Aftermath of the Trump Administration, October 2023


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Sunday, 1 October 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Biden and Republican lawmakers vow to send Ukraine aid after Congress leaves it out of funding bill, The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Leo Sands, and Nick Parker, Sunday, 1 October 2023: “President Biden sought to reassure Ukrainians on Sunday that the United States would not abandon its support for the war-torn nation after a funding bill that averted a government shutdown this weekend did not include anticipated aid. ‘We cannot under any circumstance allow America’s support for Ukraine to be interrupted,’ Biden said in a news conference Sunday afternoon. Republican lawmakers also said Ukraine would receive aid in the coming weeks, though they said it would need to be packaged with spending on U.S. border security. Ukrainian officials sought to minimize the snub, though some observers worried that support could be waning. Biden said he expected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to support funding for Ukrainians ‘as they defend themselves against aggression and brutality.’ Biden touted ‘overwhelming’ bipartisan support for Ukrainian aid, and he said he hoped Republican leaders would ‘keep their word’ on further funding it. McCarthy said he’ll support sending Ukrainian troops ‘the weapons that they need,’ though a potential challenge to his leadership could further complicate plans for the aid. McCarthy, speaking on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation,’ said he wanted to include efforts for U.S. border control in the next Ukraine-aid legislation. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham said Sunday morning that Senate Republicans would soon come out with a bill that would provide as much as $70 billion for Ukraine. ‘I’m not worried about the next six weeks,’ Graham (R-S.C.) said on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation,’ referring to the time period covered by the short-term spending bill passed this weekend. ‘I’m worried about next year. We will produce in the United States Senate Ukraine funding $60 or $70 billion … to get them through next year.’ Graham also tied the next potential Ukraine aid to border funding. Ukraine’s envoy to Washington expressed optimism that funding guarantees for Kyiv would be secured. There is time, there are resources, and there is bipartisan support for Ukraine in Washington, Ambassador Oksana Markarova said in a Facebook post. An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed confidence in U.S. aid Saturday. There has been no change in U.S. support, Andriy Yermak said on Telegram before the Senate vote, and Ukrainian leaders discuss the support often with Democratic and Republican officials. Aid for Ukraine had been a key issue as the United States headed toward a potential government shutdown. House Republicans, with late help from Democrats, pushed through a short-term bill to fund the government through Nov. 17 and avert a shutdown. Though the Senate ultimately approved the bill as well, the vote was at first delayed by Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), who expressed concern over the lack of additional aid to Ukraine. Slovakia’s parliamentary election has the potential to complicate the Western response to Ukraine. Nearly complete results showed that Robert Fico, a populist former prime minister whose campaign has been laced with pro-Russian and anti-American discourse, defeated his progressive rival. Fico said Sunday that his party would do ‘everything we can’ to promote immediate Ukraine-Russia peace talks. Zelensky has said he would allow peace talks only once Russian troops have left Ukraine; the Kremlin has said it must hold on to the five areas it has illegally annexed since 2014. Drones were spotted above Russian regions overnight into Sunday morning, local authorities said. Flights into Sochi International Airport were temporarily redirected as a result, the Black Sea resort city’s mayor, Alexei Kopaigorodsky, said early Sunday — adding in a Telegram post that a drone was shot down. Farther north, the governor of Smolensk region, bordering Belarus, said three drones were suppressed. NATO jets are monitoring part of its eastern flank ‘in the wake of Russian drone strikes near NATO territory,’ the defense alliance said. NATO’s X account said Sunday that Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) surveillance jets that arrived in Siauliai, Lithuania, last week ‘can detect aircraft and missiles hundreds of kilometres away.’ Romania detected ‘a possible unauthorized’ breach of the its airspace, the Defense Ministry said Saturday. In a separate instance a few weeks earlier, it said it found fragments of a suspected Russian drone in Romania.”


Monday, 2 October 2023:


Trump’s New York Civil Fraud Trial Starts With His Attacks on Attorney General Letitia James and Judge Arthur Engoron. Trump appeared in court as lawyers for New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, painted him as a fraudster. His lawyers said she was out to get the former president. The New York Times, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich, and Kate Christobek, Monday, 2 October 2023: “The trials of Donald J. Trump began Monday in a New York courtroom, where the former president arrived to fight the first of several government actions — a civil fraud case that imperils his company and threatens his image as a master of the business world. The trial’s opening day brought Mr. Trump face-to-face with one of his longest-running antagonists: the attorney general of New York, Letitia James, who filed the case against him, his adult sons and their family business. If her office proves its case, the judge overseeing the trial could impose an array of punishments on Mr. Trump, including a $250 million penalty. Outside the courtroom, Mr. Trump fired a fusillade of personal attacks on Ms. James and the judge, Arthur F. Engoron. He called the judge ‘rogue’ and Ms. James ‘a terrible person,’ even suggesting that they were criminals. Inside, Mr. Trump sat in uncomfortable silence as Ms. James’s lawyers methodically laid out their case. The attorney general’s office accused the former president of inflating his riches by more than $2 billion to obtain favorable deals with banks and bragging rights about his wealth.” See also, Key Takeaways From the First Day of Trump’s Civil Fraud Trial. New York’s attorney general Letitia James filed the lawsuit accusing the former president of inflating the value of his assets. She seeks a $250 million penalty and other punishments. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich, Monday, 2 October 2023. See also, New York’s $250 million civil fraud trial against Donald Trump gets underway, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Mark Berman, Jonathan O’Connell, and Wesley Parnell, Monday, 2 October 2023. See also, Trump attended his civil fraud trial in New York court, The Washington Post, Monday, 2 October 2023: “A civil trial in which former president Donald Trump and his company are accused of committing rampant fraud began Monday in a Manhattan courtroom, with a sharp dispute playing out over the property valuations at the center of the case. New York Attorney General Letitia James’s lawsuit accuses the former president and his company of committing fraud by inflating the value of his real estate empire. Trump, who is running for president, has denied any wrongdoing and defended his business. James’s office said Monday in court that Trump and his business schemed to overestimate his assets for financial gain. Trump’s defense responded that there was ‘no fraud,’ saying there were multiple ways to value a real estate asset. The trial could last for weeks or months, and Trump is expected to testify. Proceedings concluded late Monday afternoon and are expected to resume Tuesday morning. New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the trial, issued a pretrial decision last week saying that fraud was broadly committed by the Trump Organization and its executives. James is seeking a $250 million financial penalty for Trump and restrictions on his ability to operate a business in New York state. Engoron, in his decision, revoked Trump’s New York business licenses, which could cause the former president to lose control over dozens of properties worth hundreds of millions of dollars.” See also, Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York begins Monday. Here’s what to know. The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Monday, 2 October 2023.

Exclusive: John Kelly goes on the record to confirm several disturbing stories about Trump, CNN Politics, Jake Tapper, Monday, 2 October 2023: “John Kelly, the longest-serving White House chief of staff for Donald Trump, offered his harshest criticism yet of the former president in an exclusive statement to CNN. Kelly set the record straight with on-the-record confirmation of a number of damning stories about statements Trump made behind closed doors attacking US service members and veterans, listing a number of objectionable comments Kelly witnessed Trump make firsthand. ‘What can I add that has not already been said?’ Kelly said, when asked if he wanted to weigh in on his former boss in light of recent comments made by other former Trump officials. ‘A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs are all “suckers” because “there is nothing in it for them.” A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because “it doesn’t look good for me.” A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family – for all Gold Star families – on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are ‘losers’ and wouldn’t visit their graves in France…. A person who cavalierly suggests that a selfless warrior who has served his country for 40 years in peacetime and war should lose his life for treason – in expectation that someone will take action. A person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators. A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law. There is nothing more that can be said,’ Kelly concluded. ‘God help us.’ In the statement, Kelly is confirming, on the record, a number of details in a 2020 story in The Atlantic by editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, including Trump turning to Kelly on Memorial Day 2017, as they stood among those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery, and saying, ‘I don’t get it. What was in it for them?’ Those details also include Trump’s inability to understand why the American public respects former prisoners of war and those shot down in combat. Then-candidate Trump of course said in front of a crowd in 2015 that former Vietnam POW Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, was ‘not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.’ But behind closed doors, sources told Goldberg, this lack of understanding went on to cause Trump to repeatedly call McCain a ‘loser’ and to refer to former President George H. W. Bush, who was also shot down as a Navy pilot in World War II, as a ‘loser.'” See also, John Kelly’s full-throated confirmation of Trump’s ugliest comment, parsed. Kelly finally went on the record to make clear that, yes, Trump did say those things about veterans and wounded soldiers. The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Monday, 2 October 2023: “Among the many controversies Donald Trump has courted during his time in politics, perhaps none engender the kinds of emotions as his comments — and reported comments — denigrating veterans and the war-wounded. But some of the most serious reports about what he’s said have gone largely unconfirmed by key players. That changed in a major way on Monday. Former Trump White House chief of staff John F. Kelly delivered a blistering statement to CNN’s Jake Tapper that, for the first time, served to confirm years-old comments attributed to Trump and for which Kelly was present. Kelly, like many former top Trump administration officials, has criticized Trump somewhat in the past, but his new statement takes things to another level and fills out the picture of some of Trump’s ugliest alleged comments.” See also, John Kelly, a Former White House Chief of Staff, Confirms Trump’s Disparaging of Veterans. In a statement to CNN, Mr. Kelly corroborated reporting from 2020 that he declined to confirm at the time despite pressure from friends and associates to do so. The New York Times, Maggie Astor, published on Tuesday, 3 October 2023: “John F. Kelly, the onetime chief of staff to former President Donald J. Trump, confirmed on Monday some of Mr. Trump’s most startling comments about service members and veterans, reeling them off in a statement in which he said his onetime boss had ‘contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution and the rule of law. A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as P.O.W.s are all “suckers” because there is nothing in it for them,’ he told CNN. He went on: ‘A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because “it doesn’t look good for me.” A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family — for all Gold Star families — on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are “losers” and wouldn’t visit their graves in France.’ The mention of ‘a Gold Star family’ was a reference to Mr. Trump’s 2016 attacks on the parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq, which he made after they criticized him. Four years later, he suggested that Gold Star families might be to blame for infecting him with the coronavirus. Mr. Kelly’s statement confirmed reporting from The Atlantic in 2020, which he declined to confirm at the time despite pressure from friends and associates to do so. The attitude he described also matched an account last month from Gen. Mark A. Milley, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said Mr. Trump had chastised him for choosing an Army captain who lost a leg in Afghanistan to sing ‘God Bless America’ at a ceremony because ‘no one wants to see that, the wounded.’ In his final speech as chairman last week, General Milley said — without naming Mr. Trump — that American troops took an oath to the Constitution, not ‘to a wannabe dictator.'” See also, Trump Says Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers.’ The president has repeatedly disparaged the intelligence of service members, and asked that wounded veterans be kept out of military parades, multiple sources tell The Atlantic. The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg, published on Thursday, 3 September 2020: “When President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, he blamed rain for the last-minute decision, saying that ‘the helicopter couldn’t fly’ and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true. Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, ‘Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.’ In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as ‘suckers’ for getting killed.”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, October 2023:

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Recuses Himself as Supreme Court Turns Down Appeal From John Eastman. Eastman, a conservative lawyer who advised President Donald Trump, sought to wipe out a decision that he said had harmed his reputation and that of his client. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 2 October 2023: “Justice Clarence Thomas, in a break from his practices in earlier cases involving the 2020 election, recused himself on Monday when the Supreme Court turned down an appeal from an architect of a plan to subvert the 2020 election. As is its custom, the court gave no reasons for denying review in the appeal, which was filed by John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who had advised President Donald J. Trump. Justice Thomas, for whom Mr. Eastman had served as a law clerk, offered no explanation for his decision to disqualify himself from the case. The justice’s wife, Virginia Thomas, known as Ginni, had participated in efforts to overturn the election. Mr. Eastman’s petition was viewed as a long shot. It elicited no response from any other party, and Mr. Trump did not file a brief in the case.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky vows to fight Russia ‘as long as it takes’; European Union foreign ministers meet in Kyiv, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Leo Sands, and Adam Taylor, Monday, 2 October 2023: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky promised to continue fighting the Russian invasion ‘for as long as it takes’ after the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives blocked new aid for Ukraine amid opposition by some hard-right members. There is no ‘expiration date’ or ‘end date’ short of victory, he said in a defiant veterans day speech. On a trip to Kyiv, the European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, reiterated the bloc’s unbending commitment to support Ukraine in defending itself. ‘Maybe it’s not being seen like this for everybody around the world,’ he told reporters Monday, ‘but for us Europeans, it’s an existential threat.’ E.U. foreign ministers convened in Ukraine’s capital for an informal meeting. President Biden sought to reassure Ukrainians, saying he hoped Republicans would ‘keep their word’ after a funding bill that averted a U.S. government shutdown over the weekend did not include more aid for Kyiv. ‘We cannot under any circumstances allow America’s support for Ukraine to be interrupted. Too many lives are at stake, too many children, too many people,’ Biden said Monday afternoon during a meeting of his Cabinet, CNN reported. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) were among the Republican leaders signaling during television interviews that more aid for Ukraine is in the pipeline. McCarthy, who linked that support to increased U.S. border-control efforts, is also facing a potential challenge to his leadership that could further complicate U.S. aid plans. Ukraine’s foreign minister expressed his confidence that U.S. lawmakers will support Kyiv’s war effort. ‘We are now working with both sides of the Congress to make sure that it does not repeat again,’ Dmytro Kuleba said Monday, referring to the omission of aid for Kyiv. Kuleba framed Ukraine’s war effort as a global fight for a rules-based order: ‘What is at stake in Ukraine is much bigger than just Ukraine. It’s about the stability and the predictability of the world,’ he said. Zelensky spoke with European foreign ministers in Kyiv about Ukraine’s hopes to join the E.U. ‘We will implement all recommendations,’ Zelensky told the foreign ministers, according to an account from the Ukrainian president’s office, referring to seven recommendations that Ukraine received from the European Commission for the start of negotiations for E.U. membership. Zelensky also said the arrival of E.U. foreign ministers was an important signal to the world. ‘Helping Ukraine is helping the whole world. If Ukraine falls, Russia will start a big war. And not only on the territory of our state.’ Another challenge to Western unity on Ukraine policy may come from Slovakia after pro-Russian populist Robert Fico and his party won the country’s parliamentary elections over the weekend. If Fico’s Smer party leads a coalition government, as appears likely, it could threaten Slovakia’s strong support for neighboring Ukraine. Bulgaria will ban cars with Russian number plates from entering the country starting Monday, its border police head told national television. The E.U. member is the latest to enforce guidance published last month by the European Commission, prohibiting Russian-registered motor vehicles from entering the 27-member bloc under the current sanctions regime.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: European Union Foreign Ministers Meet in Kyiv for Summit. The top diplomats of E.U. member nations are gathering as the organization pledges to increase military support for Ukraine. Its most senior officials back Ukraine’s entry into the group. The New York Times, Monday, 2 October 2023:

  • E.U. foreign ministers met outside the borders of the bloc.

  • Both Russian and Ukrainian officials predict that U.S. support for Kyiv will not change.

  • Support for taking in refugees has dropped in Poland and Hungary, a new survey shows.

  • A Ukrainian group works to encourage reporting Russian abuses beyond physical violence.

  • More cargo vessels use Ukraine’s new Black Sea shipping corridor amid Russian threats.


Tuesday, 3 October 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Biden warns allies that flagging support for Ukraine will embolden Putin to ‘wait us out,’ The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Adela Suliman, and Miriam Berger, Tuesday, 3 October 2023: “President Biden warned that a lapse in U.S. funding for Ukraine ‘could make all the difference on the battlefield’ during a call with allies and partners held Tuesday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told journalists at a news briefing. Biden convened the call with 11 heads of state and representatives days after a short-term funding bill stripped additional aid for Ukraine to avert a government shutdown. ‘A lapse in support will make Putin believe he can wait us out, and that he can continue the conflict,’ Biden said, according to Kirby. ‘A strong signal of support now and into the next year will make it clear to Putin that he’s wrong.’ On Monday, Foreign ministers of several European Union nations gathered in Kyiv in a meeting that culminated with the E.U. proposing up to 5 billion euros, or about $5.2 billion, in additional aid to Ukraine. It was a stark contrast from recent developments in Washington, where Congress over the weekend passed a short-term funding bill stripped of additional aid for Ukraine to avert a government shutdown. Opposition to U.S. support for Ukraine has grown among far-right Republican lawmakers and some Republican presidential hopefuls, including former president Donald Trump. Biden has ‘every expectation’ that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will ‘keep his public commitment to secure the passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment,’ Kirby said Tuesday. Later Tuesday, a faction of hard-right Republicans in the House of Representatives ousted McCarthy as speaker over his agreement Friday to a bipartisan deal to avert a government shutdown. Barring additional funding, the Pentagon has just a few months of support funding left for Ukraine at current spending rates, though the time frame depends in part on battlefield developments, according to Kirby. Since the war began in February 2021, Washington has pledged more than $46 billion in military, humanitarian and financial assistance to Ukraine. ‘The Pentagon still has several billion dollars in unexpired … drawdown authority,’ Kirby said, ‘but absent additional funding by Congress, eventually you run into a hard stop.’ Russia has no plans to mobilize more troops in Ukraine, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday. ‘The General Staff is not planning additional mobilization. The Armed Forces have the necessary number of troops for the special military operation,’ Shoigu said, using Russia’s term for the war in Ukraine. Russia’s ‘partial mobilization’ last year triggered a mass exodus of fighting-age men, with hundreds of thousands fleeing the country, The Washington Post reported at the time. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke Monday with multiple E.U. foreign ministers about Ukraine’s hopes to join the European Union. ‘We will implement all recommendations,’ Zelensky said, according to an account from the Ukrainian president’s office, referring to seven recommendations that Ukraine received for the start of negotiations for E.U. membership. In his nightly address, Zelensky called Ukraine ‘a leader in protecting the very foundations on which European unity rests.’ Mexico’s president called U.S. financial aid to Ukraine ‘irrational.’ In a news conference, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador urged Washington to send resources to help with the economic development of Latin America and to deal with migration issues instead. Poland’s foreign minister said he did not attend the E.U. meeting in Kyiv in part because of a decline in economic relations between Poland and Ukraine. In an interview with Polish media, Zbigniew Rau explained his absence at the E.U. summit of his counterparts in Kyiv this week, also citing personal ill health. Diplomatic relations between neighboring Poland and Ukraine have frayed in recent weeks over grain exports and visa rights.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. and World Leaders Pledge to Support Kyiv ‘for as Long as It Takes.’ President Biden, in a conference call with world leaders amid tumult in Congress, insisted that U.S. aid would not be interrupted, a White House spokesman said. The New York Times, Tuesday, 3 October 2023:

  • Biden speaks to the leaders of major European allies, as well as Canada and Japan.
  • A tactic known as ‘elastic defense’ is one of several factors aiding Russia.
  • Armenia, long a Russian ally, moves to join the International Criminal Court after losing an enclave.
  • Little ground has changed hands as Ukraine seeks a battlefield breakthrough.
  • The ruble dips below a symbolic threshold, as worries about Russia’s wartime spending deepen.
  • Russian drone attacks cause damage in southern Ukraine, officials say.

Kevin McCarthy Is Ousted as Speaker, Leaving the House of Representatives in Chaos. A handful of far-right Republicans broke with their party and voted to remove McCarthy from his leadership post. He said he would not run again. The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Tuesday, 3 October 2023: “The House voted on Tuesday to oust Representative Kevin McCarthy from the speakership, a move without precedent that left the chamber without a leader and plunged it into chaos. After a far-right challenge to Mr. McCarthy’s leadership, eight G.O.P. hard-liners joined Democrats to strip the California Republican of the speaker’s gavel. The 216-to-210 vote reflected the deep polarization in Congress and raised questions about who, if anyone, could muster the support to govern an increasingly unruly House G.O.P. majority…. It was the culmination of bitter Republican divisions that have festered all year, and capped an epic power struggle between Mr. McCarthy and members of a far-right faction who tried to block his ascent to the speakership in January. They have tormented him ever since, trying to stymie his efforts to keep the nation from defaulting on its debt and ultimately rebelling over his decision over the weekend to turn to Democrats for help in keeping the government from shutting down. Before the vote, a surreal Republican-against-Republican debate played out on the House floor. Members of the hard-right clutch of rebels disparaged their own speaker and verbally sparred with Mr. McCarthy’s defenders, who repeatedly accused the hard-liners of sowing chaos to raise their own political profiles. Democrats sat and watched silently.” See also, Kevin McCarthy is Out as Speaker. What Happens Now? The New York Times, Kayla Guo, Tuesday, 3 October 2023. See also, Kevin McCarthy removed as House speaker in unprecedented vote. McCarthy later said he would not seek the position again, setting up an intraparty fight for the top role in the House. The Washington Post, Marianna Sotomayor, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Amy B Wang, Paul Kane, and Mariana Alfaro, Tuesday, 3 October 2023: “Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted as House speaker Tuesday after failing to withstand a rebellion among far-right dissidents, as the House voted for the first time in history to remove its leader and entered a period of unpredictability and paralysis. McCarthy later announced he would not seek the position again, setting up an expected intraparty battle for the position second in line to the presidency. Tuesday’s dramatic vote was the culmination of a bitter power struggle between McCarthy and hard-line Republican lawmakers that has persisted throughout his roughly nine months as speaker, after the Californian helped lead the GOP to a narrow majority in last year’s midterm elections. It was a step never before taken in the 234-year history of the House of Representatives, pushed by an increasingly radicalized Republican faction that, emboldened since the rise of the tea party, has repeatedly shut down the government and led the country to the brink of a default on its debt. House Republicans now need to select a new leader and find consensus for funding the government by mid-November or again risk a shutdown.”

