“Russia pounded eastern Ukraine on Tuesday as the U.S. defense secretary promised to ‘keep moving heaven and earth’ to get Kyiv the weapons it needs to repel the new offensive even as Moscow warned such support risked widening the war,” the AP reports.
New York Times: “The United States marshaled allies on Tuesday to pledge more military support to Ukraine, accelerating the drive to deter Russia’s offensive and degrade its war machine, as Moscow accused the West of pursuing a proxy war and ignoring the ‘considerable’ risk that it could spiral into a nuclear conflict.”
Washington Post: “U.S. military officials assess that a crucial, and perhaps decisive, phase of the Ukraine war is shaping up in the eastern part of the country, where Russian troops may surround Ukrainian forces in hopes of pummeling them in an epic, long-distance ground battle reminiscent of the last century.”
“New U.S. shipments of heavy artillery and counter-artillery radar, tactical drones, armored vehicles and other equipment are being rushed to Ukraine before tens of thousands of troops, amounting to up to half of the Ukrainian army, are caught in what is known as a ‘double envelopment’ maneuver that would bring them under simultaneous attack from two sides.”
“As Russia launched its invasion, the U.S. gave Ukrainian forces detailed intelligence about exactly when and where Russian missiles and bombs were intended to strike, prompting Ukraine to move air defenses and aircraft out of harm’s way,” NBC News reports.
“That near real-time intelligence-sharing also paved the way for Ukraine to shoot down a Russian transport plane carrying hundreds of troops in the early days of the war, the officials say, helping repel a Russian assault on a key airport near Kyiv.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told CNN that the entire “global international security order” put in place after World War II is at stake if Russia gets away “cost-free” following its invasion of Ukraine.
The head of the UN’s atomic agency says radiation levels at the former Chernobyl nuclear power station, the scene of weeks of fighting after the Russian invasion, are “abnormal,” the BBC reports.
“The longer Ukraine’s army fends off the invading Russians, the more it absorbs the advantages of Western weaponry and training — exactly the transformation President Vladimir Putin wanted to prevent by invading in the first place,” the AP reports.
“The list of arms flowing to Ukraine is long and growing longer. It includes new American battlefield aerial drones and the most modern U.S. and Canadian artillery, anti-tank weapons from Norway and others, armored vehicles and anti-ship missiles from Britain and Stinger counter-air missiles from the U.S., Denmark and other countries.”
“If Ukraine can hold off the Russians, its accumulating arsenal of Western weapons could have a transformative effect in a country that has, like other former Soviet republics, relied mainly on arms and equipment from the Soviet era.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland told lawmakers that he supports efforts to allow some of the proceeds from assets the Justice Department seizes from Russian oligarchs to go “directly to Ukraine,” CNN reports. Said Garland: “The government – we would support legislation that would allow some of that money to go directly to Ukraine.”
Russia’s top diplomat warned Ukraine against provoking World War III and said the threat of a nuclear conflict “should not be underestimated” as his country unleashed attacks against rail and fuel installations far from the front lines of Moscow’s new eastern offensive, the AP reports.
“New footage of Vladimir Putin appearing unsteady, fidgeting and biting his lips during an Orthodox Easter service in Moscow on Sunday has added to suspicions that the Russian leader is seriously ill,” the New York Post reports.
“Newly obtained text messages and recent court filings fill in significant gaps about the key role a little-known Pennsylvania Republican congressman played at almost every turn in scheming to reverse or delay certification of the 2020 election,” CNN reports.
“The texts, which were among those selectively provided by Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to the House select committee, show Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) pushing to have the nation’s top intelligence official investigate baseless conspiracy theories and working to replace the US acting attorney general with an acolyte willing to do Trump’s bidding.”
“Perry, a five-term congressman, is a retired Brigadier General with nearly 40 years of military service, including flying combat missions in Iraq. Given his extensive background, he is likely familiar with the inner-workings of government intelligence.”
