So far, the U.S. supply effort has been deliberative and process-oriented in the kinds of weapons it provides, and the speed at which it provides them, so as not to undercut its highest priority of avoiding a direct clash between Russia and the West. That strategy is likely to be part of the agenda at Tuesday’s emergency meeting of G7 leaders, and a gathering of NATO defense ministers later in the week.
Tuesday ReadsPosted: October 11, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, Crime, Donald Trump, just because | Tags: Elon Musk, impeachment, Merrick Garland, Russia, Secret Service, Trump indictment, Twitter, Ukraine war, Vladimir Putin 21 Comments
We have gone through about 7 years of insanity with Donald Trump, first as a candidate, then as “president,” and now former “president.” At this point, it’s pretty clear that we’ll never be rid of him until he “shuffles off this mortal coil.”
During those years, I always turned to Twitter for the latest news and commentary from journalists and just plain folks. Trump made Twitter occasionally irritating, but now we face what could be an even great threat to the social media platform–a takeover by Elon Musk. And what’s coming could be even worse than I expected.
Musk plans to bring Trump back, and then there this even worse news from Vice: Elon Musk Spoke to Putin Before Tweeting Ukraine Peace Plan: Report.
Elon Musk spoke directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin before tweeting a proposal to end the war in Ukraine that would have seen territory permanently ceded to Russia, it has been claimed.
In a mailout sent to Eurasia Group subscribers, Ian Bremmer wrote that Tesla CEO Musk told him that Putin was “prepared to negotiate,” but only if Crimea remained Russian, if Ukraine accepted a form of permanent neutrality, and Ukraine recognised Russia’s annexation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
According to Bremmer, Musk said Putin told him these goals would be accomplished “no matter what,” including the potential of a nuclear strike if Ukraine invaded Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. Bremmer wrote that Musk told him that “everything needed to be done to avoid that outcome.”
Last week, Musk posted essentially the same points on Twitter, although he suggested that the referendums in the annexed territories slammed as sham votes by Ukraine and the West be redone under supervision by the United Nations….
The Ukrainian response to Musk’s Twitter peace proposal was succinct – one diplomat told him to “fuck off,” while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted his own Twitter poll.
Meanwhile the Kremlin welcomed Musk’s “positive” proposal to end the war, while his tweets were also cited by Russian state media.
Not only will we never be rid of Trump; The new owner of Twitter apparently be channeling Putin. Terrific.
Yesterday, Russia escalated its attacks on civilians following Ukraine’s damage to a bridge connecting Russia with Crimea. The Kyiv Independent: What’s behind Russia’s unusually big missile attack on Ukraine?
Russia lashed out on Oct. 10, striking many Ukrainian cities with 84 missiles and 24 exploding drones.
The places they hit were all civilian — multiple power plants but also a children’s playground in the center of Kyiv. Most strikes seemed to be timed to the Monday morning rush hour, as if trying to kill as many commuters as possible.
From a human rights point of view, the attacks were inexcusable and will likely be ruled as war crimes. From the battlefield perspective, the Russian armed forces just dropped hundreds of millions of dollars to achieve basically nothing….
Why has Russia chosen to do this? What was it trying to accomplish? And how long can it keep it up?
The facile answer is that Russia was retaliating for the partial destruction of the Kerch Strait bridge on Oct. 8. But that’s just not true. It’s been hitting civilian targets since Feb. 24. Ukraine’s intelligence said that the missile strikes had been planned since the start of October.
“Strategic and long-range aviation units received orders to prepare for massive missile attacks,” the General Intelligence Directorate said in a statement. “The targets were objects of critical civilian infrastructure and the central regions of densely populated Ukrainian cities.”
The goal was to sow panic among Ukrainians. But that wasn’t the only reason. Putin also needed to appease the angry hardliners who want Russia to win the war. The war hawks demanded a massive strike just like this, in response to Russia’s humiliating losses over the past two months, to which the bridge was the exclamation point. Some of these hardliners are driven more by emotion than sense. And they will want a repeat performance.
Read the rest at the link.
Karen De Young at The Washington Post: Ukraine war at a turning point with rapid escalation of conflict.
In little more than a month, the war in Ukraine has turned abruptly from a grueling, largely static artillery battle expected to last into the winter, to a rapidly escalating, multilevel conflict that has challenged the strategies of the United States, Ukraine and Russia.
Russia’s launch of massive strikes on civilian infrastructure Monday in about a dozen Ukrainian cities far from the front lines brought shock and outrage. The strikes, which Secretary of State Antony Blinken described as “wave after wave of missiles” struck “children’s playgrounds and public parks,” left at least 14 killed and nearly 100 wounded, and cut electricity and water in much of the country….
The attacks were the latest of many head-spinning events — from Ukrainian victories on the ground to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat of nuclear weapons use — that have changed the nature and tempo of the war in recent weeks, and raised questions about whether the United States and its partners may have to move beyond the concept of helping Ukraine defend itself, and instead more forcefully facilitate a Ukrainian victory.
U.S. officials continue to express caution about precipitous moves. “Turning points in war are usually points of danger,” said a senior Biden administration official, one of several U.S. and Ukrainian officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy deliberations. “You can’t predict what’s around the corner.”
Russian leaders have cited their own turning point. Viktor Bondarev, head of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s upper house of parliament wrote in a Telegram post on Monday that the strikes were the beginning of “a new phase” of what the Kremlin calls its“special military operation” in Ukraine, with more “resolute” action to come.
Max Fisher at The New York Times: Bombing Kyiv Into Submission? History Says It Won’t Work.
Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, follows a long line of wartime leaders who have sought to cow their adversaries by bombing enemy capitals.
Ever since Nazi Germany’s bombardment of London in World War II, enabled by the first long-range missiles and warplanes, nearly every major war has featured similar attacks.
The goal is almost always the same: to coerce the targeted country’s leaders into scaling back their war effort or suing for peace.
It typically aims to achieve this by forcing those leaders to ask whether the capital’s cultural landmarks and economic functioning are worth putting on the line — and also, especially, by terrorizing the country’s population into moderating their support for the war.
But for as long as leaders have pursued this tactic, they have watched it repeatedly fail.
More than that, such strikes tend to backfire, deepening the political and public resolve for war that they are meant to erode — even galvanizing the attacked country into stepping up its war aims.
The victorious allies in World War II did emphasize a strategy of heavily bombing cities, which is part of why countries have come to repeat this so many times since. Cities including Dresden and Tokyo were devastated, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and forcing millions into homelessness.
Still, historians generally now argue that, even if that did play some role in exhausting those countries, it was largely because of damage to German and Japanese industrial output rather than the terror it caused. Axis countries were also aggressive in bombing enemy cities, casting further doubt on notions that the strategy could be a decisive factor on its own.
Read the rest at the NYT if you’re interested.
With the January 6 Committee hearing coming up on Thursday, this story on the Secret Service phones by NBC’s Julia Ainsley is interesting: Secret Service agents were denied when they tried to learn what Jan. 6 info was seized from their personal cellphones.
Secret Service agents asked the agency for a record of all of the communications seized from their personal cellphones as part of investigations into the events of Jan. 6, 2021, but were rebuffed, according to a document reviewed by NBC News.
The Secret Service’s office that handles such requests, the Freedom of Information Act Program, denied the request, in which agents invoked the Privacy Act to demand more information about what had been shared from their personal devices.
The request was made in early August, just after news came to light that both Congress and the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general were interested in obtaining text messages of Secret Service agents that had been erased as part of what the agency said was a planned upgrade.
“This letter is the final response to your Privacy Act inquiry submitted on Aug. 4, 2022, for information pertaining to the release of personal cell phone information and/or other personal identifiable information (PII) by the U.S. Secret Service,” said the letter, dated last Wednesday.
“The agency has determined that regulation does not require a records disclosure accounting to be made in connection with your request,” the letter continued.
The agents’ effort to find out through an FOIA request what records were seized and the subsequent denial of the request underscore a tension between rank-and-file Secret Service agents and the agency’s leadership over what communications should be shared with investigators.
At The Washington Post, Mariana Sotomayor writes about a another new book on the Trump impeachments: New book details how McCarthy came to support Trump after Jan. 6.
In the weeks after the Senate voted to acquit Donald Trump of a charge related to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was seething.
Frustrated that Trump would not talk to him, stressed that his chance to become House speaker could be in jeopardy and furiousthat a trusted confidante had publicly disclosed a tense call between him and Trump, McCarthy snapped.
“I alone am taking all the heat to protect people from Trump! I alone am holding the party together!” he yelled at Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) during a previously undisclosed meeting in McCarthy’s office on Feb. 25, 2021. “I have been working with Trump to keep him from going after Republicans like you and blowing up the party and destroying all our work!”
Stunned by McCarthy’s anger, Herrera Beutler began to cry. Through tears, she apologized for not telling him ahead of time that she had confirmed to the media details of a call McCarthy made to Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, urging him to tell his supporters to leave the U.S. Capitol.
“You should have come to me!” McCarthy said. “Why did you go to the press? This is no way to thank me!”
“What did you want me to do? Lie?” Herrera Beutler shot back. “I did what I thought was right.”
The tense meeting between Republican lawmakers is detailed in the new book “Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump,” by Washington Post reporter Karoun Demirjian and Politico reporter Rachael Bade, a copy of which The Post obtained ahead of its release next week. Several excerpts detail McCarthy’s state of mind from Election Day 2020 to the origination of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“McCarthy’s tirade against Herrera Beutler was just the start of what would become a GOP-wide campaign to whitewash the details of what happened on January 6 in the aftermath of the second impeachment,” the authors write.
There are more revelations about McCarthy in the WaPo story. Basically, McCarthy’s dream is to to become Speaker of the House and in pursuit of that goal he will suck up to Trump as much has he has to.
Lastly, at The Atlantic, Franklin Foer writes about why Merrick Garland will indict Trump: The Inevitable Indictment of Donald Trump.
Foer writes that, although Garland is a cautious, methodical person, he (Foer) is convinced that Trump will be indicted. Here’s why he thinks that. You’ll need to read the whole thing, but here’s an introduction to the arguments.
I have been observing Garland closely for months. I’ve talked with his closest friends and most loyal former clerks and deputies. I’ve carefully studied his record. I’ve interviewed Garland himself. And I’ve reached the conclusion that his devotion to procedure, his belief in the rule of law, and in particular his reverence for the duties, responsibilities, and traditions of the U.S. Department of Justice will cause him to make the most monumental decision an attorney general can make….
Before I lay out the reasons I believe I am correct in this assessment, I want to discuss why it is entirely possible I am not. The main reason to disbelieve the argument that Garland is preparing to indict is simple: To bring criminal charges against a former president from an opposing political party would be the ultimate test of a system that aspires to impartiality, and Garland, by disposition, is repelled by drama, and doesn’t believe the department should be subjected to unnecessary stress tests. This unprecedented act would inevitably be used to justify a cycle of reprisals, and risks turning the Justice Department into an instrument of never-ending political warfare.
