Pablo Picasso The artist and his model 1926
• “One U.S. official said they do not believe the reports of the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich was poisoned during peace talks in Ukraine. ”
• “This Bellingcat/WSJ poisoning story has got to be one of the biggest disinformation fails of the entire Ukraine war. Within a few hours it was denied by the U.S., Russia, Ukraine and by the fact that Abramovich himself was fine attending the peace talks in Turkey.”
• “Two anonymous US officials trying to subvert ceasefire negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. One tells CNN they are worried EU countries will “press Ukraine to accept a peace deal to end the fighting.”
Ukraine no longer has an army. What few units are left are encircled and fully isolated from each other.
• Ukraine SitRep – Part II Of Russia’s Military Operation Unfolds (MoA)
Overview: The Russian military operation in Ukraine began with a rather small force of some 150.000+ men against a much larger (including reservist and territorial forces) Ukrainian force of some 400.000. The Russian force used maneuver warfare to fix the larger Ukrainian forces into place. It attacked on a large front and threatened major population concentrations, i.e. cities. The Russian operations started with the destruction of the Ukrainian command and control network. Over the last four weeks the Ukrainian navy, its airforce, its radars and air defenses and a huge number of its armored vehicles were destroyed. Throughout the last week fuel depots all over the Ukraine were attacked and destroyed over night. Ukraine’s large ammunition depots are gone.
Military production and repair facilities have likewise been destroyed. The Ukraine is no longer able to move large numbers of troops between the various fronts. Its army has lost its mobility. While this was ongoing threats to Kiev, Odessa and other large Ukrainian cities have held significant numbers of Ukrainian troops in place and prevented reinforcements to move to the east. There units from the Donetsk and Luhansk republics attacked the 60,000 strong main force of the Ukrainian army to keep it in place. This allowed Russian forces from Crimea and from the Russian border in the north to move into positions that will now enable them to envelope the east.
Details: 1/ The move east and west of Kiev was, as I have said for a while, a feint to fix mobile Ukrainian units around their capital city. The feint is no longer needed as the Ukrainian army has now lost its mobility. The Russian troops around Kiev and Chernigov will be mostly withdrawn probably up to Chernobyl where a part of them may take defensive positions while most of the units deployed around Kiev will be moved back to Belarus and Russia for new operations in eastern Ukraine.
2/ Fighting around Kharkiv is ongoing. Ukrainian counterattacks on that front have failed and the next phase of the war will see increased activities there.
3/ The move on the west side of the Dnjepr river towards the important industrial area of Kryvyi Rih and on to Dnipro has been relatively slow. The move on the eastern side of the Dnjepr towards Dnipro has been at the same speed. Note that the western and eastern parts of those fronts are at the same level. They are well coordinated. The next phase will probably see more movement on the eastern side of the river.
4/ There are still a few pockets of Azov fighters in Mariupol with the main units encircled in the vast Azovstal steelworks. They have little food and ammunition and the Chechen unites of the Russian army and national guard are working to dig them out. The Russian forces that encircled and stormed Mariupol are now freed up and will be moved to attack further north.
5/ Ukrainian forces at Mykolaiv have attempted counterattacks in the direction of Kherson. These have failed.
Prospects: The Russian command has decided to now concentrate on enveloping and destroying Ukraine’s main forces at the Donetsk front. These are the most heavy equipped and most experienced units of the Ukrainian army. Since last fall some 60,000 men had been assembled there for a full fledged war on Donetsk, an attack that the Russian operation successfully preempted. It will probably take a few days for the Russian forces to regroup and resupply for that next phase of the war. I expect it to start around the end of this week. The U.S. and Polish military are helping to smuggle small arms stuff through the western Ukrainian boarder. These are anti-tank missiles, old short range anti-air missiles as well as machine guns, mortars and ammunition.
This is equipment for a guerilla war against an occupation force. But except for the east and maybe some parts in the south the Russian forces do not plan to occupy anything. Those regions are steppe, very flat with little woods, where one can see an approaching enemy from miles away. It will be extremely difficult for a guerilla force to survive there. That is likely the reason why the Russian forces have done little to interrupt the arms smuggling into western Ukraine. (Those smuggled weapons will for years haunt the ‘western’ Europeans as they are certain to proliferate to right-wing extremist groups all over the continent.)
Voice of reason.
