trump and MAGA world know they can’t will elections honestly: Trump campaign sues Michigan Gov. Whitmer over new voter registration sites

NBC News

Trump campaign sues Michigan Gov. Whitmer over new voter registration sites

Dareh Gregorian and Selina Guevara – July 15, 2024

The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee sued Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and others Monday for allowing federal Veterans Affairs and Small Business Administration sites to be used for voter registration efforts.

In papers filed in federal court in Michigan, the campaign and the RNC contend Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson exceeded their authority when they struck agreements to use the VA and SBA offices as “voter registration agencies,” or VRAs.

“Under Michigan law, the authority to make such designations is held solely by the Legislature,” the filing said.

Michigan is a state that Trump won in 2016 and then flipped to back Joe Biden in 2020. It is expected to be a pivotal battleground state in this year’s election.

Trump has long sought to sow the seeds of doubt about elections before they occur, and he leveled unfounded accusations at several states in the lead-up to the 2020 election, which he then repeated as part of baseless claims to overturn the outcome when he lost.

Trump’s campaign echoed complaints that voter integrity was at risk in the suit filed Monday.

“The RNC and its members are concerned that Defendants’ failure to comply with Michigan statutes governing VRA designation undermines the integrity of elections by increasing the opportunity for individuals to register to vote even though they are ineligible to do so, and by sowing confusion regarding whether the agencies purporting to offer assistance in registering voters are doing so in accordance with applicable law,” says the suit, which was first reported by MLive.com.

It also contends that the “SBA and VA’s continued unlawful operation as VRAs have caused economic, financial, and political injury to the Plaintiffs, including by forcing them to allocate additional resources and misallocate their scarce resources in ways they otherwise would not have.”

The suit seeks a judgment declaring the move unlawful, as well as a “permanent injunction barring the State Defendants from designating any VRAs without express authorization from the Michigan Legislature.”

Whitmer’s and Benson’s offices for comment did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Putin and the trump MAGA cult again on the same propaganda page: The Kremlin is pushing a MAGA talking point that Biden’s administration is to blame for the Trump assassination attempt

Business Insider

The Kremlin is pushing a MAGA talking point that Biden’s administration is to blame for the Trump assassination attempt

Kwan Wei Kevin Tan, July 15, 2024

  • Russia says the Biden administration should be blamed for the Trump rally shooting.
  • A Kremlin spokesperson said the Biden administration incited tensions that led to the attack.
  • Trump allies like JD Vance have similarly accused the Biden administration of causing the attack.

The attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump was indirectly caused by President Joe Biden and his administration, a Kremlin spokesperson said on Sunday.

“We don’t think at all and don’t believe that the attempt to eliminate the presidential candidate Trump was organized by the present power,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters, per Russian state media outlet TASS.

“But it is the atmosphere that has been created by this administration during the political struggle, the atmosphere around the candidate Trump, prompted what America is facing today,” he continued.

On Saturday, Trump was left wounded after a gunman tried to shoot him during a campaign rally in Pennsylvania.

“I was shot with a bullet that pierced the upper part of my right ear,” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post on Saturday. “I knew immediately that something was wrong in that I heard a whizzing sound, shots, and immediately felt the bullet ripping through the skin.”

The Secret Service said the attack killed one bystander and left two others critically injured. The rally shooter, a 20-year-old man named Thomas Matthew Crooks, was shot dead by a Secret Service sniper.

But Trump’s life, Peskov said, had long been in danger.

“After numerous attempts to remove candidate Trump from the political arena using legal instruments at first, courts, the prosecutor’s office, attempts to politically discredit and compromise the candidate, it was obvious to all outside observers that his life was in jeopardy,” Peskov said on Sunday, referencing Trump’s conviction in his Manhattan hush money criminal trial on May 30.

The Kremlin’s remarks on Sunday echo that of Trump acolytes like Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Rep. Mike Collins of Georgia.

The trio were quick to point fingers at Biden following Saturday’s failed assassination.

“The Republican District Attorney in Butler County, PA, should immediately file charges against Joseph R. Biden for inciting an assassination,” Collins said in an X post on Saturday.

Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., also ripped the Democratic Party and accused them of inciting tensions before Saturday’s assassination attempt.

“Don’t tell me they didn’t know exactly what they were doing with this crap. Calling my dad a ‘dictator and a ‘threat to Democracy’ wasn’t some one off comment. It has been the MAIN MESSAGE of the Biden-Kamala campaign and Democrats across the country!!!” Trump Jr. wrote on X on Sunday.

This isn’t the first time Russia has sought to paint a picture of a dysfunctional America while weighing in on the country’s political developments.

Last month, Putin said that Trump’s Manhattan felony conviction was politically motivated and that the former president’s rivals were “simply using the judicial system in an internal power struggle.”

“They are burning themselves from the inside, their state, their political system,” Putin told reporters at the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, per Reuters.

Representatives for Russia’s foreign ministry and the Biden administration didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular business hours.