And an indictment, of course, would merely be the first step—a prelude to a trial unlike any this country has ever seen. The defendant wouldn’t just be an ex-president; in all likelihood, he’d be a candidate actively campaigning to return to the White House. Fairness dictates that the system regard Trump as it does every other defendant. But doing so would lead to the impression that he’s being deliberately hamstrung—and humiliated—by his political rivals.
Garland is surely aware that this essential problem would be evident at the first hearing. If the Justice Department is intent on proving that nobody is above the law, it could impose the same constraints on Trump that it would on any criminal defendant accused of serious crimes, including limiting his travel. Such a restriction would deprive Trump of one of his most important political advantages: his ability to whip up his followers at far-flung rallies.
In any event, once the trial began, Trump would be stuck in court, likely in Florida (if he’s charged in connection with the Mar-a-Lago documents matter) or in Washington, D.C. (if he’s charged for his involvement in the events of January 6). The site of a Washington trial would be the Prettyman Courthouse, on Constitution Avenue, just a short walk from the Capitol. This fact terrified the former prosecutors and other experts I talked with about how the trial might play out. Right-wing politicians, including Trump himself, have intimated violence if he is indicted.
Trump would of course attempt to make the proceedings a carnival of grievance, a venue for broadcasting conspiracy theories about his enemies. The trial could thus supply a climactic flash point for an era of political violence. Like the Capitol on January 6, the courthouse could become a magnet for paramilitaries. With protesters and counterprotesters descending on the same locale, the occasion would tempt street warfare.
Head over the Atlantic to read the rest.
What are your thoughts on these stories? What other news are you following today?
Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: July 30, 2022 Filed under: cat art, caturday | Tags: Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Donald Trump, January 6 Committee, Joseph Cuffari, missing texts, Secret Service 13 Comments
It’s a busy news day for a Saturday, and multiple outlets are breaking January 6 investigation scoops.
Last night the Washington Post’s Maria Sacchetti and Carol Leonig posted a new story on the missing Secret Service text messages and the so-called investigation by Trump-appointed IG Joseph Cuffari: Homeland Security watchdog halted plan to recover Secret Service texts, records show.
The Department of Homeland Security’s chief watchdog scrapped its investigative team’s effort to collect agency phones to try to recover deleted Secret Service texts this year, according to four people with knowledge of the decision and internal records reviewed by The Washington Post.
In early February, after learning that the Secret Service’s text messages had been erased as part of a migration to new devices, staff at Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari’s office planned to contact all DHS agencies offering to have data specialists help retrieve messages from their phones, according to two government whistleblowers who provided reports to Congress.
But later that month, Cuffari’s office decided it would not collect or review any agency phones,according to three people briefed on the decision.
The latest revelation comes as Democratic lawmakers have accused Cuffari’s office of failing to aggressively investigate the agency’s actions in response to the violent attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021.
Cuffari wrote a letter to the House and Senate Homeland Security committees this month saying the Secret Service’s text messages from the time of the attack had been “erased.” But he did not immediately disclose that his office first discovered that deletion in December and failed to alert lawmakers or examine the phones. Nor did he alert Congress that other text messages were missing, including those of the two top Trump appointees running the Department of Homeland Security during the final days of the administration.
Why is this guy still in his job? It might be a good idea for Biden to get rid of all Trump appointees ASAP.
It gets worse day by day. This is from CNN: Exclusive: DHS inspector general knew of missing Secret Service texts months earlier than previously known.
The embattled inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security first learned of missing Secret Service text messages in May 2021 — months earlier than previously known and more than a year before he alerted the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, that potentially crucial information may have been erased, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.
Earlier this month, Secret Service officials told congressional committees that DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, the department’s independent watchdog, was aware that texts had been erased in December 2021. But sources tell CNN, the Secret Service had notified Cuffari’s office of missing text messages in May 2021, seven months earlier.
The Secret Service now says the texts were lost as a result of a previously scheduled data migration of its agents’ cell phones that began on January 27, 2021, exactly three weeks after the attack on the US Capitol. After the data migration was completed, in May 2021 the Secret Service told Cuffari’s office that they tried to contact a cellular provider to retrieve the texts when they realized they were lost, a source told CNN.
The source added that key Secret Service personnel didn’t realize data was permanently lost until after the data migration was completed, and erroneously believed the data was backed up. In July 2021, inspector general investigators told DHS they were no longer seeking Secret Service text messages, according to two sources. Cuffari’s office then restarted its probe in December 2021.
These new details come as Cuffari faces mounting pressure from key Democrats to hand off his investigation into the missing messages. They also come amid revelations that text messages for the two top DHS officials under former President Donald Trump, acting Secretary Chad Wolf and acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli, are missing for a key period leading up to the January 6 attack.
The Washington Post first reported the missing Wolf and Cuccinelli texts, which were lost in a “reset” of their government phones when they left their jobs in January 2021 in preparation for the new Biden administration, according to the Post.
From Raw Story: Trump admin official reveals she went public because she did not trust DHS inspector general.
The scandal over the Jan. 6 evidence that was deleted by the Department of Homeland Security is being investigated by a public official that can’t be trusted, a CNN panel explained on Friday….
For analysis, former Trump homeland security advisor Olivia Troye was interviewed by CNN’s Jim Sciutto alongside former CIA agent Phil Mudd and government ethics expert Norm Eisen.