• Col Douglas Macgregor’s Updated Opinion on Ukraine-Russia Conflict (CTH)
Col Douglas Macgregor appears for an interview with Dave Smith on his “Part Of The Problem” podcast. Col Macgregor gives his status update on the Ukraine and Russian military along with some excellent background information on the U.S. cultural issues which are driving the U.S. position. Additionally, Macgregor overlays the economic battle both domestically and geopolitically with the currency war and talks about economic repercussions for the U.S., NATO countries, Ukraine and Russia. As noted by Macgregor when the Biden administration turned favorably toward Iran the Saudis immediately realized it was in their best interest to withdraw strategic support for the U.S. It’s a good interview that goes into much more depth than the average media appearance, and permits discussion of multiple facets of the conflict in/around Ukraine. The video is prompted to begin at 17:34 when the Ukraine discussion begins.
Ukraine history started on Feb 24. That is convenient for the West.
• Russia, Ukraine & the Law of War: Crime of Aggression (Ritter)
Concerns that any attempt to carve a doctrine of pre-emption out of the four corners of international law defined by Article 51 of the U.N. Charter would result in the creation of new rules of international engagement, and that that would result in the breakdown of international order were realized on Feb. 24. That is when Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing Article 51 as his authority, ordered what he called a “special military operation” against Ukraine for the ostensible purpose of eliminating neo-Nazi affiliated military formations accused of carrying out acts of genocide against the Russian-speaking population of the Donbass, and for dismantling a Ukrainian military Russia believed served as a de facto proxy of the NATO military alliance.
Putin laid out a detailed case for pre-emption, detailing the threat that NATO’s eastward expansion posed to Russia, as well as Ukraine’s ongoing military operations against the Russian-speaking people of the Donbass. “[T]he showdown between Russia and these forces,” Putin said, “cannot be avoided. It is only a matter of time. They are getting ready and waiting for the right moment. Moreover, they went as far as aspire to acquire nuclear weapons. We will not let this happen.” NATO and Ukraine, Putin declared, “did not leave us [Russia] any other option for defending Russia and our people, other than the one we are forced to use today. In these circumstances, we have to take bold and immediate action. The people’s republics of Donbass have asked Russia for help. In this context, in accordance with Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, with permission of Russia’s Federation Council, and in execution of the treaties of friendship and mutual assistance with the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic, ratified by the Federal Assembly on February 22, I made a decision to carry out a special military operation.”
Putin’s case for invading Ukraine has, not surprisingly, been widely rejected in the West. “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Amnesty International declared, “is a manifest violation of the United Nations Charter and an act of aggression that is a crime under international law. Russia is in clear breach of its international obligations. Its actions are blatantly against the rules and principles on which the United Nations was founded.”
“When initially asked Monday about this “training the Ukrainian troops” remark, Biden offered the dubious explanation that he was actually referencing he himself “being with and talking with the Ukrainian troops who are in Poland.”
• US Top Commander In Europe Forced To Rebut Latest Biden Remarks (ZH)
In yet another awkward contradiction out of this US administration concerning Ukraine, which at this point seems to come almost daily, the head of US European Command was forced to issue a contrary explanation after Biden on Monday said multiple times that US forces are “helping train” Ukrainian troops in Poland. This triggered a rebuttal of the US Commander-in-Chief from Gen. Tod Wolters, who also serves as NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe. On Tuesday Gen. Wolters denied that the US is currently training Ukraine forces in Poland. “I do not believe that we are in the process of currently training military forces from Ukraine in Poland,” the top general told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. He said further according to The Hill when pressed on Biden’s series of statements, which the White House had later sought to downplay as gaffes and merely lacking in nuance:
“There are liaisons that are there that are being given advice,” Wolters told Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), without elaborating further. “And that’s different than [what] I think you’re referring to with respect training.” But again, as we detailed earlier, Biden had actually asserted that American forces were training Ukrainians in Poland multiple times, strongly suggesting this was anything but “confusion” or a mere gaffe on the president’s part… National security adviser Jake Sullivan previously stated that the US currently has 10,500 troops in Poland, some of which the president visited over the weekend. Across Europe, Washington has bolstered its presence to the tune of 100,000 total troops. The U.S. has 10,500 troops in Poland as part of the 100,000 total that it has stationed across Europe, told reporters.