Republican’ s finally try to get rid of trump: But then try to blame the Democrats. VP frontrunner JD Vance points finger at Biden for apparent assassination attempt at Trump rally

Independent

VP frontrunner JD Vance points finger at Biden for apparent assassination attempt at Trump rally

John Bowden  – July 14, 2024

The man who could end up being Donald Trump’s running mate was quick to directly blame President Joe Biden for the apparent assassination attempt at the former president’s rally on Saturday in Pennsylvania.

JD Vance, who is just days away from potentially being announced as the nominee for vice president at the Republican National Convention, pointed the finger at Democrats and the president after Trump was shot at during his campaign event in Butler, Pennsylvania.

He was led away clutching the side of his bloody head.

One spectator was killed and two others were left in critical condition in the surreal shooting that sent shockwaves through the crowd.

The suspected gunman was shot dead by a Secret Service agent at the scene.

On Sunday morning, the FBI identified the suspect as Thomas Matthew Crooks – a 20-year-old Pennsylvania resident who was a registered Republican voter, according to online records.

Vance, a freshman Republican senator from Ohio, quickly used the incident to attack Biden

In a post on Saturday evening, he wrote: “Today is not just some isolated incident. The central premise of the Biden campaign is that President Donald Trump is an authoritarian fascist who must be stopped at all costs. That rhetoric led directly to President Trump’s attempted assassination.”

He was not the only Republican to take their response to the tragedy as far.

Without offering a shred of evidence, Rep Mike Collins, a right-wing conservative from Georgia, made the wild assertion that the local district attorney in the district of Pennsylvania where the rally took place should bring the incumbent president up on charges for “inciting” the assassination of his political rival, an allegation Trump himself has not made in his own social media posting following the shooting.

“Joe Biden sent the orders,” tweeted the congressman.

“The Republican District Attorney in Butler County, PA, should immediately file charges against Joseph R. Biden for inciting an assassination,” added Collins.

The Independent has reached out to the Biden campaign for comment on Vance and Collins’ remarks.

Vance’s statement is notable given that he’s one of just a few lawmakers still in the running to serve as Trump’s vice presidential nominee on the Republican 2024 ticket. He and the two other top contenders, Sen Marco Rubio and Gov Doug Burgum, all met with the former president within the last day; the Republican National Convention is only days away, with the first official events beginning on Monday.

Republicans from across the country are meeting in Milwaukee for their party’s nominating convention, where Trump is set to be nominated to run for the White House a third time. He won this year’s presidential primary by a commanding margin, only losing one state.

The Ohio senator is coming up on the second anniversary of his election to the Senate; just a year and seven months into his first term in the upper chamber. His contention for the role of vice president follows his come-from-behind victory in the Ohio Republican Senate primary in 2022, thanks to Trump’s endorsement, and his subsequent defeat of then-Congressman Tim Ryan for the seat in the general election.

Meanwhile, Rubio’s X feed was full of retweets about the shooting. He also attacked early media coverage of the apparent assassination attempt, when it still remained unclear what had transpired.

“Praying for President Trump and all those attending the rally in Pennsylvania today,” he wrote.

Burgum’s statements were more limited, and expressed support for the former president, whom the governor claimed was “stronger” than his political foes.

Trump himself shared a graphic statement about the shooting, saying a bullet had pierced his right ear.

“Nothing is known at this time about the shooter, who is now dead. I was shot with a bullet that pierced the upper part of my right ear,” he said. “I knew immediately that something was wrong in that I heard a whizzing sound, shots, and immediately felt the bullet ripping through the skin. Much bleeding took place, so I realized then what was happening. GOD BLESS AMERICA!”

In a new statement on Sunday morning, the former president called on the US to “stand united” as he thanked God for preventing the “unthinkable from happening”.

JD Vance needs to look at himself, his party’s rhetoric before blaming Democrats | Letters

Cincinnati.con – Enquirer – Opinion

JD Vance needs to look at himself, his party’s rhetoric before blaming Democrats | Letters

Letters to the editor – July 15, 2024

Violence has no place in politics. This is quite true, but I find it necessary to point out a few things after Ohio Senator J.D. Vance decided to place the blame for the assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump on Democrats.

Political rhetoric has increased on both sides. The reason the rhetoric is necessary, however, is because Trump would not accept the fact that he lost the 2020 election because We the People decided we didn’t want anymore of the leadership, or lack of leadership, he provided. The reason the rhetoric is necessary is because Trump decided to try to protect himself from jail as he knew he was more than likely to be convicted by a jury of his peers for crimes they proved he committed. Finally, I believe Trump is trying to move our country to autocracy with the Project 2025 plan once he is reelected.

Sen. JD Vance (R-OH) gestures while speaking during a news conference on Capitol Hill on May 22, 2024 in Washington, DC.
Sen. JD Vance (R-OH) gestures while speaking during a news conference on Capitol Hill on May 22, 2024 in Washington, DC.

