Rachel Maddow Fries SCOTUS for Trump Immunity Hearing Date: ‘It’s BS’ and ‘They Don’t Care That We Know It’ | Video

The Wrap

Rachel Maddow Fries SCOTUS for Trump Immunity Hearing Date: ‘It’s BS’ and ‘They Don’t Care That We Know It’ | Video

Ross A. Lincoln – February 28, 2024

Rachel Maddow had strong feelings about the news Wednesday that the Supreme Court will take up Donald Trump’s “presidential immunity” claims, but won’t hear the case until late April.

Maddow appeared alongside fellow MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell as a guest on Wednesday’s “All In With Chris Hayes” where, during their discussion, she explained why the decision to even hear the case at all makes no sense and called the nearly 2 month delay “BS.”

“They know it, and they don’t care that we know,” Maddow added. You can watch the clip now at the top of the page.

For background, at issue is the unconstitutional argument Trump introduced last fall in the criminal trial over his efforts to overthrow the government after the 2020 election: That U.S. presidents have total legal immunity from all criminal acts. In case you forgot, yes, his lawyers say this applies even if a president literally murdered political opponents.

After that trial was delayed, Special Counsel Jack Smith attempted to fast track this question to SCOTUS but in December the court denied that request without explaining why. Then on Feb. 6, a federal appeals court firmly rejected it, after which Trump’s lawyers appealed to SCOTUS.

So it is that on Wednesday, after taking nearly all month to say anything, SCOTUS announced it will hear arguments on April 22. Legal experts and critics of the court’s right wing majority say this is nothing more than an effort to help delay Trump’s criminal trials until after the 2024 election. Which brings us back to Maddow.

During the discussion with Hayes and O’Donnell, Maddow said, “the cravenness of the court is evident in what they are doing with the pacing here… putting this off for seven weeks, sitting on it for two weeks for no reason, obviously pushing all of the cases that they can push, pushing them to the point where Trump will be standing for election before any of us have heard the verdicts in any of those cases.”

“Got it? It’s the timing but it’s also the idea that the immunity thing is an open question,” she continued, displaying some sarcasm in her voice. “Right. Is it really? Presidential immunity an open question? Because what’s the most famous pardon in American history? Gerald Ford pardoning Richard Nixon once he had resigned and was a former president.”

“Why did Gerald Ford pardon Richard Nixon? Quote, ‘as a result of certain acts or omissions occurring before his resignation as president,’ meaning as a result of stuff he did while President, quote, ‘Richard Nixon has become liable to possible indictment. Whether or not he shall be so prosecuted depends on findings of the appropriate grand jury and the discretion of the authorized prosecutor,” Maddow continued.

“So the idea that this is an open question, that it might be that a former president can never be tried for something that he did, because he was president when he did it, is disproven by a plain reading of American history and the whole justification for Richard Nixon being pardoned in the first place,” Maddow explained. “So the idea that this has to be taken up, is them saying ‘the sky is green.’”

“And I think even for the non lawyers among us to be able to say, ‘you know what, the sky is not green, even on our worst day, this is B.S., you’re doing this as a dilatory tactic to help your political friend, your partisan patron.’ It’s just flagrant, flagrant bull pucky, and they know it, and they don’t care that we know it. And that’s disturbing about the future legitimacy of the court,” Maddow concluded.

“More indictments await”: Experts say Jan. 6 architect’s secret tweets may lead to “felony charges”


“More indictments await”: Experts say Jan. 6 architect’s secret tweets may lead to “felony charges”

Igor Derysh – February 27, 2024

Kenneth Chesebro Alyssa Pointer/Getty Images
Kenneth Chesebro Alyssa Pointer/Getty Images

Right-wing attorney Kenneth Chesebro, one of the key architects of former President Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 fake elector scheme, concealed a secret Twitter account from Michigan prosecutors that was filled with posts that undercut his statements to investigators about his role in Trump’s election subversion scheme, according to CNN.

Chesebro denied having a Twitter account or any “alternate IDs” when asked by Michigan prosecutors last year, according to recordings of his interview obtained by the outlet.

But CNN’s K-FILE linked Chesebro to a secret account — BadgerPundit — based on matching details, including biographical information about his work and travels as well as his family and investments.

The posts show that before the election and days after polls closed, Chesebro promoted a “far more aggressive election subversion strategy than he later let on in his Michigan interview,” CNN reported.

Chesebro’s attorneys confirmed to CNN that the account belonged to Chesebro, calling it his “random stream of consciousness” where he was “spitballing” theories about the election but argued that it was separate from his legal work for Trump’s campaign.

“When he was doing volunteer work for the campaign, he was very specific and hunkered-down into being the lawyer that he is, and gave specific kinds of legal advice based on things that he thought were legitimate legal challenges, versus BadgerPundit, who is this other guy over there, just being a goof,” Chesebro’s attorney Robert Langford told the outlet.

Chesebro, who framed himself as a moderate go-between who was pulled in deeper by Trump’s extremist lawyers, has not been charged with any crimes in Michigan.

“Our team is interested in the material and will be looking into this matter,” a spokesman for the Michigan attorney general’s office told CNN.

Chesebro claimed to investigators that the so-called fake elector plot was just a contingency in case Trump’s team won any of the election lawsuits, which they ultimately failed to do. He claimed to Michigan prosecutors that he told the Trump team that “state legislatures have no power to override the courts.”

But BadgerPundit argued that the litigation did not matter and that Republican-controlled state legislatures had the power to send their own electors.

“You don’t get the big picture. Trump doesn’t have to get courts to declare him the winner of the vote. He just needs to convince Republican legislatures that the election was systematically rigged, but it’s impossible to run it again, so they should appoint electors instead,” BadgerPundit wrote on Nov. 7, 2020, days after President Joe Biden was projected as the election winner.