Trump Ordered Not to Comment on Judge’s Staff in New York Civil Fraud Case. The former president attacked Justice Arthur F. Engoron’s clerk in a social media post that soon disappeared. Trump was called to account behind closed doors, then chastised in court as the judge issued a limited ‘gag order.’ The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich, Tuesday, 3 October 2023: “The New York judge presiding over Donald J. Trump’s civil fraud trial ordered the former president Tuesday not to attack or even comment on court staff after Mr. Trump posted a message to social media targeting the judge’s law clerk. Mr. Trump went after the clerk, Allison Greenfield, shortly before noon on his Truth Social site. His post was a picture of Ms. Greenfield with Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader. Mr. Trump mocked Ms. Greenfield as ‘Schumer’s girlfriend’ and said that the case against him should be dismissed. Mr. Trump posted his message in the midst of a trial in which he is accused by the New York attorney general, Letitia James, of inflating the value of his assets in his annual financial statements to gain favorable treatment from banks and insurance companies. The post was taken down during a lunch break, shortly after a closed-door meeting between the parties in the room where Mr. Trump is being tried. After the break, the judge, Arthur F. Engoron, explained what had happened, though he did not name Ms. Greenfield or Mr. Trump, referring to the former president only as a defendant.” See also, Judge issues gag order in New York civil fraud case after Trump assails staffer on social media, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs and Mark Berman, Tuesday, 3 October 2023: “The judge overseeing a civil trial over alleged business fraud committed by Donald Trump and his company issued a gag order in the case Tuesday barring the former president from making public comments about his court staff. The decision by Judge Arthur Engoron, announced about a day and a half into the trial, came soon after Trump posted on social media about a staffer for the judge and included a picture of the person. Trump had already spent a significant amount of his time outside the courtroom lambasting officials in the case, repeatedly pillorying Engoron and New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), who brought the lawsuit. Engoron’s decision amounted to a sharp rebuke of at least some of Trump’s commentary. The gag order applies to all parties involved in the case, though it appeared aimed primarily at Trump.”

Wednesday, 4 October 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. gives Ukraine more than 1 million rounds of Iranian ammo seized at sea, The Washington Post, Frances Vinall, Victoria Bisset, and Bryan Pietsch, Wednesday, 4 October 2023: “The United States said Wednesday that it transferred 1.1 million rounds of ammunition that it seized from Iran to the Ukrainian military. The 7.62mm rounds were seized by U.S. naval forces in July from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command, and were bound for Houthi rebels in Yemen in violation of a U.N. resolution, the United States said. The transfer comes amid the fallout from the ouster of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from his role as House speaker. The political chaos has sparked concerns that U.S. aid for Ukraine could falter under another speaker’s control. McCarthy supported aid for Ukraine, but additional aid was blocked from a short-term funding bill last week amid opposition from some Republicans who moved to boot him Tuesday for working with Democrats to pass the bill…. President Volodymyr Zelensky said he is ‘convinced’ that U.S. and European support for his country will continue. ‘The United States provides support in these difficult times, and although different opinions have been expressed, the majority support Ukraine, and I am convinced that we will have support in the future as well,’ he told Sky TG24 in an interview Wednesday. Zelensky also said he has invited Pope Francis to visit Ukraine. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urged allies to support Ukraine so the country can ‘finish the job.’ Writing Wednesday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Sunak said: ‘I say this to our allies, give [Zelensky] the tools, the Ukrainians will finish the job.’ Victoria Roshchyna, a Ukrainian freelance journalist, has been missing since she went on a reporting trip to Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine two months ago, raising concerns among family, colleagues and advocates that Russia could be holding her captive. Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who denounced the Ukraine war on live television, was sentenced in absentia by a Moscow court to 8½ years in prison, Russian state-owned news agency Tass reported Wednesday. Ovsyannikova was charged with spreading false information about the Russian armed forces after she appeared on state-owned television carrying a sign that read ‘Stop the war’ and ‘They’re lying to you,’ less than a month after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. She escaped house arrest with her 11-year-old daughter last fall. Her lawyer told Reuters in mid-October 2022 that she had moved to an undisclosed European country. The U.K. Foreign Office warned Wednesday that it had gathered intelligence suggesting that Russia is using sea mines to disrupt civilian shipping in the Black Sea. ‘The U.K. assesses Russia is seeking to target civilian shipping traveling through Ukraine’s “humanitarian corridor” to deter the export of Ukrainian grain,’ reads the Foreign Office statement. ‘Russia almost certainly wants to avoid openly sinking civilian ships, instead falsely laying blame on Ukraine for any attacks against civilian vessels in the Black Sea.’ According to the statement, the Foreign Office publicized the information in an effort to ‘deter any such incident from occurring.’ Western allies are running low on ammunition to give to Ukraine, senior military leaders warned in a push for increased defense spending in Europe. At the Warsaw Security Forum on Tuesday, Dutch Adm. Rob Bauer, chairman of NATO’s military committee, said defense manufacturers and governments must ‘ramp up production in a much higher tempo’ to cope with ‘peak demand.’ He added that ‘the bottom of the barrel is now visible’ in terms of military stockpiles. British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey echoed that sentiment, saying that Western stockpiles are ‘looking a bit thin.’ Armenia voted to join the International Criminal Court, further straining ties with its longtime ally, Russia. The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin in March on charges related to the detention and transfer of Ukrainian children. ICC member states are obliged to arrest him if he enters their territory. Danish beer giant Carlsberg Group said it ended licensing agreements for its brands in Russia after Moscow transferred the management of Baltika Breweries — which had been producing and selling Carlsberg products — to government authorities in July. ‘We refuse to be forced into a deal on unacceptable terms, justifying the illegitimate takeover of our business in Russia,’ the Carlsberg Group said in a news release.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Chaos in House Leads Biden to ‘Worry’ About Flow of Ukraine Aid. The president said he would make a major address soon to lobby for uninterrupted support for Ukraine. The New York Times, Wednesday, 4 October 2023:

  • Biden says Ukraine aid could be funded by ‘another means.’

  • The U.S. has sent Ukraine munitions seized from Iran.

  • The ban on Russian youth teams in world soccer is lifted.

  • Battlefield Update: Ukraine says its forces are making progress in the southern Zaporizhzhia region.

  • NATO says new security measures are in place after hackers post documents online.

  • Russian movie theaters are finding ways to screen Hollywood blockbusters amid sanctions.

Trump’s Bloody Campaign Promises. It’s tempting to ignore the former President’s expressions of rage, but the stakes for U.S. democracy demand that attention be paid. The New Yorker, David Remnick, Wednesday, 4 October 2023: “For many years, Trump has hidden in plain sight—he makes no effort to conceal his bigotries, his lawlessness, his will to authoritarian power; to the contrary, he advertises it, and, most disturbing of all, this deepens his appeal. What’s more, there is no question that Trump has so normalized calls to violence as an instrument of politics that it has inflamed countless people to perverse action. Trump has always delighted in the way he could arouse a crowd with implicit or explicit calls to vengeance, from his admonition to ‘Lock her up!’ to his smirking at a protester at one of his rallies, ‘I’d like to punch him in the face.’ He was the inspiration for Charlottesville. The insurrection of January 6th was a direct response to his callout to his supporters: ‘Be there, will be wild!’ During the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd, Trump asked his advisers, according to the former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, ‘Can’t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?’ According to a recent report in the Times, since the legal search of Mar-a-Lago last year and the subsequent confiscation of confidential documents there, which caused Trump to vent his rage against federal authorities, threats against F.B.I. personnel and facilities have skyrocketed by more than three hundred per cent. Now Trump has intensified the rhetoric. There is nothing he will not say. Suggesting that Mark Milley, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was guilty of a ‘treasonous act,’ he has suggested that the best sanction would be execution. (‘This is an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been death!’) At a recent speech in Anaheim, California, Trump explained how, if reëlected, he would approach the problem of shoplifting: ‘Very simply: If you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store.’ Trump added, ‘The word that they shoot you will get out within minutes, and our nation, in one day, will be an entirely different place. There must be retribution for theft and destruction and the ruination of our country.’ This is consistent with Trump’s general view of law enforcement: he has raised the prospect of shooting migrants attempting to cross the border. (Migrants are ‘poisoning the blood of our country,’ he has said, which is a particularly fascistic formulation.)”


Thursday, 5 October 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin says grenade fragments found in bodies of Wagner leaders killed in plane crash; scores dead in Russian strikes in the eastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv, The Washington Post, Frances Vinall, Adela Suliman, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Mary Ilyushina, and Sammy Westfall, Thursday, 5 October 2023: “Hand grenade fragments were found in the bodies of Wagner Group mercenary leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin and other Wagner leaders who died in a plane crash in August, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in remarks Thursday, citing the results of a Russian investigation. Western analysts believe Putin probably ordered Prigozhin’s death. Meanwhile, at least 49 civilians were killed in Russian strikes in the eastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv on Thursday, local officials said. ‘The Russians shelled a cafe and a shop’ in the village of Hroza in the Kupyan district, said Oleh Synyehubov, head of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration, on Telegram. Emergency services were working to rescue people from the rubble. President Biden acknowledged concern that disarray in Congress after the ouster of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as House speaker could undermine his commitment to deliver aid to Ukraine. ‘It does worry me,’ he told reporters Wednesday. The United States could ‘support Ukraine in the next tranche,’ Biden said, after a stopgap funding bill signed over the weekend did not include aid for the war effort. Biden said the United States could find funding for Ukraine byother means’ if turmoil in Congress continued, but he declined to elaborate. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived Thursday in Granada, Spain, to attend the European Political Community summit along with European leaders. A senior Ukrainian official said Spain pledged to give Ukraine ‘a new package of defense support,’ including ‘additional air defense equipment, artillery and anti-drone systems.’ Zelensky said any pause in U.S. funding would help Russia. ‘I feel that there is support in the United States,’ he told Italy’s Sky TG24 on Wednesday. ‘I know that there is 100 percent support from the White House; there is great support in the Congress.’ Biden warned allies in a call that a lapse in U.S. funding for Ukraine ‘could make all the difference on the battlefield,’ National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Tuesday. European leaders said they were ‘very confident’ that the United States would continue financial support for Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in Granada. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz echoed that sentiment. Ukraine aid has become an increasingly contested political issue within the Republican Party and could be among the issues dominating the hunt for a new House speaker. The Granada summit will reinforce European ties with Kyiv, as European leaders from France, Germany, Britain and others attend. Europe will continue to provide ‘unwavering support to Ukraine,’ said Charles Michel, president of the European Council. Zelensky said his focus at the meeting will be on ‘the Black Sea region as well as our joint efforts to strengthen global food security. … Ukraine’s key priority, particularly as winter approaches, is to strengthen air defense.’ Zelensky said he is confident the United States will weather its ongoing ‘political storm,’ and urged Europe to stand with Washington to protect ‘our common values and liberty.’ Addressing the leaders in Granada, the Ukrainian president said he is ‘confident in America’ and its institutions, and he reiterated the bipartisan support he witnessed during his trip to Washington in September. Public support for continued U.S. aid to Ukraine has marginally declined over the past year, with a clear partisan splitaccording to a Chicago Council on Global Affairs survey. It found that 63 percent of adults support providing additional arms and military supplies to Kyiv — 50 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of Democrats — compared with 65 percent in November and 72 percent in July 2022. Support for aid among Republican voters has fallen 18 percentage points since July 2022, but only two percentage points among Democrats. Putin said the delay in U.S. support to Ukraine is ‘due to budget problems,’ but warned that such support will resume as soon as Washington finds the money. ‘It costs nothing for the U.S. to print money and scatter it around the world,’ he said at an address during the Valdai Forum in Sochi. The still-unexplained crash of the Embraer business jet in Russia’s Tver region north of Moscow on Aug. 23 killed all 10 people on board, including Prigozhin, Wagner battlefield commander Dmitry Utkin and logistics chief Valery Chekalov. The crash came exactly two months after Prigozhin led his fighters in a brief mutiny against Moscow. Little evidence from the crash scene has been shown publicly. The Investigative Committee of Russia, the country’s main investigative body, found that the wreckage showed no ‘external impact’ on the jet, Putin said Thursday, an allusion to theories that the Kremlin had ordered the rogue mercenary leader shot down. U.S. officials have said Prigozhin’s plane might have been destroyed by an explosion onboard. Putin appeared to suggest that Prigozhin or someone in his entourage might have blown themselves up accidentally while intoxicated. ‘Unfortunately, no examination was carried out about the presence of alcohol or drugs in the victims’ blood,’ Putin said. ‘Although we know that after the well-known events, the FSB discovered not only 10 billion rubles in cash, but also 5 kg of cocaine in [Prigozhin’s] St. Petersburg company office.’ He said he believed ‘an examination should have been carried out.’ Britain said it gathered intelligence suggesting Russia may be using sea mines to disrupt civilian shipping in the Black Sea to deter the export of Ukrainian grain. The information was ‘declassified’ by Britain’s Foreign Ministry to deter Moscow from ‘openly sinking civilian ships’ and ‘falsely laying blame on Ukraine.’ Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said it showed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ‘total disregard for civilian lives.’ FIFA will allow Russian youth soccer teams to compete in the men’s and women’s Under-17 World Cups, lifting a suspension put in place after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The decision, made at a meeting of the FIFA Council on Wednesday, came after the Union of European Football Associations lifted the same suspension last month for its competitions, which function as qualifiers for the World Cups. The Russian teams must play under the name ‘Football Union of Russia’ rather than ‘Russia’ and wear neutral colors, without inclusion of their national flag, national anthem, and national team kit and equipment. A Ukrainian freelance journalist, who has been missing since she went on a reporting trip to Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine two months ago, may be held captive, her family, colleagues and advocates fear. The Washington Post reported on concerns for Victoria Roshchyna, who was last heard from Aug. 3.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian Strike on Village Shop Kills Over 50, Ukrainian Officials Say. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine condemned an attack in the northeastern Kharkiv region, which came as he attended a summit in Spain. The New York Times, Thursday, 5 October 2023:

  • Ukraine says a Russian strike killed dozens of civilians attending a memorial service.

  • The strike that hit a shop in Kharkiv is among the deadliest of the war.

  • Putin claims Russia successfully tested a nuclear-powered missile.

  • Putin suggests a new narrative for Prigozhin’s deadly plane crash: cocaine and grenades.

  • Zelensky says he’s confident U.S. support for Ukraine’s war effort will continue.

Trump Seeks Dismissal of Federal Election Case, Claiming Immunity. Donald Trump’s lawyers asked a judge to throw out charges that he conspired to overturn the 2020 election, arguing that a president could not be criminally prosecuted for official acts. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Charlie Savage, Thursday, 5 October 2023: “Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump asked a judge on Thursday to throw out a federal indictment accusing him of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election and claimed that because the charges relate to actions he took as president, he should be ‘absolutely immune from prosecution.’ The request to dismiss the election interference indictment, which came in a 52-page briefing filed in Federal District Court in Washington, was breathtaking in its scope. It argued that Mr. Trump could not be held accountable in court for any actions he took as president, even after a grand jury had returned criminal charges against him. While the Justice Department has long maintained a policy that sitting presidents cannot be indicted, Mr. Trump’s bid to claim total immunity from prosecution was a remarkable attempt to extend the protections afforded to the presidency in his favor. His motion to dismiss was certain to result in a pitched legal battle with prosecutors in the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, if only because the idea that a president cannot be prosecuted for actions undertaken in his official capacity as commander in chief has never before been tested.” See also, Trump seeks dismissal of D.C. case against him for allegedly conspiring to block the results of the 2020 election, saying he’s immune to prosecution, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein, Thursday, 5 October 2023: “Lawyers for former president Donald Trump urged a federal judge Thursday to toss out the indictment against him for allegedly conspiring to block the results of the 2020 election, arguing that as president at the time, he was acting within the legal boundaries ‘at the heart of our system of government.’ Trump lawyers John Lauro and Todd Blanche, in a 46-page filing, argue that Trump is immune to prosecution for the acts cited in the indictment filed by special counsel Jack Smith — a legal claim they have been making since the indictment was filed in August.” See also, Trump says he’s ‘immune’ from prosecution for attempts to reverse 2020 election results, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Thursday, 5 October 2023: “Donald Trump’s months-long efforts to reverse his defeat in the 2020 election were ‘within the heartland’ of his ‘official duties,’ his lawyers claimed Thursday in a bid to get his federal criminal case in Washington, D.C., thrown out. Defense attorneys John Lauro and Todd Blanche say special counsel Jack Smith’s case against the former president is an attempt to criminalize actions that were well within his White House duties, such as enforcing federal election laws. As a result, they said, the charges against Trump — accusing him of conspiracies to obstruct the election process and defraud the public — must be dismissed.”

Trump Asks Again to Delay His Trial on Charges of Mishandling Classified Documents Until After the 2024 Election. Trump’s lawyers said his trial should be delayed from its planned start in May because of problems gaining access to all the evidence. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Thursday, 5 October 2023: “Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump have again asked a federal judge to postpone until after the 2024 election his trial on charges of mishandling classified documents. In a court filing on Wednesday night, Mr. Trump’s legal team proposed moving the start of the trial to mid-November from May 20, the date set by Judge Aileen M. Cannon. It was not the first time Mr. Trump has sought to push back the trial, in which he stands accused of illegally holding onto dozens of classified documents after leaving office and conspiring with two aides to obstruct the government’s repeated effort to retrieve them. In July, his lawyers asked Judge Cannon to put off the trial indefinitely as they grappled with the complexities of the case.”

Trump allegedly discussed potentially sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarines with foreign national after leaving the White House, ABC News, Katherine Faulders, Alexander Mallin, and Mike Levine, Thursday, 5 October 2023: “Months after leaving the White House, former President Donald Trump allegedly discussed potentially sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarines with a member of his Mar-a-Lago Club — an Australian billionaire who then allegedly shared the information with scores of others, including more than a dozen foreign officials, several of his own employees, and a handful of journalists, according to sources familiar with the matter. The potential disclosure was reported to special counsel Jack Smith’s team as they investigated Trump’s alleged hoarding of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, the sources told ABC News. The information could shed further light on Trump’s handling of sensitive government secrets…. In emails and conversations after meeting with Trump, Pratt described Trump’s remarks to at least 45 others, including six journalists, 11 of his company’s employees, 10 Australian officials, and three former Australian prime ministers, the sources told ABC News.” See also, Trump Is Said to Have Revealed Nuclear Submarine Secrets to Australian Billionaire Soon After Leaving Office. Trump shared sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarines with the billionaire member of Mar-a-Lago, according to people familiar with the matter. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Ben Protess, Maggie Haberman, and Jonathan Swan, Thursday, 5 October 2023: “Shortly after he left office, former President Donald J. Trump shared apparently classified information about American nuclear submarines with an Australian businessman during an evening of conversation at Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Florida, according to two people familiar with the matter. The businessman, Anthony Pratt, a billionaire member of Mar-a-Lago who runs one of the world’s largest cardboard companies, went on to share the sensitive details about the submarines with several others, the people said. Mr. Trump’s disclosures, they said, potentially endangered the U.S. nuclear fleet. Federal prosecutors working for the special counsel, Jack Smith, learned about Mr. Trump’s disclosures of the secrets to Mr. Pratt, which were first revealed by ABC News, and interviewed him as part of their investigation into the former president’s handling of classified documents, the people said. According to another person familiar with the matter, Mr. Pratt is now among more than 80 people whom prosecutors have identified as possible witnesses who could testify against Mr. Trump at the classified documents trial, which is scheduled to start in May in Federal District Court in Fort Pierce, Fla.”

Judge Tries to Stop Trump From Hiding His Money. Justice Arthur F. Engoron wants to make sure Trump doesn’t shift around his assets to hide them from a judgement against the Trump Organization. The Daily Beast, Jose Pagliery, Thursday, 5 October 2023: “The judge who doomed Donald Trump’s family business last week took an aggressive and preemptive step on Wednesday to ensure the former president can’t secretly shift assets to salvage his real estate empire. In an order that was posted on the fourth day of the former president’s bank fraud trial, Justice Arthur F. Engoron commanded that the Trumps identify any corporations they have—and come clean about any plans to move around money in an attempt to hide or keep their wealth. It’s a powerful maneuver meant to counter the sort of underhanded moves Trump has displayed so far during the three-year investigation.”

Trump Endorses Jim Jordan in Race for House Speaker. Representatives Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise sought support from members of the fractured Republican Party and then former President Donald Trump weighed in. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Thursday, 5 October 2023: “The two leading candidates to become the next Republican speaker of the House worked the phones and the halls of the Capitol on Thursday, vying for support from within their party’s fractured ranks as the chamber remained in a state of paralysis after the ouster of Representative Kevin McCarthy of California. Representatives Steve Scalise, the majority leader, and Jim Jordan, the Judiciary Committee chairman, had each landed more than a dozen endorsements by the afternoon as they raced toward a vote of Republicans tentatively scheduled for Tuesday. An election on the House floor could follow the next day, though the process could stretch much longer if no consensus can be reached. Then early Friday, former President Donald J. Trump, whose far-right acolytes in Congress helped lead the rebellion that has plunged the House into chaos, weighed in. ‘Congressman Jim Jordan has been a STAR long before making his very successful journey to Washington, D.C.,’ Mr. Trump wrote in a Truth Social message that was posted at 12:13 a.m. on Friday. ‘He will be a GREAT Speaker of the House, & has my Complete & Total Endorsement!'” See also, Trump endorses Jim Jordan for House speaker after Kevin McCarthy ouster, The Washington Post, Adela Suliman, published on Friday, 6 October 2023: “Former president Donald Trump is throwing his support behind Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to become House speaker after Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted in a rebellion by far-right Republicans. In an early-morning post Friday on his social media platform Truth Social, Trump said Jordan had his ‘complete’ and ‘total’ endorsement. ‘He will be a GREAT Speaker of the House,’ Trump posted. ‘…He is STRONG on Crime, Borders, our Military/Vets, & 2nd Amendment.'”