Democrats are furious and are hard-charging at Trump and his party because we fear for replacing all the men and women in our justice system, who have kept this country safe since the Department of Justice’s inception with the exception of 9/11, with Trump loyalists as Project 2025 espouses. We are afraid of Trump using our service members as the police to “put down” any rioting, especially if the rioters are Black Lives Matter or any other person/persons of color as Project 2025 espouses. We are afraid of Trump eliminating the Department of Education and using his cohorts in the U.S. Supreme Court who want to force all of us to be Christians, as that is what they claim to be, and want to force women back to the 1960s, as one Republican representative stated recently, where we stay at home, have babies and take care of our men.

No, Sen. Vance, look closer to your own party and yourself for the “rhetoric” (lies) that you and your party project.  As Democrats, we will lower the political rhetoric as long as Sen. Vance’s party does. Oh I forgot, Sen. Vance already started right back into blaming Democrats instead of looking closer at himself and the people he supports.

Felicia Duncan, Sharonville

Heated rhetoric as Republicans blame Biden for Trump shooting

AFP

Heated rhetoric as Republicans blame Biden for Trump shooting

Robin Legrand with Marion Thibaut – July 14, 2024

US President Joe Biden has called for unity after his political rival Donald Trump was shot at a rally (Mandel NGAN)
US President Joe Biden has called for unity after his political rival Donald Trump was shot at a rally (Mandel NGAN)

Within hours of the assassination attempt on Donald Trump, his Republican supporters in Congress claimed they knew exactly who was responsible: Joe Biden and the Democratic Party.

Biden’s campaign “rhetoric led directly to President Trump’s attempted assassination,” Senator J.D. Vance, on Trump’s shortlist for vice president, alleged shortly after Saturday’s shooting at a rally in Pennsylvania, in which the former US leader was wounded and one bystander killed.

Vance’s comments were part of an escalating chorus of Republicans who have pinned the blame on Democrats — even as the FBI says it has yet to identify the shooter’s ideology.

They also heap more fuel onto the fire in a political atmosphere that has long been tense and fiercely polarized.

“Heated rhetoric has come from both sides” in recent years, Michael Bailey, a political science professor at Georgetown University, told AFP.

Republicans, for whom gun rights and a rejection of alleged government overreach are key themes, “have been more prone to marry such rhetoric with imagery related to guns,” Bailey noted.

“And some of them (including Trump) did not cover themselves in glory when they made light of the violent attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband,” he said, referring to the 2022 attack by a conspiracy theorist on the high-profile Democrat’s spouse.

Trump later mocked the Pelosis, and stoked further conspiracy theories around the assault.

– Biden ‘sent the orders’ –

Steve Scalise, a Republican who was shot in a 2017 attack on conservative lawmakers by a left-wing activist, has also blamed the left for Saturday’s assassination attempt.

“Democrat leaders have been fueling ludicrous hysteria that Donald Trump winning reelection would be the end of democracy in America,” he said.

“For years, and even today, leftist activists, Democrat donors and now even Joe Biden have made disgusting remarks and descriptions of shooting Donald Trump,” Trump campaign adviser Chris LaCivita charged on X.

Biden did recently tell donors that it was “time to put Trump in the bullseye,” according to comments put out by his campaign — though he was speaking in the context of focusing the party on beating Trump.

Representative Mike Collins went further on the shooting, stating “Joe Biden sent the orders,” without offering credible evidence.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, meanwhile, offered an escalation of her own, telling her followers “we are in a battle between good and evil” and casting Democrats as “the party of pedophiles” and “violence.”

“The Democrat party is flat out evil, and yesterday they tried to murder President Trump,” she said.

Such accusations risk removing “attention from the very welcome, widespread condemnation of the attack,” said Jacob Ware, a research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

– ‘America needs to stop’ –

The heated rhetoric pushed Biden to issue a rare address to the nation from the Oval Office on Sunday in which he called on Americans to “lower the temperature.”

Trump and Biden have spoken to each other after the incident, while Biden’s campaign is temporarily pausing television ads — part of what some on both sides hope is part of a broader national cooling.

“Tensions are high on both sides, and I think we’ve got to tone down the rhetoric,” 60-year-old Trump supporter Martin Kutzler told AFP in downtown Milwaukee, where the Republican convention is set to open Monday.

Republican National Committee chair Michael Whately meanwhile declined to speculate on the shooting while speaking to “Fox News Sunday.”

“Right now, I think everybody in America needs to stop. They need to pause,” he said.

Among elected officials, though, the accusations keep coming.

“When the message goes out constantly, that the election of Donald Trump would be a threat to democracy, and that the Republic would end, it heats up the environment,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson.

Depoliticizing the shooting, however, is essential, Bailey said.

“In an environment with so many guns… it is possible for heated rhetoric to motivate an unbalanced person on any side.”

Kinzinger says JD Vance’s response to shooting should ‘disqualify’ him from VP consideration

The Hill

Kinzinger says JD Vance’s response to shooting should ‘disqualify’ him from VP consideration

Sarah Fortinsky – July 14, 2024

Kinzinger says JD Vance’s response to shooting should ‘disqualify’ him from VP consideration

Former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said Sunday Sen. JD Vance’s (R-Ohio) response to the attempted assassination of former President Trump should “disqualify” him from serving as vice president.

