Pioneering TV news icon Barbara Walters died at 93. She was, as the Washington Post‘s Hank Stuever famously described her, “one of America’s last great listeners”.
Six years’ worth of former president Donald Trump’s tax information was released to the public by the House Ways and Means Committee. One one level, the detail really didn’t tell us much that we didn’t already know; on another, it confirmed a lot of what had been suspected. Nonetheless, Fox inevitably found their own spin…
Here we go again… The US announced it was imposing new Covid testing requirements for travellers arriving from China, following an upsurge in infection rates there. The new rules come into effect on Jan 5th. Italy also said it was introducing testing requirements and other countries are expected to follow.
The saga of GOP Rep-Elect George Santos – assuming that is his real name – gets even weirder after he apparently confessed to “embellishing” the resume he campaigned on in last month’s midterms. Santos still seems determined to serve his two-year term in Congress and a Republican leadership desperate to have him is saying nothing.
As the death toll from the winter storm continues to mount, travellers trying to get home from Christmas visits were thrown into chaos by a logistical meltdown at one of the major US domestic airlines. The Southwest Airlines debacle will prove the first public test for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his long-term political ambitions.
Ukraine President Zelenskyy returned from Washington – with nearly $50million in new military funding – to deal with increased Russian missile attacks targeting his country’s infrastructure and major population centres. But could there be an opening for “negotiations” after a statement by Vladimir Putin? Some observers are sceptical.
Meanwhile, winter storm conditions continue to devastate travel across the US.
Another “stunt” by Texas Gov Greg Abbott to draw attention to the immigration issue, as three busloads of migrants – more than 100 people – are dropped off in front of the Vice-President’s residence in Washington DC. Abbott’s office said last week that Texas has now transported more than 15,000 people since April to Washington, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Other Republican Governors have also adopted the tactic.
“Luckily” for Abbott – and Texans – the state’s power grid, which proved vulnerable during last year’s storms, so far appears to be holding up as demand for electricity shattered peak expectations on Friday.
The delayed Jan 6th Committee report, which pulls together evidence of wrongdoing surrounding the deadly attempted insurrection, is already triggering a co-ordinated messaging distraction by supporters of the former president, who turned their ire on Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
A fresh tranche of transcripts from the Committee’s interviews, including several top associates of the former president, was released on Friday night.
Almost two years since the attack on the Capitol, in addition to making criminal referrals to the DOJ for the former president and others, the Committee’s report recommends measures that could see Trump prevented from holding office again.
The New Yorker‘s David Remnick writes:
“When a nation has been subjected to that degree of cynicism—what is politely called ‘divisiveness’—it can lose its ability to experience outrage. As a result, the prospect of engaging with this congressional inquiry into Trump’s attempt to delegitimatize the machinery of electoral democracy is sometimes a challenge to the spirit. That is both understandable and a public danger. And yet a citizenry that can no longer bring itself to pay attention to such an investigation or to absorb its astonishing findings risks moving even farther toward a disturbing ‘new normal’: a post-truth, post-democratic America.”
The impact of the winter storm is set to worsen across the country today.
Before the impending “once-in-a-generation” winter storm meant no-one on Capitol Hill could make their flights home for the holidays, the Senate passed a $1.7trillion omnibus spending bill to continue funding the government. It now moves to the House.
While the Jan 6th Committee delayed the release of its final report in light of President Zelensky’s visit yesterday, it did release several transcripts of witness testimony as an appetizer.
Meanwhile, baseball is abuzz with the implications of Mets’ owner Steve Cohen assembling the most expensive team in history, after the surprise signing of shortstop Carlos Correa.
Oh and, talking of uber-wealthy dudes doing uber-wealthy things…
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is making his first trip outside his country since the war began in February, visiting Washington to meet with President Biden. He also addressed a joint session of Congress this evening.
The Jan 6th Committee delayed the release of its final report for a day in light of President Zelensky’s visit.
The week went from bad to potentially worse for the former president, and it’s still only Tuesday.
Quite a day on Capitol Hill. In what was an unprecedented – but possibly ultimately symbolic – move, the Jan 6th Committee capped off its 18-month work by issuing criminal referrals to the DOJ against twice-impeached former president Donald Trump, his lawyer John Eastman and “others” related to the attempted insurrection.
The Committee’s full report will be officially released on Wednesday.
Given the partisan nature of control of the incoming Congress, referrals for ethics violations against individuals including Rep Kevin McCarthy and Rep Jim Jordan will likely go nowhere.
Meanwhile, a picture continues to emerge of the former president’s life since he declared his 2024 candidacy.
Whatever happens to the former president, though, the political world he has created will be with us for a while yet.
Elsewhere, the “votes” are in…
The chaotic quicksand that is Elon Musk’s control of Twitter seems to be approaching a point where it’s swallowing him whole.
In true global Bond villain style, Musk was in Qatar at the World Cup final with Jared Kushner in a luxury box with local dignitaries.
Meanwhile, on the field…
The Jan 6th Committee will meet on Monday to vote on whether its final report due next Wednesday will include recommendations to the DOJ that former president Donald Trump be charged with a number of criminal offenses.
As former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani was found by the DC Bar Association to have committed at least one violation of attorney rules in his legal efforts to overturn the 2020 election, he might want to contemplate the “major announcement ” by the man he struggled to keep in the Oval Office.
And if such a thing were possible, it’s even more dubious than it looks…
Meanwhile, “free speech advocate” Elon Musk’s Twitter war against journalists – or at least against scrutiny – appears to have escalated.
