President Joe Biden for the first time labeled Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine genocide, Politico reports. Said Biden: “Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide a half a world away.”
He later added: “It’s become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of being Ukrainian. The evidence is mounting. It looks different than last week.”
Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky responded: “True words of a true leader.”
“President Biden announced Wednesday that he has approved the transfer of helicopters, artillery systems and armored vehicles as part of a package of $800 million in additional military aid to Ukraine,” Axios reports.
“The U.S. and its European allies are drastically ramping up the scale and scope of their military assistance ahead of a massive Russian offensive in the eastern Donbas region, which officials believe will dictate the trajectory of the rest of the war.
“Russian authorities on Monday arrested Vladimir Kara-Murza — a prominent Kremlin critic and politician who has written columns for The Washington Post protesting Russia’s war in Ukraine and violations of human rights,” the Washington Post reports.
“Kara-Murza was arrested outside his home in Moscow, the same day CNN aired an interview in which he predicted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would lead to the downfall of President Vladimir Putin’s government.”
“Ukrainian officials say fugitive Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, who is both the former leader of a pro-Russian opposition party and a close associate of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, has been detained in a special operation carried out by the country’s SBU secret service,” the AP reports.
“Putin is the godfather to Medvedchuk’s youngest daughter.”
“Western weaponry pouring into Ukraine helped blunt Russia’s initial offensive and seems certain to play a central role in the approaching, potentially decisive, battle for Ukraine’s contested Donbas region,” the AP reports. “Yet the Russian military is making little headway halting what has become a historic arms express.”
Eliot Cohen: “For those of us born after World War II, this is the most consequential war of our lifetime. Upon its outcome rests the future of European stability and prosperity.”
“If Ukraine succeeds in preserving its freedom and territorial integrity, a diminished Russia will be contained; if it fails, the chances of war between NATO and Russia go up, as does the prospect of Russian intervention in other areas on its western and southern peripheries.”
“A Russian win would encourage a China coolly observing and assessing Western mettle and military capacity; a Russian defeat would induce a salutary caution in Beijing. Russia’s sheer brutality and utterly unwarranted aggression, compounded by lies at once sinister and ludicrous, have endangered what remains of the global order and the norms of interstate conduct.”
“If such behavior leads to humiliation on the battlefield and economic chaos at home, those norms may be rebuilt to some degree; if Vladimir Putin’s government gets away with it, restoring them will take a generation or longer.”
“President Joe Biden plans to roll out five new judicial nominees on Monday, elevating two judges to federal circuit courts and picking three to serve on district courts,” NBC News reports.
“The five additions bring Biden’s total to 90 judicial nominations.”
“Confirming judges is one part of Biden’s agenda that is still moving forward quickly and successfully, unhindered by the Democrats’ wafer-thin 50-50 majority and a variety of political challenges and party divisions that are complicating his other domestic goals.”
“The Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into former President Donald Trump seems doomed, but a little-known New York law is buying time for prosecutors to build a better case against him and convince the hesitant new DA to act—or wait until he’s replaced,” the Daily Beast reports.
“Law enforcement in New York has five years from the date of an alleged crime to officially file charges for most felonies, but under New York law § 30.10(4)(a)(i), that clock stops for up to five more years when a defendant is outside the state. That 10-year grace period means Trump’s time in the White House and his post-presidential political exile at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida may be gifting prosecutors much-needed extra time.”
“New York Attorney General Letitia James has broadened her civil investigation into the accuracy of the Trump Organization’s financial statements to include the role of its long-time appraiser Cushman & Wakefield,” CNN reports.
“Two of Donald Trump’s top White House lawyers are slated to speak with the Jan. 6 select committee Wednesday,” Politico reports.
“Pat Cipollone, Trump’s White House counsel, and his deputy Patrick Philbin, are expected to speak informally with the panel, a potential precursor to more formal transcribed testimony later. Cipollone and Philbin did not respond to requests for comment.“
“One week before an angry mob stormed the Capitol, a communications expert named Jason Sullivan, a onetime aide to Roger Stone, joined a conference call with a group of President Donald Trump’s supporters and made an urgent plea,” the New York Times reports.
“After assuring his listeners that the 2020 election had been stolen, Mr. Sullivan told them that they had to go to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021 — the day that Congress was to meet to finalize the electoral count — and ‘descend on the Capitol.’”
“While Mr. Sullivan claimed that he was ‘not inciting violence or any kind of riots,’ he urged those on the call to make their presence felt at the Capitol in a way that would intimidate members of Congress, telling the group that they had to ensure that lawmakers inside the building ‘understand that people are breathing down their necks.’”
But instead of going public with his criticism of Trump’s “rigged” election claims, McConnell kept quiet because he feared how the revelation would impact Republican chances in the Georgia Senate runoffs that were scheduled for January.
Jonathan Haidt: “It’s been clear for quite a while now that red America and blue America are becoming like two different countries claiming the same territory, with two different versions of the Constitution, economics, and American history. But the Tower of Babel is not a story about tribalism; it’s a story about the fragmentation of everything. It’s about the shattering of all that had seemed solid, the scattering of people who had been a community. It’s a metaphor for what is happening not only between red and blue, but within the left and within the right, as well as within universities, companies, professional associations, museums, and even families.”
“Babel is a metaphor for what some forms of social media have done to nearly all of the groups and institutions most important to the country’s future—and to us as a people. How did this happen? And what does it portend for American life?”
New York Times: “A bill to name a federal courthouse in Tallahassee after Justice Joseph W. Hatchett, the first Black man to serve on the Florida Supreme Court — sponsored by the state’s two Republican senators and backed unanimously by its 27 House members — was set to pass the House last month and become law with broad bipartisan support.”