Vance, a contender for Trump’s choice of running mate, said in a social media post on Saturday that the shooting was “not some isolated incident” and suggested President Biden’s campaign was, at least in part, at fault.

“The central premise of the Biden campaign is that President Donald Trump is an authoritarian fascist who must be stopped at all costs,” Vance said on the social platform X. “That rhetoric led directly to President Trump’s attempted assassination.”

Kinzinger — a former GOP member of Congress who became a frequent Trump critic — responded to Vance’s post, saying, “This should absolutely disqualify @JDVance1 from VP.”

Vance’s statement came just hours after Trump was whisked off the stage of his Pennsylvania rally on Saturday, after Trump appeared to be wounded in what authorities are calling an assassination attempt.

At the time of Vance’s statement, there was no public reporting on the motive of the shooter or the details surrounding the incident.

Republicans and Democrats alike have called for decreasing the temperature of political rhetoric.

President Biden ordered a full review of the security for Trump’s Saturday rally and to assess security in place for the Republican National Convention this week in Milwaukee.

The Hill has reached out to Vance’s campaign for a response.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Judge tosses Trump documents case, ruling prosecutor was unlawfully appointed

Reuters

Judge tosses Trump documents case, ruling prosecutor was unlawfully appointed

Andrew Goudsward and Sarah N. Lynch – July 15, 2024

Former U.S. President Donald Trump and Special Counsel Jack Smith

(Reuters) -A U.S. judge in Florida on Monday dismissed the criminal case accusing Donald Trump of illegally keeping classified documents after leaving office, handing the Republican former president another major legal victory as he seeks a return to the White House.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed to the bench by Trump, ruled that Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the prosecution, was unlawfully appointed to his role and did not have the authority to bring the case.

The judge found that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, who named Smith in 2022 to oversee investigations involving Trump, did not have the authority “to appoint a federal officer with the kind of prosecutorial power wielded by Special Counsel Smith.”

Cannon also found that Smith’s investigation has been improperly funded through a permanent and unlimited fund Congress set aside in the 1980s for independent investigations.

It marked another blockbuster legal triumph for Trump.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on July 1 that Trump cannot be prosecuted for actions that were within his constitutional powers as president – a landmark decision recognizing for the first time any form of presidential immunity from prosecution. That ruling involved charges pursued by Smith in a separate case against Trump in Washington involving his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss.

Cannon’s ruling came two days after Trump was the target of an assassination attempt at a campaign rally in western Pennsylvania. Trump is set to be formally named the Republican presidential nominee in Milwaukee this week, challenging Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 U.S. election.

Prosecutors are likely to appeal Cannon’s ruling. Courts in other cases have repeatedly upheld the ability of the U.S. Justice Department to appoint special counsels to handle certain politically sensitive investigations.

Trump, in a social media post, said Cannon’s ruling should be a “just the first step” and called for the dismissal of all four criminal cases against him.

“Let us come together to END all Weaponization of our Justice System,” Trump wrote.

Trump was convicted in May on New York state felony charges involving hush money paid to a porn star to avert a sex scandal before the 2016 election. Trump had pleaded not guilty in the documents case and in Smith’s other case, as well as to election-related charges in state court in Georgia.

A spokesperson for Smith did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the documents case, Trump was indicted on charges that he willfully retained sensitive national security documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida after leaving office in 2021 and obstructed government efforts to retrieve the material. Prosecutors have said the documents related to U.S. military and intelligence matters, including details about the American nuclear program.

Two others, Trump personal aide Walt Nauta and Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Olivera, were also charged with obstructing the investigation.

‘BREATHTAKINGLY MISGUIDED’

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said in a statement: “This breathtakingly misguided ruling flies in the face of long-accepted practice and repetitive judicial precedence. It is wrong on the law and must be appealed immediately. This is further evidence that Judge Cannon cannot handle this case impartially and must be reassigned.”

At the very least, Cannon’s ruling throws the future of the case into doubt. Trump’s lawyers have not made a similar challenge to the special counsel in Smith’s election-related case.

Trump’s lawyers challenged the legal authority for Garland’s 2022 decision to appoint Smith to lead investigations into Trump. They argued that the appointment violated the U.S. Constitution because Smith’s office was not created by Congress and the special counsel was not confirmed by the Senate.

Lawyers in Smith’s office disputed Trump’s claims, arguing that there was a well-settled practice of using special counsels to manage politically sensitive investigations.

“This ruling flies in the face of about 20 years of institutional precedent, conflicts with rulings issued in both the Mueller investigation and in D.C. with respect to Jack Smith himself,” said Bradley Moss, an attorney who specializes in national security, referring to an investigation conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller during Trump’s presidency.

Moss also said the ruling raises the question of whether Smith will seek to have Cannon removed from the case.