Chesebro claimed to prosecutors that he saw “no scenario” in which then-Vice President Mike Pence could “count any vote for any state because there hadn’t been a court or a legislature in any state backing any of the alternate electors.”

BadgerPundit tweeted more than 50 times that Pence had the power to count the alternate electors, according to CNN.

Chesebro also claimed that he was “misled” by the Trump campaign concealing the entire plan for him and claimed he only realized they planned to deploy the fake electors regardless of what happened with the lawsuits. But on Twitter, he shared an Atlantic article citing a “Trump legal adviser” who described the full plan.

Chesebro’s attorneys acknowledged to CNN that “there’s clearly a conflict” between some of the tweets and what he told prosecutors, but argued that some of his online theories were “inconsistent” with legal advice he gave the Trump campaign.

Though Chesebro has not been charged in Michigan, he agreed to plead guilty in the Fulton County, Ga., RICO case to one felony count and gave proffer interviews to prosecutors. Chesebro was also identified as an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal D.C. election subversion case.

“Chesebro appears to have pursued a legally perilous path in his dealings with Michigan authorities,” Ryan Goodman, a law professor at New York University, told CNN. “The Twitter posts strongly suggest Chesebro committed the crime of making false statements to investigators… his entire cooperation agreement may now fall apart.”

Goodman added that it appears that Chesebro “hid highly important evidence in the form of these social media posts from the investigators,” which could put him at “great legal risk.”

“We should have asked for clarity, and that was our screw-up,” Chesebro attorney Manny Arora acknowledged to CNN when asked about his client denying his Twitter account. Arora added that he has since provided “all the information on BadgerPundit” to investigations in “all the different states that are involved.”

But CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor, argued that the news further undercuts Chesebro’s value to prosecutors in Georgia.

“Kenneth Chesebro is facing more legal jeopardy now, and he is not and never has been a viable cooperator for prosecutors in Georgia,” he said Monday, arguing that Chesebro’s statements to investigators were “misleading at best, outright false at worst.”

Honig called Chesebro’s attorneys’ defense “utterly nonsensical.”

“He is not a viable cooperator for the Fulton County D.A.,” Honig added. “They gave Kenneth Chesebro a softball deal. They let him plead out to probation. And the reason they gave us well, he’s cooperating, no he is not, he has not come clean. He is a failed cooperator. That’s a black eye for the Georgia district attorney as well.

Longtime Harvard legal scholar Laurence Tribe predicted that “more indictments await” following the Twitter revelation.

“Chesebro’s secret Twitter account could lead to serious felony charges in Michigan and will augment his eventual federal indictment by Jack Smith,” Tribe tweeted. “The guy is in a huge heap of trouble that his guilty plea in Georgia barely touches.”

Yellen Sees Moral Case to Use Russian Assets to Aid Ukraine


Yellen Sees Moral Case to Use Russian Assets to Aid Ukraine

Viktoria Dendrinou and Christopher Condon – February 27, 2024

Yellen Sees Moral Case to Use Russian Assets to Aid Ukraine

(Bloomberg) — US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called on the world’s largest advanced economies to find a way to “unlock the value” of immobilized Russian assets to help bolster Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion and for long-term reconstruction after the war.

“There is a strong international law, economic and moral case for moving forward,” Yellen said Tuesday in Sao Paulo in remarks before meeting with counterparts from the world’s top economies. “The G-7 should work together to explore a number of approaches that have been suggested.”

Her comments come as Group of Seven nations are debating what to do with sovereign assets that were frozen at the outbreak of the invasion, with Ukraine’s financing needs remaining persistently high and the war now in its third year with no sign of abating.

The European Union, G-7 nations and Australia have frozen about €260 billion ($282 billion) in the form of securities and cash, with more than two-thirds of that immobilized in the EU. The parties all agree that those funds should remain off-limits to Russia unless it agrees to assist in Ukraine’s reconstruction, but they’re at odds over the legality of seizing the assets outright.

Yellen said that beyond simply seizing the assets, other ideas include using them as collateral to borrow from global markets.

Unlocking the assets to help Ukraine “would be a decisive response to Russia’s unprecedented threat to global stability,” Yellen said. “It would make clear that Russia cannot win by prolonging the war and would incentivize it to come to the table to negotiate a just peace with Ukraine.”

In the wake of the freezing of Russian assets and far-reaching sanctions on the country, a number of emerging nations have called for reducing the role of the dollar in global trade and finance. But Yellen in her remarks Tuesday suggested little concern on that front.

Read More: De-Dollarization Wins Applause at BRICS Summit

Group Effort

“Realistically there are not alternatives to the dollar, euro, yen, so I’m not too worried about that,” she said. “With regard to financial stability I suppose a risk would arise if there were a massive shift away from currencies, but I think that is extremely unlikely — especially given the uniqueness of this situation, a situation where Russia is brazenly violating international norms.”

The Treasury chief noted that the US didn’t move unilaterally to capture Russia’s assets. “A group of countries representing half of the global economy and all of the currencies that really have the capacity at this point to serve as reserve currencies, we all act together.”

Discussions on using Russian assets have intensified as President Vladimir Putin’s forces gain momentum on the battlefield. As Republicans in Washington continue to set hurdles for new aid for Kyiv, the Biden administration is keen to offer Ukraine another important signal of its support.

The US and UK have been pushing G-7 allies to seize the central bank assets outright, but the group’s European members, especially France and Germany, are currently opposed to the move over legal concerns and worries that it could damage the stability of the euro as well as set a dangerous precedent.