“But in a last-minute flurry, Republicans abruptly pulled their backing with no explanation and ultimately killed the measure, leaving its fate unclear, many of its champions livid and some of its newfound opponents professing ignorance about what had happened.”
From a Wall Street Journal editorial: “Inflation is a powerful political force because it can’t be explained away. Nearly every voter feels it every day. If the November elections are a referendum on the cost of living, voters won’t blame the Kremlin. They’ll blame the party in power in Washington.”
“U.S. central bankers are split on whether high inflation will be a recurring problem in the future requiring repeated rate hikes, comments from two officials showed on Tuesday, a stark contrast to their broad consensus on the current policy path,” Reuters reports.
“Federal prosecutors may soon reach a charging decision regarding Rudy Giuliani’s foreign lobbying efforts involving Ukraine, after he helped investigators unlock several electronic devices that were seized by the FBI,” CNN reports.
“Giuliani has also offered to appear for a separate interview to prove he has nothing to hide, renewing a proposal that federal prosecutors have previously rebuffed.”
“The Justice Department this week rebuffed a request from the House Oversight Committee for more details about the 15 boxes of White House records that former president Donald Trump improperly removed to Mar-a-Lago, hinting in a letter that an ongoing investigation prevents the department from doing so,” the Washington Post reports.
New York Times: “A review by The New York Times of thousands of internal McKinsey documents found that the firm repeatedly allowed employees who served pharmaceutical companies, including opioid makers, to also consult for the FDA, the drug industry’s primary government regulator.”
“And, the documents show, McKinsey touted that inside access in pitches to private clients. In an email in 2014 to Purdue’s chief executive, a McKinsey consultant highlighted the firm’s work for the FDA and stressed ‘who we know and what we know.’”
The world has now seen 500 million documented Covid cases, per the Johns Hopkins tracker.
“The Biden administration will extend for two weeks the nationwide mask requirement for public transit as it monitors an uptick in COVID-19 cases,” the AP reports.
Ed Luce: “A collective groan could be heard on Monday when Philadelphia said it was reinstating the city’s mask mandate. It was a bad omen for Democrats. Leave aside whether it is necessary — most experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, think it is not — liberals will pay a price for any restrictions, even essential ones.”
“Voters were already furious about the school closures in the first year or more of the pandemic that in hindsight look like overkill. A return to enforced masking is just the kind of move that will boomerang.”
Ed Yong: “In just two years, Covid has become the third most common cause of death in the U.S., which means that it is also the third leading cause of grief in the U.S. Each American who has died of Covid has left an average of nine close relatives bereaved, creating a community of grievers larger than the population of all but 11 states…”
“Deaths from Covid have been unexpected, untimely, particularly painful, and, in many cases, preventable. The pandemic has replaced community with isolation, empathy with judgment, and opportunities for healing with relentless triggers. Some of these features accompany other causes of death, but Covid has woven them together and inflicted them at scale.”
“In 1 million instants, the disease has torn wounds in 9 million worlds, while creating the perfect conditions for those wounds to fester. It has opened up private grief to public scrutiny, all while depriving grievers of the collective support they need to recover. The U.S. seems intent on brushing aside its losses in its desire to move past the crisis. But the grief of millions of people is not going away.”
“China is moving tentatively forward with a plan to test shortened quarantines for international arrivals as it seeks to gradually open up and ease the economic damage wrought by strict Covid-19 control policies, even as the country’s financial capital struggles to contain a major outbreak,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“A bus from Texas arrived in Washington, D.C. Wednesday morning, transporting dozens of illegal immigrants as part of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) new plan to counter federal immigration policies during an ongoing border crisis,” Fox News reports.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said a new truck inspection policy implemented by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is causing “significant disruptions to the food and automobile supply chains,” the HuffPost reports.
Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke (D) knocked the Biden administration for failing to give border communities a plan for dealing with the number of migrants at their doorstep before saying he’ll end the pandemic-era emergency health order that allows federal officials to turn people away at the border next month, the Texas Tribune reports.
Said O’Rourke: “It does not make sense to end this until there is a real plan and the capacity in place to handle those and address those that come over.”
“Northern Irish politics are on the brink of an inflection point on May 5 if the latest polling proves correct, ending a century in which the largest party in Northern Irish politics has come from the unionist community,” The Guardian reports.
“Instead Sinn Féin, a party that campaigns for a united Ireland, seems likely to win a historic victory.”
Wall Street Journal: “The leaders of the House foreign affairs and intelligence committees and more than 20 other Democrats plan to press the Biden administration to take a tougher stance on Saudi Arabia, citing Riyadh’s refusal to cooperate with Washington over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a range of human-rights issues.”
“In a letter reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the lawmakers issued some of the toughest criticism the Biden administration has faced from Congress over its handling of the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. President Biden described Saudi Arabia as a pariah state during the 2020 campaign and promised to hold the Saudi government accountable for alleged rights abuses, but has taken few concrete steps to do so.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) “went on record in front of around 80 people in Waukon to say he does not support repealing a landmark healthcare reform law that brought coverage to more than 230,000 Iowa residents,” Iowa Starting Line reports.
Said Grassley: “I’m saying I would not—we’re not going to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”
“Secret Service leaders are downplaying any risk to national security after four of its employees — including an agent assigned to protect first lady Jill Biden — were allegedly hoodwinked by two men impersonating federal agents and plying them with gifts, telling congressional committees and allies that the severity of the breach has been overblown by prosecutors and the media,” the Washington Post reports.
“But several former Secret Service officials warn that the alleged infiltration of the elite protection agency reveals a major vulnerability extending well beyond this particular case. They said the revelations suggest that agents who had regular access to the White House and the Biden family — and who are supposed to be trained to spot scammers or spies seeking to ingratiate themselves — were either too greedy or gullible to question a dubious cover story.”