Cannon’s ruling is the most consequential in a series of decisions she has made favoring Trump and expressing skepticism about the conduct of prosecutors. The judge previously delayed a trial indefinitely while considering a flurry of Trump legal challenges.

In an unusual move, she allowed three outside lawyers, including two who sided with Trump, to argue during a court hearing focused on Trump’s challenge to Smith’s appointment.

Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas provided a boost to Trump’s challenge to the special counsel. In an opinion agreeing with the court’s decision to grant Trump broad immunity, Thomas questioned whether Smith’s appointment was lawful, using similar arguments to those made by Trump’s lawyers.

Garland appointed Smith, a public corruption and international war crimes prosecutor, to give investigations into Trump a degree of independence from the Justice Department under Biden’s administration.

(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward and Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Scott Malone, Daniel Wallis and Will Dunham)

Wounded Russian soldiers – some on crutches – used in ‘meat wave’ attacks

The Telegraph

Wounded Russian soldiers – some on crutches – used in ‘meat wave’ attacks

Verity Bowman – July 14, 2024

Russia is sending injured soldiers back to the front lines to fight
Russia is sending injured soldiers back to the front lines and is using Ukraine PoWs as human shields

Injured Russian soldiers are being sent back into the line of fire in “meat wave” assaults.

The Ukrainian army has reported capturing Russians already suffering from their wounds sustained in previous attacks.

They had been given minimal medical attention before being sent back to fight.

The tactics show an apparent disregard for foot soldiers as commanders throw thousands of men into the front lines in a slow and grinding summer offensive.

Some Russians have been captured re-entering the battlefield on crutches.

Other injured troops have recorded videos pleading with their superiors for proper treatment as they receive orders to return to battle.

One soldier captured by Ukraine was said to be driving an armoured vehicle with bloodied rags over an injured eye.

The meat assault units are often made up of foot soldiers, released prisoners and the maimed.

Many are simply protecting the next wave of soldiers behind as part of a tactic to distract and overwhelm Ukraine, and make incremental territorial gains.

British military intelligence believes that Russian ranks have been depleted by as many as 70,000 personnel over the last two months – an alarming rate that shows no signs of slowing.

Ukrainian soldiers told The Telegraph that it is “normal practice” to see injured men staggering as they fight, and that Ukrainian prisoners of war are being used by Russia as human shields.

‘We don’t have the strength’

Meanwhile, Russian soldiers have been recorded pleading with their superiors, the military prosecutors office, and even Vladimir Putin, for their lives.

“Why would they send wounded and exhausted people into battle? It’s the same as sending people to their deaths,” said two soldiers of the 1009th regiment in a video shared on social media.

“The commander says that tomorrow we must go and storm this building again.

“But how can we do this if we are in pain, wounded, and simply don’t have the strength?”

The pair, who lent against a tree with visible wounds to their faces, said the only medical treatment they received for shrapnel wounds was from their own first aid kit as they hid in the forest.

Another video clip showed a group of the injured, a number of whom were walking on crutches, pleading desperately with their superiors, stressing that this was their final opportunity to make their case.

They told the camera: “Hear us, please, hear us, hear us. This is our last chance. We have no more options.”

The latest death toll figures of Russian soldiers is equivalent to an average of above 1,000 a day amid the escalating intensity of battle on the newly opened front in Kharkiv, and fighting elsewhere in east and north-east Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defence said on Friday.

“Although this new approach has increased the pressure on the front line, an effective Ukrainian defence and a lack of Russian training reduces Russia’s ability to exploit any tactical successes, despite attempting to stretch the front line further,” the MoD added.

Hunter (his call sign), a Ukrainian junior soldier, said that there are “frequent cases” of Russian soldiers “simply left in positions to die”.

“This is a common situation when wounded Russian soldiers are captured. According to them, they were left to their fate without food and water to die by their own comrades,” he said.

Hunter reported seeing Ukrainian PoWs being pushed to walk ahead of advancing Russian soldiers, forced into the cruel role of human shields.

Yuriy, a machine gunner, confirmed Hunter’s reports, telling The Telegraph: “Of course, I have seen PoWs, this is outrageous and tearing us apart from the inside, such an attitude towards prisoners of war is unacceptable and prohibited by conventions.”

In the Donetsk region, a Russian soldier was captured by Ukraine with his leg rotting from a shrapnel wound.

“He was not evacuated for some reason. Later in Dnipro, our medics had to amputate this leg for him so he can survive,” Vlad, a member of the Kraken Regiment volunteer unit, told The Telegraph.

Vlad reported that the Russians they captured revealed their commander, known by the call sign Ryba, had ordered that no one would be evacuated until they had secured the territory around the Kupyansk silicate plant in the Kharkiv region.

Kupyansk, a strategic rail hub, was seized by Russia in early 2022, retaken by Ukraine seven months later and missile and artillery strikes continue to hit the area.

The river through Kupyansk could offer a natural defence against future Russian advances.

A soldier who chose to remain anonymous said: “We carried a wounded Russian to our side for many kilometres to save his life as he was left alone to die.”