Earlier: France and Netherlands Back Plan to Buy Non-EU Ammo for Ukraine

The position of EU member states is crucial as the vast majority of the funds are in Europe, mostly at the Belgium-based clearing house Euroclear. The clearing house and the European Central Bank are both skeptical of the right to seize the assets.

Still, G-7 nations are discussing options. Among the ideas under discussion is using the funds as collateral to raise debt or as guarantees for loans.

The EU is slowly making progress on plans to at least apply a windfall tax to the profits generated by the immobilized funds. Last year, the funds enabled profits of €4.4 billion.

(Adds tout before ‘Group Effort’ subheadline. A previous version of this story was corrected to reflect the assets were frozen not seized.)

Yellen urges world leaders to ‘unlock’ frozen Russian Central Bank assets and send them to Ukraine

Associated Press

Yellen urges world leaders to ‘unlock’ frozen Russian Central Bank assets and send them to Ukraine

Fatima Hussein – February 27, 2024

FILE – Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Feb. 6, 2024, in Washington. Yellen is offering her strongest public support yet for the idea of liquidating roughly $300 billion in frozen Russian Central Bank assets and using them for Ukraine’s long-term reconstruction. The U.S. and its allies froze Russian foreign holdings in retaliation for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday offered her strongest public support yet for the idea of liquidating roughly $300 billion in frozen Russian Central Bank assets and using them for Ukraine’s long-term reconstruction.

“It is necessary and urgent for our coalition to find a way to unlock the value of these immobilized assets to support Ukraine’s continued resistance and long-term reconstruction,” Yellen said in remarks in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors are meeting this week.

“I believe there is a strong international law, economic, and moral case for moving forward. This would be a decisive response to Russia’s unprecedented threat to global stability,” she said.

The United States and its allies froze hundreds of billions of dollars in Russian foreign holdings in retaliation for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Those billions have been sitting untapped as the war grinds on, now in its third year, while officials from multiple countries have debated the legality of sending the money to Ukraine. More than two-thirds of Russia’s immobilized central bank funds are located in the EU.

Using the assets to help Ukraine “would make clear that Russia cannot win by prolonging the war and would incentivize it to come to the table to negotiate a just peace with Ukraine,” Yellen said.

The idea of using Russia’s frozen assets has gained traction lately as continued allied funding for Ukraine becomes more uncertain and the U.S. Congress is in a stalemate over providing more support. But there are tradeoffs since the weaponization of global finance could harm the U.S. dollar’s standing as the world’s dominant currency.

Yellen said Tuesday that it is “extremely unlikely” that tapping the frozen funds would harm the dollar’s standing in the global economy “especially given the uniqueness of the situation where Russia is brazenly violating international norms. Realistically there are not alternatives to the dollar, euro and yen,” Yellen said.

Earlier this month, the European Union passed a law to set aside windfall profits generated from frozen Russian central bank assets. Yellen calls that “an action I fully endorse.”

Brazil kicked off its presidency of the Group of 20 nations this month, with finance ministers meeting this week. Topics for discussion include poverty alleviation, climate change and the wars in the Gaza Strip and in Ukraine. G20 leaders are slated to gather at a Nov. 18-19 summit in Rio.

The GOP desperately needs an intervention: Trump’s CPAC speech showed clear signs of major cognitive decline — yet MAGA cheered

Salon – Opinion

Trump’s CPAC speech showed clear signs of major cognitive decline — yet MAGA cheered

Chauncey DeVega – February 26, 2024

 Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Donald Trump was in his full glory over the weekend at the annual Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference. For his MAGA people, Republicans, and other neofascists and followers, Trump is like a father figure, preacher, teacher, confessor, lover, and god messiah prophet all in one person. In that way, CPAC is Donald Trump’s “church family” – only the church is full of fascism, hatred, wickedness, cruelty, and other anti-human values, beliefs, and behavior. Trump masterfully wields and conducts this energy.

Donald Trump’s speech at this year’s CPAC was truly awesome. As used here, “awesome” does not mean good, but instead draws on the word’s origins as in “inspiring awe or dread.” In his keynote speech on Saturday, Trump said that America is on a “fast track to hell” under President Biden and the Democrats and that “If crooked Joe Biden and his thugs win in 2024, the worst is yet to come. Our country will sink to levels that are unimaginable.”

He continued with his Hitler-like threats of an apocalyptic end-times battle between good and evil and that the country would be destroyed if he is not installed in the White House. Of course, Trump continued to amplify the Big Lie about the 2020 election being “stolen” from him and the MAGA people. He also made great use of the classic propaganda technique, as though he learned it personally from Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels: Accuse your opposition of that which you are guilty of.

The New York Times detailed Trump’s ominous speech as follows:

If Mr. Biden is re-elected for a second four-year term, Mr. Trump warned in his speech, Medicare will “collapse.” Social Security will “collapse.” Health care in general will “collapse.” So, too, will public education. Millions of manufacturing jobs will be “choked off into extinction.” The U.S. economy will be “starved of energy” and there will be “constant blackouts.” The Islamist militant group Hamas will “terrorize our streets.” There will be a third world war and America will lose it. America itself will face “obliteration.”

On the other hand, Mr. Trump promised on Saturday that if he is elected America will be “richer and safer and stronger and prouder and more beautiful than ever before.” Crime in major cities? A thing of the past.

“Chicago could be solved in one day,” Mr. Trump said. “New York could be solved in a half a day there.”