“When you work at senior levels in the Trump administration you kind of know where people’s loyalties lie,” Troye said. “There is a reason that I went very public with my concerns about the Trump administration rather than going through the traditional whistle-blower process, which would have led me to the inspector general’s office at DHS. And I’ll just say that. There’s a level of trust there that you understand.”
But Troye suggested there may not be text messages to recover.
“The other part of it is I’ve got to tell you, being a Trump admin person, most of the administration communicated on encrypted signal apps,” she revealed. “A lot of the time these messages were likely disappearing.”
Mudd said that Cuffari needs to go.
“This is beyond incompetence,” he said. “Any inspector general, whether CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, doesn’t work for, say, the head of Homeland Security, they work in essence for the Congress.”
So why does Cuffari still have a job?
Yesterday afternoon The Washington Post published a story based on interviews with cybersecurity experts: Secret Service’s ‘ludicrous’ deletion of Jan. 6 phone data baffles experts.
Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: July 23, 2022 Filed under: just because | Tags: CDC, food crisis, January 6 Committee hearings, Monkeypox, public health emergency, Russia, Secret Service, Turkey, Ukraine, World Health Organization 33 Comments
Happy Caturday, Sky Dancers!!
As if we didn’t have enough bad news, we are now dealing with another global health emergency. Monkeypox is spreading rapidly around the world and here in the U.S. Cases have been reported in multiple states, including Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Washington, DC, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and California. As of two days ago, there were already nearly 2,000 reported cases in the U.S.
Apoorva Mandavilli at The New York Times: W.H.O. Declares Monkeypox Spread a Global Health Emergency.
For the second time in two years, the World Health Organization has taken the extraordinary step of declaring a global emergency. This time the cause is monkeypox, which has spread in just a few weeks to dozens of countries and infected tens of thousands of people.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.’s director general, on Saturday overruled a panel of advisers, who could not come to a consensus, and declared a “public health emergency of international concern,” a designation the W.H.O. currently uses to describe only two other diseases, Covid-19 and polio.
“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria” for a public health emergency, Dr. Tedros told reporters….
The W.H.O.’s declaration signals a public health risk requiring a coordinated international response. The designation can lead member countries to invest significant resources in controlling an outbreak, draw more funding to the response, and encourage nations to share vaccines, treatments and other key resources for containing the outbreak.
It is the seventh public health emergency since 2007; the Covid pandemic, of course, was the most recent.
The article discusses the controversy over how W.H.O. decides when to declare a health emergency. Some experts already think the agency waited too long on monkeypox.
Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy: Largest monkeypox study to date highlights new symptoms.
Many of the people infected in an international monkeypox outbreak experienced a single lesion or sore in their mouth or on their genitals, a departure from typical symptoms of the virus that could lead to clinicians to misdiagnose monkeypox as another sexually transmitted infection (STI).
That’s one of the main takeaways from the New England Journal of Medicine‘s (NEJM‘s) new international study of the current outbreak, which is the largest case-study on the virus.
“This truly global case series has enabled doctors from 16 countries to share their extensive clinical experience and many clinical photographs to help other doctors in places with fewer cases. We have shown that the current international case definitions need to be expanded to add symptoms that are not currently included, such as sores in the mouth, on the anal mucosa and single ulcers,” said Chloe Orkin, PhD, of the Queen Mary University of London, in a university press release.
The study included clinical observations from 528 confirmed infections at 43 sites from Apr 27 to Jun 24 of this year. The median incubation period is 7 days in this outbreak, and the median age of a case-patient was 38. No deaths occurred, but 70 patients (13%) required hospitalization.
In the study, authors share many patients are presenting to clinics and hospitals for pain management or difficulty swallowing. Single anal sores have been recorded in several cases. One in 10 people had only a single skin lesion in the genital area, and 15% had anal and/or rectal pain, a symptom not typically seen in other monkeypox outbreaks.
A total of 98% of the cases documented were in gay or bisexual men, and while monkeypox is not an STI, per se, the authors said 95% of transmissions documented occurred during sexual relations. Seventy-five percent of case patients are white, and 41% are HIV-positive.
CNN: CDC reports the first two monkeypox cases in children in the US.
Two cases of monkeypox have been identified in children in the United States, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
The two cases are unrelated and probably the result of household transmission, the CDC said.
One case is a toddler who is a resident of California. The other is an infant who is not a US resident. Public health officials are investigating how the children were infected.
Both have symptoms but are in good health and receiving treatment with an antiviral medication named tecovirimat or TPOXX, which the CDC recommends for children under the age of 8 because they are considered to be at higher risk from infection.
Since the monkeypox outbreak began in May, most of the cases have happened among men who have sex with men. However, anyone can catch the virus through close skin-to-skin contact. In the case of children, the agency said this could include “holding, cuddling, feeding, as well as through shared items such as towels, bedding, cups, and utensils.”
The CDC says the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine is being made available for children through special expanded use protocols. The agency has also developed new guidance for health care providers about identifying, treating and preventing monkeypox in children and teens.
Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, said Friday that the cases in children were not surprising and that the US should be ready to respond to more.
Politico: Biden administration considering a public health emergency for monkeypox as cases swell.
U.S. health officials are discussing whether to declare a public health emergency for the monkeypox outbreak as they work to make treatments and vaccines available to more people.
The discussions come as the virus — which is endemic in West and Central Africa but unusual in the United States — continues to spread across the country. As of Thursday, there were 2,593 cases reported, up from 1,470 last week. The federal government announced Friday it has shipped over 300,000 doses of the vaccine to states and cities to control the outbreak.