When initially asked Monday about this “training the Ukrainian troops” remark, Biden offered the dubious explanation that he was actually referencing he himself “being with and talking with the Ukrainian troops who are in Poland.” But it remains that not only his own advisers have had to offer repeat corrections, but now even the US head of European Command in Senate testimony. This goes beyond an awkward situation, but even into the realm of dangerous, given many of these walked-back remarks serve as a huge provocation to Russia (especially Saturday’s regime change statement fiasco from Warsaw).
Cut off date is tomorrow.
“Since the imposing parties of said sanctions include the recipients of the gas this is legally and functionally the same as agreeing to pay $50,000 for a car and then getting in it and driving away after putting a stop payment order on the check.”
• You Will Pay In Rubles! No? (Denninger)
“BERLIN — The Group of Seven major economies have agreed to reject Moscow’s demand to pay for Russian natural gas exports in rubles, the German energy minister said Monday. Robert Habeck told reporters that “all G-7 ministers agreed completely that this (would be) a one-sided and clear breach of the existing contracts.” He said officials from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada met Friday to coordinate their position and that European Union representatives also were present.” So what? It was also a breach of “contract” to seize property and money of both Russia and private citizens who happen to be Russian, the latter in particular being done without evidence presented that a crime has been committed for which such a forfeit is reasonably tied to the alleged crime.
I get it that nation states often thing of contracts and private property rights as “quaint”, say much less a basic right to life. After all war, by its nature, vitiates all such claimed pleasantries. The very nature of war means that once you take sides expecting anyone on the other side to do anything for you is rather foolish. This is the price that is exacted when you extend the concept of “trade blunting the will to use bullets” into not just voluntary associations but essential goods and services where you have no reasonable substitutes available. Of course the G7 nations can refuse to pay for their gas in Rubles and argue that such a demand is a unilateral breach of the agreements made with Russia.
However, the sanctions are a unilateral and prior breach of the same agreements by the G7, since the G7 agreed to pay for said gas, and with the sanctions in place the payment cannot be made. Since the imposing parties of said sanctions include the recipients of the gas this is legally and functionally the same as agreeing to pay $50,000 for a car and then getting in it and driving away after putting a stop payment order on the check. In the common vernacular that’s fraud. Nobody is going to let you get away with that if they can help it and, if you manage to get away with it once the second time you won’t get the car until you prove you can deliver to the other party good funds for both the new and the previous vehicle you stole by conversion.
Thus while Germany and other nations can refuse to pay in Rubles it is equally true that by breaching the covenant implied in all commercial transactions to deliver good funds in exchange for the good or service, which the G7 has done, the contract has been vitiated by the G7 and, in point of fact, Russia has delivered natural gas without being paid for the last month. There’s no reason for them to continue to do that and thus it is entirely reasonable for them to shut the pipelines down until the sanctions are lifted and every single Dollar or Euro due for the previously-delivered volume is safely in Russia and available for use. Just because Putin is a bastard doesn’t mean that, on this matter, he is not correct.
• Why Saudi Arabia Won’t Abandon Dollars for Yuan (Lacalle)
There are numerous articles mentioning that Saudi Arabia may use the yuan, China’s domestic currency, for its oil exports. How much does Saudi Arabia export to China? According to the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, the kingdom’s main exports are to China ($45.8B), India ($25.1B), Japan ($24.5B), South Korea ($19.5B), and the United States ($12.2B). Exports of crude oil reached $145 billion in total. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter at $145 billion, and China the largest buyer at $204 billion, with 2019 figures. Saudi Arabia’s public accounts are exemplary. From a 4.8 percent deficit, the kingdom expects a surplus in 2022, and its ratio of public debt to GDP (gross domestic product) is 30.8 percent, one of the lowest in the world.
Does Saudi Arabia need to use the yuan at all? No. Its foreign currency reserves including gold stood at $472.8 billion in 2020 despite the pandemic-led slump in exports and oil demand. Is it under any pressure to change currency? Even less so. Its reserves comfortably cover its external debt, giving it an enviable level of stability compared to other OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) nations that have large trade and fiscal deficits. What would Saudi Arabia gain from using the yuan? Not higher exports to China. China needs its oil imports more than Saudi Arabia needs China’s domestic currency. There is no real evidence that exports to China would fall if Saudi Arabia continued to use the US dollar.