Donald Trump has repeatedly shown himself to be a malignant narcissist and white victimologist. In his CPAC speech, he compared himself to pro-democracy activist Alexei Navalny, who died under the authority of Putin’s regime last week. Trump also continued to threaten his and the MAGA movement’s “enemies” with prison or worse as they meet their “judgment day”:

“I stand before you today not only as your past and future president, but as a proud political dissident….“For hard-working Americans Nov. 5 will be our new liberation day — but for the liars and cheaters and fraudsters and censors and impostors who have commandeered our government, it will be their judgment day…. Your victory will be our ultimate vindication, your liberty will be our ultimate reward and the unprecedented success of the United States of America will be my ultimate and absolute revenge.”

Here, Donald Trump sounded like an evil version of President Thomas Whitmore in the 1996 movie “Independence Day.”

He also used stochastic terrorism to encourage violence by his MAGA followers and other supporters with the lie that they are somehow being “victimized” or “persecuted” in America: “I can tell you that weaponized law enforcement hunts for conservatives and people of faith.” Echoing those themes, Trump, who believes that he is above and outside the rule of law, described his finally being held responsible for his many obvious crimes against American democracy and society as “Stalinist Show Trials,” as The Guardian further details:

Facing 91 criminal charges in four cases, Trump projected himself as both martyr and potential saviour of the nation. “A vote for Trump is your ticket back to freedom, it’s your passport out of tyranny and it’s your only escape from Joe Biden and his gang’s fast track to hell,” he continued.

“And in many ways, we’re living in hell right now because the fact is, Joe Biden is a threat to democracy – really is a threat to democracy.”

Speaking days after the death of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Trump hinted at a self-comparison by adding: “I stand before you today not only as your past and hopefully future president but as a proud political dissident. I am a dissident.”

The crowd whooped and applauded. Trump noted that he had been indicted more often than the gangster Al Capone on charges that he described as “bullshit”. The audience again leaped to their feet, some shaking their fists and chanting: “We love Trump! We love Trump!”

Trump argued without evidence: “The Stalinist show trials being carried out at Joe Biden’s orders set fire not only to our system of government but to hundreds of years of western legal tradition.

“They’ve replaced law, precedent and due process with a rabid mob of radical left Democrat partisans masquerading as judges and juries and prosecutors.”

Trump is an expert on leveraging everyday people’s pain points and personal fear. In his CPAC speech, Trump triggered this by focusing on real economic anxieties and feelings of vulnerability and precarity about rising energy costs, the cost of living, and the “American Dream” more broadly.

To this point, President Biden and the Democrats have not been able to effectively counter such attacks by Donald Trump and his spokespeople and other agents. Appeals to the facts about how historically great Biden’s economy is, are no salve for how everyday people are experiencing hardship and increasingly view Donald Trump and Trumpism as a viable alternative to the Democrats and “democracy.”

Trump also spun up a horror story version of the United States as a country overrun by black and brown migrants and “illegal” immigrants who are like the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter from the film “Silence of the Lambs.” Trump’s solution: mass deportations and concentration camps.

During his speech, Donald Trump would continue to valorize the Jan. 6 terrorists who attacked the Capitol as fascist saints and martyrs of the MAGA movement – a group who Trump vowed to pardon when/if he takes power in 2025. They will in turn become his personal shock troops. Trump’s megalomania and claims to god-like power, were on full display during his speech on Saturday, where the ex-president, described himself in the third person, telling the audience that “Trump was right about everything.”

In an excellent article at Mother Jones, Stephanie Mencimer shared what she learned from embedding herself at last week’s CPAC conference (she did not attend as a credentialed reporter) and how in the Age of Trump and American neofascism that event is a festival of extreme right-wing politics and the hatred and intolerance that are among its most defining features:

Exiled from the press pen, I was just part of the audience, a space previously off-limits to reporters. To say the least, it was enlightening. On Friday, for instance, I listened to a main-stage speech from Chris Miller, a Republican running for governor of West Virginia. Because of its tax-exempt status, CPAC bans speakers from openly campaigning there, so he was listed on the program simply as “businessman.”

Like virtually every other speaker at the event, Miller devoted several of his allotted five minutes to railing against transgender healthcare. “Woke doctors are literally making boys into girls,” he declared. “They’re practicing mutilation, not medicine. They should be in prison.” At that point, a burly man in a giant black cowboy hat sitting next to me leaned over conspiratorially and proclaimed, “I think we should hang them all! I really do.” And he laughed like we were in on the same joke. I confess that I was too cowardly to tell him I was with the left-wing fake news.

Later, during a speech by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, I was sitting next to a woman in full-on MAGA gear. When Noem declared, “There are some people who love America, and there are some people who hate America,” my neighbor gave me a small heart attack. “Get the FUCK OUT!” she yelled furiously, ready to rumble. “Get the FUCK OUT!” Meanwhile, the old man in the camo Trump hat next to her had somehow fallen asleep.

Mencimer then reflected on the devolution of CPAC, describing it as, “[W]hat passed for policy discussions at CPAC this year was largely limited to mass deportations and attacks on trans athletes. The sober panels about the national debt, balancing the budget, or Social Security reform that once commanded top billing were a relic of another era before CPAC became an extension of Trump Inc., devoted to all the MAGA grievances like racial equity, the evils of windmills, or bans on gas stoves.”

During his CPAC speech, Trump continued with his often incoherent and confused way of speaking, rambling(s), memory lapses, and extreme tangents. Trump defended his apparent speech challenges, saying that, “And by the way, isn’t this better than reading off a fricking teleprompter…’They’ll say: he rambled. Nobody can ramble like this….Probably I won’t get the best speaker this year because I went off this stupid teleprompter.”

Trump’s CPAC speech appears to be further evidence of what psychiatrist John Gartner concluded “appears to be … gross signs of dementia. This is a tale of two brains. Biden’s brain is aging. Trump’s brain is dementing.”