Trump’s violent rhetoric is getting muted coverage by the news media, The Washington Post, Paul Farhi, Thursday, 5 October 2023: “Last week, the Republican Party’s leading presidential candidate proposed executing suspected shoplifters. ‘Very simply, if you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store,’ former president Donald Trump said in Anaheim, Calif., outlining his vision for a second term at the convention of the state’s Republican Party. As the audience applauded, laughed and cheered, Trump added for emphasis, ‘Shot!’ Trump’s advocacy of extrajudicial killings was widely covered by newspapers and TV stations in California but generally ignored by the national press. No mainstream TV network carried his speech live or excerpted it later that night. CNN and MSNBC mentioned it during panel discussions over the next few days. The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, NPR and PBS didn’t report it at all. The New York Times wrote about it four days later, playing the story on Page 14 of its print edition…. A few days before his appearance in California, Trump suggested on his Truth Social platform that the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, deserved ‘DEATH!’ for reassuring Chinese officials that the United States had no plans to attack in the waning days of the Trump administration.” See also, Trump Escalates Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric with ‘Poisoning the Blood’ Comment. When asked about immigration in a recent interview, the former president used language with echoes of white supremacy and Hitler. The New York Times, Trip Gabriel, Thursday, 5 October 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump said undocumented immigrants were ‘poisoning the blood of our country’ in a recent interview, language with echoes of white supremacy and the racial hatreds of Adolf Hitler. Mr. Trump made the remark in a 37-minute video interview with The National Pulse, a right-leaning website, that was posted last week. It drew broader scrutiny on Wednesday after the liberal MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan surfaced the quote in a post on X. Other commentators went on to point out that Mr. Trump’s attack invoked a theme of Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto ‘Mein Kampf,’ in which the Nazi Party leader railed about what he claimed was the impurity of immigrants, Jews and interracial couples. In the interview, Mr. Trump was asked about immigration and the Southern border. He replied: ‘Nobody has any idea where these people are coming from, and we know they come from prisons. We know they come from mental institutions and insane asylums. We know they’re terrorists. Nobody has ever seen anything like we’re witnessing right now. It is a very sad thing for our country. It’s poisoning the blood of our country. It’s so bad, and people are coming in with disease. People are coming in with every possible thing that you could have.’ At campaign rallies, Mr. Trump has repeated that leaders of unspecified South American countries were releasing patients from mental hospitals to send as migrants to the United States, but fact checkers have found no evidence for the claim.”

A catalogue of Trump’s attacks on judges, prosecutors, and witnesses. As the former president faces gag orders, it’s worth emphasizing the scale, similarity, and viciousness of his attacks. The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Thursday, 5 October 2023: “The judge in Donald Trump’s New York civil fraud trial delivered a moment on Tuesday that Trump had spent months, if not years, courting: a gag order limiting his ability to attack those deciding his legal fate. Judge Arthur Engoron barred Trump from making public comments about members of Engoron’s staff. The ruling came after Trump made a baseless claim about an Engoron staffer’s romantic connections. The ruling wasn’t explicitly aimed at Trump and will apply to all parties, but Engoron made clear this was about a comment Trump posted that day on social media. Engoron said he ordered the post deleted, and Trump’s post was removed from his Truth Social page. The substance of the post was altogether familiar; it wasn’t the first time Trump had circulated a baseless rumor about the love life of a key figure in his legal proceedings. Two months ago, it was about how Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis (D) purportedly had ‘an affair’ with a ‘gang member.’ (The article supposedly substantiating that claim did not say anything of the sort.) Indeed, Trump’s attacks on judges, prosecutors, their staffs and potential witnesses against him — which have long tempted judges to issue such gag orders and are also the subject of a looming decision in another case — follow a familiar formula. The substance and even the words tend to be virtually the same, they’re generally baseless, and they’re often ugly.”

Trump Drops Lawsuit Against Michael Cohen, His Former Fixer. The suit had been seen as an effort to silence Mr. Cohen, who is scheduled to testify against Mr. Trump in the civil fraud case brought by New York’s attorney general. The New York Times, Ben Protess and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 5 October 2023: “Donald J. Trump on Thursday dropped a lawsuit he had filed against his former fixer, Michael D. Cohen, abandoning what has been seen as an effort to silence Mr. Cohen, who has become one of the former president’s loudest critics. The decision to drop the case came just days before Mr. Trump was scheduled to be questioned under oath by Mr. Cohen’s lawyers. It also comes on the verge of Mr. Cohen’s testifying against Mr. Trump in an unrelated civil fraud case brought by the New York attorney general.” See also, Trump ‘temporarily’ drops lawsuit against former lawyer-turned-witness Michael Cohen, Associated Press, Jill Colvin and Michael R. Sisak, Thursday, 5 October 2023: “Donald Trump has dropped his $500 million lawsuit against Michael Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer who is now a key witness in a criminal case against him, Cohen and a Trump spokesperson said Thursday night. But the former president did not waive his right to sue again. Trump had accused Cohen of ‘spreading falsehoods’ ‘with malicious intent’ and causing ‘vast reputational harm’ for talking publicly about hush-money payments made to women during Trump’s 2016 campaign that are at the heart of criminal charges he faces in New York. Trump has also accused Cohen of breaking a confidentiality agreement that he signed as a condition of his employment. The former president and GOP front-runner’s decision comes days before he was set to give a deposition in the suit brought in April in Florida. That testimony was originally set for Oct. 3, but Trump rescheduled so he could attend the first three days of a separate New York civil fraud trial. Cohen is likely to testify in that trial next week.”

Alabama Is Ordered to Use Map With Two Districts That Empower Black Voters. The new district map is a remedy to Alabama’s illegal dilution of Black voting power, and may lead to the election of two Black representatives for the first time in the state’s history. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Thursday, 5 October 2023: “A federal court ordered Alabama on Thursday to use a new congressional map that could lead the state to elect two Black representatives for the first time in its history, by creating a second district with close to a majority of Black voters. The order, the culmination of a nearly two-year fight over the Republican-dominated state’s illegal dilution of Black voting power, could also see Democrats pick up a seat in the state, at a moment when Republicans control the House of Representatives by a thin margin. A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama approved a map that increases the percentage of Black voters in one of the state’s six majority-white congressional districts to 48.7 percent, up from about 30 percent, while preserving the state’s one existing majority-Black district.” See also, Court picks Alabama congressional map likely to mean Democratic gain, The Washington Post, Maegan Vazquez and Amy B Wang, Thursday, 5 October 2023: “A panel of three federal judges on Thursday chose a new Alabama congressional map that maintains a Black-majority district in the state and establishes another near-Black-majority district that could flip a House seat for Democrats in 2024. Thursday’s decision is the latest in a long legal battle that pitted Alabama’s GOP-led legislature against Democrats and civil rights groups that argued that Republicans were illegally diluting the power of Black voters in the state. About 27 percent of the state’s voting population is Black. In the map chosen Thursday, the state’s 2nd Congressional District has a Black voting-age population of 48.7 percent, and its 7th District maintains its Black majority with a Black voting-age population of 51.9 percent.”


Friday, 6 October 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Hroza residents enraged as Russian missile attack kills 52; Zenelsky calls it ‘absolute evil,’ The Washington Post, Siobhán O’Grady, Anastacia Galouchka, Victoria Bisset, and Andrew Jeong, Friday, 6 October 2023: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described a devastating Russian missile strike on the Ukrainian village of Hroza as proof of Russia’s ‘absolute evil.’ He said Russian forces ‘couldn’t have been unaware of where they were striking.’ The attack Thursday killed at least 52 people and was one of the war’s deadliest missile strikes. Several people in the village in the Kharkiv region told The Washington Post on Friday that they suspected a Russian sympathizer living among them had informed the Russian military that a gathering for a fallen Ukrainian soldier would be held at a cafe, which was in the building struck in the attack. ‘This is not a coincidence,’ Serhiy Pletinka, 34, a soldier who was home on leave from the southern front visiting his parents when the strike occurred, told The Post. He then dug through the rubble, pulling out scores of people he grew up with. ‘What else could it be?” said Lyuba Savchenko, 63, when asked whether she, too, thought a local collaborator informed Russian forces about the funeral reception. Her sister and four of her cousins were killed. The Post could not immediately verify the claims, but fury and suspicion were rife Friday as family members speculated about who might have targeted the gathering. Hroza was formerly occupied by Russian forces until a surprise Ukrainian counteroffensive liberated it last year. Some villagers remain loyal to Russia, many residents said. Several relatives of the fallen Ukrainian soldier were killed in the attack on Hroza, including his widow. Two more artillery shells struck near the village Friday, as workers with excavators arrived to clear out trees to make space in the cemetery for the 52 fatalities — around one-sixth of the population of the village. All of the victims were sent to a morgue in the regional capital, Kharkiv, which looked like the scene of a massacre Friday as dozens of employees sorted the bodies. The workers recovered the body of a boy, Ivan, who appeared to be the only child killed in the Hroza attack. Post reporters at the scene witnessed the body of only one person wearing a uniform. The morgue workers said they had seen no evidence of multiple military personnel among the dead — despite Moscow’s claims that Russia attacks only military targets. The United Nations, citing Ukrainian authorities, said one soldier who was attending his father’s funeral was among the dead. The U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has identified 35 of those killed in the attack on Hroza, including 19 women, 15 men and an 8-year-old boy, a U.N. spokeswoman said Friday. The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Volker Türk, deployed a field team to the site to speak to survivors and gather more information about the attack, spokeswoman Liz Throssell said in a statementThe Hroza attack is ‘incredibly horrifying for the people of Ukraine,’ White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. She said the Russian attack showed why the United States should continue to support Ukraine. Imagine ‘just walking to the grocery store with your kids, trying to figure out what is it that you’re going to make for dinner, and you see an explosion happen where bodies are everywhere,’ she said. A separate strike in the same region Friday killed a 10-year-old child and his grandmother, according to a local official. Oleg Synyehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional administration, wrote on Telegram that 30 others were injured in the attack on the city of Kharkiv, including an 11-month-old child. Moldova’s pro-Western president said the Wagner Group was seeking to mount a coup against her. ‘The information that we have is that it was a plan prepared by [Prigozhin’s] team,’ Maia Sandu said in an interview with the Financial Times published Friday. The Post previously reported on a trove of documents that showed how Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) had funneled tens of millions of dollars into the country to cultivate a network of politicians who would be more favorable to Russia. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that any Russian decision to revoke its ratification of a nuclear test ban treaty with the United States would ‘not constitute a statement of intention to conduct nuclear tests.’ On Thursday, President Vladimir Putin said Russia could revoke its own ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which Washington has signed but not ratified, while the speaker of Russia’s lower house said Friday that lawmakers would consider the decision next week. Hand grenade fragments were found in the bodies of Wagner Group mercenary leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin and his deputies, who died in a plane crash in August, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in remarks Thursday, citing the results of a Russian investigation. The wreckage showed no ‘external impact’ on the aircraft, he said, in an apparent denial that the Kremlin had ordered the outspoken mercenary leader’s plane shot down. Western analysts say Putin probably ordered Prigozhin’s death. President Biden is preparing a ‘major speech’ on Ukraine, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. Biden has acknowledged concern that disarray in Congress in the wake of the ouster of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from the House speakership could impede future U.S. aid to Ukraine, telling reporters earlier this week: ‘It does worry me.'”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Pressure Grows on Germany to Give Ukraine Long-Range Missiles. Britain and France have already provided them, and a U.S. announcement is expected soon. The New York Times, Friday, 6 October 2023:

  • Pressure is building on Germany to send long-range missiles to Ukraine.

  • Russia is trying to rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council. The vote could be close.

  • E.U. leaders hold talks on the consequences of accepting Ukraine as a member.

  • Stockholm offers fighter jets for Ukraine if Sweden is allowed to join NATO.

  • Europe pledges more air defense systems to help Ukraine fend off attacks on infrastructure.

Jim Jordan, Who Is Running for House Speaker, Played a Key Role in Trump’s Plot to Overturn the 2020 Election. ‘Jim Jordan knew more about what Donald Trump had planned for January 6 than any other member of the House,’ former Representative Liz Cheney said. HuffPost, Igor Bobic, Friday, 6 October 2023: “Staunch conservative Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is in the spotlight after launching a bid for the speaker’s gavel this week, a race that is sure to provide even more drama and chaos than the unprecedented ouster of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). But one critical aspect of Jordan’s history that has been omitted by most Beltway publications is the prominent role he played in spreading lies about the 2020 election and rallying supporters to contest the results. The extraordinary effort led by former President Donald Trump, who has endorsed Jordan’s bid for speaker, led to the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. ‘Jim Jordan knew more about what Donald Trump had planned for Jan. 6 than any other member of the House of Representatives,’ former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who co-chaired the House Select Committee tasked with investigating the insurrection, said in a speech at the University of Minnesota this week. ‘Jim Jordan was involved, was part of the conspiracy in which Donald Trump was engaged as he attempted to overturn the election,’ she added. Jordan, who now chairs the House Judiciary Committee, refused to cooperate with the select committee regarding his communications with Trump as the attack was occurring, defying subpoenas for testimony. Trump spoke on the phone with Jordan for 10 minutes on the morning of Jan. 6. Jordan has never divulged the nature of the conversation, saying only that he had spoken to Trump ‘a number of times’ that day.”

Trump gets temporary reprieve from losing control of companies in New York, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Friday, 6 October 2023: “A New York state appellate judge Friday temporarily blocked the revocation of the Trump Organization’s state business certificates ordered last week when a trial judge found Donald Trump and his company liable for fraud. Associate Justice Peter H. Moulton’s ruling calls for at least a temporary pause in the start of a receivership process and the dissolution of the Trump Organization and related entities ordered in a Sept. 26 summary judgment decision by New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron. Moulton denied Trump’s emergency request to halt his ongoing civil trial on other fraud claims.” See also, New York appeals court temporarily halts the process of breaking up Trump’s businesses but rejects stopping the trial, CNN Politics, Lauren del Valle and Kara Scannell, Friday, 6 October 2023: “A New York appeals court judge on Friday rejected Donald Trump’s attempt to stop the ongoing $250 million civil fraud trial, but temporarily halted the process of breaking up the former president’s businesses. Associate Justice Peter Moulton issued the ruling after a brief hearing Friday afternoon. It leaves Trump’s empire untouched for at least another month and perhaps offers the former president and his family a glimmer of hope.” See also, What Has Happened So Far at Donald Trump’s New York Civil Fraud Trial? On Friday, Mr. Trump’s lawyers sought a delay. An appeals court judge refused, but suspended a significant punishment that had been ordered by the trial judge. The New York Times, Kate Christobek and Jonah E. Bromwich, Friday, 6 October 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump went on trial this month in a New York courtroom, facing a threat to the business empire that informed his public persona and undergirded his run for the White House. Friday was the trial’s fifth day. Much of the action happened outside the courtroom on Friday. Mr. Trump’s legal team tried and failed to pause the trial itself, but succeeded in delaying the implementation of a sweeping order by the trial judge that had been expected to have a serious impact on Mr. Trump’s real estate business. The trial stems from a lawsuit brought last year by New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, accusing Mr. Trump and other defendants, including two of his adult sons and his companies, of fraudulently inflating the value of their assets to obtain favorable loans and insurance deals. Before the trial began, the judge, Arthur F. Engoron, ruled that Mr. Trump and the other defendants were liable for fraud, and that the annual financial statements on which they listed their assets were filled with examples of such misconduct. As a consequence, he canceled the business licenses that allow the former president to operate his companies in New York, striking a blow to Mr. Trump’s empire. On Friday, an appeals court judge, Peter Moulton, paused that part of Justice Engoron’s order, even as he declined to stop the trial itself. While the former president’s control of his companies is still at risk, he will not immediately need to dissolve the legal entities he uses to manage his properties. The issue will next be argued in front of a full panel of appeals court judges.”


Saturday, 7 October 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Village of Hroza mourns after devastating strike, The Washington Post, Siobhán O’Grady, Anastacia Galouchka, Kelsey Ables, and Adela Suliman, Saturday, 7 October 2023: “Days after at least 52 people were killed by a missile strike in the Ukrainian village of Hroza, the country remains in mourning and reeling from the aftermath. Dozens of employees at a morgue in Kharkiv city sorted bodies, while workers cleared trees in the local cemetery to make way for the dead. The attack on Thursday is one of the deadliest missile strikes in the war and left at least a sixth of the village’s population dead. When the attack came, residents were gathering at a cafe to honor a fallen Ukrainian soldier. Many people in the village, which was formerly occupied by Russia, speculated to The Washington Post that they thought a Russia sympathizer among them may have tipped off Moscow’s military about the event. The Post could not verify the claims. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the strike proof of Russia’s ‘absolute evil.’… The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Volker Türk, deployed a field team to the site to speak to survivors and gather more information about the Hroza attack, spokeswoman Liz Throssell said in a statement. It is clear that ‘everybody in this small community has been affected,’ she said. An overnight attack on the port city of Odessa hit a boardinghouse, play area and port infrastructure, Ukraine’s southern command said. ‘The enemy attacked Odessa with supersonic anti-ship missiles of the “Onyx” type, launched from the coastal missile complex’ in Crimea, it posted on Telegram. Residential buildings were damaged, with four people suffering injures. Russian envoy Mikhail Ulyanov said that Russia plans to revoke its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the United States in a post on social media Friday. The Kremlin said Friday that any decision to revoke its ratification of the treaty would not signify intent to conduct nuclear tests, while Washington said the move would endanger global norms. The Netherlands will allocate about $108 million in a new support package for Ukraine, the Dutch government said Friday. About $32 million will go toward buying gas and bolstering electricity ahead of winter, and about $64 million will go to Dutch companies helping with Ukraine’s reconstruction, a statement said. Russia will begin delivering grain to African nations within the next month and a half, Russian news agency Interfax reported. In July, Moscow pulled out of a key deal that allowed for the safe wartime transport of Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea, and has since said that it could replace Ukraine as a grain supplier to the African continent. The United States will restrict trade with 42 Chinese companies because of their support for developing Moscow’s military technology and providing Russia with U.S.-origin integrated circuits, the U.S. Commerce Department said Friday, Reuters reported. The United States expelled two Russian diplomats from the country in retaliation for the expulsion of two U.S. diplomats in Moscow last month, according to the State Department.The department will not tolerate the Russian government’s pattern of harassment of our diplomats,’ spokesman Matthew Miller said, the Associated Press reported. ‘Unacceptable actions against our embassy personnel in Moscow will have consequences.'”

‘We Are at War,’ Netanyahu Says After Hamas Attacks Israel. Palestinian militants from Gaza launched an early-morinng assault on southern Israel, invading towns and firing thousands of rockets. Israel retaliated with huge strikes on Gazan cities. The New York Times, Patrick Kingsley and Isabel Kershner, Saturday, 7 October 2023: “Israel battled on Saturday to repel one of the broadest invasions of its territory in 50 years after Palestinian militants from Gaza launched an early-morning assault on southern Israel, infiltrating 22 Israeli towns and army bases, kidnapping Israeli civilians and soldiers and firing thousands of rockets toward cities as far away as Jerusalem. By early evening, the Israeli military said fighting continued in at least five places in southern Israel; multiple Israelis had been abducted and taken to Gaza, including an elderly grandmother; and at least 250 Israelis had been reported dead by officials and more than 1,400 wounded. Israel retaliated with huge strikes on Gazan cities, and the Gaza Health Ministry said at least 234 Palestinians had been killed in either gun battles or airstrikes. In an assault without recent precedent in its complexity and scale, the militants crossed into Israel by land, sea and air, according to the Israeli military, leading to some of the first pitched battles between Israeli and Arab forces on Israeli soil in decades.” See also, Hamas surprise attack out of Gaza stuns Israel and leaves hundreds dead in fighting, retaliation, Associated Press, Josef Federman and Issam Adwan, Saturday, 7 October 2023: “Backed by a barrage of rockets, Hamas militants stormed from the blockaded Gaza Strip into nearby Israeli towns, killing dozens and abducting others in an unprecedented surprise attack during a major Jewish holiday Saturday. A stunned Israel launched airstrikes in Gaza, with its prime minister saying the country is now at war with Hamas and vowing to inflict an ‘unprecedented price.’ In an assault of startling breadth, Hamas gunmen rolled into as many as 22 locations outside the Gaza Strip, including towns and other communities as far as 15 miles (24 kilometers) from the Gaza border. In some places they gunned down civilians and soldiers as Israel’s military scrambled to muster a response.”