Yuan utilization in global transactions is very limited. Considering figures compiled by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, Bloomberg noted that “activity in the renminbi, as the currency is also called, rose to its second-highest level ever in 2021.” However, that means a stubbornly modest 2.7 percent of the market versus the 41 percent of the dollar, which has held the top slot for decades. The euro is used in 36.6 percent of global transactions, the British pound in 5.9 percent—more than double the use of the yuan despite the United Kingdom’s being a much smaller economy—and the Japanese yen is used as much as the yuan at 2.6 percent.
More importantly, despite the large increase in importance of the Chinese economy globally, the yuan’s importance as a currency has barely improved from its high in 2015, when it reached the fourth spot. Why is the yuan only used in 2.7 percent of global transactions despite being 14 percent of the world’s GDP, and what happened in 2015? The yuan is the only currency issued by a global economic leader that has capital controls and fixed pricing. As such, any holder of the Chinese currency faces the constant threat of an abrupt devaluation and the inability to use the currency freely in payments. And that is exactly what happened in 2015. The Chinese central bank announced an aggressive devaluation.
Iran. Saudi and Israel vs US.
• America Is Dismantling The Pillars Of Its Own Empire – Saudi Editor (JPost)
The Saudi-US relationship is in the throes of a crisis. As a Saudi who went to college in the US, loves America and wants to see it strong, I am increasingly disturbed by the unreality of the American discussion about the subject, which often fails to acknowledge just how deep and serious the rift has grown. A more realistic discussion should focus on one word: “Divorce.” When President Barack Obama negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran, we Saudis understood him to be seeking the breakup of a 70-year marriage. How could we not? After all, the flaws in the deal are well known. It paves a path for Iran to a nuclear bomb. It fills the war chest of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has spread militias across the Arab world armed with precision-guided munitions to maim and kill people who formerly looked to America to help guarantee their safety.
This past weekend, Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined a conference in the Negev, hosted by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and attended by a number of Arab foreign ministers. Blinken used this occasion to paper over the rift that the nuclear deal has created by presenting an image of regional solidarity, but the region is not deceived. Sold disingenuously to the American public as an arms control agreement, the deal is an assault on the regional order that the United States established in the aftermath of World War II. Explicitly hostile to Saudi Arabia, to say nothing of America’s other greatest ally in the region, Israel, the deal replaces the former American-led regional security structure with a concert system in which Iran, backed by Russia and China, becomes America’s new subcontractor while America’s former allies—the Gulf States and Israel— are demoted to second-tier status.
Most importantly, to its authors, the deal takes the United States out of the business of containing Iran, which in response has further ramped up its attacks on regional peace and stability. Last Friday, as Blinken prepared for his trip to David Ben Gurion’s old kibbutz of Sde Boker, the Iranian-backed Houthi militia launched a rocket attack against Aramco in Jeddah. This attack was only the latest in a long series of brazen attacks that Iran has conducted, either directly from its own soil or indirectly through proxies. During the Obama and Biden administrations, Iran’s aggressions have been met with American calls for “de-escalation” and frequent blaming of the Kingdom for a conflict we did not seek with terrorists on our borders backed by Iran — a foreign power which the Biden administration is promising to enrich with hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief. Russia will also get a cut, which will no doubt go towards funding its war in Ukraine.
If the Jan 6 committee can claim insurrection, so can Justin.
• Ontario Cop Charged For Posting Video Praising Truckers (TC)
A Durham police officer who posted a video of herself speaking in support of the Freedom Convoy as it headed towards Ottawa is now facing charges under Ontario’s Police Services Act. Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) had originally announced they were investigating Constable Erin Howard in January after she posted the 1-minute video to a now-deactivated Twitter account. DRPS spokesperson Chris Bovie confirmed to True North on Tuesday that Howard is now charged under the Police Services Act with two counts each of discreditable conduct, insubordination and breach of confidence. Howard appeared in full uniform in the video on Jan. 24, the same day the Freedom Convoy’s western fleet headed through Alberta. In it, she called the truckers “true heroes” and said she would be in Ottawa to speak when they arrived.
“I’m just – I really wanted to give a shout-out to all the truckers. I think what you guys are doing is incredible. You’re fighting for rights and freedoms. And right now, it feels like we’re a little bit at war, and those rights and freedoms are at stake. So, you guys are honestly true heroes. What you’re doing is just incredible. I will be in Ottawa when you guys roll in. I’m going to be speaking on behalf of Police on Guard. And we are thrilled – thrilled and honoured – to be able to be there. I can’t wait to meet you guys. Hope to talk to a lot of you in person. Anyway, just wanted to give you guys a shout-out and some support, and keep rolling, and we’ll see you in Ottawa.”