However, one must be cautious and understand that Trump’s apparent mental, emotional, and overall cognitive decline, and other indications of a damaged mind, are largely irrelevant to his followers. Donald Trump is a symbol more than a man. His MAGA people and other loyalists and voters ignore, reconcile, and more generally make sense of Trump’s apparent cognitive and speech difficulties by telling themselves that he is “just like them” and “speaks a language they can understand” because he is “authentic” and “not a traditional politician.” By definition, the Dear Leader is infallible. Fake right-wing populism can be bent and shaped to accommodate any absurdity.

Donald Trump’s speech at CPAC is but more evidence that he is giving his MAGA people and other followers and supporters in the Republican Party and the larger right-wing and “conservative” movement what they want. Public opinion polls and other research have consistently shown that there are tens of millions of Americans who yearn for an American dictator or others strongman-type leader, who will “break the rules” to “get things done” for “people like them.” In addition, Republican and other Trump voters specifically support his taking power as a dictator and ending democracy. And as has been widely documented, a significant percentage of white voters do not support democracy if it means that their “racial” group does not have the most influence and power and privilege in American society as compared to black and brown people.

Donald Trump and today’s Republican Party and the larger right-wing and neofascist movement have successfully tapped into what is a centuries-old vein of white supremacist herrenvolk nightmare dreams and white rage in American society and life. The CPAC conference featured speakers and panels that reinforced that today’s Republican Party and “conservative movement” have rejected multiracial pluralistic democracy and seek to replace it with a White Christofascist Apartheid plutocracy.

In contrast to Donald Trump’s awfully awesome speech at CPAC on Saturday, President Biden solemnly warned reporters, again, that the 2024 Election is an existential battle for the country’s democracy and the soul of the nation where our most fundamental freedoms as Americans are imperiled.

In a recent essay here at Salon, Brian Karem reflected on his personal experience with such peril:

The most disturbing thing I’ve ever heard a president say did not come from Donald Trump.

It came from Joe Biden. Speaking with reporters in California on Thursday, the president said this about Donald Trump. “Two of your former colleagues not at the same network personally told me if he wins, they will have to leave the country because he’s threatened to put them in jail,” Biden told Katie Couric. “He embraces political violence,” Biden said of Trump “No president since the Civil War has done that. Embrace it. Encourages it.”

Perhaps I should have been shocked at the revelation that Trump, should he return to power, would jail reporters. I wasn’t of course. I had to fight him (and beat him) three times in court during his first administration to keep my White House press pass. I had already privately heard Trump’s threats. It was just disturbing to hear Joe Biden confirm it publicly. …

That is why the world cannot see Trump back in the White House. He knows nothing but divisiveness. And Biden was right to point out that Trump wants to jail reporters.

Trump supporters don’t care. But I’ve eaten Texas jail food, so I do.

When Einstein fled Germany he fled the poison of nationalism and longed for a country of civil liberty and tolerance. The closest he found was here in the United States. Where is it today? More importantly, where will it be after the November general election?

As always, believe the autocrat-dictator or other such political thug. He or she – in this case Donald Trump – is not kidding or joking.

Echoing Karem’s experience, I have talked to members of the pro-democracy movement (specifically journalists and reporters), and they have shared with me how they are in the process of deciding if they will stay here in the United States or flee the country if Dictator Trump and his regime takes power in 2025.

On Election Day, which will be here very soon, the American people have a choice to make. Last weekend’s CPAC conference was just one more escalation in the direct and transparent threats and dangerousness of Trumpism and American neofascism. If Trump wins on Election Day, the American people cannot say they were surprised by the hell he and his regime and followers will unleash on the country. The American people were told repeatedly what would happen and through both their active and tacit support for Trumpism and neofascism (indifference or otherwise not voting for President Biden and by implication American democracy in this decisive moment) allowed it to happen. How great is the American people’s drive to self-destruction? We will soon find out in eight or so months.

Anthropologist: CPAC displays how Trump’s base believes he is a savior

UPI – Opinion

Anthropologist: CPAC displays how Trump’s base believes he is a savior

Alexander Hinton, Rutgers University – February 26, 2024

Former President Donald Trump acknowledges applause as he arrives at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday. Thousands of conservative activists, elected officials and pundits gathered to hear speakers with this year’s theme “CPAC: Where Globalism Goes to Die.” Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI

Feb. 26 (UPI) — What is happening in the hearts of former President Donald Trump’s supporters?

As an anthropologist who studies peace and conflict, I went to the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, to find out. I wanted to better understand the Make America Great Again faithful — and their die-hard support for Trump.

The event began on Feb. 21, in National Harbor, Maryland, with Steve Bannon’s routine, untrue banter about how President Joe Biden stole the 2020 election, and it peaked with an angry speech from Trump three days later. In between, I sat among the MAGA masses listening to speaker after speaker express outrage about American decline — and their hope for Trump’s reelection.

Everywhere I turned, people wore MAGA regalia — hats, pins, logos and patches, many with Trump’s likeness. I spent breaks in the exhibition hall, which featured a Jan. 6 insurrection-themed pinball machine featuring “Stop the Steal,” “Political Prisoners” and “Babbitt Murder” rally modes and a bus emblazoned with Trump’s face. Admirers scribbled messages on the bus such as, “We have your back” and “You are anointed and appointed by God to be the President.”

Those on the left who dismiss the CPAC as a gathering of MAGA crazies and racists who support a wannabe dictator do not understand that, from this far-right perspective, there are compelling and even urgent reasons to support Trump. Indeed, they believe, as conservative politician Tulsi Gabbard stated in her CPAC speech on Feb. 22, that the left’s claims about Trump’s authoritarianism are “laughable.” This is because CPAC attendees falsely perceive President Joe Biden as the one who is attacking democracy.