Sunday, 8 October 2023:


Fearing Third-Party Spoilers, Biden Allies Try to Squash Them. With Democrats worried that a third-party bid could throw a tight race to Donald Trump, President Biden’s top aides have blessed a broad offensive to starve such efforts of cash and ballot access. The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein and Lisa Lerer, Sunday, 8 October 2023: “Powerful allies of President Biden are aggressively working to stop third-party and independent presidential candidacies, fearing that an outside bid could cost Democrats an election that many believe will again come down to a few percentage points in key battleground states. As attempts to mount outside campaigns multiply, a broad coalition has accelerated a multipronged assault to starve such efforts of financial and political support and warn fellow Democrats that supporting outsider candidacies, including the centrist organization No Labels, could throw the election to former President Donald J. Trump. Mr. Biden’s top aides have blessed the multimillion-dollar offensive, which cuts across the party, tapping the resources of the Democratic National Committee, labor unions, abortion rights groups, top donors and advocacy groups backing moderate and liberal Democrats. Even the president has helped spread the word: Mr. Biden, in an interview with ProPublica, said a No Labels candidacy would ‘help the other guy.'”


Tuesday, 10 October 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. mulls joint funding package for Israel and Ukraine; Zelensky in Romania, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong and Adela Suliman, Tuesday, 10 October 2023: “The White House is considering attaching a request for Congress to approve additional funding for Ukraine to a separate request for urgent aid to Israel, The Washington Post reported, citing several people familiar with the deliberations. One official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, said such a move could make sense because it ‘jams the far right’ in Congress, where some Republican lawmakers oppose more Ukraine aid but support aid to Israel. Russian President Vladimir Putin, making his first comments Tuesday on the war between Israel and Hamas, blamed Washington. ‘Many will agree with me that this is a vivid example of the failure of U.S. policy,’ he said. The Kremlin has stopped short this week of condemning the Palestinian militant group Hamas, referring instead to the developments as ‘a spiral of violence.’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday: ‘We have long-standing ties with the Palestinians. We continue our contacts. … But at the same time, we have our relations with Israel.’ Republicans have expressed opposition to such a joint funding plan. ‘Absolutely not,’ Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the No. 3 GOP lawmaker in the House, said when asked about the prospect of a joint funding package for Israel and Ukraine. Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), a supporter of Kyiv, said he would need to see more information on how funds sent to Ukraine are being spent, and he warned the White House against using funding for Israel as a vehicle for Ukraine aid, The Post reported. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is in Romania on Tuesday. Zelensky tweeted that while in the NATO member state he would be focusing on ‘developing aviation and other coalitions, strengthening Ukraine’s air defense, the Black Sea security architecture,’ in meetings with his Romanian counterpart, President Klaus Iohannis. ‘Romania is a friend who came to our help on our darkest day and whose support gets stronger with time. I am certain this visit will be beneficial for both of our nations,’ Zelensky added. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, is preparing to visit Russia, the Palestinian ambassador to Russia, Abdel Hafiz Nofal, told Russian television Tuesday. ‘We are waiting for an official statement from the Kremlin, from the Russian side, about when the visit will take place. An agreement has been reached that Mr. Abbas will come here to Moscow,’ Nofal said. The two leaders have met on multiple occasions. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said Tuesday ‘there is no exact date’ for the visit, but he added that ‘it was planned in advance,’ ahead of the current escalation of violence in the Middle East. American journalist Evan Gershkovich lost his appeal against his arrest in a Moscow court. The Wall Street Journal reporter was arrested in March and remains detained, awaiting trial on espionage charges — which he, the White House and his employer strongly deny. Gershkovich, 31, briefly attended the courtroom hearing in which he lost his appeal. Russia expressed concern after the Hamas attack against Israel, stopping short of condemning the violence, The Post reported. ‘We are extremely concerned,’ Peskov said during a daily briefing with reporters. ‘We believe that the situation should be brought to a peaceful resolution as soon as possible.’ Russia’s carefully worded reaction reflected decades of nuanced — at times contradictory — diplomacy in which the Kremlin has sought strong ties with Israel, while also supporting the Palestinian cause and courting groups such as Hamas. Zelensky claimed that Russia is ‘interested in triggering a war in the Middle East,’ without providing evidence. He said in his nightly address that it was in Moscow’s interest to stoke ‘a new source of pain and suffering [that] could undermine world unity.’ He also blamed ‘Moscow’s Iranian friends’ for “openly supporting those who attacked Israel.’ Russia is seeking to rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council after being suspended last year, following its invasion of Ukraine. The vote to regain its seat will take place later Tuesday in the U.N. General Assembly as 193 members vote to elect 15 members to the council. The United States and others have sent letters to many of the General Assembly members urging them to vote against Russia, the Associated Press reported.”

Federal Prosecutors Asked a Judge on Tuesday to Force Former President Donald Trump to Tell Them Months Before He Goes to Trial on Charges of Seeking to Overturn the 2020 Election Whether He Intends to Defend Himself by Blaming the Stable of Lawyers Around Him at the Time for Giving Him Poor Legal Advice, The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Tuesday, 10 October 2023: “In a motion filed to the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, the prosecutors sought an order that would compel Mr. Trump to tell them by Dec. 18 if he plans to pursue the blame-the-lawyers strategy — known as an advice of counsel defense — at his federal election interference trial, which is now set to begin in March in Federal District Court in Washington. Both Mr. Trump and his current team of lawyers have ‘repeatedly and publicly announced’ that they were going to use such arguments as ‘a central component of his defense,’ prosecutors told Judge Chutkan in their filing. They said they wanted a formal order forcing Mr. Trump to tell them his plans by mid-December ‘to prevent disruption of the pretrial schedule and delay of the trial.’ The early notification could also give prosecutors a tactical edge in the case. Defendants who pursue advice of counsel arguments waive the shield of attorney-client privilege that would normally protect their dealings with their lawyers. And, as prosecutors reminded Judge Chutkan, if Mr. Trump heads in this direction, he would have to give them not only all of the ‘communications or evidence’ concerning the lawyers he plans to use as part of his defense, but also any ‘otherwise-privileged communications’ that might be used to undermine his claims.”

Supreme Court declines to revisit landmark libel ruling, though Clarence Thomas wants to reconsider the decision, CNN Politics, Devan Cole, Tuesday, 10 October 2023: “The Supreme Court declined on Tuesday to revisit the landmark First Amendment decision in New York Times v. Sullivan, rebuffing a request to take another look at decades-old precedent that created a higher bar for public figures to claim libel in civil suits. The media world has for years relied on the unanimous decision in the 1964 case to fend off costly defamation lawsuits brought by public figures. The ruling established the requirement that public figures show ‘actual malice’ before they can succeed in a libel dispute. Despite being a mainstay in US media law, the Sullivan decision has increasingly come under fire by conservatives both inside and outside the court, including Justice Clarence Thomas, who said on Tuesday that he still wanted to revisit Sullivan at some point.” See also, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Renews Call for Reconsideration of Landmark Libel Ruling. The justice wrote that the decision, New York Times v. Sullivan, lets news organizations ‘cast false aspersions on public figures with near impunity.’ The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Tuesday, 10 October 2023: “Justice Clarence Thomas renewed his call on Tuesday for the Supreme Court to reconsider New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark 1964 ruling interpreting the First Amendment to make it more difficult for public officials to prevail in libel suits. Justice Thomas wrote that the decision had no basis in the Constitution as it was understood by the people who drafted and ratified it. He added, quoting an earlier opinion, that it ‘comes at a heavy cost, allowing media organizations and interest groups to cast false aspersions on public figures with near impunity.’ Justice Thomas has been the subject of a series of news reports raising questions about whether he had violated ethics rules. The reports said he had failed to disclose gifts and trips from Harlan Crow, a Texas billionaire who has donated to conservative causes. The Sullivan decision and ones that followed it require public figures suing for defamation to prove that the defendant had acted with ‘actual malice.’ The phrase is a legal term of art and does not connote the ordinary meaning of malice in the sense of spite or ill will. Instead, to prove actual malice a plaintiff must show that the defendant knew the disputed statement was false or had acted with ‘reckless disregard.’ That second phrase is also a term of art. The Supreme Court has said that it requires proof that the writer entertained serious doubts about the truth of the statement.”

After years of exaggerating his business assets, Trump confronts them in court. A New York civil fraud case entering its second week threatens to put on display unprecedented details about how Trump’s business operated. The Washington Post, Jonathan O’Connell and Shayna Jacobs, Tuesday, 10 October 2023: “When Donald Trump needed to value his Trump Tower apartment for homeowner’s insurance in 2010, he personally showed an appraiser around the unit for 15 minutes but ushered him out before the expert could take any measurements. Trump’s company then declared that the 11,000-square-foot unit measured 30,000 square feet, nearly three times its actual size. A few years later, expert appraisers told Trump his 70-story office building at 40 Wall Street in Manhattan, steps from the New York Stock Exchange, was worth $260 million. But Trump soon claimed in financial documents that it was worth nearly $530 million, more than doubling its stated value. In 2018, while Trump was president, his company cited a seasoned New York valuation expert to claim in its financial statements that Niketown, a luxury retail store adjoining Manhattan’s Trump Tower that has since closed, was worth $445 million. The expert later told investigators he’d provided no such input and that Trump’s process to arrive at the figure didn’t ‘make any sense.’ Those details are drawn from thousands of pages of court documents prepared by New York Attorney General Letitia James as evidence in the civil fraud case she has filed against Trump. The documents show how accounting, banking and real estate experts repeatedly informed Trump how much his properties and businesses were really worth. But over and over again, the documents reveal that Trump, his adult sons and top executives allegedly ignored or sidelined those experts, exchanging their figures for numbers from another source: Trump’s own intuition.” See also, Fraud trial: Trump acknowledged penthouse size at 11,000 square feet, not 30,000 he later claimed, Associated Press, Michael R. Sisak and Jennifer Peltz, Tuesday, 10 October 2023: “Donald Trump signed a document 30 years ago that gave the true size of his New York penthouse which was later listed as far larger on financial statements, according to evidence Tuesday at the former president’s civil business fraud trial. The evidence appeared in an email attachment shown as Allen Weisselberg, the former finance chief of Trump’s company, testified in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ fraud lawsuit against Trump and his Trump Organization. Trump denies any wrongdoing. The attachment was a 1994 document, signed by Trump, that pegged his Trump Tower triplex at 10,996 square feet — not the 30,000 square feet later claimed for years on financial statements that were given to banks, insurers and others to make deals and secure loans.”

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team is urging the judge overseeing Donald Trump’s federal election interference case to implement protections for potential jurors, citing the former president’s conduct on social media regarding people involved in his various legal battles, ABC News, Katherine Faulders, Tuesday, 10 October 2023: “Smith’s team specifically cites Trump’s post about the judge’s clerk in his ongoing $250 million civil fraud trial, which last week prompted the judge in the case to issue an oral order restricting all parties from speaking publicly about his court staff. ‘There are other good reasons in this case for the Court to impose these restrictions and enforce this District’s standard prohibition against publicizing jurors’ identities,’ Smith’s team said in Tuesday’s filing. ‘Chief among them is the defendant’s continued use of social media as a weapon of intimidation in court proceedings.'”

George Santos Faces New Charges Accusing Him of Lies and Credit Card Fraud. George Santos, a first-term Republican congressman, was charged in an indictment that added 10 new felony counts to the existing charges. The New York Times, Michael Gold and Grace Ashford, Tuesday, 10 October 2023: “Federal prosecutors on Tuesday filed a significant array of additional charges against Representative George Santos of New York, accusing him of new criminal schemes, including stealing the identities and credit card details of donors to his campaign. The new accusations were made in a 23-count superseding indictment that laid out how Mr. Santos had charged his donors’ credit cards ‘repeatedly, without their authorization,’ distributing the money to his and other candidates’ campaigns and to his own bank account…. Among other things, prosecutors say that Mr. Santos stole a donor’s credit card number to transfer more than $11,000 to his own bank account, and swindled $50,000 from two other donors using a fake nonprofit — using the money to buy designer goods and settle personal debts. They say he faked being wealthy to impress Republican leaders, reported a fictitious $500,000 campaign loan to get their financial support and made up tens of thousands of dollars in donations to give the impression of runaway political success.” See also, New charges accuse Republican Representative George Santos of identity theft and credit card fraud, The Washington Post, Anumita Kaur, Tuesday, 10 October 2023: “A superseding indictment made public Tuesday charges Rep. George Santos with stealing the identities of family members and using donors’ credit cards to spend thousands of dollars, intensifying the legal peril facing the freshman congressman five months after he was charged with a host of other financial crimes. Santos, 35, faces 10 additional charges, according to the indictment: one count of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, two counts of wire fraud, two counts of making materially false statements to the Federal Election Commission, two counts of falsifying records submitted to obstruct the FEC, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of access device fraud.” See also, Federal prosecutors file new charges against Representative George Santos, ABC News, Aaron Katersky, Tuesday, 10 October 2023: “Federal prosecutors on Long Island filed new criminal charges against Rep. George Santos on Tuesday, accusing him of stealing people’s identities, making charges on his donors’ credit cards without their authorization and lying to federal election officials.”


Wednesday, 11 October 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky at NATO headquarters; U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announces new $200M security package, The Washington Post, Dan Lamothe, Emily Rauhala, Frances Vinall, Adela Suliman, and Sammy Westfall, Wednesday, 11 October 2023: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise visit to NATO headquarters Wednesday to attend a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a forum of dozens of nations organized by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. At the outset of the meeting, Zelensky made a renewed bid for additional Western weapons to fend off Russian invaders occupying his country. Allies will discuss battlefield aid to Ukraine, focusing in particular on air defense to protect Ukrainian cities through the winter, NATO diplomats said. Austin, also in Brussels for the meeting, said he was ‘proud’ to announce another U.S. security assistance package for Kyiv valued at $200 million. The military aid will include air-defense missiles, equipment to counter minefields and Russian drones, antitank weapons and artillery rounds, he said, adding that allies should expect Russia to heavily bombard Ukraine this winter. The package puts the United States’ total commitment at about $43.9 billion since the start of the war, he said. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia is preparing ‘again to use winter as a weapon for war,’ adding in a tweet that the alliance is ‘committed to stepping up & sustaining our support for Ukraine.’ Ukrainian and Western officials have been making preparations to reinforce the national energy grid and secure crucial equipment ahead of a change in weather. Last winter, Ukraine experienced rolling blackouts across the country, with hospitals, schools and homes without electricity or forced to rely on power generators. U.S. officials downplayed the impact that the Israel-Hamas war may have on war efforts in Ukraine. Ambassador Julianne Smith, the U.S. permanent representative to NATO, said in a briefing that the risk that the crisis in Israel will distract the United States, or the alliance, was negligible. ‘I suspect the United States will be able to stay focused on our partnership and commitment to Israel’s security, while also meeting our commitments and promise to continue supporting Ukraine as it defends its territory,’ she said. Russia failed in its bid to rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council. The council consists of 47 member states elected via secret ballot, with a prescribed number of seats for geographic regions. Russia lost out to Bulgaria and Albania in Eastern Europe, but did receive 83 votes in its favor from the General Assembly member nations. Russia was suspended from the council last April after evidence of atrocities emerged in Bucha, Ukraine. Damage to a natural gas pipeline and a communications cable in the Baltic Sea is raising alarm in Europe, with Finnish officials suggesting sabotage as the most likely explanation, though they held back from identifying any potential culprits, The Washington Post reported. The Baltic connector pipeline, which runs between Finland and Estonia and can send gas in either direction, was shut down early Sunday. On Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia does ‘not have technical information’ about the incident and ‘will await more details.’ Putin weighed in on the Israel-Hamas war on Wednesday. ‘What’s happening is terrible. … Whatever the level of aggravation on both sides, we should strive to minimize or reduce to zero, to minimize losses among the civilian population — among women, children, the elderly,’ he said, speaking at a plenary session of Russian Energy Week forum. He said the United States ‘neglected the mechanisms of settlement in the Middle East’ and ‘tried to substitute the solution of fundamental political problems with some material giveaways’ for Palestinians. Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend an event in Kyrgyzstan on Thursday, the country’s presidential office said, according to Reuters. It would be Putin’s first trip abroad since the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest in March, though Kyrgyzstan is not a member of the ICC. The Russian leader is also expected to travel to China, also not an ICC member, next week, said Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov, according to Russian outlet RT. Late last month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the dates of Putin’s visit to China had been determined, but were to be released ‘in due time.’ Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said a price cap, led by the Group of Seven, on Russian oil ‘significantly reduced Russian revenue over the last 10 months.’ Speaking Wednesday at International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Marrakesh, Morocco, Yellen said the Ukraine war remains a major headwind for the global economy. But she added: ‘We must continue to impose severe and increasing costs on Russia and continue efforts to ensure Russia pays for the damage it has caused.’ A grain corridor from Ukraine through Moldova to Romania, which has a Black Sea coast and port infrastructure, will soon be operational, Zelensky said Tuesday after meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in Bucharest. Ukrainian F-16 pilots will also be trained at the newly established Pilot Training Center in Romania, Zelensky added. The two nations signed an agreement in August to work together on grain exports, following Russia’s departure from a U.N.-backed deal that had allowed for the safe wartime transport of grain exports over the Black Sea. Putin repeated that Russia has always advocated to create an independent Palestinian state, citing the ‘decisions of the U.N. Security Council.’ His position is well known by Israel and ‘our friends in Palestine,’ Putin said Wednesday, speaking at a session of Russian Energy Week. Putin also said he didn’t understand why the Untied States is bringing the Ford carrier strike group to the Mediterranean Sea. ‘What are they going to bomb — Lebanon or what? What are they going to do? Or are they just trying to scare somebody? There are people there who aren’t afraid of anything anymore. This is not the way to solve problems, you have to find a compromise solution.'”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: At NATO, Zelensky Secures More Ukraine Aid as Allies Balance Support for Israel. The surprise appearance by President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine came as much of the West has turned its focus to the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The New York Times, Lara Jakes and Constant Méheut, Wednesday, 11 October 2023: “President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine made a surprise visit to NATO headquarters on Wednesday, urging the military alliance to maintain its flow of weapons to his country for its war against Russia, even as much of the West turns its attention to the brutal outbreak of violence in Israel. Top NATO officials sought to reassure Mr. Zelensky, pledging more than $2 billion in additional military aid to be delivered before Ukraine’s winter sets in. ‘Your fight is our fight, your security is our security, and your values are our values,’ Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, said at the start of two days of meetings among the alliance’s defense chiefs. ‘And we will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes.’ But Mr. Zelensky later said that ‘of course, everybody’s afraid’ that Western assistance would dwindle as the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza continues.”

We Don’t Talk About Leonard Leo: The Man Behind the Right’s Supreme Court Supermajority. The inside story of how Leonard Leo built a machine that remade the American legal system–and what he plans to do next. ProPublica, Andy Kroll, Andrea Bernstein, and Ilya Marritz with illustrations by Nate Sweitzer, Wednesday, 11 October 2023: “Decades ago, [Leonard Leo] realized it was not enough to have a majority of Supreme Court justices. To undo landmark rulings like Roe, his movement would need to make sure the court heard the right cases brought by the right people and heard by the right lower court judges. Leo began building a machine to do just that. He didn’t just cultivate friendships with conservative Supreme Court justices, arranging private jet trips, joining them on vacation, brokering speaking engagements. He also drew on his network of contacts to place Federalist Society protégés in clerkships, judgeships and jobs in the White House and across the federal government. He personally called state attorneys general to recommend hires for positions he presciently understood were key, like solicitors general, the unsung litigators who represent states before the U.S. Supreme Court. In states that elect jurists, groups close to him spent millions of dollars to place his allies on the bench. In states that appoint top judges, he maneuvered to play a role in their selection. And he was capable of playing bare-knuckled politics. He once privately lobbied a Republican governor’s office to reject a potential judicial pick and, if the governor defied him, threatened ‘fury from the conservative base, the likes of which you and the Governor have never seen.’ To pay for all this, Leo became one of the most prolific fundraisers in American politics. Between 2014 and 2020, tax records show, groups in his orbit raised more than $600 million. His donors include hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, Texas real estate magnate Harlan Crow and the Koch family. Leo grasped the stakes of these seemingly obscure races and appointments long before liberals and Democrats did.”


