[guest post by Dana]
First news item
Former President Donald Trump acknowledged on tape in a 2021 meeting that he had retained “secret” military information that he had not declassified, according to a transcript of the audio recording obtained by CNN.
“As president, I could have declassified, but now I can’t,” Trump says, according to the transcript.
CNN obtained the transcript of a portion of the meeting where Trump is discussing a classified Pentagon document about attacking Iran. In the audio recording, which CNN previously reported was obtained by prosecutors, Trump says that he did not declassify the document he’s referencing, according to the transcript…The transcript of the audio recording suggests that Trump is showing the document he’s discussing to those in the room. Several sources have told CNN the recording captures the sound of paper rustling, as if Trump was waving the document around, though is not clear if it was the actual Iran document.
“Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this,” Trump says at one point, according to the transcript. “This was done by the military and given to me.”
Trump was complaining in the meeting about Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. The meeting occurred shortly after The New Yorker published a story by Susan Glasser detailing how, in the final days of Trump’s presidency, Milley instructed the Joint Chiefs to ensure Trump issued no illegal orders and that he be informed if there was any concern.
“Well, with Milley – uh, let me see that, I’ll show you an example. He said that I wanted to attack Iran. Isn’t that amazing? I have a big pile of papers, this thing just came up. Look. This was him,” Trump says, according to the transcript. “They presented me this – this is off the record, but – they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him. We looked at some. This was him. This wasn’t done by me, this was him.”
“All sorts of stuff – pages long, look. Wait a minute, let’s see here. I just found, isn’t that amazing? This totally wins my case, you know. Except it is like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this.”
“Secret” and “confidential” are two levels of classification for sensitive government documents.
Second news item
Trusty and Rowley also said they will no longer represent Trump in a pending federal criminal probe into his efforts to overturn his loss in the 2020 election to President Joe Biden.
They say it’s because of the move to Miami but this was not planned as of yesterday. pic.twitter.com/Fe7PKGnPBj
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) June 9, 2023
Third news item
“Like all Americans, Mr. Trump is entitled to the presumption of innocence. The government has the burden of proving its charges beyond a reasonable doubt and securing a unanimous verdict by a South Florida jury.
“By all appearances, the Justice Department and special counsel have exercised due care, affording Mr. Trump the time and opportunity to avoid charges that would not generally have been afforded to others.
“Mr. Trump brought these charges upon himself by not only taking classified documents, but by refusing to simply return them when given numerous opportunities to do so.
“These allegations are serious and if proven, would be consistent with his other actions offensive to the national interest, such as withholding defensive weapons from Ukraine for political reasons and failing to defend the Capitol from violent attack and insurrection.”
Fourth news item
Today, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced a new security assistance package, underscoring the unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine. This package, which totals up to $2.1 billion and includes critical air defense and ammunition capabilities, is being provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI)…
The capabilities in this announcement include:
Additional munitions for Patriot air defense systems;
HAWK air defense systems and missiles;
105mm and 203mm artillery rounds;
Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems;
Laser-guided rocket system munitions;
Support for training, maintenance, and sustainment activities.
Fifth news item
Winter was hell. Now a new hell has begun.
You know how psychologically, if you are hit once, it hurts. The second time you get hit, it doesn’t hurt as much. And the third time, when you are hit like that, it seems to be the norm.
But then a new constellation of events forms: your friends and relatives are fighting at the front line, and you begin to lose them. A close friend died before the New Year. It was a time of crazy grief for me. A new emotional phase begins, when you can’t understand why. You saw death in the beginning, but now it touches you directly.
Before, just a few rockets came down during air raids. Now, the Russians have developed their tactics to intimidate civilians. We face near-nightly barrages around Kyiv. As soon as the attacks start, all the car alarms go off. We wake up to horrible explosions. You watch the huge red balls flying, and you don’t know where they’re headed. On one night last month,¹ for example, the Russians launched six Kinzhal missiles, nine Kalibr-type cruise missiles, three anti-aircraft ballistic missiles, six Iranian suicide Shahed drones and three Orlan-type reconnaissance UAVs. During a recent attack, my balcony doors were blown out by the shock wave.
