘the harshest grade in Russia’s penal system,’ according to Reuters. Russia released more video of its Black Sea Fleet commander, Adm. Viktor Sokolov, whom Ukraine claimed to have killed in a strike in the annexed Crimean Peninsula last week. The video published Wednesday showed Sokolov speaking to reporters, but it was not clear when it was recorded. Earlier, the Ukrainian special operations command said it would clarify information on Sokolov. Speaking in Kyiv, Stoltenberg said Ukrainian forces ‘are gradually gaining ground’ in southeastern Ukraine, where ‘they face fierce fighting’ with Russian troops. ‘Every meter that Ukrainian forces gain is a meter that Russia loses,’ he said. Also on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Sept. 30 a national holiday to mark Russia’s claimed annexation of eastern Ukraine, even though the territory remains contested and parts of it are not under Russian control. Air defense systems in southern Ukraine destroyed more than 30 drones in a Russian attack overnight, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian military’s southern command said Thursday. Natalia Humeniuk said air defenses were activated in the port of Odessa and nearby Mykolaiv. Odessa regional governor Oleh Kiper reported no casualties or major damage. The Mykolaiv governor said debris from intercepted drones damaged a building and power line but did not cause casualties. Navalny described his prison transfer as the ‘strictest possible punishment,’ on his account on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter. He lost his appeal against a 19-year prison sentence this week. Navalny has already spent several months in a one-person ‘punishment cell’ for purported disciplinary violations, according to the Associated Press. Putin met with Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s Muslim-majority Chechen Republic, in Moscow on Thursday. The two discussed, among other topics, the role of Chechen fighters in Ukraine, Kadyrov said on Telegram. Kadyrov is an ardent Putin loyalist, but raised ire among some Russians last week when he praised his son’s actions in a video that appeared to show him beating a prisoner accused of burning the Quran, Reuters reported. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said a dispute over grain between Kyiv and Warsaw can be resolved ‘if there is a desire.’ In comments published Thursday, he told Interfax-Ukraine: ‘We don’t need this grain war, and neither does Poland.’ The conflict has left Ukraine in need of other grain export routes, while Poland and other neighboring countries try to protect their farmers from a market flooded with low-cost Ukrainian grain. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized after a veteran of a Nazi unit was applauded in Parliament during a visit by Zelensky last week. Yaroslav Hunka was praised at the event by the speaker of Canada’s House of Commons, who resigned after Jewish groups said 98-year-old Hunka fought in a Waffen-SS unit during World War II. ‘This was a mistake that has deeply embarrassed Parliament and Canada,’ Trudeau told reporters. A U.S. government shutdown could endanger funding for Ukraine, despite $6 billion in aid announced Tuesday as part of a bipartisan Senate plan to fund government operations until mid-November. The uncertainty ‘underscores the political challenges Kyiv’s supporters have’ in continuing to seek billions of dollars for Ukraine, The Washington Post reportsPresident Biden will welcome European Union leaders in Washington on Friday for a summit centering on U.S.-E.U. cooperation, including support for Ukraine as it fights to reclaim territory, the White House said. On Wednesday night, the House Rules Committee stripped $300 million meant for Ukraine from the Department of Defense appropriations bill, The Post reported. The move was to appease Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who said her vote was contingent on no funding for Ukraine in the legislation. The money for Ukraine will now be voted on separately and is likely to pass, given an earlier vote that demonstrated widespread support for the funding.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: NATO Secretary General and the French and British Defense Ministers Meet Zelensky in Kyiv to Discuss Military Support. The visits come ahead of a planned forum in Kyiv billed as a place to discuss weapons technology and how to increase production inside Ukraine. The New York Times, Thursday, 28 September 2023:

  • NATO’s top official, visiting Kyiv, calls for boosting Ukraine’s arms production.
  • Russian officials say a planned 69 percent rise in military spending next year is needed to win the war.
  • French delegation arrives in Kyiv on the eve of a defense forum.
  • Russia launched a large drone attack overnight, Ukrainian officials say.
  • Domestic production deals with Western countries could help Ukraine’s economy and be lucrative for military contractors.
  • Europe made a bold pledge of ammunition for Ukraine. Now comes the hard part.
  • Ukraine and Russia clash at an international court at The Hague.