Thursday, 12 October 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin on first known trip abroad since International Criminal Court warrant for his arrest; NATO defense ministers meet in Brussels, The Washington Post, Frances Vinall, Annabelle Timsit, and Bryan Pietsch, Thursday, 12 October 2023: “In his first known international trip this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived Thursday in Kyrgyzstan, where he will meet with Eastern European leaders. Ukraine’s allies ‘won’t be distracted’ by the crisis in Israel and the Gaza Strip, and will continue to focus on Russia’s war with Ukraine, British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said Thursday ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels. Putin will meet with the leaders of Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan, as well as representatives from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which is made up of some former Soviet nations, according to Putin’s office. This is Putin’s first known foreign trip since the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest in March. Kyrgyzstan is not a signatory to the ICC statute, which obliges member nations to transfer Putin to The Hague if he enters their territory. If damage to the Balticconnector gas pipeline is found to be from a deliberate attack, NATO will meet it with ‘a determined and united response,’ NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday at a news conference after the meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels. As The Washington Post reported, Finnish officials said that the Balticconnector gas pipeline, which runs between Finland and Estonia and can send gas in either direction, was damaged, leading to its shutdown Sunday. The officials said an initial assessment suggested that the damage was most likely caused by deliberate interference, and that they intend to investigate the incident as a crime. If it is ‘proven to be a deliberate attack on critical infrastructure,’ Stoltenberg said, ‘it would be a serious incident.’ Sweden is ‘on their way to become a full member of the alliance,’ Stoltenberg added Thursday. The Scandinavian country’s accession to the alliance has so far been delayed by Turkey and Hungary, but Stoltenberg said he and the 29 NATO defense ministers whose countries have ratified Sweden’s accession gave a ‘very clear message’ to Turkey and Hungary that they were to also move forward with it. Turkey was aligned with that, Stoltenberg said, adding that he had conveyed the message to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Senior U.S. officials have stepped up their efforts to lead Western governments to use hundreds of billions of dollars of frozen Russian central bank reserves to help UkraineThe Post reported. The Kremlin has an estimated $300 billion frozen in various bank accounts throughout Western countries, but experts have warned that simply taking that money would face legal challenges and pose major financial risks. A coalition co-led by the United States, Denmark and the Netherlands will aim to establish F-16 fighter jet capacity in Ukraine and, later, oversee the building of a full-scale Ukrainian air force, the Danish Ministry of Defense said in a news release Wednesday. The package includes aircraft donations and pilot training, plus infrastructure and maintenance support. Denmark has promised to donate 19 of the American-made aircraft to Ukraine. The first delivery, of six, should arrive in spring 2024, Danish Foreign Minister Troels Lund Poulsen told Danish news agency Ritzau. Zelensky denounced ‘terrorists like Putin — or like Hamas’ during his surprise visit to NATO’s meeting in Brussels on Wednesday. It was his first visit to NATO’s steel-and-glass headquarters since Putin’s invasion, and it came a day after he acknowledged in an interview that the Israel-Gaza war could distract global attention from Russia’s war against Ukraine. Also in Brussels, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced a $200 million security assistance package for Ukraine. It followed a $1 billion military aid package, including air defense systems, announced by Germany the day before. ‘We remind the world of our shared commitment to support Ukraine today — and for the long haul,’ Austin said in his opening remarks to the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.”

Trump’s Claim That He Can’t Be Prosecuted Collides With Precedents. The former president says he has ‘absolute immunity.’ But an array of Supreme court decisions tells a different story. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Thursday, 12 October 2023: “Among the bold claims in the motion filed last week by former President Donald J. Trump seeking to dismiss the federal indictment accusing him of conspiring to undermine the 2020 election, there was a significant concession. The key Supreme Court precedent the motion relied on for claiming ‘absolute immunity’ from criminal prosecution, his lawyers acknowledged, did not address criminal prosecutions. The motion cited the 1982 precedent, Nixon v. Fitzgerald, at least 40 times over 52 pages. But that decision merely held that a former president is immune from lawsuits in civil cases — ones from private litigants seeking money — and then only if the suits concerned conduct ‘within the “outer perimeter’”of his official responsibility.’ John F. Lauro, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, conceded that ‘no court has addressed whether such presidential immunity includes immunity from criminal prosecution for the president’s official act.’ The question, he wrote, is serious and unsettled. Should Mr. Trump lose in the trial court and on appeal, there is every reason to think that he will ask the Supreme Court to step in.”

Trump faults Netanyahu and calls Hezbollah ‘very smart’ amid Israel war, The Washington Post, Isaac Arnsdorf, Thursday, 12 October 2023: “Former president Donald Trump on Wednesday criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called Hezbollah terrorist attackers ‘very smart’ as Israel recovers from the deadliest attack it has suffered in 50 years. ‘He has been hurt very badly because of what’s happened here,’ Trump said of Netanyahu in an interview for Fox News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade Show that was excerpted on television on Wednesday night. ‘He was not prepared. He was not prepared and Israel was not prepared.’ Israel has declared a state of war and called up 360,000 reservists after a surprise attack by Hamas militants on Saturday killed at least 1,200 people and wounded more than 2,700. Later on Wednesday, Trump, the clear polling leader in the Republican presidential race, complimented the intelligence of Hezbollah, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States. The Iran-aligned group, based in Lebanon, exchanged fire with Israeli forces on the country’s northern border Wednesday. ‘You know, Hezbollah is very smart,’ Trump said. ‘They’re all very smart.'” See also, Trump’s Remarks on Hezbollah and Netanyahu Prompt Bipartisan Outcry. Republican rivals and the White House were among those to roundly condemn the former president for his characterization of the Lebanese militant group. The New York Times, Neil Vigdor, Alyce McFadden, and Nicholas Nehamas, Thursday, 12 October 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump drew scorn from both sides of the political aisle on Thursday for remarks that he made one day earlier criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and referring to Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militant group, as ‘very smart.’ During a speech to his supporters in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Wednesday, he weighed in on the Hamas attacks on Israel, the worst experienced by America’s closest Middle East ally in half a century. Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite group, has clashed with Israeli forces in the days after Hamas fighters from Gaza attacked border areas in southern Israel, intensifying concerns that the country could be drawn into a conflict on a second front. ‘You know, Hezbollah is very smart,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘They’re all very smart.’ He took swipes at Mr. Netanyahu on the ‘Brian Kilmeade Show,’ a Fox News Radio show, broadcast on Thursday, arguing that intelligence lapses by Israel had left it vulnerable to the sweeping attack, kidnappings and slaughter of civilians leading to the war. A broad spectrum of political rivals condemned Mr. Trump on Thursday, including the White House and several of his Republican primary opponents.”

Colorado judge strikes down Trump’s attempt to toss a lawsuit seeking to bar him from the ballot, Associated Press, Mead Gruver and Nicholas Riccardi, Thursday, 12 October 2023: “A Colorado judge has rejected an attempt by former President Donald Trump to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to keep him off the state ballot, ruling that his objections on free-speech grounds did not apply. Trump’s attorneys argued that a Colorado law protecting people from being sued over exercising their free speech rights shielded him from the lawsuit, but Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace said that law doesn’t apply in this case. The law also conflicted with a state requirement to get the question about Trump’s eligibility resolved quickly — before a Jan. 5 deadline for presidential candidates’ names to certified for the Colorado primary, Wallace wrote. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington claims in its lawsuit that putting Trump on the ballot in Colorado would violate a provision of the 14th Amendment that bars people who have ‘engaged in insurrection’ against the Constitution from holding office.”


Friday, 13 October 2023:


How 91 felony charges boosted Trump’s standing with Republicans. Interviews in multiple states show that Trump’s constant message of victimhood has seeped in with voters. The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Hannah Knowles, Isaac Arnsdorf, and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Friday, 13 October 2023: “After Trump was charged with 91 felony counts in four separate cases for allegedly mishandling classified information, obstructing justice, conspiring to overturn the 2020 election and falsifying business records in connection to hush money paid to an adult-film star, the Republican Party seems more wedded to him than ever before. Trump also faces an ongoing civil trial in New York over alleged business fraud by him and his company. Instead of voters turning on him because they are appalled by his behavior, fearful he would not be electable or exhausted by his perpetual drama, the indictments have boomeranged to his favor among Republicans, according to voters, polls, strategists in rival campaigns and Trump advisers.”

Liz Cheney Escalates Attacks on Jim Jordan: Republicans ‘Will Lose the House and They’ll Deserve It’ if Jordan Becomes Speaker, Mediaite, Alex Griffing, Friday, 13 October 2023: “Ex-Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) blasted her former House GOP colleague Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) on Friday and warned Republicans that if they make him House speaker they will lose the majority in the next election. ‘Jim Jordan was involved in Trump’s conspiracy to steal the election and seize power; he urged that Pence refuse to count lawful electoral votes,’ Cheney, once chair of the House GOP Conference, wrote on Twitter, adding: ‘If Rs nominate Jordan to be Speaker, they will be abandoning the Constitution. They’ll lose the House majority and they’ll deserve to.'”


Saturday, 14 October 2023:


Inside Trump’s Backroom Effort to Lock Up the Republican Nomination. As the former president dodges debates, it can seem as if he’s bypassing the primary. But he and his team have been working quietly to twist the delegate rules in their favor. The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Jonathan Swan, and Maggie Haberman, Saturday, 14 October 2023: “As Mr. Trump dodges debates and is regularly seen on his golf courses in branded white polo shirts and red MAGA hats, it can seem that he is bypassing the 2024 primary fight entirely. He has done relatively few public campaign events until recent weeks. But Mr. Trump and his political team have spent months working behind the scenes to build alliances and contingency plans with key party officials, seeking to twist the primary and delegate rules in their favor. It amounts to a fail-safe in case Mr. DeSantis — or anyone else — scores a surprise victory in an early state. And it comes as Mr. Trump faces an extraordinary set of legal challenges, including four criminal indictments, that inject an unusual degree of uncertainty into a race Mr. Trump leads widely in national polling. ‘They’ve rigged it anywhere they thought they could pull it off,’ said Ken Cuccinelli, a former Trump administration official who founded Never Back Down, the pro-DeSantis super PAC that was essentially ousted from the Nevada caucus.”

How candidate Trump’s claims boost legal risks for defendant Trump, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Shane Harris, and Spencer S. Hsu, Saturday, 14 October 2023: “As prosecutors and lawyers for Donald Trump spar over the former president’s public statements, Trump the candidate keeps saying things that could hurt Trump the defendant’s chances in court. In the span of about six months, Trump has been charged in four separate indictments while simultaneously running for president. On the campaign trail, the former president has attacked the prosecutors, witnesses and alleged evidence against him in ways that seem to have only strengthened his wide lead atop the GOP field. Some of Trump’s public statements have already gotten him in legal hot water, with a partial gag order issued in a civil business fraud trial that is underway in New York, and a hearing Monday on a broader possible gag order in Trump’s D.C. criminal case. But the bombastic diatribes are also giving prosecutors new material that could be used at trial to prove elements of the criminal charges against the former president. If special counsel Jack Smith succeeds in his quest for a gag order on Trump, prosecutors could lose one of their best sources of incriminating information — Trump’s mouth.”


Monday, 16 October 2023:


Judge Tanya Chutkan Imposes a Limited Gag Order on Trump in the Federal Case Concerning His Efforts to Overturn the 2020 Election. The order bars him from attacking witnesses, court staff members, and specific prosecutors or their families. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Charlie Savage, Monday, 16 October 2023: “A judge imposed a limited gag order on former President Donald J. Trump on Monday, restricting Mr. Trump from making public statements attacking the witnesses and specific prosecutors or court staff members involved in the federal case concerning his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Mr. Trump’s free speech rights do not permit him ‘to launch a pretrial smear campaign’ against those people, said the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan. ‘No other defendant would be allowed to do so,’ Judge Chutkan added, ‘and I’m not going to allow it in this case.’ But the narrowly tailored order explicitly left Mr. Trump free as he pursues his presidential campaign to continue disparaging the Justice Department and President Biden. It even allowed him to assert that he believed his criminal prosecution was politically motivated. Judge Chutkan apparently left Mr. Trump leeway to attack her as well. The judge also addressed a particularly thorny question involving former Vice President Mike Pence, who is both a witness in the case and one of Mr. Trump’s rivals for the 2024 Republican nomination. She said Mr. Trump could go after Mr. Pence as long as the attacks did not touch on Mr. Pence’s role in the criminal prosecution.” See also, Trump placed under limited gag order in federal election case in D.C, The Washington Post, Rachel Weiner, Perry Stein, Tom Jackman, Devlin Barrett, and Spencer S. Hsu, Monday, 16 October 2023: “A federal judge issued a limited gag order Monday against Donald Trump, saying the former president must stop disparaging prosecutors, witnesses and court personnel involved in his upcoming D.C. trial on charges of conspiring to obstruct the results of the 2020 election. The decision by U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan takes the country further into legally and politically uncharted territory with a criminal defendant who is known for incendiary public statements and is also a leading 2024 presidential candidate. ‘Mr. Trump is facing felony charges, and he does not get to respond to every criticism if that response could affect a potential witness,’ Chutkan said in court. ‘He doesn’t get to use all the words.’ But the judge declined to impose restrictions as broad as the Justice Department wanted, saying Trump was free to verbally abuse President Biden, his likely rival in the 2024 election. Trump can also claim that the case against him is politically motivated, as long as he doesn’t denigrate individual prosecutors. ‘Mr. Trump can certainly claim he’s being unfairly prosecuted, but I cannot imagine any other case where a defendant is allowed to call the prosecutor “deranged,” or a “thug,” and I will not permit it here simply because the defendant is running a political campaign,’ Chutkan said, quoting from past Trump statements to make her point. The judge did not immediately indicate what types of punishment she would consider for violations of her order; courts generally have considered house arrest, fines or jail to quiet defendants who violate such gag requirements. Before the written order was even issued, Trump vowed to appeal, asked his supporters to respond with campaign donations, and issued a statement that seemed to dance around the line Chutkan had drawn between attacks on the justice system and attacks on the Biden administration.” See also, Judge imposes limited gag order on Donald Trump in D.C. trial concerning his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Judge Tanya Chutkan said Trump’s ‘presidential candidacy does not give him carte blanche to vilify…public servants who are simply doing their job.’ Politico, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, Monday, 16 October 2023: “A federal judge has barred Donald Trump from attacking witnesses, prosecutors and court staff involved in his Washington, D.C., criminal case, imposing a gag order that sharply escalates the tension between Trump’s 2024 bid for the presidency and the realities of his status as a criminal defendant. ‘First Amendment protections yield to the administration of justice and to the protection of witnesses,’ Judge Tanya Chutkan said Monday as she issued the gag order. ‘His presidential candidacy does not give him carte blanche to vilify … public servants who are simply doing their job.’ For Trump, it’s one of the first tangible consequences of his multiple brushes with the criminal justice system, in this case on four felony charges related to his effort to subvert the 2020 election. Chutkan has scheduled Trump’s trial to begin on March 4 and emphasized Monday that the date would not change. ‘This trial will not yield to the election cycle and we will not revisit the trial date,’ Chutkan said.” See also, Trump ‘does not have the right to say and do exactly what he pleases,’ Judge Chutkan says, issuing a limited gag order, CNN Politics, Holmes Lybrand, Hannah Rabinowitz, and Katelyn Polantz, Monday, 16 October 2023: “A federal judge on Monday issued a gag order on former President Donald Trump, limiting what he can say about special counsel Jack Smith’s federal prosecution into his alleged attempt to subvert the 2020 presidential election. The order restricts Trump’s ability to publicly target court personnel, potential witnesses, or the special counsel and his staff. The order did not impose restrictions on disparaging comments about Washington, DC, – where the jury will take place – or certain comments about the Justice Department at large, both of which the government requested. ‘This is not about whether I like the language Mr. Trump uses,’ Judge Tanya Chutkan said. ‘This is about language that presents a danger to the administration of justice. His presidential candidacy does not give him carte blanche to vilify public servants who are simply doing their jobs,’ the judge added. Chutkan noted that any violation of her orders could result in sanctions. Trump will appeal Chutkan’s order, he said in a post on his social media website Truth Social.”

Migrant Families Separated at Border by Trump Reach Settlement. Thousands of migrants subjected to the policy will be allowed to live and work in the U.S., at least temporarily. If they win asylum, they could become citizens. The New York Times, Miriam Jordan, Monday, 16 October 2023: “Lawyers representing thousands of families separated at the southern border during a Trump administration crackdown have reached a settlement with the federal government that enables the migrants to remain in the United States and apply for asylum, putting them on the path to permanent legal residency. The agreement, filed on Monday in federal court in San Diego, concludes years of negotiations that were part of a class-action lawsuit to address the harm inflicted by family separations carried out in 2017 and 2018. The policy was a key component of the Trump administration’s efforts to curb unauthorized immigration. Children were systematically taken from their parents and sent to shelters and foster homes across the country, and parents were criminally charged for entering the country unlawfully. The objective was to deliver a powerful deterrent to families planning to come to the United States, even those seeking asylum. All told, several thousand foreign-born children were taken from their parents. Later, it emerged that hundreds of U.S.-born children crossing the border with migrant parents were also subjected to the policy. Wrenching images and audio of children being taken from their parents stirred outrage and criticism, and eventually prompted a wave of lawsuits — including the class-action suit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.” See also, The Biden administration agreed to a court settlement that would bar U.S. authorities from prosecuting migrant parents traveling with children for illegally entering the United States, a practice used by the Trump administration that provoked widespread outrage, The Washington Post, Maria Sacchetti, Monday, 16 October 2023: “If approved by a judge, this provision in the proposed settlement would remain in effect for eight years, preventing an administration during that time from restoring a ‘zero-tolerance’ prosecution policy. That Trump policy forced the separation of thousands of parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2018, drawing worldwide condemnation from politicians and religious leaders amid reports of crying children and distraught parents desperate to reunite their families. The proposed settlement, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in San Diego, would wrap up a class-action lawsuit that compelled the Trump administration to reunite thousands of family members forced apart during his term. The settlement also would grant temporary benefits to separated families such as housing aid, work permits, health care and a fresh start for their asylum claims.” See also, Biden administration reaches settlement with ACLU over separated migrant families that took place under the Trump administration, ABC News, Armando Garcia and Luke Barr, Monday, 16 October 2023: “The Biden administration and the American Civil Liberties Union have reached a proposed settlement agreement that, if approved, would provide benefits for thousands of migrant families separated under the Trump administration’s controversial ‘zero tolerance’ policy to deter illegal southern border crossings. Under the proposed agreement, the Justice Department says, new standards would be established to limit migrant family separations in the future. The settlement would prohibit separations unless there are concerns regarding the wellness of the migrant child, national security issues, medical emergencies or in the case of criminal warrants. The settlement would also provide continued support services for those who were separated from their families when Trump was president, including covering the cost of medical bills incurred during or because of the separations. A federal judge will have to review and sign off on the deal, a Department of Justice official said on a conference call with reporters on Monday.”

Polish opposition leader Tusk declares win after exit poll shows ruling conservatives lose majority, Associated Press, Monika Scislowska and Vanessa Gera, Monday, 16 October 2023: “Polish opposition leader Donald Tusk declared the beginning of a new era for his country after opposition parties appeared to have won enough votes in Sunday’s parliamentary election to oust the governing nationalist conservative party. That party, Law and Justice, has bickered with allies and faced accusations of eroding rule of law at home in its eight years in power. It appeared that voters were mobilized like never before, voting in even greater numbers than when the nation ousted the communist authorities in 1989. Exit poll results pegged it at a record 72.9%. In some places people were still in line when polling officially closed, but all were allowed to vote.”


Tuesday, 17 October 2023:


Ukraine Uses Powerful American-Supplied Missiles for First Time. Ukrainian forces attacked two key Russian air bases behind enemy lines on Tuesday, using American-made long-range missiles known as ATACMS, a U.S. official said. The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Lara Jakes, Marc Santora, Constant Méheut, and John Ismay, Tuesday, 17 October 2023: “Ukraine’s forces used newly supplied American long-range missiles against Russia for the first time on Tuesday after President Biden overcame his longstanding reluctance to providing the weapons, permitting the Pentagon to deliver them covertly in the last few days, American officials said. The decision to send the missiles represented a shift by the Biden administration at a time when the Ukrainian military is struggling in a counteroffensive in the country’s south and east. Mr. Biden had worried that sending the more powerful weapons could escalate the conflict with Russia. Ukraine used the missiles, called ATACMS, to strike two air bases in Russian-occupied territory on Tuesday, according to an American official familiar with the assault. Ukraine’s special operations forces said the attack damaged runways and destroyed nine helicopters, an ammunition depot, an antiaircraft missile launcher and military equipment. Those claims could not be independently verified. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine confirmed the use of the missiles. ‘Today I am especially grateful to the United States,’ he said in his nightly address to the nation. ‘Our agreements with President Biden are being implemented. And they are being implemented very accurately — ATACMS have proven themselves.'”

Momentous Shift Looms for Poland as Governing Party Looks Set to Be Ousted. An expected liberal coalition would probably reverse deeply conservative policies at home and diminish Poland’s role abroad as a beacon for right-wing groups. The New York Times, Andrew Higgins, Tuesday, 17 October 2023: “It boiled down to a choice between two different visions of the future: one dominated by nationalism, traditional Catholic norms and the defense of Polish sovereignty; the other by promises to ‘bring Poland back to Europe’ and the liberal democratic values espoused by the European Union. In the end, after a long, vicious election campaign in a highly polarized country, opponents of the nationalist governing party, Law and Justice, won a clear majority of seats in a pivotal general election held on Sunday, according to final official results Tuesday. That victory opened the way for a potentially drastic shift away from Poland’s deeply conservative policies at home and its role abroad as a beacon for right-wing groups and politicians opposed to liberal values. The European Union has long clashed with Poland’s government over the rule of law, the protection of minority rights and other issues. Now a new government in Warsaw offers an opportunity for a reset with the most populous and, in terms of economic and military power, most important of the formerly communist states admitted after the end of the Cold War.”


Wednesday, 18 October 2023:


Trump Lawyer Kenneth Chesebro Acknowledged Political Agenda in Election Suit, Emails Show. Chesebro’s comments undercut assertions that Donald J. Trump’s lawyers were simply providing legal advice in challenging the 2020 results. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater, Wednesday, 18 October 2023: “On Dec. 24, 2020, Kenneth Chesebro and other lawyers fighting to reverse President Donald J. Trump’s election defeat were debating whether to file litigation contesting Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in Wisconsin, a key swing state. Mr. Chesebro argued there was little doubt that the litigation would fail in court — he put the odds of winning at ‘1 percent’ — as Mr. Trump continued to push his baseless claims of widespread fraud, according to emails reviewed by The New York Times. But the ‘relevant analysis,’ Mr. Chesebro argued, ‘is political.’ The emails have new significance because Mr. Chesebro is scheduled to be one of the first two of Mr. Trump’s 18 co-defendants to go on trial this month on charges brought by the district attorney’s office in Fulton County, Ga. The indictment accused Mr. Chesebro of conspiring to create slates of so-called fake electors pledged to Mr. Trump in several states that Mr. Biden had won.”