Hunter confirmed that many units – including the poorly-trained, lightly-equipped “Storm-Z” assault troopers – are “prohibited” from leaving their positions.

‘Storm fighters, they’re just meat’

Storm-Z is a series of penal military units for convicts – including murderers – established by Russia by April 6, 2023, renamed Storm-V later that year.

Illia Yevlash, the spokesman for the Khortytsia operational-strategic group, claimed in February that Russian commanders were using human wave tactics involving Storm-Z and Storm-V.

“Storm fighters, they’re just meat,” said one regular soldier from army unit number 40318.

“If such units retreat, they can be destroyed by their barrier units,” said Hunter.

“The Russian armed forces mobilise people with serious illnesses such as tuberculosis or HIV, and such ‘soldiers’ are treated differently.”

Use of suicidal human wave attacks does not appear to have reduced despite high-profile changes at the top of the Russian defence ministry.

Many Ukrainian soldiers who spoke to The Telegraph revealed they hesitate to save Russians because of their unwavering resolve to continue fighting even after being captured.

Yuriy explained that some injured soldiers wanted to surrender quickly, but that he had seen others “shoot to the last”, even attempting to detonate grenades when they were given medical aid.

The high Russian attrition rate comes as Ukraine also struggles to find enough soldiers to make any significant breakthroughs.

The much-anticipated Russian summer offensive appears to have largely fizzled out, with both sides once again locked in fighting along rigid front lines dividing Ukraine roughly from north to south.

The Republican Party platform has an audience of one

MSNBC – Opinion

The Republican Party platform has an audience of one

By Michael Steele, co-host of “The Weekend” – July 12, 2024

The 16-page document reflects the obsessions and quirks of Donald Trump, not the Grand Old Party.

‘Project 2025 has Trump’s revolting DNA all over it’: Why Dems’ infighting over Biden must end

In a matter of days, former President Donald Trump’s anti-democracy agenda will most likely be met with thunderous applause as he officially accepts the Republican nomination for president at the party’s national convention. 

The picture of a lawless America mired in poverty and perversion that Trump will paint isn’t backed up by reality, but it is set to be backed up by the official Republican Party platform.

On Monday, the Republican platform committee advanced a draft of the so-called principles that will guide the Republican Party for the next four years. But this platform isn’t a road map to prosperity for the American people. It doesn’t offer a framework for unity in a fractured country.

Instead, it is a manifesto for one man: Trump.

The 16-page document is written to appeal to Trump’s sensibilities — emotionally, rhetorically and even grammatically (the erratic capitalization reads like one of his unhinged social media rants).

The 16-page document is written to appeal to his sensibilities — emotionally, rhetorically and even grammatically (the erratic capitalization reads like one of his unhinged social media rants).

And because it’s tailor-made for the convicted figurehead of this once-great party, it’s riddled with lies and belligerence designed to divide us further.

Some tenets reflect the heartlessness Trump has ushered in.

For instance, the platform promises to “CARRY OUT THE LARGEST DEPORTATION OPERATION IN AMERICAN HISTORY” — a policy that Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts also backed in his recent interview with “The Weekend” about Project 2025.

Let’s put the logistics of deporting millions of people — many of whom have built lives and started families in this country — and kneecapping the economy aside for a moment. Let’s focus instead on the morality of breaking those families up, of devaluing human lives to the point of boasting about it.

The position flies in the face of President Ronald Reagan’s more measured stance.

After noting that “our strength comes from our own immigrant heritage and our capacity to welcome those from other lands,” Reagan said:

“Illegal immigrants in considerable numbers have become productive members of our society and are a basic part of our work force. Those who have established equities in the United States should be recognized and accorded legal status. At the same time, in so doing, we must not encourage illegal immigration.”

Reagan later signed substantial immigration reform into law with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. That bill banned the hiring of undocumented immigrants while still ensuring a pathway to lawful permanent residence and eventual citizenship for some 2.7 million undocumented immigrants who entered the country before 1982.

That’s a far cry from today’s Republican Party, which paints an apocalyptic picture of a so-called invasion at the southern border while tanking solutions to the issue at Trump’s direction.

The platform is also riddled with contradictions.

The platform is also riddled with these kinds of contradictions. 

The document highlights the importance of free speech multiple times throughout its pages, pledging to “ban the Federal Government from colluding with anyone to censor Lawful Speech.” In the same document, it vows “to keep foreign Christian-hating Communists, Marxists, and Socialists out of America.” 

Exactly how do you do that? I fervently disagree with communism, Marxism and socialism, but like the views that animate this MAGA platform, they aren’t unlawful, and, as long as their expression doesn’t put people in physical danger, I believe that even views I disagree with shouldn’t be regulated by the government. 0 seconds of 9 minutes, 11 secondsVolume 90% 

Trump’s fatal weakness suddenly exposed

If the government can begin sanctioning everyday people for their political views alone, it sets a dangerous precedent. The platform acknowledges this with the pledge to “hold accountable those who have misused the power of Government to unjustly prosecute their Political Opponents.”