ProPublica has obtained “a trove of internal emails and other documentation that, taken together, tell the inside story of a group of people who propagated a number of the most pervasive theories about how the election was stolen, especially that voting machines were to blame, and helped move them from the far-right fringe to the center of the Republican Party.”
“Those records, as well as interviews with key participants, show for the first time the extent to which leading advocates of the stolen-election theory touted evidence that they knew to be disproven or that had been credibly disputed or dismissed as dubious by operatives within their own camp. Some members of the coalition presented this mix of unreliable witnesses, unconfirmed rumor and suspect analyses as fact in published reports, talking points and court documents. In several cases, their assertions became the basis for Trump’s claims that the election had been rigged.”
Greg Sargent: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s texts show birth of Jan. 6 “antifa” lie.
Former Gov. Rick Perry (R) previously denied reports that he sent text messages to then-Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows with ideas for overturning Donald Trump’s defeat, the HuffPost reports.
But on Monday, CNN published a trove of 2,319 of Meadows’ previously undisclosed text exchanges with Trump allies… One of the texts, sent on Jan. 7 just hours before the election was certified in favor of Biden, read: ”We have the data driven program that can clearly show where the fraud was committed. This is the silver bullet. Pam Biondi has seen and agrees!! Rick Perry.”
New York Times: “It has been clear for more than a year that ultraconservative members of Congress were deeply involved in attempts to keep Mr. Trump in power: They joined baseless lawsuits, spread the lie of widespread election fraud and were among the 147 Republicans who voted on Jan. 6, 2021, against certifying President Biden’s victory in at least one state.”
“But in a court filing and in text messages obtained by CNN, new pieces of evidence have emerged in recent days fleshing out the degree of their involvement with the Trump White House in strategy sessions, at least one of which included discussions about encouraging Mr. Trump’s supporters to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6, despite warnings of potential violence. Some continued to push to try to keep Mr. Trump in office even after a mob of his supporters attacked the complex.”
Fox News host Sean Hannity promised Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, that he would push an Election Day get-out-the-vote message to his radio show listeners, the Washington Post reports.
Meadows asked for Hannity’s help with messaging, and offered him a slogan to convey to the host’s millions of radio show listeners: “Stress every vote matters. Get out and vote. On radio.”
Hannity responded in the affirmative: “Yes sir. On it.”
“House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Monday continued to dodge questions about a report that he had told fellow Republicans he would call President Donald Trump and tell him to resign in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob,” the Washington Post reports.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) told OAN that the audio of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) saying he would pressure Donald Trump to resign in the aftermath of the January 6 Capitol riots are “problematic.” Biggs says McCarthy misled the conference and created “a huge trust issue.” But what most concerned Biggs was McCarthy calling for booting some Republicans off Twitter.
Gerard Baker: “The fervent desire of much of the Republican Party’s top brass, its major donors, business leaders who urgently crave a Republican restoration, and many of the party’s most prominent supporters in the media and elsewhere, is for Mr. Trump to break the habits of a lifetime and go quietly away.”
“It is a desire expressed as fervently in private as it is assiduously and dexterously avoided in public. But the big lie of this duplicitous relationship requires them to utter multiple, smaller, cascading fictions.”
“With the exception of a few demented types in Congress and the media, they don’t believe that the 2020 election was stolen from Mr. Trump. They don’t think that the Jan. 6 riot was a legitimate act of protest or the work of federal agents provocateurs. They fear that a Trump-led Republican ticket presents them with a lose-lose proposition in 2024: Either he continues his well-established pattern of losing the party elections—the 2018 midterms, the 2020 general election, the 2021 Georgia senate runoffs—or he wins and condemns them to another, potentially even more chaotic four years of his distinctive leadership.”
Playbook: “The news that Elon Musk is buying Twitter has thrown Washington into a tizzy over one major question: Will Donald Trump return to his old favorite social media platform and start tweeting again?”
“As it turns out, no one is more petrified of this than members of Trump’s own party.”