Thursday, 19 October 2023:


Sidney Powell Pleads Guilty in Georgia Trump Case. Ms. Powell, a member of the Trump legal team in 2020, will cooperate with prosecutors seeking to convict the former president in an election interference case in Georgia. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Thursday, 19 October 2023: “Sidney K. Powell, who spun some of the wildest conspiracy theories about ballot fraud as a member of Donald J. Trump’s legal team after he lost the 2020 election, pleaded guilty on Thursday morning to six misdemeanor counts. She is one of 19 people, including Mr. Trump, who were indicted in August for trying to subvert the election results in Georgia, and she has agreed to testify against any of the remaining defendants. Her guilty plea was a blow to Mr. Trump, who faces the most charges of any defendant other than Rudolph W. Giuliani, his former personal lawyer. Significantly, Ms. Powell is the first of Mr. Trump’s close advisers from the post-election period to flip, which could also help the federal election interference case against him. Cracking the former president’s inner circle has long been a challenge for prosecutors, as it was for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riots. Ms. Powell, 68, was a frequent visitor to the White House after the election and had direct dealings with the highest-profile defendants in the case, including Mr. Trump, who considered naming her a special counsel to investigate voter fraud.” See also, Trump co-defendant Sidney Powell pleads guilty in Georgia election interference case, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey and Amy Gardner, Thursday, 19 October 2023: “Just one day before jury selection was to begin in her criminal trial, Sidney Powell, a former member of Donald Trump’s legal team, pleaded guilty Thursday to illegally conspiring to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia. Powell, a Dallas-based lawyer who espoused baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 vote and filed a litany of failed lawsuits challenging the results, admitted guilt to six misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with the performance of election duties. She was sentenced to six years’ probation and agreed to pay a $6,000 fine and $2,700 in restitution to the state of Georgia, turn over documents and testify truthfully in her co-defendants’ trials. She is the second of Trump’s 18 co-defendants in the sprawling racketeering case to accept a plea deal and agree to testify against co-defendants. The other is bail bondsman Scott Hall. Both faced charges related to their involvement in a secretive effort to access and copy election software in rural Coffee County, Ga., about two hours south of Atlanta. Powell is the first person with direct ties to Trump and his inner circle to plead guilty in the Georgia case. That development could have far-reaching implications for the former president, who is facing state and federal charges tied to his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss. Powell is an unnamed co-conspirator in the federal case against Trump.” See also, Sidney Powell pleads guilty over efforts to overturn Trump’s election loss in Georgia and agrees to cooperate, Associated Press, Kate Brumback, Thursday, 19 October 2023: “Lawyer Sidney Powell pleaded guilty to reduced charges Thursday over efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election in Georgia, becoming the second defendant in the sprawling case to reach a deal with prosecutors. Powell, who was charged alongside Trump and 17 others with violating the state’s anti-racketeering law, entered the plea just a day before jury selection was set to start in her trial. She pleaded guilty to six misdemeanors accusing her of conspiring to intentionally interfere with the performance of election duties. As part of the deal, she will serve six years of probation, will be fined $6,000 and will have to write an apology letter to Georgia and its residents. She also recorded a statement for prosecutors and agreed to testify truthfully against her co-defendants at future trials. Powell was initially charged with racketeering and six other counts as part of a wide-ranging scheme to keep the Republican president in power after he lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden. Prosecutors say she also participated in an unauthorized breach of elections equipment in a rural Georgia county elections office.” See also, Trump attorney Sidney Powell pleads guilty in Georgia election subversion case, CNN Politics, Marshall Cohen, Thursday, 19 October 2023: “Former Donald Trump attorney Sidney Powell has pleaded guilty in the Georgia election subversion case, one day before her trial was set to start. As part of her guilty plea, Powell is admitting her role in the January 2021 breach of election systems in rural Coffee County, Georgia. With the help of local GOP officials, a group of Trump supporters accessed and copied information from the county’s election systems in hopes of somehow proving that the election was rigged against Trump. She pleaded guilty Thursday to six misdemeanors – six counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with performance of election duties – a significant reduction from the seven felonies she initially faced.”

Special counsel urges judge to deny Trump’s January 6 claim of immunity. ‘The defendant is not above the law,’ prosecutors say in opposing former president’s bid to toss out federal 2020 election subversion prosecution. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Thursday, 19 October 2023: “U.S. prosecutors urged a federal judge Thursday to reject former president Donald Trump’s claim of absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions he took in office, saying that he is ‘not above the law’ and that his indictment for allegedly conspiring to block the results of the 2020 election should not be dismissed. ‘No court has ever alluded to the existence of absolute criminal immunity for former presidents,’ assistant special counsel James I. Pearce wrote in a 54-page filing. The filing argued that legal principles, historical evidence and sound policy reasons establish that once former presidents leave office, they are subject to federal criminal prosecution ‘like more than 330 million other Americans, including Members of Congress, federal judges, and everyday citizens.'”


Friday, 20 October 2023:


Kenneth Chesebro, a Trump-Aligned Lawyer, Pleads Guilty in Georgia. Mr. Chesebro’s plea deal comes a day after Sidney Powell, another of Donald Trump’s co-defendants in the Georgia election interference case, took a guilty plea. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Alan Feuer, Friday, 20 October 2023: “Kenneth Chesebro on Friday became the second lawyer in two days to plead guilty in a criminal racketeering indictment that also named Donald J. Trump. Mr. Chesebro also agreed to cooperate with state prosecutors in Fulton County, Ga., who have accused him, Mr. Trump and 17 others of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election. On Thursday, Sidney K. Powell made a similar deal and said she, too, would cooperate with the prosecutors. Mr. Chesebro was accused of conspiring to create slates of fake electors to support Mr. Trump in Georgia and several other states won by President Biden. His lawyers had argued that he was merely offering legal counsel to clients. Prosecutors contend that attempts to seat the pro-Trump electors were part of an illegal scheme to keep Mr. Trump in power, and Mr. Chesebro’s cooperation is considered valuable in the effort to prove their case. Mr. Chesebro, 62, pleaded guilty to a single felony charge of conspiracy and was sentenced to five years’ probation. He was originally charged with seven felonies, including one charge under the state racketeering law. Both Mr. Chesebro and Ms. Powell had exercised their right to a speedy trial under Georgia law, and had been preparing for jury selection to start on Monday.” See also, Trump co-defendant Kenneth Chesebro pleads guilty in Georgia election case. Chesebro became the second former Trump lawyer to plead guilty in as many days, following Sidney Powell on Thursday. The Washington Post, Holly Bailey and Amy Gardner, Friday, 20 October 2023: “Kenneth Chesebro, a former lawyer for Donald Trump’s campaign, pleaded guilty Friday to illegally conspiring to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia, striking a deal in which he will avoid jail time and agreed to provide evidence that could implicate other defendants, including Trump himself…. Chesebro pleaded guilty to a single felony count of conspiracy to file false documents and accepted a sentence of three to five years of probation, a $1,000 fine, $5,000 in restitution to the state of Georgia, an apology letter, 100 hours of community service and a promise to testify truthfully against any other co-defendants in the case, should they go to trial. The charge relates to Chesebro’s role organizing slates of pro-Trump electors to meet in seven states where Joe Biden had won. According to details of the amended indictment read in open court, prosecutors allege several other co-defendants were a part of that conspiracy: Trump, four other lawyers including Rudy Giuliani, and one campaign operative. Chesebro signed the amended indictment, though it was not clear if he had offered prosecutors evidence related to the alleged role those other defendants played.” See also, Chesebro’s Plea Deal Could Undermine a Possible Trump Defense in Two Cases. The Lawyer Kenneth Chesebro pleaded guilty in the Georgia election tampering case and is an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal election case. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 20 October 2023: “Mr. Chesebro’s deal could present a more serious threat to Mr. Trump than … others given that he pleaded guilty to a conspiracy count that involved both the former president and some of his closest allies. Mr. Chesebro also maintained an extensive correspondence with other pro-Trump lawyers charged in the case and played a central role in one of Mr. Trump’s chief plans to stay in office: a scheme to create slates of pro-Trump electors in states like Georgia, which Mr. Trump had actually lost.” See also, Pro-Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro accepts plea deal in Georgia ‘fake electors’ case. Chesebro was facing seven felony charges related to the plan to falsely certify that Trump won in 2020. The Guardian, Jewel Wicker and Cameron Joseph, Friday, 20 October 2023: “Kenneth Chesebro, the attorney who allegedly devised the ‘fake electors’ plan to prevent Joe Biden from winning the 2020 election, has accepted a plea deal and will avoid going to trial in the Fulton county racketeering case involving Donald Trump and 17 others. The last-minute plea deal marks the second major victory in as many days for prosecutors, who can now compel him to testify against his former allies in Trump’s inner circle to bolster their case. Chesebro appeared in court on Friday and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit filing false documents. His plea agreement is for five years of probation, $5,000 in restitution, 100 hours of community service and an apology letter to the citizens of Georgia. Most importantly, it requires that he turn over any evidence in his possession and truthfully testify at all hearings and trials involving the case’s co-defendants, including Trump.”

Trump Fined $5,000 for Breaking Gag Order by Leaving Abusive Post Online. The former president used social media to attack a clerk for the judge in his civil fraud case, and left a copy of the post online for weeks. The New York Times, Kate Christobek, Jonah E. Bromwich, and Ben Protess, Friday, 20 October 2023: “The judge presiding over the civil fraud trial of Donald J. Trump fined the former president $5,000 on Friday for a ‘blatant violation’ of a gag order imposed this month. The judge, Arthur F. Engoron, stopped short of holding Mr. Trump in contempt but warned that the former president still could face harsher punishments, even jail time, if he ran afoul of the order again. In the trial’s opening days, Justice Engoron had barred Mr. Trump from attacking his court staff after the former president posted a picture on social media of Justice Engoron’s law clerk, Allison Greenfield, with Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader. Mr. Trump labeled Ms. Greenfield ‘Schumer’s girlfriend’ and said she was ‘running this case against me.’ A spokeswoman for Mr. Schumer this month called the social media post ‘ridiculous, absurd, and false,’ adding that the senator did not know Ms. Greenfield. Mr. Trump’s post was removed from his social media platform, Truth Social, on Oct. 3, the day Justice Engoron imposed the gag order, but a copy of the post remained visible on his campaign website.” See also, New York judge fines Trump $5,000 for violation of gag order, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Friday, 20 October 2023: “A New York judge Friday issued a $5,000 fine against Donald Trump because the former president violated a gag order by failing to remove an item about a court staff member from his website. New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron, who issued the gag order after Trump’s post on his social media site Oct. 3, wrote in a two-page decision regarding the fine that Trump was responsible for the contents of his website. Trump was warned about discussing members of the judge’s staff and posts such as the one that identified a court staff member could have serious safety consequences, Engoron wrote.” See also, Judge fines Donald Trump $5,000 after post maligning court employee is found on campaign website, Associated Press, Michael R. Sisak, Friday, 20 October 2023: “Former President Donald Trump was fined $5,000 on Friday after his disparaging social media post about a key court staffer in his New York civil fraud trial lingered on his campaign website for weeks after the judge ordered it deleted. Judge Arthur Engoron avoided holding Trump in contempt for now, but reserved the right to do so — and possibly even put the 2024 Republican front-runner in jail — if he again violates a limited gag order barring case participants from personal attacks on court staff. Engoron said in a written ruling that he is ‘way beyond the “warning” stage,’ but that he was only fining Trump a nominal amount because this was a ‘first time violation’ and Trump’s lawyers said the website’s retention of the post had been inadvertent.”

Trump Seeks Freeze of Gag Order in Election Case During Appeal. Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, who imposed the order, agreed to put it on hold for eight days as the parties filed additional papers. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Friday, 20 October 2023: “Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump on Friday asked the judge overseeing his federal election interference case to temporarily put on hold the gag order she imposed on him in Washington this week, until an appeals court can decide whether it was warranted. The request for the stay by John F. Lauro, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, was a double-barreled effort to both free the former president from restrictions on his public remarks about the case and to push back the proceedings for as long as possible.”

US intelligence report alleging Russia election interference shared with 100 countries, Reuters, Jonathan Landay and Simon Lewis, Friday, 20 October 2023: “The United States on Friday released a U.S. intelligence assessment sent to more than 100 countries that found Moscow is using spies, social media and Russian state-run media to erode public faith in the integrity of democratic elections worldwide. ‘This is a global phenomenon,’ said the assessment. ‘Our information indicates that senior Russian government officials, including the Kremlin, see value in this type of influence operation and perceive it to be effective.’ A senior State Department official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said that Russia was encouraged to intensify its election influence operations by its success in amplifying disinformation about the 2020 U.S. election and the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Success breeds more, and we definitely see the U.S. elections as a catalyst,’ the official said.”


Saturday, 21 October 2023:


Lawsuit to block Trump from Colorado 2024 ballot survives more legal challenges, CNN Politics, Marshall Cohen, Saturday, 21 October 2023: “A judge has rejected three more attempts by former President Donald Trump and the Colorado GOP to shut down a lawsuit seeking to block him from the 2024 presidential ballot in the state based on the 14th Amendment’s ‘insurrectionist ban.’ The flurry of rulings late Friday from Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace are a blow to Trump, who faces candidacy challenges in multiple states stemming from his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection. He still has a pending motion to throw out the Colorado lawsuit, but the case now appears on track for an unprecedented trial this month. A post-Civil War provision of the 14th Amendment says US officials who take an oath to uphold the Constitution are disqualified from future office if they ‘engaged in insurrection’ or have ‘given aid or comfort’ to insurrectionists. But the Constitution does not spell out how to enforce the ban, and it has been applied only twice since the 1800s.”


Sunday, 22 October 2023:


Trump, Australian Billionaire Anthony Pratt, and Questions About Access and National Security. Anthony Pratt, one of Australia’s wealthiest men, made his way into Donald Trump’s inner circle with money and flattery. What he heard there has become of interest to federal prosecutors. The New York Times, Ben Protess, Jonathan Swan, Maggie Haberman, and Alan Feuer, Sunday, 22 October 2023: “New details of how an American president [Trump] and an Australian billionaire [Anthony Pratt] bonded over their mutual self-interest help to document the transactional ethos of the Trump presidency, and show how Mr. Trump melded his White House with his personal business in a way that, according to prosecutors, had ramifications for national security…. Their interactions were ultimately swept up in one of the two federal criminal cases that the special counsel Jack Smith brought against Mr. Trump. Prosecutors have interviewed Mr. Pratt in the case in which Mr. Trump is charged with taking classified documents with him from the White House when he left office and obstructing efforts to retrieve them. Mr. Pratt is listed as a potential witness who could testify against Mr. Trump at a trial next year. In his interviews with prosecutors, Mr. Pratt recounted how Mr. Trump once revealed to him sensitive information about American nuclear submarines, an episode that Mr. Trump denies. Another witness told prosecutors about hearing uncorroborated reports that Mr. Pratt spent $1 million for tickets to a Mar-a-Lago New Year’s Eve gala — voluntarily paying the club a huge markup for tickets that actually cost $50,000 or less, according to two people with knowledge of the previously unreported testimony.” See also, Reports: Trump told Australian billionaire Mar-a-Lago member Anthony Pratt about calls with foreign leaders, CNN Politics, Marshall Cohen, Sunday, 22 October 2023: “Mar-a-Lago member and Australian billionaire Anthony Pratt said then-President Donald Trump told him about his private calls with the leaders of Ukraine and Iraq, according to reports published Sunday about private recordings of Pratt, a key prosecution witness in Trump’s classified documents case. The reports from The New York Times and ‘60 Minutes Australia’ revealed previously unknown recordings of Pratt candidly recalling his conversations with Trump – and build on existing allegations that Trump overshared sensitive government material. In the tapes, Pratt says Trump shared insider details about his phone calls with world leaders during his presidency. Pratt also offers searing critiques of Trump’s personal ethics.”


Tuesday, 24 October 2023:


Jenna Ellis, Former Trump Lawyer, Pleads Guilty in Georgia Election Case. Three lawyers indicted with Donald Trump for trying to overturn the 2020 election results will now cooperate with prosecutors in the racketeering case. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Tuesday, 24 October 2023: “Jenna Ellis, a pro-Trump lawyer who amplified former President Donald J. Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud as part of what she called a legal “elite strike force team,” pleaded guilty on Tuesday as part of a deal with prosecutors in Georgia. Addressing a judge in an Atlanta courtroom, she tearfully expressed regret for taking part in efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power after he lost the 2020 election. Ms. Ellis, 38, pleaded guilty to a charge of aiding and abetting false statements and writings, a felony. She is the fourth defendant to plead guilty in the Georgia case, which charged Mr. Trump and 18 others with conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Mr. Trump’s favor. Ms. Ellis agreed to be sentenced to five years of probation, pay $5,000 in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service. She has already written an apology letter to the citizens of Georgia, and she agreed to cooperate fully with prosecutors as the case progresses.” See also, Trump co-defendant Jenna Ellis pleads guilty in Georgia election case. Ellis, a onetime Fox News regular who was a legal adviser to the Trump campaign, becomes the second co-defendant with known direct links to Trump to plead guilty in the case. The Washington Post, Holly Bailey and Amy Gardner, Tuesday, 24 October 2023: “Jenna Ellis, a former lawyer for Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, pleaded guilty Tuesday to illegally conspiring to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia, making her the third attorney associated with the former president to accept a plea deal in the sweeping criminal racketeering case. Ellis, who had been facing two charges including violating Georgia’s anti-racketeering act, pleaded guilty in court Tuesday morning to a single felony count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings. The deal allows her to avoid jail time in exchange for providing evidence that could implicate other defendants and agreeing to testify in any future trials. Ellis worked closely with personal Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, another defendant in the case, who faces 13 charges. The plea marks the first time a senior Trump aide has admitted to — and has been held criminally accountable for — making false statements that the 2020 presidential election was tainted by widespread fraud. In a hearing Tuesday morning, Ellis tearfully admitted that she failed to ensure the accuracy of those statements, felt ‘deep remorse’ and no longer believed the false claims. ‘If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges,’ Ellis said.” See also, Jenna Ellis becomes latest Trump lawyer to plead guilty over efforts to overturn Georgia’s election, Associated Press, Will Weissert and Kate Brumback, Tuesday, 24 October 2023: “Attorney and prominent conservative media figure Jenna Ellis pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony charge over efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia, tearfully telling the judge she looks back on that time with ‘deep remorse.’ Ellis, the fourth defendant in the case to enter into a plea deal with prosecutors, was a vocal part of Trump’s reelection campaign in the last presidential cycle and was charged alongside the Republican former president and 17 others with violating the state’s anti-racketeering law. Ellis pleaded guilty to one felony count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings. She had been facing charges of violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO, and soliciting the violation of oath by a public officer, both felonies.”

Trump Files More Motions to Derail Federal January 6 Case. The former president’s lawyers made a series of arguments seeking dismissal of the federal charges that he conspired to overturn the 2020 election. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Tuesday, 24 October 2023: “Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump fired off a barrage of new attacks on Monday night against the federal charges accusing him of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, filing nearly 100 pages of court papers seeking to have the case thrown out before it reaches a jury. In four separate motions to dismiss — or limit the scope of — the case, Mr. Trump’s legal team made an array of arguments on legal and constitutional grounds, some of which strained the boundaries of credulity.” See also, Trump files new challenges to federal election obstruction case in D.C. The former president seeks dismissal of the indictment on constitutional and statutory grounds, claiming his actions were protected by the First Amendment. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Perry Stein, Tuesday, 24 October 2023: “Former president Donald Trump launched a multipronged legal attack late Monday on his federal prosecution for allegedly subverting the results of the 2020 election, saying his actions were protected by the First Amendment as political speech and arguing that he cannot be tried in criminal court for attempting to block Joe Biden’s victory, because he was already impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate.” See also, Trump seeks to derail election-subversion charges. In series of dismissal motions, Trump makes his move to upend special counsel Jack Smith’s Washington, D.C., case. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Tuesday, 24 October 2023: “Former President Donald Trump has launched a multifront legal attack on the federal charges he’s facing in Washington, D.C., arising from his bid to subvert the 2020 election. In three motions to dismiss the case filed just before midnight, Trump contended that the case mounted against him by special counsel Jack Smith sought to criminalize his views on the 2020 election and efforts to lobby state lawmakers and Congress.”