Appeals Court Rejects Trump’s Effort to Delay His Civil Fraud Trial Over Accusations That He Inflated the Value of His Properties by Billions of Dollars. Former President Donald Trump had sued the judge presiding over his case, Arthur F. Engoron, aiming to pause a trial that will likely begin as soon as Monday. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich and Ben Protess, Thursday, 28 September 2023: “Donald J. Trump’s civil fraud trial over accusations that he inflated the value of his properties by billions of dollars will likely begin Monday after a New York appeals court rejected the former president’s attempt to delay it. The appeals court, in a terse two-page order Thursday, effectively turned aside for now a lawsuit that Mr. Trump had filed against the trial judge, Arthur F. Engoron. The lawsuit had sought to delay the trial and ultimately throw out many accusations against the former president. The case was brought last year by New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, who says Mr. Trump exaggerated his net worth in some years by as much as $2.2 billion to obtain favorable loan terms from banks. On Tuesday, in a surprising pretrial ruling, Justice Engoron struck Mr. Trump a heavy blow, finding him liable for fraudulently overvaluing his assets and stripping him of control over his New York properties. That decision validated the heart of Ms. James’s case, but Mr. Trump is not without options. He could still challenge Justice Engoron’s ruling and seek an emergency pause of the trial, although it is unclear whether the appeals court would consider doing so. With Mr. Trump’s liability for fraud largely resolved, the trial — which would be decided by Justice Engoron himself rather than a jury — would resolve other aspects of the case, most notably whether Mr. Trump and his company will face a financial penalty. Ms. James is seeking to recover $250 million in ill-gotten gains.” See also, New York appeals court refuses to delay Trump fraud trial set to start Monday, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Thursday, 28 September 2023: “An appeals court Thursday declined to postpone the start of next week’s trial in the New York attorney general’s $250 million fraud lawsuit against Donald Trump and his company. The appellate court had been asked by Trump’s legal team to put off the scheduled start of the fraud trial Monday and to force New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, who will oversee it, to dismiss claims that the defense says are improper because of the statute of limitations. An appeals court Thursday declined to postpone the start of next week’s trial in the New York attorney general’s $250 million fraud lawsuit against Donald Trump and his company. The appellate court had been asked by Trump’s legal team to put off the scheduled start of the fraud trial Monday and to force New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, who will oversee it, to dismiss claims that the defense says are improper because of the statute of limitations.”

Trump Will Not Seek to Move Georgia Racketeering Case to Federal Court. His decision comes after Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff, tried unsuccessfully to move his own case from state to federal court. The New York Times, Danny Hakim and Richard Fausset, Thursday, 28 September 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump will not seek to move the criminal racketeering case against him in Atlanta to federal court, according to a legal filing from his lawyer on Thursday. Mr. Trump was indicted by a grand jury in August, along with 18 of his advisers and allies, after a two-and-a-half year investigation into election interference by the Fulton County district attorney, Fani T. Willis. Keeping the case in state court means that any trial for Mr. Trump would be televised, unlike in federal court…. The move comes a few weeks after a federal judge rejected an effort by Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s former White House chief of staff, to move his own case to federal court. That decision has been appealed, but it dimmed the chances for successful removal efforts by other defendants, including Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, and three Georgia Republicans who submitted bogus Electoral College votes for the former president in December 2020.”