When the raids start, we all run to the basements. Sleepy children are picked up by their mothers and carried. We sit there for three or four hours. By then, it’s morning. You come back to the house, have a coffee, take a shower, and go to work. The first time, you can do it. By the third day, you don’t have the strength anymore.
Everybody talks about stress, all the time. It’s a pain we share. We had more or less already adapted to the lack of electricity and such things. We took precautions; we bought generators and some other equipment. We warmed up in each others’ apartments so there was as little space as possible to heat. But now that a more psychological phase of the war has begun, we hardly sleep at night, and we still have to go to work during the day. In these conditions, you come to an emotional dead end. You don’t understand what to do next.
Everyone tries to think about something else. At work, I look at my colleagues, and we have no energy at all. The management suggested that we should all take five days off to go to the mountains somewhere—maybe the Carpathians or Poland, where we won’t hear the explosions every night. We can’t go for a break in the woods closer to home, because they have all been laid with mines.
For many, our nervous system is at its limit. I take sedatives both for sleep problems and psychological problems. The most horrifying thing, it turns out: you can’t live without a future. You live and you don’t know what awaits you. You don’t know how to organize your daily routines, or how to plan anything. You have no future, and this makes life eerie and terrifying.
Sixth news item
The PGA Tour’s planned merger with Saudi-backed LIV Golf has sparked a surprise bout of bipartisan harmony on Capitol Hill: Conservatives and liberals are uniting to thrash the deal.
Some lawmakers are calling for congressional investigations. Others are looking to the Justice Department and other federal regulators to first explore the case for blocking the move on antitrust grounds. Only after regulators act, they say, is there likely to be appetite for Congress to enter the picture — even as a majority of its members are openly wary of the deal.
Scores of members of Congress have criticized the golf mega-merger, warning that it would help consolidate the Saudi government’s U.S. influence despite deep bipartisan concerns about its human rights record.
Many are also calling PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan a hypocrite, noting that he said one year ago, “I think you’d have to be living under a rock to not know there are significant implications” to players aligning themselves with Saudi Arabia.
Seventh news item
Texas is set to deploy a buoy barrier in the Rio Grande as part of plans to deter migrant crossings, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday.
He shared the news after he signed six bills related to border security. Funding will come from $5.1 billion approved by the state legislature to secure the border.
“What we’re doing right now, we’re securing the border at the border,” Abbott said. “What these buoys will allow us to do is to prevent people from even getting to the border.”
The first 1,000 feet of buoys will be deployed at Eagle Pass, which Steve McCraw, director of the state’s Department of Public Safety, called “the center of gravity for smuggling.” The first deployment will cost under $1 million and will begin “pretty much immediately.” Officials did not share a more specific number for the cost of the barrier.
Officials hope the buoys will act as a deterrent to prevent migrants from entering the water. While there are ways to overcome the buoys, which can range in size, it will take a lot of effort and specialized skills.
Eighth news item
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) June 8, 2023
Today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America.
It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades.
I, and every American who believes in the rule of law, stand with President Trump…
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) June 9, 2023
President Trump is indicted on the day we unveiled significant findings related to Joe Biden’s corruption.
Makes you wonder.
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) June 9, 2023
Let’s be clear about what’s happening: Joe Biden is weaponizing his Department of Justice against his own political rival.
This sham indictment is the continuation of the endless political persecution of Donald Trump.
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) June 9, 2023
For comparison, go back and read Mitt Romney’s response (#3).
Ninth news item
The federal indictment against Donald Trump has just been unsealed. You can read it in full here.
The 44-page indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleges that Trump “endeavored to obstruct the FBI and grand jury investigations and conceal retention of classified documents.” The indictment names Walt Nauta, an aide to Trump who served as a White House valet, as a co-conspirator.
The indictment lists 37 counts in all against Trump:
31 counts of willful retention of classified documents
1 count of conspiracy to obstruct justice
1 count of withholding a document or record
1 count of corruptly concealing a document or record
1 count of concealing a document in a federal investigation
1 count of scheme to conceal and one count of making false statements and representations.
At least four of the charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Have a good weekend.