Here are my top three takeaways from CPAC about Trump supporters’ current priorities and thinking.

1. There’s a Reagan dinner – but CPAC is Trump’s party

Former President Ronald Reagan runs in CPAC’s DNA. Reagan spoke at the inaugural CPAC in 1974 and went on to speak there a dozen more times.

In 2019, the conservative advocacy group the American Political Union, which hosts CPAC, published a book of Reagan’s speeches with commentary by conservative luminaries. In the preface, Matt Schlapp, the head of the American Political Union, says he often asks himself, “What would Reagan do?”

CPAC’s pomp gala, held Friday, is still called the “Ronald Reagan Dinner.” But Reagan is otherwise hardly mentioned at the conference.

Reagan’s ideas of American exceptionalism have been supplanted by Trump’s populist story of apocalyptic decline. Reagan’s folksy tone, relative moderation and clear quips are long gone, replaced by fury, grievance and mean-spirited barbs.

2. There’s a method to the madness

Many commentators and critics, including groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, view CPAC as a frightening or bizarre gathering of white nationalists who have a nativist agenda.

In 2021, commentators said the CPAC stage was shaped like a famous Nazi design called the Othala Rune, which is a hate symbol. Schlapp denied this claim and said that CPAC supports the Jewish community, but various commentators took note of the uncanny resemblance.

This year, CPAC refused to give press credentials to various media outlets, including The Washington Post, despite the organization’s emphasis on free speech.

Some speakers, including Trump, have been known to regularly voice support for white nationalism and right-wing extremism, including speakers who promote the false idea that there is a plot to replace the white population. I discuss this idea in my 2021 book, “It Can Happen Here: White Power and the Rising Threat of Genocide in the US.”

Indeed, the U.S.-Mexico border was a constant topic at this year’s CPAC, which included controversial anti-immigrant speakers such as the head of Spain’s far-right Vox party and a representative of Hungary, whose leader stated at the 2022 CPAC that Europeans should not become “mixed-race.” Hungary will also host a CPAC meeting in April 2024.

Many of the sessions have alarming titles like, “Burning Down the House,” “Does Government Even Matter” and “Going Full Hungarian.” There are right-wing, populist speakers like Bannon and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Overall, the program is informed by a conservative logic that largely boils down to God, family, tradition, law and order, defense and freedom.

Of these, God looms largest. As a result, CPAC’s hardcore conservative Christian orientation is anti-abortion rights, homophobic and oriented toward traditional family structure and what it considers morality.

Schlapp co-wrote a book in 2022 that warns of the dangers of “evil forces” — what he considers to be progressives, the radical left and American Marxists. Schlapp’s book title even dubs these forces “the desecrators.” Such inflammatory language is frequently used at CPAC, including by Trump during his Saturday speech.

3. Trump believers think he is their savior

CPAC’s love of Trump is shocking to many on the left. But at CPAC, Trump is viewed as America’s savior.

According to his base, Trump delivered on abortion by appointing Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade. They believe that, despite evidence of mixed results, Trump had wide successes at securing the border and creating jobs. For example, during Trump’s time as president, the U.S. economy lost nearly 3 million jobs, and apprehensions of undocumented migrants at the border rose.

Trump’s CPAC speech, like his campaign speeches, harped on such supposed achievements — as well as Biden’s alleged “destruction” of the country.

Conservatives roll their eyes at liberal fears of Trump the despot. Like all of us, they acknowledge, Trump has flaws. They say that some of his comments about women and minorities are cringeworthy, but not evidence of an underlying misogyny and hatefulness, as many critics contend.

Ultimately, CPAC conservatives believe Trump is their best bet to defeat the radical-left “desecrators” who seek to thwart him at every turn — including, as they constantly complained at CPAC, social media bans, “fake news” takedowns, rigged voting, bogus lawsuits, unfair justice, and lies about what they call the Jan. 6, 2021, “protest.

Despite these hurdles, Trump battles on toward the Republican nomination for presidential candidate — the hero who CPAC conservatives view as the last and best hope to save the USA.The Conversation

Alexander Hinton is a distinguished professor of anthropology and director of the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights at Rutgers University – Newark.

Putin’s Allies Accused of Plotting Another Russian Land-Grab

Daily Beast

Putin’s Allies Accused of Plotting Another Russian Land-Grab

Shannon Vavra – February 26, 2024

Reuters/ Sergei Savostyanov/ Sputnik
Reuters/ Sergei Savostyanov/ Sputnik

An opposition official in Transnistria, the Kremlin-backed breakaway region in Moldova, has warned that the pro-separatist government will be holding an extraordinary session of congress to formally request Russian annexation this week.

“A request should be voiced, on behalf of citizens living on the Left Bank, to Russia, to accept Transnistria into the Russian Federation, and on February 29, Putin will announce this in his address,” Chorba said in a post on social media.

Moldova has long been warning of a Russian destabilization plot that has threatened to upend its existing pro-western government and influence elections. Last year, U.S. and Moldovan officials told The Daily Beast that a “very intense” Russian influence operation intended to undermine the government was underway.

Russia’s Covert Operation for ‘the Next Ukraine’ Has Already Begun

Moldovan president Maia Sandu, who is running for reelection this fall, has also warned of a Russian plot to stage a coup against her administration.

Concerns about Russia and Transnistria potentially unifying coincide with a concerted effort by the Moldovan government to join the European Union. Last year, the European Council announced it was opening negotiations for Moldovan accession.