Biden Issues a Blistering and Direct Attack on Trump. During an appearance in Arizona, President Biden portrayed former President Donald Trump as a budding autocrat with no fidelity to the tenets of U.S. democracy. The New York Times, Peter Baker, Thursday, 28 September 2023: “President Biden issued a broad and blistering attack against former President Donald J. Trump on Thursday, accusing his predecessor and would-be successor of inciting violence, seeking unfettered power and plotting to undermine the Constitution if he returns to office in next year’s elections. In his most direct condemnation of his leading Republican challenger in many months, Mr. Biden portrayed Mr. Trump as a budding autocrat with no fidelity to the tenets of American democracy and who is motivated by hatred and a desire for retribution. While he usually avoids referring to Mr. Trump by name, Mr. Biden this time held nothing back as he offered a dire warning about the consequences of a new Trump term. ‘This is a dangerous notion, this president is above the law, no limits on power,’ Mr. Biden said in a speech in Tempe, Ariz. ‘Trump says the Constitution gave him, quote, the right to do whatever he wants as president, end of quote. I never heard a president say that in jest. Not guided by the Constitution or by common service and decency toward our fellow Americans but by vengeance and vindictiveness.’ Mr. Biden cited recent comments by Mr. Trump vowing ‘retribution’ against his foes, accusing NBC News of ‘treason’ and suggesting that the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, might deserve to be put to death. The president also decried plans being developed by Mr. Trump’s allies to erode the independence of major agencies, wipe out much of the top ranks of civil service and make senior government officials personally loyal to him. ‘Seizing power, concentrating power, attempting to abuse power, purging and packing key institutions, spewing conspiracy theories, spreading lies for profit and power to divide America in every way, inciting violence against those who risk their lives to keep Americans safe, weaponizing against the very soul of who we are as Americans,’ Mr. Biden said. ‘This MAGA threat is a threat to the brick and mortar of our democratic institutions. It’s also a threat to the character of our nation.'”

Justice Department Accuses Trump Lawyers of Dragging Their Feet in Documents Case. Prosecutors said the former president’s defense team was trying to use an arcane law to derail the scheduled start of his trial on charges of mishandling classified material and obstructing justice. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Thursday, 28 September 2023: “Federal prosecutors on Thursday accused former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers of trying to employ an arcane law governing the use of classified material to ‘intentionally derail’ the timing of his trial on charges of mishandling national security documents and obstructing efforts to retrieve them. The accusation of deliberate foot-dragging by the prosecutors in the office the special counsel, Jack Smith, was the latest salvo over the schedule of the classified documents trial, which — after weeks of contentious arguments — is set to begin in May in Federal District Court in Fort Pierce, Fla.”

House of Representatives holds first hearing in Biden impeachment inquiry, CNN Politics, Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, Maureen Chowdhury, and Elise Hammond, Thursday, 28 September 2023:

Fact check: Republicans make false, misleading claims at first Biden impeachment inquiry hearing, CNN Politics, Daniel Dale, Marshall Cohen, and Annie Grayer, Thursday, 28 September 2023. See also, First Impeachment Hearing Yields No New Information on Biden. In a chaotic session, Republicans accused the president of crime and corruption, but even their witnesses said the case for impeachment hadn’t been made. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Thursday, 28 September 2023: “The first hearing in House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into President Biden featured their star witnesses testifying that they lacked proof that he committed impeachable offenses, multiple procedural skirmishes the G.O.P. majority nearly lost and, at times, nearly a dozen empty Republican seats. What it did not include was any new information about Mr. Biden’s conduct — or any support for Republicans’ accusations that he had entered into corrupt overseas business deals. ‘If the Republicans had a smoking gun or even a dripping water pistol, they would be presenting it today,’ said Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee. ‘But they’ve got nothing on Joe Biden.’ Top House Republicans are eyeing potential impeachment charges of bribery and abuse of power against Mr. Biden, and they have released more than 700 pages from the confidential tax investigation into his son Hunter Biden. But the G.O.P. has struggled so far to link Hunter Biden’s business activity to his father. Despite their review of more than 12,000 pages of bank records and 2,000 pages of suspicious activity reports, none of the material released so far shows any payment to the president.”