Let’s hope for transparency.
• Miranda Devine: ‘Dam Is About To Burst’ On Hunter Biden Scandal (Fox)
Fox News contributor Miranda Devine reacted on “Outnumbered” Tuesday to the federal tax probe into Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings gaining momentum as some media outlets begin to acknowledge the “bombshell” controversy surrounding his infamous laptop. MIRANDA DEVINE: That’s just another extraordinary mistruth from President Biden there. He did that throughout the campaign. He pretended that he knew nothing about his son Hunter’s overseas business dealings. There’s plenty of evidence on the laptop and Tony Bobulinski’s material and the material that Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson collected for their Senate investigation and are currently presenting to Congress — and I think they’re going to be doing that on a regular basis, to show links between Hunter Biden and Communist China.
There’s also evidence that Joe Biden financially benefited from Hunter Biden’s grift and his brother, Jim Biden’s grift, with these countries which are crucial to America’s national security interest. The lack of curiosity from most of the media is repellent and really corrupt. But I think the dam is about to burst. We have Hunter Biden looking at indictments coming out of that a grand jury in Delaware. You see The New York Times and The Washington Post are now sniffing around. They’ve admitted the laptop is real, and they have realized this is a bombshell story.
“I take special pride in personally swinging the election away from Trump..”
• CIA Officer Who Signed Hunter Laptop Letter Claims Credit for Trump Loss (ET)
One of the former CIA officers who signed a letter claiming stories about a laptop allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden were disinformation says he helped swing the 2020 election from former President Donald Trump. “I take special pride in personally swinging the election away from Trump,” John Sipher, who served for decades as a senior operations officer at the CIA, wrote in a recent post on Twitter. “I lost the election for Trump? Well then I fell [sic] pretty good about my influence,” he also wrote. Sipher and 50 other former U.S. intelligence officials signed the letter on Oct. 19, 2020, alleging that the effort to distribute its contents “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation,” despite not knowing whether the laptop was legitimate.
The letter was the core of a story from Politico that claimed the New York Post story on the laptop was “Russian disinformation.” The Post was the first to report on emails on the laptop, which was dropped off at a computer repair store and never picked up by then-candidate Joe Biden’s son, according to the store’s owner. While the FBI picked up the computer and a hard drive from the owner, the bureau’s apparent inaction in probing the matter prompted him to pass on a copy of the hard drive to a lawyer representing former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who in turn passed it on to the Post.
The Oct. 14, 2020, story about the emails came as some voters were still deciding whether to vote for Biden or Trump. The story was widely questioned by legacy news outlets, suppressed by social media platforms, and claimed to be part of a Russian effort, despite top officials like Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe saying there was no evidence that was the case. Sipher is one of the few former officials who signed the letter to respond to fresh questions about its contents, after more legacy outlets, including Politico, said they’ve confirmed it is legitimate. Sipher got into arguments with former acting DNI Richard Grenell and others on Twitter, where he later said his claims of helping Trump lose were sarcasm.
The pot and the kettle. Difference is, the US does it in third countries.
• Obama, Hunter Biden Ties To Ukraine Biolabs Get Fresh Scrutiny (JTN)
In August 2005, the U.S. entered into a little known agreement with Ukraine that included America aid to upgrade security at Ukrainian facilities in which microbes were kept. Now, almost 17 years later, questions about the deal – and the United States’ broader support for biodefense laboratories in Ukraine – have surfaced amid concerns about chemical or biological weapons being used in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Russian government has been claiming for weeks that the U.S. government is funding bioweapon labs in Ukraine, justifying its invasion as an effort to stop a joint American-Ukrainian plan to wage biological warfare against Russia. Chinese officials and state media have echoed the claims, which Andrew Weber, senior fellow at the Council on Strategic Risks, calls “utter nonsense.”
“It’s KGB-style misinformation that’s been going on for about 15 years,” he said Monday. One concern among analysts and U.S. officials is that Russia could be laying the groundwork for using chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine and giving itself plausible deniability by blaming Ukrainian labs. Experts and U.S. officials agree with Weber that Moscow’s accusations are unfounded, roundly dismissing them as propaganda. “Russia is inventing false pretexts in an attempt to justify its own horrific actions in Ukraine,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said earlier this month. Others have pointed out that no evidence exists to show Ukraine is working to produce weapons of mass destruction. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines testified earlier this month that “we do not assess that Ukraine is pursuing either biological weapons or nuclear weapons.”