Moldova declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, but officials believe that Russia has desires to envelope it back into its fold.

Just last week, the European Union imposed sanctions on a paramilitary group and six individuals for allegedly destabilizing Moldova.

“Serious and increasingly intense attempts to destabilize the country are being made again and again,” Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, said in a statement announcing the sanctions this week.

Chorba warned Sandu that Putin and his allies are unlikely to be deterred.

“Mrs. President Sandu, your surroundings frightened you in any way that Russia would strike the territory of Moldova,” he said. “You didn’t take into account one thing that the psychology of the current Russian leadership, particularly Putin, is very similar to the psychology of Hitler, in the late 1930s. Attempts to pacify people like Putin lead to only one thing—a growing appetite of the aggressor.”

Russia Drops Ominous Warning About Attack on Second Country

Officials in neighboring Ukraine have voiced doubt about whether Transnistria will follow through with an annexation request.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday he is not convinced they will move forward. “I am not sure that the Transnistrians—or whoever is present at the congress—will take this step next week. I am not sure based on the information I have,” he said, adding that Ukraine has not received any requests from Moldova to supply military aid.

At any rate, Ukraine has made its position on Transnistria clear. Senior Ukrainian diplomat Paun Rohovei met with Moldovan officials to discuss the threat last week, after which the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry issued a statement vowing to “resolutely” respond to such provocation.

“Ukraine stands solely for the peaceful settlement of the Transnistrian issue with the preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova within its internationally recognized borders,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said. “At the same time, Kyiv will resolutely respond to any provocations aimed both at dragging the Transnistrian region into Russia’s war against Ukraine and at destabilizing the situation in Moldova as a whole.”

31,000 Ukrainian troops killed since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Zelenskyy says

Associated Press

31,000 Ukrainian troops killed since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Zelenskyy says

Associated Press – February 25, 2024

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy answers media questions during his press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday Feb. 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy answers media questions during his press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday Feb. 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrives before a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday Feb. 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrives before a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday Feb. 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in action in the two years since Russia launched its full-scale invasion.

Zelenskyy said that the number was far lower than estimates given by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government.

“31,000 Ukrainian military personnel have been killed in this war. Not 300,000, not 150,000, not whatever Putin and his deceitful circle have been lying about. But nevertheless, each of these losses is a great sacrifice for us”, Zelenskyy said at the “Ukraine. Year 2024” forum in Kyiv.

The Ukrainian leader said that he wouldn’t disclose the number of troops that were wounded or missing. He also said that “tens of thousands of civilians” had been killed in occupied areas of Ukraine, but said that no exact figures would be available until the war was over.

“We don’t know how many of our civilians they killed. We don’t,” he said.

It’s the first time that Kyiv has confirmed the number of its losses since the start of Russia’s full-scale war on Feb. 24, 2022.

Russia has provided few official casualty figures. The most recent data from the Defense Ministry, published in January 2023, pointed to just over 6,000 deaths, although reports from U.S. and U.K. officials put that number significantly higher.

A U.S. intelligence report declassified in mid-December 2023 estimated that 315,000 Russian troops had been killed or wounded in Ukraine. If accurate, the figure would represent 87% of the roughly 360,000 troops Russia had before the war, according to the report.

Independent Russian news outlet Mediazona said Saturday that about 75,000 Russian men died in 2022 and 2023 fighting in the war.

A joint investigation published by Mediazona and Meduza, another independent Russian news site, indicates that the rate of Russia’s losses in Ukraine is not slowing and that Moscow is losing about 120 men a day.

Perspective: Two years into the war, language has become a symbol of Ukrainian strength

Deseret News

Perspective: Two years into the war, language has become a symbol of Ukrainian strength

Mariya Manzhos – February 24, 2024

Ukrainian flags were on display during a rally commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Ukraine-Russia war, at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023.
Ukrainian flags were on display during a rally commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Ukraine-Russia war, at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News

Two years ago, I was in Southern California when I got the news that Russia had launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. It was my daughter’s 5th birthday and on the docket were a visit to the zoo, cake with cousins and a long-awaited trip to Disneyland the next day. While physically I was with my children, my mind was at home in Kyiv, Ukraine — with my parents.

There, the panic had begun within hours of Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a “special military operation.” People were scrambling to find transportation to evacuate, highways westward jammed with traffic. Horror stories spread quickly and nobody knew what would happen next. I wrote about evacuating my family from Ukraine for Deseret in March of 2022.

The past two years became a process of learning how to live with grief and uncertainty, and how to inhabit two realities at once: one of my life stateside — safe, quiet, predictable — and one in which missiles and shrapnel are destroying homes every day, killing soldiers and children, while the end of the war in my homeland seems to grow increasingly distant.

More than 10,000 Ukrainian civilians have died in the war, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and about 70,000 soldiers have been killed, according to U.S. officials. Since February of 2022, more than 6 million people have left the country and nearly 3.67 million are internally displaced. And it’s estimated that 83,000 Russian soldiers died in the war, according to new data from two independent Russian media outlets.

Today, two years since the invasion and 10 years since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the war has stalled due to the shortage of artillery ammunition, with Ukraine recently losing Avdiivka last week, an industrial city in the Donetsk region.

And while the path forward as the war drags on is uncertain, Ukrainians themselves have never been more sure of who they are.

Despite the recent disappointments on the battlefield, the unity and sense of national identity that were forged at the expense of tragedy and lives have not waned. A recent study from the Ministry of Culture asked 3,200 Ukrainians from several regions to rank their Ukrainian consciousness — how Ukrainian they felt — regardless of where they were born (most identified as Ukrainian citizens). The study found in two years of the war people self-identify more strongly as Ukrainians, and cited deepened interest in the country’s history and culture. The common cultural heritage fueled the emotional resolve to resist the occupants, the study said.