The tenth anniversary of Sandy Hook. The day President Obama called the darkest of his presidency.
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Scientists have achieved a long-sought nuclear fusion reaction resulting in a net energy gain, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced. If sustainable, and scalable, the development – a scientific holy grail for decades – has huge implications for future ‘clean’ energy generation.
The Jan 6th Committee is set to publish its final report on Dec 21st, including recommendations for criminal charges, but little is expected to happen procedurally at least until the new year, or even until after Republicans take charge of the House and likely shutter the Committee.
Meanwhile, the events of Jan 6th continue to stoke division and despair at perceived inaction on the part of law enforcement. But the crucial question is will the Justice Department show itself willing to take on members of Congress?
And there are more Meadows texts to come.
Elsewhere in legal news, with the founder of imploded crypto exchange FTX now in custody, yet more new strands of the already convoluted story emerge…
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (famously the other end of former President Trump’s call to “find” enough votes to overturn the state’s election result) received a subpoena for documents related to the DOJ’s Jan 6th investigation.
The second round of seditious conspiracy trials against members of the Oath Keepers militia began today in Washington.
With China apparently wrestling with a rapid Covid surge, the markets – usually – know what’s what.
I’m long past understanding what’s going on at Twitter. Thankfully others smarter than me appear to have some perspective. For now, at least…
Read my conversation with Alina Utrata, “Musk and Managing The Message”, shortly after Musk’s takeover was announced.
Meanwhile, according to a survey for CNBC, a “majority of Americans” – or significant numbers within both parties – don’t want Joe Biden or Donald Trump to run again.
As if to publicly restrain Democrats who were getting carried away with the party’s midterm performance, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema either played what she thinks is a strategic winning move or just announced her retirement from politics.
Saying she was leaving the party to operate as an “independent” she threw the balance of the Senate – and the run-up to 2024 – into a black hole of chaos and mercenary politics.
Baseball’s Winter Meetings wrapped up in San Diego with some serious money being spent.
As the Jan 6th Committee prepares to wrap up its work, the extent of the apparent coup that has been disrupted in Germany bears more than a passing familiarity to events in the US and serves as a warning on the dangers of right-wing networks both overt and operating underground in a democracy.
After ten months in a Russian prison, WNBA star Brittney Griner was freed after the Biden administration agreed a trade for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout.
The House passed the Respect for Marriage Act by a majority of 258-169. The legislation aims to codify federal protection for marriages of same-sex and interracial couples, and will now be signed into law by President Biden.
Many Wordle streaks were reset today in support of action over a contract dispute by NewsGuild workers at the New York Times.
Democrats in the Senate – and beyond – have reason to be grateful to Raphael Warnock and the voters of Georgia this morning after the incumbent Senator’s close runoff victory gave them a working majority in the upper chamber that guarantees a majority in committees. One of these days, hopefully, we can look forward to an election that doesn’t end up with a good, decent candidate getting 50 per cent and their completely unsuitable, unworthy opponent getting 49.
Trump-picked candidates have now cost Republicans winnable seats across the country – with the exception of JD Vance in Ohio – while Joe Biden became the first president since FDR in 1934 to not lose a single senator from his party in the first midterm.
Talking of the former president, a jury in New York found his company guilty of 17 counts of tax fraud, a verdict that could open the door to charges against specific individuals.
In more potentially bad news for Trump, following the conviction of the Oath Keepers’ leader for seditious conspiracy, the House Committee on Jan 6th signalled it will make – as yet unnamed – criminal referrals over the events of that day and the broader election subversion operation that led up to it.
At a ceremony honoring Capital Police for sacrifices during the attempted insurrection, there was a message for Congressional Republicans.
Election day in the state of Georgia. The end of one national cycle and – like it or not – the beginning of another.
Almost $80million has been spent in total on ads by both sides just in the four-week run-off period. So I guess the idea of somehow “taking the money out of politics” is going to have to wait…
Read my conversation here with Atlanta-area voter Julie Duval: ‘Vote Once, Vote Twice…’
This will be interesting…
Whatever happens to the former president in the coming weeks and months, Trumpism in some form will continue while the GOP refuses to disavow it.
With baseball’s Winter Meetings set to begin, there were big deals involving Justin Verlander (to the Mets), Jacob deGrom (to the Texas Rangers) and Trea Turner (to the Phillies).
And the Crime Dog made it into the Hall of Fame.
And, sure as night follows day…
Meanwhile… quite an outcome, if true.
It appears that by this stage, the legal walls are closing in so rapidly the former president is less concerned than probably he ought to be about what he actually says in public.
Meanwhile, you thought this particular discourse dumpster fire couldn’t get any worse, didn’t you? You were – unsurprisingly – wrong.
The DNC met today to discuss the order of initial nominating contests for the 2024 primary cycle. President Biden is pushing for South Carolina – which brought his 2020 campaign back to life – to take the place of the Iowa Caucuses, which imploded in chaos that year. Unsurprisingly, Iowa Democrats aren’t happy.
Not a good day legally for the former president. Increasingly his legal days are becoming less good, though…
Incoming GOP House leader – for now – Kevin McCarthy said that a new round of Jan 6th hearings would tell “both sides” of the story of the attempted insurrection once Republicans assume control of the House. Meanwhile, McCarthy himself, along with Ohio Rep Jim Jordan, faces possible criminal charges for failing to co-operate with the work of the existing committee.
Meanwhile, another House Committee, Ways and Means, finally has access to former president Donald Trump’s tax records.