Michael Cohen Denounces Trump During Courtroom Face-Off. Cohen accused his onetime boss, Donald Trump, of manipulating his net worth as Mr Trump stared blankly ahead. It was their first interaction in five years. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich, Ben Protess, and Kate Christobek, Tuesday, 24 October 2023: “For five years, Michael D. Cohen has waged battle with Donald J. Trump from afar: on social media, on cable television and in the pages of his books. But on Tuesday, Mr. Cohen confronted his onetime boss from the witness stand in a Manhattan courtroom, attacking the former president as a criminal and a cheat and defending his own credibility under a barrage of questions. Mr. Cohen, once Mr. Trump’s loyal fixer and now his antagonist, was testifying in a civil fraud case that threatens to upend the former president’s family business and undermine his public image as a businessman. It was the first time the men had come face to face since 2018, and the reunion was tense: Mr. Trump, seated feet away at the defense table, scoffed and shook his head in apparent frustration. Mr. Cohen had been called to testify about Mr. Trump’s annual financial statements, which are at the heart of the civil case that the New York attorney general, Letitia James, brought against Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump, Mr. Cohen testified, directed him to ‘reverse engineer’ the statements to reach the former president’s desired net worth.” See also, Michael Cohen and Trump meet again during New York civil fraud trial, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs and Mark Berman, Tuesday, 24 October 2023: “For years, Michael Cohen and his former boss Donald Trump have lobbed insults at one another from afar, each man castigating the other in bitterly personal terms. On Tuesday, they were face to face once again, with Cohen — a onetime attorney for Trump turned antagonist — testifying against the former president during a civil fraud trial stemming from a lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D). Cohen testified that Trump had ordered him and others to increase how they valued his assets to deliver him a desired net worth. ‘I was tasked by Mr. Trump to increase the total assets based upon a number that he arbitrarily elected,’ Cohen said, with Trump sitting in court watching.” See also, In court faceoff, Michael Cohen testifies against Trump in fraud trial. Trump shrugs: ‘Proven liar.’ Associated Press, Jake Offenhartz and Jennifer Peltz, Tursday, 24 October 2023: “In a courtroom showdown five years in the making, Donald Trump’s fixer-turned-foe Michael Cohen testified Tuesday that he worked to boost the supposed value of the former president’s assets to ‘whatever number Trump told us to.’ Trump’s lawyers — and outside court, Trump himself — by turn sought to portray Cohen as a serial deceiver who pleaded guilty to crimes that include tax evasion and telling falsehoods to Congress and a bank. During a fractious cross-examination, Cohen, a disbarred attorney, even floated his own lawyerly objections, responding to some queries with ‘asked and answered!’ It was a fraught face-to-face encounter between Trump and a man who once pledged to ‘take a bullet’ for him. Cohen eventually ended up in prison and became a prominent witness against his former boss in venues from courthouses to Congress. Now, Cohen is a key figure in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit alleging that Trump and his company duped banks, insurers and others by giving them financial statements that inflated his wealth.” See also, Trump glowers as Cohen dishes. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer, testified against him and described how Trump wanted his assets inflated. Politico, Erica Orden, Tuesday, 24 October 2023: “Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s onetime loyal aide turned vocal antagonist, took the witness stand Tuesday to testify against Trump in a $250 million civil fraud trial, telling the judge that the former president ordered Cohen to falsify financial documents. In measured tones, Cohen testified that when he worked for Trump as his lawyer and fixer, Trump directed him to modify documents that represented Trump’s net worth so that they reflected the number Trump desired. ‘I was tasked by Mr. Trump to increase the total assets based upon a number that he arbitrarily elected,’ Cohen said, ‘and my responsibility, along with [former Trump Organization CFO] Allen Weisselberg, predominantly, was to reverse engineer the various different asset classes, increase those assets in order to achieve the number that Mr. Trump had tasked us.’ As Cohen delivered that testimony, Trump, who was seated at the defense table, grew red in the face and shook his head. Trump didn’t look at Cohen as he entered the courtroom, but as Cohen spoke on the witness stand, Trump trained his eyes on him and either crossed his arms or leaned forward over the defense table.”

Sources say Trump’s final chief of staff Mark Meadows was granted immunity by Jack Smith and told Smith’s team that he repeatedly told Trump in the weeks after the 2020 presidential election that the allegations of significant voting fraud were baseless, ABC News, Katherine Faulders, Mike Levine, and Alexander Mallin, Tuesday, 24 October 2023: “Former President Donald Trump’s final chief of staff in the White House, Mark Meadows, has spoken with special counsel Jack Smith’s team at least three times this year, including once before a federal grand jury, which came only after Smith granted Meadows immunity to testify under oath, according to sources familiar with the matter. The sources said Meadows informed Smith’s team that he repeatedly told Trump in the weeks after the 2020 presidential election that the allegations of significant voting fraud coming to them were baseless, a striking break from Trump’s prolific rhetoric regarding the election. According to the sources, Meadows also told the federal investigators Trump was being ‘dishonest’ with the public when he first claimed to have won the election only hours after polls closed on Nov. 3, 2020, before final results were in.”


Wednesday, 25 October 2023:


Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron Tells Trump to Pay $10,000 in New Punishment for Breaking Gag Order. Outside Trump’s civil fraud trial, the former president made comments to reporters that the judge found were an attack on a court employee. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich and Kate Christobek, Wednesday, 25 October 2023: “A Manhattan judge on Wednesday ordered Donald J. Trump to the witness stand, questioned him personally, found that his answers were not believable and fined him $10,000. The judge, Arthur F. Engoron, who is presiding over Mr. Trump’s civil fraud trial, issued the punishment after determining that Mr. Trump had violated an order against discussing court staff when he spoke to reporters earlier in the day. From the stand, Mr. Trump, wearing a navy suit and curtailing his usual monologue, insisted that his spontaneous comments in a courthouse hallway had been about his former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, a witness. They were not, he said, about the judge’s law clerk, Allison Greenfield, whom he had previously attacked on social media. But Mr. Trump testified that he thought Ms. Greenfield was ‘maybe unfair, and I think she’s very biased against us.’ He left the stand after about three minutes and Justice Engoron made his pronouncement almost immediately afterward. ‘I find that the witness is not credible,’ he said, and levied the fine as Mr. Trump stared blankly ahead. The episode was remarkable and wholly unexpected: While Mr. Trump has been voluble in his own defense against accusations that he fraudulently inflated his net worth, he had not testified in open court in a decade, and as soon as he did, the judge found against him. For the former president, who is expected to testify early next month in the civil fraud trial and has been criminally indicted four times, it was a discomfiting preview of what may await.” See also, Judge Arthur Engoron fines Trump $10,000 for second violation of New York gag order. ‘The witness is not credible,’ Engoron said of Trump after calling the former president to the witness stand. The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs and Devlin Barrett, Wednesday, 25 October 2023: “A New York judge on Wednesday fined Donald Trump $10,000 for violating a gag order in a business-fraud lawsuit — and warned the former president that the penalties will only get worse if he keeps breaking the rules set for the civil trial, in which he is accused of falsely inflating his property values. The five-figure fine came after New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron unexpectedly called Trump to the witness stand to explain, under oath, a comment he made outside the courtroom earlier in the day. Trump’s surprise testimony lasted only about three minutes, but in that time he failed to convince the judge of his honesty or good intentions. The dispute began during a break in the testimony Wednesday morning. Speaking to reporters in a hallway, Trump complained that Engoron, a Democrat, is ‘a very partisan judge, with a person who’s very partisan sitting alongside of him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is.’ Learning of those comments, Engoron summoned Trump to explain exactly what he meant…. On the witness stand, Trump said his remark outside court was a reference not to the judge’s law clerk, who sits next to Engoron in the courtroom on the benchbut to former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who had been on the witness stand earlier in the day testifying against his former boss. Trump told the judge he was talking only about Cohen. But when pressed, he said of the law clerk: ‘I think she’s very biased against us. I think we made that clear.’ Engoron said he didn’t believe Trump’s explanation that he was talking about Cohen. ‘As the trier of fact I find that the witness is not credible,’ Engoron said, adding that he believed Trump was ‘referring to my … principal law clerk, who is sitting much closer to me.’ The judge noted there’s a barrier between the witness stand and the bench and said that was part of the reason he believed Trump meant the clerk and not Cohen.” See also, Trump is fined $10,000 over a comment he made outside court in his New York civil fraud trial, Associated Press, Jennifer Peltz and Jake Offenhartz, Wednesday, 25 October 2023: “Donald Trump was abruptly called to the witness stand and then fined $10,000 on Wednesday after the judge in his civil fraud trial said the former president had violated a gag order. It was the second time in less than a week that Trump was penalized for his out-of-court comments. Before imposing the latest fine, Judge Arthur Engoron summoned Trump from the defense table to testify about his comment to reporters hours earlier about ‘a person who’s very partisan sitting alongside’ the judge. Engoron had already ordered all participants in the trial not to comment publicly about his staff. That restriction from Oct. 3 followed a Trump social media post that maligned the judge’s principal law clerk, who sits next to him. Trump and his lawyers insisted that his comment Wednesday was not about the clerk. They said he was referring to Michael Cohen, a former Trump attorney who had been testifying. Engoron said Trump’s claim was ‘not credible,’ noting that he sat closer to the clerk than to Cohen. ‘The idea that the statement would refer to the witness,’ Engoron said, ‘doesn’t make any sense to me.'”

Federal Prosecutors Push to Reinstate Gag Order on Trump. In court filings, the special counsel’s office said the gag order was needed to keep the former president from making ‘harmful and prejudicial attacks’ on people in the federal election case. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Glenn Thrush, Wednesday, 25 October 2023: “For much of this week, after a federal judge temporarily froze the gag order she imposed on him, former President Donald J. Trump has acted like a mischievous latchkey kid, making the most of his unsupervised stint. At least three times in the past three days, he has attacked Jack Smith, the special counsel leading his federal prosecutions, as ‘deranged.’ Twice, he has weighed in about testimony attributed to his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, who could be a witness in the federal case accusing him of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election. Each of Mr. Trump’s comments appeared to violate the gag order put in place less than two weeks ago to limit his ability to intimidate witnesses in the case, assail prosecutors or otherwise disrupt the proceeding. And after the former president was fined $10,000 on Wednesday for flouting a similar directive imposed on him by the judge presiding over a civil trial he is facing in New York, federal prosecutors asked that he face consequences for his remarks about the election interference case as well. On Friday, the judge who imposed the federal order, Tanya S. Chutkan, put it on hold for a week to allow the special counsel’s office and lawyers for Mr. Trump to file more papers about whether she should set it aside for an even longer period as an appeals court considers its merits. But in the first round of those additional papers, prosecutors said on Wednesday that the order should be kept in place as the appeals court considers Mr. Trump’s request. They also said the lenient way in which Mr. Trump was released from custody after his indictment should be reconsidered for a simple reason: He has kept on violating the gag order’s provisions.” See also, Special counsel urges judge to crack down further on Trump’s comments. New court filing suggests that the judge make explicit that the former president risks jail if he continues to talk about witnesses in his case. The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Wednesday, 25 October 2023: “Special counsel Jack Smith argued in new court filings Wednesday that recent comments by Donald Trump show not only that a federal gag order should be reimposed, but that the court should weigh stricter sanctions, including sending him to jail, if he keeps talking about witnesses in his case. The Wednesday night filing was one of four made by the special counsel’s office on a range of legal issues in preparation for Trump’s planned March trial in D.C. on charges he conspired in late 2020 and early 2021 to obstruct Joe Biden’s electoral victory. In recent weeks, Trump’s public statements attacking prosecutors, court personnel and others have raised alarms among judges who worry that such verbal broadsides might inspire someone to commit violence against the subjects of Trump’s wrath.”

House Elects Mike Johnson as Speaker, Embracing a Hard-Right Conservative. Republicans turned to a little-Known Louisiana lawmaker who led congressional efforts to overturn the 2020 election, ending a weekslong deadlock that paralyzed the House. The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Wednesday, 25 October 2023: “Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana won election on Wednesday to become the 56th speaker of the House of Representatives, as Republicans worn down by three weeks of infighting and dysfunction turned to a little-known conservative hard-liner beloved by the far right to end their paralysis. The elevation of Mr. Johnson, 51, an architect of the effort to overturn the 2020 election and a religious conservative opposed to abortion rights, homosexuality and gay marriage, further cemented the Republican Party’s lurch to the right. It came after a historic fight that began when the hard right ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Oct. 3, and raged on as the divided House G.O.P. nominated and then quickly discarded three other candidates to succeed him. Exhausted from the feuding, which unleashed a barrage of recriminations and violent threats against lawmakers, both the right wing and mainstream Republicans finally united to elect Mr. Johnson, 51, in a 220-to-209 vote. The vote put him second in line to the presidency, capping an extraordinary period of twists and turns on Capitol Hill. It marked a victory for the far right that has become a dominant force in the Republican Party, which rose up this month to effectively dictate the removal of an establishment speaker and the installation of an arch-conservative replacement.” See also, Representative Mike Johnson elected House speaker, breaking weeks-long stalemate, The Washington Post, Wednesday, 25 October 2023: “Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) was elected speaker Wednesday by the full House on a first vote. Johnson, a relatively unknown, staunchly conservative Republican, succeeds Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), whose ouster this month was led by hard-right members of the party. The House GOP previously picked three higher-profile nominees, none of whom could win over Republican holdouts and secure a majority vote. Johnson is an ally of former president Donald Trump and opposed certifying the 2020 election. He is antiabortion, voted against Ukraine aid and supports LGBTQ restrictions.” See also, How Mike Johnson led a campaign of election denial: ‘I’ve prayed for each of you.’ The new speaker, an unsung enabler of Trump’s last-ditch effort, privately urged his colleagues to oppose the election results the day before the attack on the Capitol. Politico, Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, Wednesday, 25 October 2023: “One day before a mob bludgeoned its way into the Capitol, Rep. Mike Johnson huddled with colleagues in a closed-door meeting about Congress’ task on Jan. 6, 2021. A relatively junior House Republican at the time, Johnson was nevertheless the leading voice in support of a fateful position: that the GOP should rally around Donald Trump and object to counting electoral votes submitted by at least a handful of states won by Joe Biden. ‘This is a very weighty decision. All of us have prayed for God’s discernment. I know I’ve prayed for each of you individually,’ Johnson said at the meeting, according to a record of his comments obtained by POLITICO, before urging his fellow Republicans to join him in opposing the results. A review of the chaotic weeks between Trump’s defeat at the polls on Nov. 3, 2020, and the Jan. 6 Capitol attack shows that Johnson led the way in shaping legal arguments that became gospel among GOP lawmakers who sought to derail Biden’s path to the White House — even after all but the most extreme options had elapsed. As Trump’s legal challenges faltered, Johnson consistently spread a singular message: It’s not over yet. And when Texas filed a last-ditch lawsuit against four states on Dec. 8, 2020, seeking to invalidate their presidential election results and throw out millions of ballots, Johnson quickly revealed he would be helming an effort to support it with a brief signed by members of Congress.” See also, New US House speaker Mike Johnson tried to help overturn the 2020 election, raising concerns about the next one, Associated Press, Nicholas Riccardi, published on Thursday, 26 October 2023: “The new leader of one of the chambers of Congress that will certify the winner of next year’s presidential election helped spearhead the attempt to overturn the last one, raising alarms that Republicans could try to subvert the will of the voters if they remain in power despite safeguards enacted after the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Mike Johnson, the Louisiana congressman who was elected speaker of the House of Representatives on Wednesday after a three-week standoff among Republicans, took the lead in filing a brief in a lawsuit that sought to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election win. That claim, widely panned by legal scholars of all ideologies, was quickly thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court. After the 2020 election, Johnson also echoed some of the wilder conspiracy theories pushed by then-President Donald Trump to explain away his loss. Then Johnson voted against certifying Biden’s win even after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Johnson’s role three years ago is relevant now not only because the speaker is second in the line of presidential succession, after the vice president. The House Johnson now leads also will have to certify the winner of the 2024 presidential election.” See also, New speaker Mike Johnson’s 2020 election denial could have 2024 implications. Johnson worked behind the scenes to boost Donald Trump’s efforts to stay in office through a long-shot court challenge. His role could matter after the next election. The Washington Post, Amy Gardner and Michael Kranish, Wednesday, 25 October 2023: “In the weeks after the 2020 election, an obscure Republican lawmaker from Louisiana led a congressional effort to overturn the presidential results in four battleground states that had helped secure Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump. The victories were a sham, Mike Johnson argued, because state election officials had changed voting procedures, without first seeking legislative approval, to address the challenges of casting ballots during the coronavirus pandemic. Johnson recruited 125 House Republicans to join him in signing a U.S. Supreme Court brief saying as much, and on Jan. 6, 2021, an even larger group of lawmakers, including Johnson, voted against certifying the electoral college vote for Biden in two key battlegrounds. Johnson has never repudiated his part in any of it. On Wednesday, he was elected speaker of the House. Johnson played one of the most significant roles of any member of Congress in the effort to overturn the election. But unlike some of his more bombastic colleagues, much of it was behind the scenes, through a legal filing, closed-door Republican Party strategy sessions and private conversations with Trump. Now that Johnson has emerged as the next speaker in a vote that was celebrated Wednesday by Trump’s MAGA movement, his role as a ringleader of efforts to overturn Biden’s victory is generating new scrutiny. It is also prompting fresh attention to how Johnson could use his new job to influence the outcome of the next presidential election, should he still be speaker in January 2025.” See also, House Republican Representative Virginia Foxx tells reporter to ‘shut up’ for asking Mike Johnson about his role in attempting to overturn the 2020 election, The Hill, Lauren Irwin, Wednesday, 25 October 2023: “Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) was among a group of Republican lawmakers who shouted at a reporter who asked Vice Conference Chair and Speaker nominee Mike Johnson (R-La.) about his involvement in attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. ABC News reporter Rachel Scott was attempting to ask Johnson about his stance on the issue during a press conference Tuesday evening, after he became the latest Speaker nominee. Johnson was surrounded by various members of the House GOP, who began to laugh and shout as Scott was asking her question. Foxx, one of the members near Johnson, yelled ‘shut up.’… In the video, captured by C-SPAN, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said ‘oh god’ in response to the question. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) laughed. Many other members booed Scott for her inquiry. Johnson smiled, shook his head and said ‘next question.'”

Colorado judge paves way for trial on whether 14th Amendment disqualifies Trump from office, CNN Politics, Marshall Cohen, Wednesday, 25 October 2023: “A Colorado judge has rejected another attempt by former President Donald Trump to throw out a lawsuit seeking to block him from the 2024 presidential ballot based on the 14th Amendment’s ‘insurrectionist ban.’  The ruling Wednesday from Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace clears the way for an unprecedented trial to begin next week, to determine if Trump is disqualified from returning to the White House because of his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection. This is the fifth unsuccessful bid by Trump to throw out the Colorado case, which is one of several pending suits trying to derail his candidacy based on the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment, which was ratified after the Civil War, says US officials who take an oath to uphold the Constitution are disqualified from future office if they ‘engaged in insurrection’ or have ‘given aid or comfort’ to insurrectionists. But the Constitution does not spell out how to enforce the ban, and it has only been applied twice since the 1800s.”

Senate Inquiry Finds Justice Clarence Thomas’s R.V. Loan Was Forgiven. The justice failed to repay much, perhaps all, of the $267,230 loan. His benefactor wiped the slate clean, with ethical and potential tax consequences. The New York Times, Jo Becker, Wednesday, 25 October 2023: “The terms of the private loan were as generous as they were clear: With no money down, Justice Clarence Thomas could borrow more than a quarter of a million dollars from a wealthy friend to buy a 40-foot luxury motor coach, making annual interest-only payments for five years. Only then would the principal come due. But despite the favorable nature of the 1999 loan and a lengthy extension to make good on his obligations, Justice Thomas failed to repay a ‘significant portion’ — or perhaps any — of the $267,230 principal, according to a new report by Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee. Nearly nine years later, after Justice Thomas had made an unclear number of the interest payments, the outstanding debt was forgiven, an outcome with ethical and potential tax consequences for the justice. ‘This was, in short, a sweetheart deal’ that made no logical sense from a business perspective, Michael Hamersley, a tax lawyer who has served as a congressional expert witness, told The New York Times. The Senate inquiry was prompted by a Times investigation published in August that revealed that Justice Thomas bought his Prevost Marathon Le Mirage XL, a brand favored by touring rock bands and the super-wealthy, with financing from Anthony Welters, a longtime friend who made his fortune in the health care industry.” See also, Senate committee report says Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s RV loan was forgiven, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Wednesday, 25 October 2023: “Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) called Wednesday on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to tell the committee whether he declared more than a quarter-million dollars of loan forgiveness on his tax filings. Wyden released a report by the committee’s Democratic staff that details a loan that Thomas received from a friend, Anthony Welters, to buy a luxury Prevost Marathon motor coach in 1999. The report said Thomas made some interest payments on the $267,230 loan, but that it was declared settled by Welters in 2008 without Thomas repaying a substantial portion — or perhaps any — of the principal.”

North Carolina Republicans pass redistricting map expected to flip 3 House seats, The Washington Post, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Wednesday, 25 October 2023: “In a move that could solidify GOP power in the state for years to come, North Carolina Republicans passed new congressional and state legislative maps Wednesday that could flip three or four U.S. House seats while easing a path for the party to hold onto veto-proof majorities over state legislation. Critics of the map say it weakens democracy by limiting the power of Black and Brown voters and crafting districts into GOP strongholds that curb Democratic voters’ influence. ‘North Carolina is now one the most egregiously gerrymandered states in the country,’ said Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and current head of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.” See also, North Carolina legislature approves map that could help Republicans gain at least 3 House seats in 2024, CNN Politics, Fredreka Schouten and Dianne Gallagher, Wednesday, 25 October 2023: “Republicans who control the North Carolina legislature on Wednesday approved a new congressional map that could help their party pick up at least three US House seats in next year’s elections. The map, approved a week after it was first unveiled, could help Republicans retain – or potentially grow – their majority in the chamber where they have a slender advantage. The recent convulsions over the selection of the next House speaker in Washington underscore the perils of the party’s razor-thin majority. The North Carolina House approved a plan that favors Republicans in 10 of the state’s 14 House seats. Three seats favor Democrats, and one – now held by Democratic Rep. Don Davis in a rural northeastern reach of the state – would become friendlier turf for Republicans but remain competitive for both parties. The state Senate had approved the new lines a day earlier.” See also, North Carolina Republicans Approve House Map That Flips at Least Three Seats. The gerrymandered congressional map, made possible by a new Republican majority on the State Supreme Court, ensures Republican dominance in a closely divided state.The New York Times, Maggie Astor, published on Thursday, 26 October 2023: “Republicans in North Carolina approved a heavily gerrymandered congressional map on Wednesday that is likely to knock out about half of the Democrats representing the state in the House of Representatives. It could result in as much as an 11-3 advantage for Republicans. The State House, controlled by a Republican supermajority, voted for the new lines a day after the State Senate approved them. Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, a Democrat, cannot veto redistricting legislation. The map creates 10 solidly Republican districts, three solidly Democratic districts and one competitive district. Currently, under the lines drawn by a court for the 2022 election, each party holds seven seats. The new lines ensure Republican dominance in a state that, while leaning red, is closely divided. President Donald J. Trump won it by just over a percentage point in 2020, and Republicans won the last two Senate elections by two and three points.”