“We’re looking at … what are the ways the response could be enhanced, if any, by declaring a public health emergency,” White House Covid response coordinator Ashish Jha told reporters during a briefing Friday.
Officials at the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also working to make tecovirimat, the only treatment available for monkeypox (though only FDA–approved for smallpox), easier for physicians to prescribe to patients. A more streamlined process to get the antiviral is expected to be announced to providers next week.
The White House will also use a new research agenda, which was announced Thursday and consists of $140 million in ongoing projects, to study stretching limited monkeypox vaccine doses, find new testing methods and expand treatment options, three White House officials told POLITICO.
We haven’t talked much about the war in Ukraine lately, but it has caused a global food crisis. Yesterday Russian supposedly agreed to stop blocking shipments of grain, but the Ukraine and U.S. governments are skeptical that Russia will follow through.
BBC News: Food crisis: Ukraine war: Deal signed to allow grain exports to resume by sea.
Ukraine and Russia have signed “mirror” deals which will allow Kyiv to resume exports of grain through the Black Sea.
The agreement will allow millions of tonnes of grain, currently trapped in Ukraine by the war, to be exported.
The world shortage of Ukrainian grain since Russia’s 24 February invasion has left millions at risk of hunger.
However, Kyiv refused to sign a direct deal with Moscow, and warned “provocations” would be met with “an immediate military response”.
Both sides attended the signing ceremony in Istanbul but did not sit at the same table. Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu signed Moscow’s deal first, followed by Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov signing Kyiv’s identical agreement.
The deal – which took two months to reach – is set to last for 120 days, with a co-ordination and monitoring centre to be established in Istanbul, staffed by UN, Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian officials. It can be renewed if both parties agree.
The blockade of Ukraine’s grain has caused a global food crisis with wheat-based products like bread and pasta becoming more expensive, and cooking oils and fertiliser also increasing in price.
In January 6 news, CNN’s Whitney Wild and Jeremy Herb broke a story yesterday on those missing Secret Service text messages: First on CNN: Secret Service identified potential missing text messages on phones of 10 individuals.
Secret Service investigators were scrutinizing the phones of 10 Secret Service personnel that contained metadata showing text messages were sent and received around January 6, 2021, but were not retained, two sources told CNN.
The scrutiny came after the Department of Homeland Security inspector general asked for the text records last year of 24 individuals at the Secret Service who were involved in January 6, but only one text had been produced. After the issue spilled into public view this month, the inspector general launched a criminal investigation into the matter, and lawmakers demanded answers from the Secret Service to go back and find out what happened to the texts that may have been deleted.
But the Secret Service’s internal investigation ground to a halt after a July 20 letter from the DHS inspector general informed the agency there was an ongoing criminal investigation, directing the Secret Service to stop its own probe.
Investigators had been working to determine whether the content of the text messages sent by the 10 personnel contained relevant information that should have been preserved, the sources said. Among the 24 Secret Service personnel under scrutiny, 10 other Secret Service personnel had no text messages, and three had only personal records, according to the sources.
The details of scrutiny of messages from 10 Secret Service personnel caps an extraordinary week of turmoil for the agency, which started with the inspector general
demanding answers about potential missing texts and led to a congressional subpoena and a criminal investigation into the matter.
There has to be a way to recover those text messages. I’m sure The Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig, author of a book on the Secret Service, is working her sources to find out more.
Dakinikat covered the final January 6 Committee hearing yesterday, but here are some more follow-up articles:
NPR: The Jan. 6 committee isn’t done. Expect more hearings, revelations and reports.
The House Select January 6th committee made clear they are going to resume hearings in September.
Republican Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., opened the final summer hearing by noting the progress the committee has made, but she added that there’s now new evidence and more witnesses to consider.
“Doors have opened, new subpoenas have been issued, and the dam has begun to break,” Cheney said.
Already, in the buildup to Thursday’s presentation, select committee aides had hinted future hearings could be on tap.
And Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told reporters recently that the committee could issue an initial report in September, followed by a final report later this year. The findings would be accompanied by hearings, he said.
“We’re just getting a significant amount of information,” Thompson said. And the new evidence “pushes the timetable out.” [….]
Cheney also noted in this week’s hearing that the panel will now return to its investigative mode for the next several weeks.
“Our committee will spend August pursuing emerging information on multiple fronts, before convening further hearings this September,” Cheney said….
With plans to issue their findings in the form of reports and more hearings, the committee is racing to address new evidence along the way.
For example, the panel is now looking into allegations that the Secret Service deleted text messages during a two-day period surrounding the Jan. 6 attack. Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari has claimed the messages were erased after a request by his office, while the Secret Service has denied these allegations, saying the deletions were part of a system migration.
The Hill: Jan. 6 panel shows few signs of slowing down despite midterm risks.
The select committee’s prime-time hearing on Thursday was widely expected to mark the end of a crucial phase in the panel’s probe of last year’s riot, capping six weeks of publicly aired testimony — almost all of it from Republicans — aimed at pinning culpability for the rampage squarely onto Trump’s shoulders.
But every new revelation seems to turn up as many questions as answers, and the panel has altered its schedule to accommodate what it calls a wave of new information in need of perusal. The arrival of new witnesses has been accompanied by successful committee efforts to fight stonewalling in the form of executive privilege claims, and the panel has recently issued new subpoenas for even more evidence.
“The dam has begun to break,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice chair of the select committee, said Thursday night. “We have far more evidence to share with the American people — and more to gather.”