I, too, have grown closer to my Ukrainian culture and language since the invasion by reading poetry, learning new vocabulary and discovering Ukrainian music. In the face of the looming threat of losing my native culture, clinging to it feels urgent and necessary.

This week, as the world marked the second anniversary of the invasion, Ukrainians on Feb. 21 celebrated International Mother Language Day, a UNESCO holiday that found particular resonance with Ukrainians this year. In honor of the occasion, I had a chance to speak about my efforts to return to my native Ukrainian language with students at Odesa National University in a virtual event — which had to be rescheduled due to a prolonged air raid.

Growing up in the 1990s in Kyiv, I spoke Russian at home with my family, even though Ukrainian was the dominant language at my school and in more formal settings. Making an intentional effort to speak Ukrainian has felt like tapping into the part of my Ukrainian identity that’s often been overshadowed by my American one, since I have lived in the U.S. for over 20 years. As I listened to the Ukrainian language and literature professors from Odesa National University, I was struck by their earnest commitment to the language that, unlike me, they use and teach every day. For them too, Ukrainian was no longer just a language of communication, but a way of fighting this war.

One professor spoke about the disagreements in 1917 over whether Russian or Ukrainian should be the language of Orthodox church services and how language separatism led to a religious one. Literature expert Tetyana Shevchenko spoke about drawing strength in times of despair from the poetry of Taras Shevchenko (no relation), a national bard of Ukraine who spent half of his life in serfdom under the Russian empire. She read a few lines from his poem about casting out an adversary from the Ukrainian land.

“I trust his words, and I know this is exactly how it’s going to be,” she said. “Sometimes, when I feel lost, I start reading Shevchenko; his words help me believe in the freedom that I know will come.”

Philologist Larysa Shevchuk invited the students to raise their future children speaking Ukrainian. “We’re in the existential battle for the survival of our nation and our language,” she said. The idea that language is the symbol of Ukrainian defiance and the means all Ukrainians can employ to fight the war resonated with me.

The celebration of my daughter’s birthday — she turned 7 this year— and the day of the full-scale invasion will always remain mutual reminders of one another, and polar opposites in the feelings they stir up. My daughter’s brightness helps me sustain hope that a peaceful future will come to Ukraine. But I also know the costs we will pay to get there.

Biden considering major new executive actions for migrant crisis


Biden considering major new executive actions for migrant crisis

Myah Ward – February 21, 2024

The Biden administration is considering a string of new executive actions and federal regulations in an effort to curb migration at the U.S. southern border, according to three people familiar with the plans.

The proposals under consideration would represent a sweeping new approach to an issue that has stymied the White House since its first days in office and could potentially place the president at odds with key constituencies.

Among the ideas under discussion include using a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act to bar migrants from seeking asylum in between U.S. ports of entry. The administration is also discussing tying that directive to a trigger — meaning that it would only come into effect after a certain number of illegal crossings took place, said the three people, who were granted anonymity to discuss private deliberations.

A trigger mechanism was part of a bipartisan Senate border deal that never reached the floor earlier this month. During the deal’s construction, President Joe Biden repeatedly said it would have given him the authority to “shut down” the border.

The administration is also discussing ways to make it harder for migrants to pass the initial screening for asylum seekers, essentially raising the “credible fear standard,” as well as ways to quickly deport others who don’t meet those elevated asylum standards. Two of the people said the policy announcements could come as soon as next week ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech on March 7.

The slate of policies could allow the administration officials to fill some of the void left after congressional Republicans killed a bipartisan border deal in the Senate. But it would also open up the administration to criticism that it always had the tools at its disposal to more fully address the migrant crisis but waited to use them.

No final decisions have been made about what executive actions, if any, could be taken, an administration official said, speaking about internal deliberations only on condition of anonymity. Administrations often explore a number of options, the official said, though it doesn’t necessarily mean the policies will come to fruition.

The consideration of new executive action comes as the White House tries to turn the border deal failure into a political advantage for the president. It also comes amid growing concern among Democrats that the southern border presents a profound election liability for the party. Officials hope that policy announcements will drive down numbers of migrants coming to the border and demonstrate to voters that they’re exhausting all options to try to solve the problem as peak migration season quickly approaches.

“The Administration spent months negotiating in good faith to deliver the toughest and fairest bipartisan border security bill in decades because we need Congress to make significant policy reforms and to provide additional funding to secure our border and fix our broken immigration system,” said White House spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández.

“No executive action, no matter how aggressive, can deliver the significant policy reforms and additional resources Congress can provide and that Republicans rejected,” he continued.

The three people familiar with the planning cautioned that the details of proposed actions remain murky and that the impact of the policies — particularly the asylum ban — is also dependent on the specific language of the federal regulation, they said. For example, the Senate bill included exceptions for unaccompanied minors and people who meet the requirements of the United Nations Convention Against Torture rules.

There are other complications as well. The implementation of any action from the White House would come without the funding and resources that could make implementation easier, though the administration is looking into ways to unlock additional funding. The actions would likely face legal challenges as well.

The Trump administration repeatedly used Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to aggressively shape the immigration system. In late 2018, President Donald Trump signed a policy that temporarily barred migrants who tried to illegally cross into the U.S. outside of official ports of entry. It was quickly blocked by a federal judge in California. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the decision, which was then upheld by the Supreme Court.

The policies, once announced, will likely be met with steep backlash from immigration advocates who will claim the president is once again walking back on his campaign promises to rebuild a humane immigration system and protect the right to asylum.