Thursday, 26 October 2023:


Georgia’s Voting Maps Are Struck Down. Republicans in the state violated a landmark civil rights law in drawing maps that diluted the power of Black voters, a federal judge in Atlanta ruled. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane and Rick Rojas, Thursday, 26 October 2023: “Republicans in Georgia violated a landmark civil rights law in drawing voting maps that diluted the power of Black voters, a federal judge in Atlanta ruled on Thursday, ordering that new maps must be drawn in time for the 2024 elections. Judge Steve C. Jones of the Northern District of Georgia demanded that the state’s legislature move swiftly to sketch out congressional and General Assembly districts that provide an equitable level of representation for Black residents, who make up more than a third of the state’s population.” See also, Judge rules Georgia’s political maps must be redrawn before 2024 elections, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Thursday, 26 October 2023: “A federal judge has struck down Georgia’s political district maps and ordered state lawmakers to redraw them by Dec. 8, in a win for voting rights activists who argued that the state’s maps dilute the power of Black voters. In a ruling issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones wrote that Georgia’s congressional and state legislative maps, which were redrawn by Republican lawmakers in 2021, violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and that Black voters in Georgia have ‘suffered significant harm.’ The 2021 maps also cannot be used in any future elections. ‘The Court reiterates that Georgia has made great strides since 1965 towards equality in voting,’ Jones wrote. ‘However, the evidence before this Court shows that Georgia has not reached the point where the political process has equal openness and equal opportunity for everyone.'” See also, Judge says Georgia’s congressional and legislative districts are discriminatory and must be redrawn, Associated Press, Jeff Amy and Kate Brumback, Thursday, 26 October 2023: “A federal judge ruled Thursday that some of Georgia’s congressional, state Senate and state House districts were drawn in a racially discriminatory manner, ordering the state to draw an additional Black-majority congressional district. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones, in a 516-page order, also ordered the state to draw two new Black-majority districts in Georgia’s 56-member state Senate and five new Black-majority districts in its 180-member state House. Jones ordered Georgia’s Republican majority General Assembly and governor to fix the maps by Dec. 8, saying he would redaw districts if lawmakers did not. Hours after the ruling, Gov. Brian Kemp issued a call for a special session to begin Nov. 29 to redraw congressional and legislative districts, although a spokesperson for the governor said that is a scheduling decision and doesn’t mean the Republican opposes an appeal.”

New House Speaker Mike Johnson Champions Fossil Fuels and Dismisses Climate Concerns. Representative Mike Johnson comes from Louisiana oil country and has said he does not believe burning fossil fuels is changing the climate. The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Thursday, 26 October 2023: “Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana, the newly elected House speaker, has questioned climate science, opposed clean energy and received more campaign contributions from oil and gas companies than from any other industry last year. Even as other Republican lawmakers increasingly accept the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is dangerously heating the planet, the unanimous election of Mr. Johnson on Wednesday suggests that his views may not be out of step with the rest of his party. Indeed, surveys show that climate science has been politicized in the United States to an extent not experienced in most other countries. A Pew Research Center survey released Tuesday found that a vast majority of Democrats polled — 85 percent — said that climate change is an extremely or very serious problem, while 47 percent of Republicans viewed climate change as not too serious or not a problem at all. ‘It should concern us all that someone with such extreme views and so beholden to the fossil fuel industry has such power and influence during a time when bold action is more critical than ever,’ Ben Jealous, the executive director of the Sierra Club, an environment group.”


Sunday, 29 October 2023:


Federal Judge Reinstates Gag Order on Trump in Election Case. Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that her order should stay in effect while the former president’s lawyers pursue an appeal. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Sunday, 29 October 2023: “A federal judge reinstated a gag order on former President Donald J. Trump on Sunday that had been temporarily placed on hold nine days earlier, reimposing restrictions on what Mr. Trump can say about witnesses and prosecutors in the case in which he stands accused of seeking to overturn the 2020 election. In making her decision, the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, also denied a request by Mr. Trump’s lawyers to freeze the gag order for what could have been a considerably longer period, saying it can remain in effect as a federal appeals court in Washington reviews it. ‘The First Amendment rights of participants in criminal proceedings must yield, when necessary, to the orderly administration of justice,’ Judge Chutkan wrote. The dispute about the gag order, which was initially put in place on Oct. 16 after several rounds of court filings and a hard-fought hearing in Federal District Court in Washington, has for weeks pitted two significant legal arguments against each other. From the start, Mr. Trump’s lawyers, largely led by John F. Lauro, have argued that the order was not merely a violation of the former president’s First Amendment rights. Rather, they asserted, the order ‘silenced’ him at a critical moment: just as he has been shoring up his position as the Republican Party’s leading candidate for president in the 2024 election. Federal prosecutors working for the special counsel, Jack Smith, have countered that even though Mr. Trump is running for the country’s highest office, he does not have permission to issue public statements threatening or intimidating people involved in the election interference case, especially if those remarks might incite violence in those who read or hear them.” See also, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan reimposes restrictions on Trump’s speech in January 6 case on charges of conspiring to subvert the results of the 2020 election, The Washington Post, Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu, Sunday, 29 October 2023: “A federal judge has reimposed a gag order on former president Donald Trump’s public statements in advance of his trial on charges of conspiring to subvert the results of the 2020 election. The restrictions that U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan put back in place Sunday evening were ones she had lifted nine days earlier to give Trump and U.S. prosecutors more time to argue whether the gag was unconstitutional, as attorneys for the former president had claimed. Trump can now ask a higher court for an emergency stay pending appeal, but in the meantime he is bound by Chutkan’s limits. ‘The First Amendment rights of participants in criminal proceedings must yield, when necessary, to the orderly administration of justice,’ Chutkan wrote Sunday, adding that Trump offered nothing that made his appeal seem likely to succeed. She said Trump ‘simply fails to acknowledge … evidence’ that his public statements are often followed by harassment and threats against the people he singles out. Under the order, Trump and all interested parties in the case are barred from making or directing others to make public statements that ‘target’ individual attorneys, witnesses, ‘any reasonably foreseeable witness,’ or court staff involved in the case or the substance of their testimony.” See also, Judge Tanya Chutkan reinstates gag order on Trump in federal election subversion case, CNN Politics, Devan Cole and Hannah Rabinowitz, Sunday, 29 October 2023: “The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s federal election subversion criminal case has reinstated the gag order she issued on the former president earlier this month. US District Judge Tanya Chutkan also denied Trump’s request to issue a long-term stay of the order – which bars the former president from publicly targeting court personnel, potential witnesses or the special counsel’s team – while his appeal of it played out. ‘As the court has explained, the First Amendment rights of participants in criminal proceedings must yield, when necessary, to the orderly administration of justice—a principle reflected in Supreme Court precedent, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and the Local Criminal Rules,’ the judge wrote. ‘And contrary to Defendant’s argument, the right to a fair trial is not his alone, but belongs also to the government and the public.'” See also, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan reinstates gag order against Trump. Chutkan had briefly paused the gag order in the federal election case, but she put it back into effect Sunday while Trump appeals. Politico, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, Sunday, 29 October 2023: “A federal judge has reinstated a gag order against Donald Trump, lifting a temporary hold she placed on it earlier this month and rejecting his claim that it unconstitutionally limits his free speech. U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan paused the gag order on Oct. 20 amid Trump’s complaint that it was confusingly worded and request that she keep it on hold while he asked a federal appeals court to throw it out altogether. But in a nine-page Sunday evening opinion, Chutkan reinstated her order, rejecting his claims that the order was unclear and that it unconstitutionally restricted his free speech rights. In addition, Chutkan noted that one of Trump’s recent statements — an attack on his former chief of staff Mark Meadows — would ‘almost certainly violate the order’ had it been in effect. Trump, citing an ABC report that Meadows had accepted immunity to testify to federal prosecutors, said last week that such cooperation was for ‘weaklings’ and ‘cowards’ and that any unfavorable testimony about him would have been a ‘lie.’ Chutkan said this remark would plainly have cut against her order had it been in effect, ‘and for good reason.’ Chutkan reiterated that her decision to issue the original gag order earlier this month was rooted in evidence that Trump’s public attacks on witnesses, prosecutors and court personnel have routinely resulted in threats and harassment jeopardizing their safety and her duty to protect the ‘orderly administration of justice.’ In such cases, she said, the Supreme Court and other legal precedents and rules have supported gag orders as a tool to protect the public’s interest in a fair trial.”

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Sources of MAGA Madness and congressional Kakistocracy. How White Christian political might made the Republican Party hard right, in 8 charts. Weekend Reading, Michael Podhorzer, Sunday, 29 October 2023: “The Republican majority in the House continues to scale new heights of dysfunction and disregard for democratic norms. Unfortunately, that dumpster fire continues to distract most observers from recognizing or wholly acknowledging the consequences of another step forward for the MAGA movement. While ‘only’ two-thirds of the Republican Caucus voted against the electoral votes on January 6th, 2021, the entire Caucus has just installed Mike Johnson – who played a pivotal role in legitimizing Trump’s election-denying crimes – as Speaker of the House, just two heartbeats away from the presidency. As this post will make clear, we should not be surprised to see an election-denying Evangelical Christian who favors a national abortion ban, Bible courses in public schools, and ‘covenant marriage,’ and who believes that LGBTQ people are living an ‘inherently unnatural’ and ‘dangerous lifestyle,’ elevated to the Speakership. That’s because the primary driver for both the GOP Caucus’s dysfunction and its incipient fascism has been building in plain sight for at least the last dozen years: the political might of organized right-wing Christianity, successfully redeployed against establishment Republicans (‘RINOs’). MAGA and the Religious Right share a commitment to what experts call white Christian nationalism (abbreviated as WCN in this post), a movement to enforce traditional hierarchies of race and gender and make the United States an officially Christian nation. (See Appendix V for further reading on WCN.) When thinking about  ‘white Christian nationalism,’ some might imagine only fringe fanatics like the tiki-torch marchers in Charlottesville. But the expression of WCN ideology is not always that vulgar – it’s often preached from the pulpits of megachurches, and an adherent now wields the Speaker’s gavel of the House of Representatives. As the eight charts below will clearly show, the congressional districts with the highest concentrations of Evangelical voters (the overwhelming majority of whom support Christian nationalism) are also the districts where the MAGA movement has been most successful at ‘hacking’ the GOP primary process, driving out more-qualified ‘establishment’ or ‘RINO’ Republicans through historic numbers of primary challenges and early retirements. Those incumbents have been replaced by only the most fervent WCN ideologues, who often have no experience or interest in governing. The inevitable result is the least qualified, least experienced majority caucus since at least the end of World War II. In short, a kakistocracy, or government by the least competent.”


Monday, 30 October 2023:


Colorado Trial Considers Whether the 14th Amendment Disqualifies Trump. Some constitutional experts argue that a clause in the amendment should bar Donald Trump from becoming president again, but that view is far from universal among legal scholars. The New York Times, Maggie Astor, Monday, 30 October 2023: “Something the nation has never seen before began playing out in a Denver courtroom Monday morning: a trial to determine whether a major party’s likely presidential nominee is eligible to be president at all. The lawsuit, filed in September by six Colorado voters with the help of a watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, argues that former President Donald J. Trump is ineligible to hold office again under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. That section disqualifies anyone who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the Constitution after having taken an oath to support it. The plaintiffs say that Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election — namely his actions before and while his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to try to stop the certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory — meet the disqualification criteria. Sarah B. Wallace, the state district court judge presiding over the case, rejected multiple requests from Mr. Trump and from the Colorado Republican State Central Committee in recent weeks to dismiss the case without a trial.” See also, Trial begins over whether Trump should be kept off the 2024 ballot in Colorado. The lawsuit alleges Trump violated his oath of office in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, leading up to the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. NBC News, Summer Concepcion, Monday 30 October 2023: “A state court in Denver began hearing arguments Monday in a lawsuit seeking to bar former President Donald Trump from Colorado’s 2024 ballot over his role in the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021. Second Judicial District Judge Sarah Wallace last week rejected Trump’s latest attempt to toss out the lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of six voters in Denver district court last month. The lawsuit argues Trump should be prohibited from running in future elections, citing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which states no person may hold office who has ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion’ after having sworn under oath to support and defend the Constitution. The suit alleges Trump violated his oath of office in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, and several law firms filed the suit on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated voters.” See also, Takeaways from Day 1 of the Trump disqualification trial in Colorado, CNN Politics, Marshall Cohen and Devan Cole, Monday, 30 October 2023: “The 14th Amendment disqualification trial against Donald Trump began Monday in Colorado with a group of voters trying to use the Civil War-era amendment to remove the former president from the 2024 ballot, citing his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection. In a Denver courtroom, Trump’s lawyers clashed with the challengers, bashing their case as an ‘anti-democratic’ end-around to derail Trump’s campaign without giving voters a say. The challengers argued that their litigation was an unfortunate but necessary step to ensure a ‘fair’ 2024 election by keeping an ineligible candidate off the ballot. In addition to opening statements, a US Capitol Police officer who was on the front lines of the violent assault and Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat who recounted the horrors of running from the pro-Trump mob, testified for the challengers.” See also, Lawyers argue whether the Constitution’s ‘insurrection’ clause blocks Trump from the 2024 ballot in Colorado, Associated Press, Nicholas Riccardi, Monday, 30 October 2023: “Colorado lawyers seeking to disqualify former President Donald Trump from running for the White House again argued on Monday that his role in the January 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol runs afoul of the Constitution’s insurrection clause, opening a hearing that could break new ground in constitutional law. Attorney Eric Olson recounted Trump’s violent rhetoric preceding the Jan. 6 attack and his encouraging a crowd that came within 40 feet of the vice president when it stormed the Capitol. He said Trump ‘summoned and organized the mob. We are here because Trump claims, after all that, that he has the right to be president again,’ Olson said. ‘But our Constitution, the shared charter of our nation, says he cannot do so.’ Trump’s legal team and presidential campaign assailed the lawsuit as little more than an attempt by Democrats to derail his attempt to reclaim his old job. Trump is so far dominating the Republican presidential primary.” See also, Police officers recall January 6 at Colorado hearing to keep Trump off the ballot, The Washington Post, Patrick Marley, Monday, 30 October 2023: “At a historic hearing Monday, attorneys for a group of voters argued that former president Donald Trump should not appear on Colorado ballots next year because, they contend, he fomented an insurrection and is barred by the U.S. Constitution from running again. Trump’s attorneys disputed those claims and said voters — not judges — should decide whether he deserves another term. The first day of the hearing, which is expected to last a week, featured an exhaustive retelling of what happened at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by a Democratic lawmaker who had to evacuate and two police officers who tried to stop the rioters. Both officers said they feared for their lives, and one described the assault on the Capitol as a ‘terrorist attack.’ The case is part of an interlocking set of legal challenges across the country seeking to remove Trump from the ballot under a section of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment that was meant to ensure supporters of the Confederacy did not gain office after the Civil War. The efforts have divided legal scholars on whether the provision can be invoked against Trump, but most acknowledge that these challenges are unlikely to succeed. ‘This was an insurrection that Trump led,’ attorney Eric Olson said in his opening statement. ‘As we’ve seen, he summoned and organized the mob. He gave the mob a common purpose — to disrupt [Vice President] Mike Pence’s certification of the election.'”

Alabama Man Indicted Over Threats to District Attorney and Sheriff in Trump’s Georgia Case. ‘Be looking over your shoulder,’ the man said in a voice mail message for Fani Willis, the Fulton county prosecutor who filed charges against former President Donald Trump. The New York Times, Jesus Jiménez, Monday, 30 October 2023: “A man who threatened a prosecutor and a sheriff involved in the Georgia investigation of former President Donald J. Trump for election interference was indicted in federal court on Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The man, Arthur Ray Hanson II, of Huntsville, Ala., had left threatening messages to Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., and Patrick Labat, the county’s sheriff, for their involvement in the Georgia case over the 2020 presidential election. According to the indictment by a federal grand jury in Atlanta, Mr. Hanson called the Fulton County government’s customer service line and left threatening voice mail messages for Ms. Willis and Sheriff Labat in early August, days before Mr. Trump and 18 of his associates were indicted in the state.” See also, FBI says Alabama man is charged over threats to Georgia District Attorney who is prosecuting Trump, The Washington Post, Ben Brasch, published on Tuesday, 31 October 2023: “An Alabama man has been indicted after allegedly threatening the Georgia district attorney who is prosecuting former president Donald Trump and several of his associates for trying to overturn the 2020 election. Authorities say the man also threatened the sheriff whose jail briefly processed Trump. Arthur Ray Hanson II faces charges of transmitting interstate threats to injure Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and Sheriff Patrick Labat, federal prosecutors announced Monday. The 59-year-old Huntsville man’s case is being investigated by the FBI.”

Democrats plan to subpoena wealthy benefactors of Supreme Court justices, The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow, Monday, 30 October 2023: “Senate Democrats announced plans Monday to vote to subpoena a pair of wealthy conservatives and a judicial activist who have underwritten or organized lavish travel for some Supreme Court justices, a move that adds to the pressure on the high court to strengthen its ethics policies. Senate Judiciary Committee leaders said they would vote as soon as Nov. 9 to authorize subpoenas for information from Texas billionaire Harlan Crow, a close friend and benefactor of Justice Clarence Thomas, and from Leonard Leo, the conservative judicial activist. Senate Democrats do not need the vote of any Republican on the committee to authorize the subpoenas. No separate vote by the full Senate is necessary. Democratic lawmakers are seeking detailed information about the full extent of Crow’s gifts to Thomas. News reports about the justice’s failure over many years to report private jet travel, real estate deals and other gifts from Crow have prompted calls for the court to strengthen its ethics rules and for greater transparency about the justices’ potential conflicts and recusal decisions.” See also, Senate Democrats plan to subpoena Harlan Crow and Leonard Leo over Supreme Court justices’ travel, Associated Press, Mark Sherman and Mary Clare Jalonick, Monday, 30 October 2023: “Senate Democrats said Monday they plan to subpoena Republican megadonor Harlan Crow and conservative activist Leonard Leo for more information about their roles in organizing and paying for luxury travel for Supreme Court justices. The announcement by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee comes as the court is being pressed to adopt an ethics code, a move that has been publicly endorsed by three of the nine justices. The committee could act as soon as next week to authorize Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the panel’s chairman, to issue subpoenas to Crow, Leo and another wealthy donor, Robin Arkley II.”

Mike Johnson’s Wife Takes Down Website That Compared Being Gay to Bestiality and Incest. HuffPost first reported on Kelly Johnson’s counseling service that likens LGBTQ+ people to people who have sex with animals and family members. HuffPost, Jennifer Bendery, Monday, 30 October 2023: “House Speaker Mike Johnson’s wife took down the website for her company, Onward Christian Counseling Services, a day after HuffPost pointed to documents on the site that compared homosexuality to bestiality and incest. HuffPost reported Friday that Kelly Johnson, the wife of the Louisiana Republican and newly elected speaker, is owner and CEO of Onward Christian Counseling Services, which promotes Bible-based pastoral counseling. Her website featured a link to its 2017 operating agreement, which lays out the company’s corporate bylaws ― and states that the business is grounded in the belief that sex is offensive to God if it is not between a man and a woman married to each other. It specifically puts gay, bisexual and transgender people in the same category as people who have sex with animals or family members, citing all of them as examples of ‘sexual immorality.'”


Tuesday, 31 October 2023:


Ban Trump from the 2024 ballot? Why courts should rule he can’t serve as president again. To allow Donald Trump to appear on the 2024 ballot, the courts will need to explain why any ruling that keeps the former president in the running doesn’t itself betray the Constitution. USA Today, Lawrence H. Tribe and Dennis Aftergut, Tuesday, 31 October 2023: “A trial that began Monday in Colorado and legal arguments scheduled for Thursday in the Minnesota Supreme Court will test Donald Trump’s eligibility to serve as president. Both cases raise a monumental question that only the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately be able to decide: Will we retain the Constitution under which we’ve governed ourselves for 234 years by ensuring that the awesome power of the presidency is never entrusted to someone who will not abide by the verdict of  our nation’s laws for election or reelection to that office? The premise of a presidential term limited to four years unless the president is lawfully reelected is at the core of the constitutional framework and central to the framers’ goal of not recreating a monarchy. A president who seeks to defy that premise rebels against the Constitution’s very structure. That premise is vital to the cases in Colorado and Minnesota because they have been brought under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment: ‘No person shall … hold any office … under the United States … who, having previously taken an oath … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same.'”










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!