Then, there’s a tapestry of issues that the Republican Party under Trump has proven ineffective at addressing.

“Republicans will reassert greater Federal Control over Washington, DC to restore Law and Order in our Capital City, and ensure Federal Buildings and Monuments are well-maintained.”

The irony is palpable. On Jan. 6, 2021, a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol, where they shattered windows, ransacked offices and trashed the emblem of American democracy. Federal authorities estimate that Trump’s foot soldiers wreaked $2.73 million in damage.

Now, Republicans claiming to support law and order have largely backed Trump’s promise to pardon the rioters who desecrated a building paid for by U.S. taxpayers while also threatening to undermine the self-governance of our capital city. 

Then there’s the platform’s vow to “END INFLATION,” a problem already under control.

Just this Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that year-over-year inflation rose only 3% last month — a sharper decrease than expected, continuing a steady reduction from a peak of 9% two years prior.

Or maybe Trump means the inflation that he will kick off with his other campaign pledges, as economists have warned that the drastic increases in tariffs he has endorsed would decimate that progress and worsen inflation.

The current Republican platform is incoherent, hate-filled and ham-fisted, but that should come as no surprise. It was made in the image of the man who will accept the party’s nomination in just a few days.

A famous speech in “Macbeth” compares life to “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing,” as the Scottish king’s empire implodes.

The platform of this once-great party has “sound and fury” in spades and is being told by no shortage of idiots, but unfortunately, it doesn’t signify “nothing.” It signifies what will guide the MAGA party if it is given the chance to write laws that govern your life.

Vote accordingly.

For more thought-provoking insights from Michael Steele, Alicia Menendez and Symone Sanders-Townsend, watch “The Weekend” every Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m. ET on MSNBC.

Michael Steele is a co-host of “The Weekend,” which airs Saturdays and Sundays at 8 a.m. ET on MSNBC. He is a former lieutenant governor of Maryland and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee. 

The West finally allowed Ukraine to strike back at Russia — and it seems to be working

CNN

The West finally allowed Ukraine to strike back at Russia — and it seems to be working

Ivana Kottasová, CNN – July 13, 2024

Ukrainian forces are striking Russia-occupied Crimea

Bankir and his men have been trying to fight off Russian attacks along the Ukrainian front lines for more than two years. But it’s only now that they are finally able to strike where it hurts: Inside Russia’s own territory.

The newly granted permission by the United States and other allies to use Western weapons to strike inside Russia has had a huge impact, Bankir said. “We have destroyed targets inside Russia, which allowed for several successful counteroffensives. The Russian military can no longer feel impunity and security,” the senior officer in Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) told CNN. For security reasons, he asked to be identified by his call sign only.

After many months on the back foot because of ammunition and manpower shortages, Kyiv is finally able to take full advantage of Western military aid that started to flow into the country last month, after months of delays.

Soldiers on the front lines say the deliveries are beginning to make a difference – especially since they can now use the arsenal to strike across the border.

“We can see the impact of the aid every day. Artillery, longer-range multiple launch rocket systems with various types of ammunition and submunitions… it’s affecting the overall battlefield picture,” Ivan, an officer with the 148th artillery brigade, told CNN. He also asked for his full name not to be published for security reasons.

“We are deploying the most effective weapons systems in the areas where the Russians are trying to break through the defensive lines and there has been a significant slowdown in the Russian advance,” he added.

While Kyiv hasn’t managed to reclaim large swathes of territory, it has successfully averted what could have been a disaster: The occupation of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city.

Ukrainian servicemen of the 148th Separate Artillery Brigade of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces, prepare to fire a M777 howitzer near a front line in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 1, 2024. - Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters
Ukrainian servicemen of the 148th Separate Artillery Brigade of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces, prepare to fire a M777 howitzer near a front line in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 1, 2024. – Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters
‘Tragic moment’

Part of the northern Kharkiv region, including the cities of Izium, Kupiansk, and Balakliia, fell into Russian hands soon after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The occupation was brutal. When the area was liberated in the fall of 2022, Ukrainian troops found evidence of what they say were war crimes committed by Russian forces, including multiple mass graves and torture chambers.

In May this year, Russia launched another cross-border attack on the region, trying to exploit Ukraine’s ammunition shortages before the expected arrival of the first Western weapons.

The consequences were deadly. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that at least 174 civilians were killed and 690 were injured in Ukraine in May, the highest number of civilian casualties in a year.

More than half of the civilian casualties were in Kharkiv – even though the region encompasses a relatively small area compared to the whole country.

International security expert Oleksiy Melnyk, a former Ukrainian defense official and the co-director of foreign relations and international security programs at the Razumkov Center in Kyiv, told CNN that the re-occupation of previously liberated areas north of Kharkiv was a “tragic moment” for Ukraine.

But it also marked a major turning point.

“It triggered a change in the position of our Western partners, it encouraged them to, at least partially, remove the restrictions on the use of the Western weapons,” he said.