With that in mind, the committee said it intends to use Congress’s long August recess to wade through the influx of new information, with designs to hold more hearings on its findings in September when lawmakers return to Washington. How many they’ll stage remains unclear, but the investigators are leaving themselves the flexibility to determine that schedule on the fly.
“We are pursuing many additional witnesses for testimony,” said Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who participated in Thursday’s hearing remotely after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week. “We will reconvene in September to continue laying out our findings.” [….]
“We’re not done. The information continues to come in. The evidence is continuing to flow in,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) told CNN heading into Thursday’s hearing. “So this is … not the end of the story.”
More interesting January 6 stories to check out, links only:
Vicky Ward on her blog yesterday: What Trump World Really Thinks About Last Night’s Jan. 6 Hearing.
Alan Feuer and Michael Schmidt at The New York Times: The Jan. 6 Panel After 8 Hearings: Where Will the Evidence Lead?
Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post: Now we know the truth on what Trump sought to obscure about Jan. 6.
David Siders at Politico: ‘His life was threatened.’ But Pence isn’t talking about it.
Isaac Stanley Becker and Josh Dawsey at The Washington Post: Hearings test Trump’s clout and GOP’s wish to ‘forget about Jan. 6’
Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: The Myth of the Good Trump Official.
That’s it for me today. I hope you’re all having a terrific weekend!
Thursday Reads: Jan. 6 Committee Hearing TonightPosted: July 21, 2022 Filed under: January 6, January 6 Committee Public Hearings, Joe Biden, morning reads, Treason and Sedition Republican Style | Tags: Covid-19, Donald Trump, Joseph Cuffari, Matthew Pottinger, Rep. Andrew Clyde, Sarah Matthews, Secret Service 17 Comments
Tonight is the final January 6 Committee hearing, at least for this month. It should be a blockbuster. There are plenty of predictions about what will happen tonight. There is also more news about the Secret Service deleting text messages from January 5 and 6. I’ll get to those stories in a minute, but first some breaking news.
Despite his advanced age, Biden appears to be healthy and fit. Here’s hoping his symptoms stay mild.
Tonight’s January 6 Committee Hearing
Hugo Lowell at The Guardian: January 6 panel to show Trump violated law by refusing to stop Capitol attack.
The January 6 House select committee is expected to make the case at its hearing on Thursday that Donald Trump potentially violated the law when he refused entreaties to take action to stop the 2021 attack on the US Capitol by a mass of his supporters, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The panel will demonstrate that the former Republican president was “derelict in his duty” to protect the US Congress and might have also broken the federal law that prohibits obstructing an official proceeding before Congress, which had gathered to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
Trump could have called on national guard troops to restore order when he saw on TV the melee unfolding at the Capitol, the panel is expected to argue, or he could have called off the rioters via a live broadcast from the White House press briefing room, but he did not. Or he could have sent a tweet trying to stop the violence far earlier than he actually did, during the 187-minute duration of the Capitol attack.
The former president instead only reluctantly posted a tweet in the afternoon of January 6, hours after his top advisors at the White House and Republicans allies in Congress repeatedly implored him to intervene, the select committee will show….
The sources described what the select committee sees as potential legal culpability for the former president, speaking on the condition of anonymity ahead of the prime time hearing.
Two insider witnesses, “former deputy national security advisor Matthew Pottinger and former Trump press aide Sarah Matthews,” will testify in the hearing.
The two witnesses with inside knowledge of how the West Wing operated on January 6 are expected to narrate how that day unfolded, starting with how desperately Trump did not want to return to the White House after delivering his speech at the rally at the nearby Ellipse, where he had urged supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat….
The Guardian has learned, according to a person directly familiar with the matter, that in a previously unreported incident, the fracas [described in testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson” about going to the Capitol, after Trump told his supporters at the rally to go to Congress and “I’ll be there with you”, continued when he arrived back at the White House, and the argument spilled into the West Wing driveway.
Pottinger and Matthews are expected to testify about what happened when Trump was back at the White House, including details on Trump in his dining room off the Oval Office, where he watched the Capitol attack erupt on TV, transfixed by the images as rioters overran police and rampaged through the halls of Congress, the sources said.
The select committee will show through videotaped testimony from the Trump White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, and other aides, that the former president ignored repeated entreaties from advisers to help stop the Capitol attack, the sources said.
Rolling Stone: Exclusive: Jan. 6 Committee Plans to Humiliate MAGA Lawmakers Who Cowered During Capitol Attack.
The Jan. 6 committee plans to use its Thursday-night hearing to call out insurrection-friendly lawmakers who cowered during the Capitol attack but have since downplayed the insurrection’s severity, according to two sources familiar with the committee’s planning.
“They have plans to paint a really striking picture of how some of Trump’s greatest enablers of his coup plot were — no matter what they’re saying today — quaking in their boots and doing everything shy of crying out for their moms,” one source tells Rolling Stone. “If any of [these lawmakers] were capable of shame, they would be humiliated.” [….]
The committee has at times switched plans at the last minute, and it remains unclear which specific lawmakers the committee could call out. But at least some Republicans have already had their attempts to downplay or justify the attempted coup undone by footage from the day of the attack. When Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) claimed the insurrection “a normal tourist visit,” social media users quickly located photos of the Georgia Republican gasping in terror and hiding behind an armed Capitol police officer pointing a handgun at a barricaded entrance to the Senate floor.