Friday, 29 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukrainian drone hits Russian power substation, official says; Zelensky marks anniversary of holocaust massacre, The Washington Post, Kamila Hrabchuk, Ellen Francis, Natalia Abbakumova, Mary Ilyushina, and David L. Stern, Friday, 29 September 2023: “Ukraine hit an electrical substation with a drone in Russia’s Kursk region in a ‘successful attack’ near the border, an official with the SBU security service said Friday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. The governor of the Kursk region said on Telegram that a Ukrainian drone dropped explosives on the substation in the Russian village of Belaya, cutting off the power supply nearby, including at a hospital. Kyiv did not immediately issue an official comment. The drone hit Russian military targets connected to the substation, the SBU official said, sharing aerial footage of blasts. Ukraine on Friday marked the 82nd anniversary of the Nazi massacre of more than 30,000 people, and many more thereafter, most of them Jews, at Babyn Yar, outside Kyiv, during World War II. ‘Very important to preserve the memory of these victims and of the fact that the evil the Holocaust perpetrated was defeated and punished,’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address. An official with Ukraine’s SBU security service, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter, told The Washington Post on Friday that the substation was shut down as a result of ‘a successful attack’ near the border. The attack on the power facility sparked a blaze, and firefighters rushed to the site in the Kursk region of western Russia, the governor, Roman Starovoyt, wrote on Telegram. ‘Power will be restored as soon as it is safe to do so,’ he added. Air defenses shot down several other drones targeting Kursk, the governor and the Russian Ministry of Defense said, also blaming Kyiv. There were no initial reports of casualties. As Russia has reported a recent uptick in attempted drone attacks, Ukrainian officials have emphasized that targets inside Russia are part of the conflict…. Russian President Vladimir Putin met with former Wagner commander Andrei Troshev and instructed him to work on forming volunteer units for the Ukraine war, Russian news agencies reported Friday. Troshev was considered a potential contender to intervene after a short-lived mutiny by Wagner chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin, who was killed in a plane crash in August. A former lieutenant colonel in Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry, Troshev is one of the few top public figures of the mercenary group who was not listed on the passenger manifest of that plane, The Washington Post reported. Britain imposed asset freezes and travel bans on officials in Ukrainian regions illegally annexed by Russia last year, the Foreign Office announced Friday. It said the Russian officials were involved in holding ‘sham elections’ in Ukraine’s east and southeast, in the regions of Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Luhansk and Donetsk — as well as in the Crimean Peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014. ‘The UK will never recognise Russia’s claims to Ukrainian territory,’ British Foreign Minister James Cleverly said. Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich remains ‘defiant’ six months after he was detained in Russia while on a reporting trip, his mother told CNN. ‘He’s smiling,’ she said. ‘And I have to say, under all the circumstances, he’s doing really well.’ The American journalist’s colleagues and employer have denied Russia’s espionage charges against him, as Washington and international news media advocates call for his release. Russian and Belarusian participants in next year’s Paralympics in Paris are set to compete under a neutral flag, Reuters reported, following a decision by the International Paralympic Committee not to uphold a full ban imposed after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Poland said its aircraft did not cross into neighboring Belarusdenying accusations from Minsk that a Polish helicopter had violated its airspace. Tensions have simmered between Poland and Russian ally Belarus, with Warsaw moving troops to reinforce the border.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin Meets With Former Wagner Deputy as Questions Linger. The Russian leader asked a founding member of the mercenary group to set up volunteer units of fighters to carry out combat missions in the war. The New York Times, Friday, 29 September 2023:

  • Putin meets with a former Wagner deputy as he tightens his grip on the militia after the death of its leader.
  • Ukraine is updating its military industry to build precision weaponry and armaments.
  • Threatened by air raids, Ukraine stages an arms industry conference in a hotel basement.
  • Wall Street Journal reporter’s family holds on to hope as he reaches 6 months in detention.
  • A Ukrainian drone attack hit a substation in Russia, a local official says.
  • Young Ukrainian cadets receive their epaulets.
  • Soccer opens a door to Russia’s return, prompting a backlash.