Fearing an escalation, the US and other Western allies had long prohibited Kyiv from using their weapons to strike inside Russia, restricting their use to Ukrainian areas under Russian occupation.

That has allowed Russia to use the border areas as safe staging grounds for offensives and missile attacks.

“(Russia) knew that Ukraine did not have the capacity to strike these targets on the Russian territory,” Melnyk said.

“If the decision (to provide aid) wasn’t made, if we lost American support and military assistance, that would have been a game changer.”

But the possibility of Russian re-occupation of parts of Kharkiv region convinced some of Ukraine’s key allies, including the US, to lift the restrictions. This allowed Kyiv to hit and destroy or severely damage key targets inside Russia.

According to Ukrainian defense authorities, these included a regiment command post in Belgorod region, an ammunition depot in Voronezh, a drone facility and an airfield in Krasnodar, communication centers in Bryansk and several naval sites in occupied Crimea.

The arrival of long-range ATACMS missile systems was a particular game-changer, Melnyk said. While Ukraine was previously able to strike targets inside Russia using Ukraine-made drones, ATACMS make these strikes far more efficient.

“Speed matters,” Melnyk explained. “With drone strikes, Russians have hours to react, because they can detect Ukrainian drones early. Russian pilots can have a coffee and a cigarette before jumping into the cockpit and taking off to take it down. With the ATACMS, it’s a matter of minutes,” he said.

Konrad Muzyka, an independent defense analyst and the director of Rochan Consulting who has recently returned from eastern Ukraine, said Russia is also no longer able to target Kharkiv region with S-300 and S-400 missile systems.

“Ukraine started conducting HIMARS strikes on targets in the Belgorod region and forced the Russians to push their S-300 system with which they were striking Kharkiv much further away, so now Kharkiv is beyond their range of Russian S-300 systems,” he said.

While Russia switched to aerial glide bombs – guided munitions with pop-up wings dropped by fighter jets from a distance of some 60-70 kilometers – out of range of Ukraine’s air defenses, the elimination of the S-300 threat has provided at least some relief to Kharkiv.

People gather following the collapse of a section of a multi-story apartment block in the city of Belgorod, Russia, on May 12, 2024. - Reuters
People gather following the collapse of a section of a multi-story apartment block in the city of Belgorod, Russia, on May 12, 2024. – Reuters

Weapons without men, men without strategy?

But while the new weapons are making some difference, Ukraine is long way off being able to push Russian forces off its territory.

Another officer with the 148th separate artillery brigade who goes by call sign Senator told CNN that there is still a lot more that Ukraine needs.

“It isn’t enough to turn the tide at the front. Enough to hold the enemy back, yes, but not enough to change the situation dramatically,” he said.

“The enemy is now exhausted but not destroyed,” he said, pointing to the fact that Russia still has complete air superiority over Ukraine.

Kyiv is now pinning its hopes on the deliveries of F-16 fighter jets which should start soon – the first Ukrainian pilots were set to complete their training in the US this summer.

But Muzyka said it is far from certain the jets will bring a massive change to Ukraine’s fortunes.

“The F-16s are combat aircraft from 1980s and 1990s and their capabilities are worse than the most modern Russian combat aircraft,” he said, adding that the newest Russian jets would likely prevail in an air battle with the F-16.

However, Ukraine can still use the F-16 to deny Russia control over the skies – and push away Russian aircraft delivering bombs.

Yet the new weapons are just part of the puzzle.

“If it had not been for the supplemental package, Ukrainians would be in a much worse situation right now, but at the same time, the current situation is not only the result of a lack of actions by the US Congress, it’s also the result of the decisions that were made and were not made in Kyiv, especially when it comes to mobilization,” Muzyka said.

“The decision to introduce a wider mobilization was probably as important, if not more important, and it came too late,” he said. The new mobilization law, which requires all men between 18 and 60 to register with Ukraine’s military, came into effect in May.

He said that while Ukraine has managed to recruit a significant number of men over the past month and half, it will take time for these new soldiers to be trained up and ready for the front lines.

“Ukrainians are going to be in a very difficult position until August, September, when the first mobilized guys start to enter the front line. If they can get to that point, then there is a big likelihood that they will manage to stabilize the situation from August onwards, but until this happens, more Russian gains are highly likely.”

Muzyka said that with the new weapons arriving and battalions and brigades getting a boost soon from the new recruits, Ukraine will need to decide on its next steps.

“It is unclear what the plans are. What is the strategy for counteroffensives? The problem is that Ukraine is waiting to see what equipment the West can supply them with, and the West is waiting to see what plans Ukraine have for the future,” he said.

Time is of the essence here. Experts estimate that the $60 billion US aid package approved earlier this year will last for – at best – a year or 18 months.

Ukraine’s allies made fresh pledges on arms this week while at a NATO summit in Washington, DC, President Volodymyr Zelensky called for all restrictions on their usage to be lifted.

Given the possibility of former US President Donald Trump winning a second term in November – he has little time to spare.

Maria Kostenko and Daria Tarasova-Markina contributed reporting.