“On Monday night, in a series of calls and texts with several top GOP insiders, every single one of them told us that they hoped the former president stays the hell away from Twitter, lest he sink their chances at flipping the House and Senate. Some of his allies even think that a return to his old Twitter habits could damage his own brand ahead of a possible third presidential bid in 2024.”
Said one House GOP leadership aide: “If I’m a Democrat, I’d pray that Elon Musk puts Trump right back on Twitter. I don’t think it costs Republicans the House, but it certainly will elevate Trump’s opinions — and is going to put Republican candidates and members back having to answer for that.”
“Interesting question. Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?” — Jeff Bezos, on Twitter.
“China’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday there was no basis to speculation that Beijing could try to use leverage over electric car maker Tesla in order to influence content on U.S. social media site Twitter,” Reuters reports.
The European Union has warned Elon Musk that Twitter must comply with the EU’s new digital rules on moderating illegal and harmful content under his ownership, or risk hefty fines or even a ban, the Financial Times reports.
New York Times: Buying Twitter, Elon Musk will face reality of his free-speech talk.
“Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday, becoming the highest-ranking official in Washington to be infected and raising new concerns about President Biden’s potential exposure as the virus tears through his administration,” the New York Times reports.
Harris has “exhibited no symptoms, will isolate and continue to work from the Vice President’s residence.”
Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced positive Covid tests and their absences will almost surely delay several key — but contentious — confirmation votes, Politico reports.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to talk about a reconciliation bill that could combat inflation, The Hill reports.
Manchin told reporters that he supports a corporate tax rate of 25% and a capital gains tax of 28%.
NBC News: “There’s a first-mover problem here. Manchin has his red lines but he’s not going to drive this effort and seems unlikely to lose sleep if a party-line bill never revives. White House and Chuck Schumer don’t want to get burned again.”
Even if Manchin backs rolling back the Trump tax cuts, the Democrats would still need to convince Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who has said she would not support raising corporate taxes.
“President Biden last spring proposed spending more than $4 trillion to transform the American economy. In negotiations last fall, after some of that money ended up in a bipartisan infrastructure law, the administration lowered its request to roughly $2 trillion. Now, with time running out before November’s elections, many White House officials say privately that they’d consider themselves fortunate to secure a deal worth even $1 trillion,” the Washington Post reports.
“Biden’s shrinking ambitions are largely the result of failed negotiations with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), the ever-elusive 50th vote for the president’s agenda in an evenly divided chamber. White House officials are confronting the ‘real fear’ that they will fail to reach any deal with Manchin — even one that leaves out most of what Biden had initially hoped to accomplish.”
“A year after Biden introduced his climate and social spending plans, the White House is running out of time to get Manchin onboard, with many lawmakers in Congress viewing July 4 as a crucial deadline for action.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) “is exploring an energy and climate package aimed at winning enough Republican support to skirt the partisan budget reconciliation process that has held hostage hundreds of billions of dollars in potential spending on related priorities,” Bloomberg reports.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday said he expected “swift, bipartisan” passage of another bill to aid Ukraine in its fight against Russia once President Joe Biden submits a new funding request, Reuters reports.
“Since-deleted videos from Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s social media contradict comments the GOP congresswoman made at a court hearing on Friday downplaying her ties to a YouTuber and conservative activist who participated in the January 6, 2021, mob that broke into the US Capitol,” Politico reports.
“Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) may have violated federal insider trading laws as he hyped up an alleged pump-and-dump cryptocurrency scheme,” the Washington Examiner reports.
Cawthorn was also cited for having a gun at Charlotte Douglas International Airport Tuesday morning, WSOC reports. It’s unclear if Cawthorn will face any criminal charges.
“When former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) was asked on the 2020 campaign trail about the recently purchased private jet she was flying around Georgia, the former CEO and multimillionaire senator defended the expense as saving taxpayer dollars,” the Daily Beast reports.