Trump Co-Defendant Scott Hall in Georgia Election Interference Case Pleads Guilty. Hall, a Trump supporter who is among the 19 people charged in a racketeering case involving the former president, is the first defendant to plead guilty. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Friday, 29 September 2023: “One of the 19 defendants in a Georgia racketeering case against former President Donald J. Trump and his allies pleaded guilty on Friday to five misdemeanor charges, under a deal with prosecutors in which he would receive five years of probation. The guilty plea of Scott Hall, 59, a Georgia bail bondsman, was a significant victory for Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis, who secured an agreement from Mr. Hall to testify against other defendants. No other defendants have taken pleas; two of them, the lawyers Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, are scheduled to be tried together starting next month after demanding speedy trials. Mr. Hall had been charged with racketeering, as well as six other felonies, for helping to carry out a breach of voting equipment and data at the elections office in rural Coffee County, Ga., in January 2021 after local pro-Trump officials let them in. He and other Trump allies were apparently looking for evidence of ballot fraud after Mr. Trump lost the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.” See also, Trump co-defendant pleads guilty in Georgia election case. Scott Hall is the first person to plead guilty in the 19 defendant case. NBC News, Charlie Gile, Dareh Gregorian, Blayne Alexander, and Katie S. Phang, Friday, 29 September 2023: “Scott Hall, one of the 18 defendants charged along with former President Donald Trump for allegedly interfering with the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia, pleaded guilty Friday. Hall is the first defendant to enter a plea in the case. Under the terms of an agreement with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ office, Hall pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor charges and will be sentenced to five years’ probation, if he abides by the terms of the deal. He also agreed to testify in related court hearings and trials stemming from the sprawling 41-count indictment that was unsealed in August.”

‘We Don’t Talk About Leonard.’ The conservative legal movement in the United States is more powerful than ever. One largely unknown man has played a significant role in pushing the US judiciary to the right: Leonard Leo. ProPublica, Andrea Bernstein, Andy Kroll, Ilya Marritz, Friday, 29 September 2023: “This is ‘We Don’t Talk About Leonard,’ a podcast series with WNYC’s ‘On The Media’ that explores the web of money, influence and power behind the conservative takeover of America’s courts — and the man at the center of it all: Leonard Leo. Historians and legal experts say there is no comparable figure in American jurisprudence. To the extent Leo is known, it’s for his role helping to install the conservative supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court. But his reach extends far beyond that. Decades ago, he realized it was not enough to have justices on his side. Those jurists needed to decide the right cases, brought by the right lawyers and heard by the right lower court judges. He built a machine to do just that.”