In the 18 months since the insurrection, Republican lawmakers have tried to whitewash it through a series of contradictory talking points. Republicans have alternately downplayed the attack by calling it “a peaceful protest,” claimed it was violent but that the violence was carried out solely by nonexistent “antifa” or federal informants at the Capitol, or that Democrats were to blame for failing to adequately defend the Capitol against the protesters they variously claim weren’t violent or a threat.
Republicans like Reps. Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Paul Gosar have gone so far as to cast alleged rioters held in pretrial detention as unjustly accused political prisoners.
Read more at Rolling Stone.
The Washington Post: Even a day after Jan. 6, Trump balked at condemning the violence.
CNN: Trump had ‘extreme difficulty’ with his speech on the day after January 6.
The Secret Service and the Missing Text Messages
This shocking story broke last night. Carol Leonig and Maria Sacchetti at The Washington Post: Secret Service watchdog knew in February that texts had been purged.
Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: April 9, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, just because | Tags: Ali Alexander, Charles Donohoe, Department of Justice, Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr, foreign gifts, grand jury, January 6 investigation, Mark Meadows, Phony DHS investigation, Proud Boys, Secret Service, State Department, Trump administration 26 Comments
Some big Trump criminality news broke yesterday, and today there’s more news on stories we’ve been following over the past week. Here’s the latest:
This one was posted late last night at The New York Times: Trump Officials Failed to Provide Accounting of Foreign Gifts.
The Trump administration left office without providing the State Department with an accounting of the gifts former President Donald J. Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials received from foreign governments in 2020, the department disclosed late Friday.
The department said that as a result, it could not fully account for the gifts officials received, the latest example to emerge in recent months of how the Trump administration’s flouting of laws and norms about the day-to-day operations of government now makes it harder to determine whether anything improper took place.
“It’s flagrant and it looks terrible,” said Richard W. Painter, the former top ethics lawyer for George W. Bush’s administration. “Either it was really stupid or really corrupt.”
Under federal law, each government department and agency is legally required to submit a list to the State Department of gifts over $415 its officials received from foreign governments. The measure is intended to ensure that foreign governments do not gain undue influence over American officials.
LOL We already know that the Trumps were under “undue influence” from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and likely more countries.
The department said it had tried to collect the information about the gifts Trump White House officials had received but had failed to come up with an accounting.
“As a result, the data required to fully compile a complete listing for 2020 is unavailable,” the State Department said in a footnote to its list of gifts government officials received that year….
In February, it was revealed that classified documents and gifts from the White House had been improperly taken to Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, a matter federal authorities are now in the preliminary stages of investigating. Around that time, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol learned that significant chunks of time were missing from White House call records from the day of the attack….
The State Department’s inspector general reported in November that tens of thousands of dollars in gifts given to Trump administration officials were missing. They included a 30-year-old Suntory Hibiki bottle of Japanese whiskey given to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, worth $5,800, and a 22-karat-gold commemorative coin valued at $560 given to another State Department official.
Many more items are missing–read about the rest at the NYT link.
Three interesting follow-up stories on the fake DHS guys who were busted for bribing Secret Service agents.
CNN: Many questions remain in impersonation plot that duped federal agents, prosecutors say.
Prosecutors told a judge Friday that they still don’t know a motive for two men charged with impersonating federal agents, whether they are connected to any foreign government or whether they received anything from the federal agents they allegedly duped.
“This investigation is less than two weeks old, and every day it gets worse and worse as more and more evidence comes forward, and more and more witnesses come forward,” prosecutor Josh Rothstein told a federal judge on Friday.
The Justice Department is arguing that Haider Ali and Arian Taherzadeh should stay behind bars while the investigation continues. Judge Michael Harvey peppered prosecutors with questions, many of which they couldn’t answer.
The hearing will continue Monday, and the two men will remain behind bars over the weekend. Neither Taherzadeh nor Ali has entered a formal plea.
The two men spent more than two years impersonating Homeland Security agents, currying favor with federal law enforcement officers, some of whom lived in a swanky DC complex where they had apartments, and amassing a small arsenal of weapons and surveillance equipment, according to court documents.
Federal investigators are trying to unravel how the men paid for five apartments in a high-rent Washington neighborhood, as well as weapons and other equipment, a US law enforcement official said.
Among the questions for investigators is whether the money could have come from a foreign government, though they have noted that the effort didn’t appear to have the sophistication expected of trained foreign intelligence services.
Rothstein noted that one of the men, Ali, has citizenship status in Pakistan while also being a naturalized US citizen. Ali had traveled to Iran in the months before the scheme began, Rothstein said, and took five other trips abroad, including to Iraq and Pakistan.
(Highlighting added by me)
The Daily Mail: Stash of assault rifles, body armor, passports with multiple visas, and sham uniforms found in penthouse of ‘fake’ Homeland agents – including one with ‘links to Pakistani intelligence.’
A motion for detention of the two men who were arrested Wednesday for impersonating federal agents includes a slew of damning evidence, including images showing several different passports, visas and IDs.
The prosecutors are requesting Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Sher-Ali, 35, be detained due to a slew of evidence found in a raid of their units in a luxury apartment building in southeast Washington, D.C….
Taherzadeh told law enforcement in an interview after being taken into custody on Wednesday that Ali was the one funding their lavish lifestyle and seemingly endless stream of gifts, but claimed he wasn’t aware where the money was coming from.
The question remains, however, on what Ali and Taherzadeh’s motives were in getting close to people with White House access by impersonating government agents.
Secret Service agents assigned to details for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence are among those being investigated for accepting lavish gifts and partying with Taherzadeh and Ali, who alleged they were agents with the Department of Homeland Security.