“But previously unreported corporate filings reveal something that Loeffler’s campaign disclosures did not: She was paying her husband’s company to operate the jet. And, according to experts, those campaign filings might not have been correctly reported, raising questions of whether she purposefully concealed the arrangement from the public.”
“The Biden administration has secured the purchase of 20 million treatment courses of Paxlovid, Pfizer’s antiviral Covid-19 pill,” CNN reports.
“The common perception that nearly everyone in America seemed to have been infected with the Omicron variant last winter may not have been far from the truth,” the New York Times reports. “By February 2022, nearly 60% of the population had been exposed to the coronavirus, almost double the proportion seen in December 2021.”
“President Biden gave strong indications during a private meeting with House Democrats this week that his administration is poised to take significant action to relieve student loans in the coming months, a move that would likely include the cancellation of potentially tens of thousands of dollars in debt,” the Washington Post reports.
“Borrowers are currently benefiting from a moratorium on paying off their student loans until Aug. 31, a pandemic-induced pause that began under the Trump administration. The White House has come under considerable pressure from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to outright cancel the liabilities.”
CBS News: “The move could affect more than 43 million borrowers who hold more than $1.6 trillion in federal student loan debt, the second-largest debt held by Americans, behind mortgages.
“President Emmanuel Macron once compared the French presidency to the reign of Jupiter. Like the Roman king of gods, he spent much of his first term impervious to political opposition, issuing directives with limited debate,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Mr. Macron’s next five years in office will require a more conciliatory approach. The 44 year-old former investment banker knows that many people who voted to re-elect him in France’s presidential runoff on Sunday were casting votes against far-right leader Marine Le Pen, not for him. Voters, lawmakers and even the president himself say he needs to ditch his heavy-handed approach and rebuild consensus across a country that has become deeply polarized along economic and generational lines.”
President Joe Biden’s senior adviser Cedric Richmond is expected to leave his post as the director of the Office of Public Engagement in the coming weeks, CNN reports.
North Dakota state Sen. Ray Holmberg (R) announced that he will resign from the state Legislature following a report that he exchanged 72 text messages with a man accused of child pornography crimes, the Fargo Forum reports. Holmberg was North Dakota’s longest-serving state senator.
“Job-switchers are often reaping double-digit pay increases, a new survey shows, a phenomenon that is demonstrating bargaining power for workers while threatening to keep inflation high,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Dr. Deborah Birx told ABC News that she had a resignation pact with other doctors on President Donald Trump’s coronavirus response team. But she admitted to being caught frozen on camera when Trump spoke at a news conference about using injected disinfectant as a treatment for Covid-19.
Said Birx: “I just wanted it to be The Twilight Zone and it all go away. I could just see everything unraveling in that moment.” She added: “This was a tragedy on many levels.”
A tax attorney tells Bloomberg that Florida may not be able to dissolve Disney’s special district — which legislation sponsored by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) did to punish the company — because the state has already promised bond buyers that it would not.
This reminds me of how Robert Moses wrote his powers into bond covenants, as brilliantly described in The Power Broker.
“President Biden announced on Tuesday that he is pardoning three individuals and issuing 75 commutations, making the first use of his clemency powers in his administration,” Axios reports. “The president campaigned on a promise to use his clemency power specifically for non-violent and drug crimes.”
“The 75 people whose sentences are being commuted served time for non-violent drug offenses. Many of these would have received less severe sentences if they had been charged after the First Step Act passed in 2018.”
FiveThirtyEight: “As U.S. prices continue to rise by rates not seen in decades, it’s become clear that the stimulus came at a significant, unintended cost: inflation.”
“It’s unclear whether inflation has reached its peak, but the situation is now economically and politically toxic, and it has left many of the same policymakers, advocates and economists now asking whether the stimulus checks were a mistake.”
“The White House had started preparing a more aggressive defense around its plan for lifting the Trump-era deportation policy known as Title 42, when a federal judge issued a Monday decision that likely changes the Biden administration’s plans for a full-court press,” Politico reports.