Saturday, 30 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. government shutdown averted but Ukraine aid not included; Russia may have breached airspace, Romania says, The Washington Post, Jeff Stein, John Hudson, Ellen Francis, Serhiy Morgunov, and Justine McDaniel, Saturday, 20 September 2023: “Proposed aid to Ukraine did not make it into a U.S. government funding bill that the Senate approved Saturday, after House Republicans had advanced it earlier in the day. While the bill did not include the billions of dollars for Ukraine that the White House sought, it averted a government shutdown otherwise set to start at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. A White House official said the Biden administration expected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to field a separate measure for Ukraine funding. NATO member Romania reported a possible violation of its airspace during an overnight Russian attack in neighboring Ukraine, saying it had not found debris on Romanian territory but would continue the search on Saturday. Aid for Ukraine was not included in a short-term spending bill Congress passed Saturday to avoid a government shutdown. Lawmakers, particularly in the Senate, where aid for Ukraine had bipartisan support, said other options were coming. ‘There was a lot of concern about Ukraine, but I think the general consensus was that this does not represent a substantial shift,’ said Sen. Angus King (I-Maine). ‘We need a supplemental on Ukraine anyway. And now we’re just going to have to move forward and do that.’ Supporters of Ukraine say failure to pass the aid will encourage Russian President Vladimir Putin and probably lead European allies to pare back their support for the war. ‘Delays in aid to Ukraine will result in renewed assaults and attacks by Russia. The Kremlin will see it as a sign to apply more pressure,’ said Maryan Zablotskyy, a member of Ukraine’s parliament who has lobbied U.S. conservatives to support funding for his country. The House GOP sought to shift blame for a potential shutdown to Democrats by creating a showdown over Ukraine; McCarthy said he would blame the shutdown on Biden and Democrats if they opposed the House bill. On the House floor Saturday afternoon, Democrats defended the need to support Ukraine while Republicans cast anyone voting against the bill as voting to shut the government down. The Romanian army’s radar system detected ‘a possible unauthorized’ breach of the country’s airspace after registering ‘groups of drones heading toward Ukrainian territory’ near the border as Russia conducted ‘a new series of attacks on some targets in Ukraine,’ Romania’s Defense Ministry said. Romania’s Defense Ministry said police were deployed near the border where the potential breach was detected. The statement said residents there received warning alerts that were lifted later in the night. Romania began building some air-raid shelters near the Ukrainian border after finding the suspected war debris earlier this month. British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps told the Telegraph on Saturday he is considering allowing British trainers ‘into Ukraine’ rather than relegating them to NATO bases outside the country. Thus far, NATO members have avoided deploying trainers into Ukraine for fear of escalating the conflict. ‘Particularly in the west of the country, I think the opportunity now is to bring more things “in country” — not just training,’ Shapps added. ‘But also we’re seeing BAE [a British defense firm], for example, move into manufacturing in country.’ Russian strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure on the banks of the River Danube have renewed concerns of a potential escalation in recent weeks. Romania said it found drone fragments on its territory this month, although it did not suggest this was an intentional attack. Still, the spillover to countries neighboring Ukraine has caused jitters in NATO, for which a mutual defense clause means that an attack on one member can be considered an attack on all. Putin celebrated Saturday as the Day of Reunification, marking one year since Russia’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions. In a speech, he claimed that Ukrainians had chosen to ‘be with their fatherland’ and that the annexation had complied with international norms. The annexation violated international law and was rejected by world leaders and the United Nations as unlawful. Only two countries, North Korea and Syria, have recognized the annexation as legitimate, the U.K. Defense Ministry noted on X, saying, ‘The world has chosen to #StandWithUkraine.’ The European Union’s Josep Borrell Fontelles visited the Ukrainian city of Odessa in a show of support on the anniversary Saturday, condemning the annexation in a video recorded from a local cathedral. ‘A year has passed since Russia’s illegal annexation,’ Borrell Fontelles, the body’s high representative for foreign affairs, said on X. ‘Ukraine has every right to defend itself against the Russian aggression and regain full control of its territory. The E.U. stands with Ukraine for as long as it takes.’ President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv is negotiating with allies on joint weapons production in Ukraineadding that this was a key outcome of his recent talks with President Biden in Washington. Zelensky made the comments at an international defense industry conference that Kyiv hosted — part of efforts to boost weapons production inside Ukraine and help reduce reliance on foreign deliveries as Western allies deplete their stocks. Slovakia held an election Saturday that has the potential to complicate the Western response to Ukraine, The Post’s Loveday Morris and Ladka Bauerova report from Bratislava. Exit polls in Slovakia’s parliamentary elections Saturday showed a slight lead for the progressive party of Michael Simecka over populist Robert Fico, in a knife-edge vote that could reverse the country’s support for Ukraine. Norway will start banning Russian-registered passenger cars from entering the country as of next week, echoing sanctions imposed by E.U. nations. Norway, which has a long border with Russia, is a member of NATO but not the European Union. The Norwegian government said the ban will stop Russian-registered passenger cars with nine or fewer seats from entering, with some exceptions, while buses and minivans will still be able to enter at one border crossing.”





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!