United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu similarly said the international group is “not aware” of any biological weapons program in Ukraine. The U.S. and Ukraine are members of the Biological Weapons Convention, which prohibits such weapons. And the U.S. government has said both countries are in full compliance. Russia, however, is not in compliance and “maintains an offensive biological weapons program,” according to the State Department. Weber told Just the News the Russian government has three top-secret military laboratories conducting work on biological weapons that have never been visited or observed by outside inspectors.
But you can’t talk about it.
• Biden Got 255,000 ‘Excess’ Votes In Fraud-tainted Swing States In 2020 (WT)
President Biden received hundreds of thousands of “excess” votes in Democratic-controlled areas in the 2020 election, according to an academic study on voter fraud that suggests the push to relax voting standards created new opportunities for electoral mischief. John R. Lott Jr., the man behind the research, teased out those numbers by comparing Democratic-dominant areas to Republican-dominant places over the past two presidential elections, particularly in places where claims of election fraud were reported in 2020. Looking at six swing states, the data he crunched found that voter turnout in Republican areas increased from 2016 to 2020 while voter turnout among Democrats dropped — except in places where voter fraud was claimed.
That accounted for 255,000 “excess” votes for Mr. Biden above what would be expected, Mr. Lott said. His paper has been accepted for publication in Public Choice, a peer-reviewed journal specializing in the intersection of economics and political science. “More heavily Democratic counties actually had a slightly lower turnout in 2020, except for counties where vote fraud was alleged. In those counties, you had a huge increase in turnout,” Mr. Lott told The Washington Times in an interview explaining his findings. “In some of those swing states, you had counties where vote fraud was alleged. In some of those swing states, you had counties where vote fraud wasn’t alleged. And yet you only had huge increases in turnout where vote fraud was alleged,” he said.
Taking another tack, Mr. Lott looked at specific voting precincts that touched each other but where one was inside a Republican-dominant county and the other inside a Democratic-leaning county where there were fraud accusations. He found that in-person voting for the neighboring precincts was about the same, but absentee or mailed balloting tilted toward Democrats in the Democratic precincts. Mr. Lott said there is no clear reason why absentee turnout alone should increase in just the Democratic jurisdiction, which suggests shenanigans were afoot. “You’re comparing two tiny areas that are very homogenous, very similar to each other, across the street from each other, and the thing that differs from these two, for the absentee ballots, is where the ballots were counted,” the researcher said.
“I told you I would not tell the Justice Department what position to take or not take, and I’m not going to instruct the Congress, either..”
• Democrats Push Garland To Come Down On Uncooperative Trump Allies (Axios)
Democratic lawmakers are openly pressuring Attorney General Merrick Garland to bring the weight of U.S. law enforcement against members of former President Trump’s inner circle they’ve deemed uncooperative with the House’s investigation of the Jan. 6 attack. The House select committee is seeking to compel or punish Trump loyalists who don’t comply with the investigation, while Republicans are preparing to win back control of Congress in November — and end the probe. The pressure campaign is putting President Biden on a collision course with his own party. Distinguishing himself from Trump, who Democrats lambasted for pressuring Justice Department officials during his White House years, Biden has pledged to ensure Garland operates independently of politics. “I told you I would not tell the Justice Department what position to take or not take, and I’m not going to instruct the Congress, either,” he told reporters on Monday.
During a meeting Monday night at which the select committee recommended House contempt votes against former Trump aides Dan Scavino and Peter Navarro, Reps. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) all called on Garland to act. Luria said the Justice Department “must act swiftly,” adding: “Attorney General Garland, do your job so that we can do ours.” On Tuesday Schiff told reporters it’s important for the Justice Department to act quickly and decisively to enforce the committee’s prerogatives because “we’re trying to prevent another Jan. 6. … We feel a sense of urgency and we hope the department does also.” Schiff said the cases against Navarro and Scavino are “pretty clear cut,” so “it shouldn’t be that difficult for the department to act.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the select committee, was asked Tuesday about committee members’ frustrations with the Justice Department’s pace. He replied: “I’m in agreement with my members.”
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