Tonight is not an imperative read, if you need a break
from politics. It's just more details emerging in ongoing stories.
Today, the White House told reporters that it is preparing severe
economic reprisals for any new Russian movement into Ukraine. Deputy
Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told Bloomberg Television that the
sanctions are prepared; he did not deny that Russia might be expelled
from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication
(SWIFT), a system that facilitates international money transfers.
The White House is also working with energy-producing nations in the
Middle East, North Africa, and Asia to see if it will be possible to
ease shortages of liquefied natural gas in Europe if Russia invades
Ukraine and sanctions fall into place.
Administration officials noted that the Russian economy is already
taking a hit from the threatened economic sanctions. Indeed, Russian
stocks sank 8 percent today, and the ruble has dropped to a 14-month low. Today
the JPMorgan Chase bank stopped handling the ruble. It closed all its
positions in Russian currency, saying that the buildup of troops made
the currency too risky. The Moscow Times today reported that Russian
businesses are preparing for heavy losses.
When a reporter today asked President Biden if he would consider placing
sanctions on Russian president Vladimir Putin himself if he invaded
Ukraine, Biden responded: "Yes. I would see that."
There was a sign today that Putin's position at home is not as strong as
his military stance is designed to project. Russian authorities are
cracking down on opposition to Putin's leadership, and now they have
added Alexei Navalny and some of his allies to a registry of terrorists.
Putin had Navalny poisoned and then, when he survived to return to
Russia, had him imprisoned. And yet, despite his removal from active
politicking, Putin appears still to consider him a threat.
Another major story developing today is the story of the attempt to
overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis last week asked for a special
grand jury to investigate former president Donald Trump's attempt to
overturn the 2020 election. Willis has said she needs the grand jury
because a number of potential witnesses for Trump's actions refuse to
testify without subpoenas, which the grand jury can provide. The judges
on Fulton County's Superior Court agreed to a grand jury to be impaneled
This is the only investigation we know of that is focusing directly on
Trump himself and his part in trying to steal the election. Observers
say that he is at risk of being charged with racketeering or conspiracy;
Willis hired an outside expert in state racketeering back in March.
Trump was recorded on January 2, 2021, trying to bully Georgia Secretary
of State Brad Raffensperger, asking him to "find 11,780 votes" to
override the will of the voters and deliver the state to Trump. A number
of people joined then-president Trump on the call, including then–White
House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and several lawyers, among them
longtime right-wing attorney Cleta Mitchell, whose law firm distanced
itself from her after Raffensperger made the call public (when she
resigned days later, she blamed "left-wing pressure groups" for the need
Curiously, Trump released a statement blasting the Georgia investigation
and complaining that he is being investigated for "asking an Attorney
General...to look for corruption." But, so far as we know, he was being
investigated for pressuring Georgia's secretary of state. They are two
different positions, two different men. Was Trump just confused when he
issued the written statement, or was there another conversation?
The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the
U.S. Capitol is also in the news. On Sunday, committee member
Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) told CNN's Jim Acosta that Trump's
attorney general William Barr had appeared voluntarily before staff
attorneys for the January 6 committee. Trump announced Barr's
resignation on Twitter on December 15, 2020, minutes after Congress
counted in the Electoral College ballots certifying Biden as president.
On December 14, false electors had met in seven states to declare for
Trump; the plan to use those false votes to throw out the real ones may
have been connected to Barr's sudden removal.
Also on Sunday, on the Fox News Channel, former Republican
representative from Georgia Newt Gingrich attacked the January 6
committee as a lawbreaking lynch mob and said that when the Republicans
retake the house and the Senate in fall 2022, the committee's members
will face "a real risk of jail."
And yet, today a federal judge in California strongly rejected the
argument that the committee is not legitimate, an argument Trump
loyalists have made as they have ignored subpoenas.
At issue was the attempt of lawyer John Eastman, who wrote the infamous
memo outlining how then–vice president Mike Pence could steal the
election for Trump, to keep his former employer from turning documents
over to the committee. Eastman invoked his Fifth Amendment's right to
silence to avoid self-incrimination 146 times in his own responses to
the committee, and when it then subpoenaed his former employer, Chapman
University, for the material it wanted, Eastman tried to stop the
university from turning over nearly 19,000 of his emails that pertain to
the insurrection. Eastman argued that the committee was illegitimate.
Federal Judge David Carter rejected that argument. "The public interest
here is weighty and urgent," Carter wrote. "Congress seeks to understand
the causes of a grave attack on our nation's democracy and a
near-successful attempt to subvert the will of the voter."
The committee appears to be getting answers.
Today, right-wing personality Alex Jones of InfoWars told his
followers that he met with the committee virtually on Monday and that he
had taken the Fifth "almost 100" times, claiming he was worried he would
misspeak and the misstatement would be used against him. He seemed taken
aback to learn that the committee had his text messages and emails.
Today, Jones walked back his rhetoric from early January and appeared to
want to distance himself from the events of January 6. "Let's get
something clear for the committee and my audience and everybody else,"
he said, "I don't want a civil war in this country, and that's a
terrible idea.... And I don't want lawlessness by anybody. And I don't
want anybody attacking anybody, OK?"
Heather Cox Richardson
Letter from an American
CONGRESSIONAL WORK WEEK
Our Members of Congress really work hard, sometimes it takes years of
hearings and sessions to pass a single bill. For example, H.R. 3962,
Affordable Care Act, was presented to the House of Representatives in
July of 2009, and wasn't signed into law until March 23, 2010, after
months of revisions, amendments, and debates about the bill. After it
was passed, it still wasn't safe. In fact, according to TIME, "the
House voted to repeal or amend the Affordable Care Act more than 50
times since it was passed."
FRANK'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
FRED'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
THE NEXT DISINFORMATION
SHAWVILLE, QC |
The public nastiness over vaccinations, masks, and lockdowns has
exceeded normal boundaries of public debate, but this nastiness is not
new, especially after Trump's foray into anti-democratic
I'm writing this on the day of our 30th
wedding anniversary. Deb and I were married on December 15, 1990 in
Sherbrooke. That wasn't the original plan.
JANE DOES THE
This is one of 30 short
poems in the chapbook Placing No Markers by Jason Krpan. You can
download the book for free at Bookfellows.