At least one of the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) agents receiving free rent from Taherzadehand Ali was assigned to the detail protecting Harris’ residence at Number One Observatory Circle at the Naval Observatory, sources at the building told DailyMail.com.
Another, sources claim, was on the presidential protective detail and regularly traveled with President Biden on Air Force One.
The new information comes after an affidavit released Wednesday revealed that one of the witnesses in the case is a secret service agent that worked on First Lady Jill Biden’s protective detail.
Again, the added highlighting is mine. There’s much more at the link, including photos of the defendants and the evidence.
Justin Rohrlich of The Daily Beast interviewed a “former friend” of one of the imposters: Homeland Security Conman’s Arrest Is ‘Karma,’ Says Former Friend.
A man arrested this week for allegedly posing as a phony Homeland Security agent in a years-long ruse that fooled at least four members of the Secret Service—one of them on first lady Jill Biden’s security detail—has been busted for passing bad checks, allegedly created a fake company to win a city contract, and stiffed a close friend and business partner before skipping town, according to state court records and interviews with two former associates.
Arian Taherzadeh, 40, was arrested by the feds at his Washington, D.C., apartment complex on Wednesday….
In an interview with investigators following his arrest, prosecutors say Taherzadeh admitted to posing as a DHS agent and said he also falsely told others that he was an ex-Army Ranger. However, he put much of the onus on Ali, telling the feds that “Ali was the individual that funded most of their day-to-day operation but Taherzadeh did not know the source of the funds.”
“You could call it karma,” a former friend and business partner in Kansas City who started a now-defunct IT consultancy with Taherzadeh told The Daily Beast. “I got burned a couple of different times and I finally walked away.”
The friend said he’s extremely curious to know what Taherzadeh’s end-game was.
“Part of me just wants to tell you, it’s because he could,” he said.
The tale of the con is a long story. You can read it at the Daily Beast link.
January 6 investigation news
I know you’ve probably heard about this bombshell story from CNN yesterday: CNN Exclusive: ‘We control them all’: Donald Trump Jr. texted Meadows ideas for overturning 2020 election before it was called.
Two days after the 2020 presidential election, as votes were still being tallied, Donald Trump’s eldest son texted then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that “we have operational control” to ensure his father would get a second term, with Republican majorities in the US Senate and swing state legislatures, CNN has learned.
In the text, which has not been previously reported, Donald Trump Jr. lays out ideas for keeping his father in power by subverting the Electoral College process, according to the message reviewed by CNN. The text is among records obtained by the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021.
“It’s very simple,” Trump Jr. texted to Meadows on November 5, adding later in the same missive: “We have multiple paths We control them all.” [….]
Immediately before his text to Meadows describing multiple paths for challenging the election, Trump Jr. texted Meadows the following: “This is what we need to do please read it and please get it to everyone that needs to see it because I’m not sure we’re doing it.”
The November 5 text message outlines a strategy that is nearly identical to what allies of the former President attempted to carry out in the months that followed. Trump Jr. makes specific reference to filing lawsuits and advocating recounts to prevent certain swing states from certifying their results, as well as having a handful of Republican state houses put forward slates of fake “Trump electors.”
If all that failed, according to the Trump Jr. text, GOP lawmakers in Congress could simply vote to reinstall Trump as President on January 6.
“We have operational control Total leverage,” the message reads. “Moral High Ground POTUS must start 2nd term now.”
Lock him up. Please.
The New York Times: Pro-Trump Rally Planner Is Cooperating in Justice Dept.’s Jan. 6 Inquiry.
Ali Alexander, a prominent organizer of pro-Trump events after the 2020 election, has agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department’s investigation of the attack on the Capitol last year, the first high-profile political figure known to have offered assistance to the government’s newly expanded criminal inquiry.
Speaking through a lawyer, Mr. Alexander said on Friday that he had recently received a subpoena from a federal grand jury that is seeking information on several broad categories of people connected to pro-Trump rallies that took place in Washington after the election.
In a statement from the lawyer, Mr. Alexander said he was taking “a cooperative posture” with the Justice Department’s investigation but did not know what useful information he could give. He also disavowed anyone who took part in or planned violence on Jan. 6.
While it remains unclear what Mr. Alexander might tell the grand jury, he was intimately involved in the sprawling effort to mount political protests challenging the results of the election, and had contacts with other organizers, extremist groups, members of Congress and, according to the House committee investigating Jan. 6, White House officials during the period after Election Day.
I actually think the NYT is underplaying the important of this development, but here’s a bit more from the article:
The grand jury subpoena Mr. Alexander received suggests that prosecutors have greatly widened the scope of their inquiry to include not only people who were at the Capitol, but also those who organized and spoke at pro-Trump events in November and December 2020 and on Jan. 6, 2021.
In an indication that the inquiry could reach into the Trump administration and its allies in Congress, the subpoena also seeks information about members of the executive and legislative branches who were involved in the events or who may have helped to obstruct the certification of the 2020 election….
Mr. Alexander took part in two so-called Stop the Steal rallies in Washington that preceded the former president’s event at the Ellipse, near the White House, on Jan. 6 — one on Nov. 14, 2020, and the other a few weeks later on Dec. 12 — as well as events in the key swing state of Georgia in December.
In the run-up to those gatherings, Mr. Alexander came into contact with a host of rally organizers and with right-wing groups like the Oath Keepers militia and the 1st Amendment Praetorian that provided both public and personal security at the events.
The Washington Post on the plea deal with Proud Boy Charles Donohoe: Proud Boys leader admits plan to storm Capitol, will testify against others.