[guest post by Dana]
The disarray of the Republican Party (see: House Republicans) was on full display this week. It’s a full Weekend Open Thread by itself! But there are certainly other important things going on than a constipated political party’s elected officials in action, so let’s go!
First news item
Special Counsel pushes back on Judge Cannon in Mar a Lago case:
Special counsel Jack Smith is asking Judge Aileen Cannon to reconsider a ruling that would allow former President Trump’s legal team to publicly disclose witness identities and their testimony to the court docket.… Trump’s team has sought to attach evidence given to them during the discovery process in other court filings set to be publicly posted in connection with the Mar-a-Lago documents case… The Justice Department argued late Thursday that Cannon erred in her legal rationale for allowing them to do so.
“That discovery material, if publicly docketed in unredacted form as the Court has ordered, would disclose the identities of numerous potential witnesses, along with the substance of the statements they made to the FBI or the grand jury, exposing them to significant and immediate risks of threats, intimidation, and harassment,” prosecutors wrote in the 22-page filing.
Second news item
The most useful idiot:
For instance, he allowed Putin to claim that the 2014 Maidan protests, in which Ukrainians took to the streets to demand freedom from Russian control, were a CIA plot. There’s no evidence of this.
He also allowed Putin to claim, unchallenged, that Russia sought peace with Ukraine before launching the 2022 invasion. There’s no evidence of this, with Russia illegally seizing swaths of Ukraine in 2014 and stoking conflict in the east of the country.
Putin was also able to claim, unchallenged, that the invasion was a bid to “de-Nazify” the country and not the campaign of revanchist conquest it is in reality.
Putin was given a two-hour platform to further undermine Republican support for Ukraine and offer an alternative version of history in which the US and NATO were the true aggressors.
European lawmakers are considering slapping Kremlin propagandist Tucker Carlson with sanctions, including a travel ban, after Carlson conducted an "interview" with Vladimir Putin.
Uy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian Prime Minister and current member of the European Parliament,… pic.twitter.com/slGhd2UCTp
— Republicans against Trump (@RpsAgainstTrump) February 7, 2024
Third news item
The special counsel exonerated President Biden in classified documents matter, in part because President Biden is viewed as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” President Biden was not amused. And the White House was determined to do damage control, and scheduled a press conference last night. press conference last night:
Once there, he praised the special counsel for deciding not to charge him and nearly came to tears while chiding him for including the anecdote about Biden’s memory of his son’s death.
“How in the hell dare he raise that?” asked Biden through gritted teeth. “I don’t need anyone to remind me when he passed away.”
He snapped at Fox News’ Peter Doocy, offering a half-constructed crack about how “my memory is so bad I let you [Doocy] speak.”
He lashed out at another reporter who observed that “the American people have been watching and they have expressed concerns about your age.”
“That is your judgment! That is your judgment! That is not the judgment of the press!” he shouted, seemingly forgetting that he was engaging with a member of the press.
The RNC Research group described President Biden as “angry and incoherent” during the presser. I watched this several times and am still waiting for an angry and incoherent Biden:
After a special counsel found Biden "willfully retained and disclosed classified materials" and called him an "elderly man with a poor memory," Biden held a brief — but angry and incoherent — press conference.
It did not go well, so we're sharing it in its entirety: pic.twitter.com/ncstumQj13
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) February 9, 2024
Yea, President Biden did mix up Mexico and Egypt… and has confused other leaders in recent appearances.
Fourth news item
Conflict on how to proceed abounds:
Chants of “Now! Now! Now!” ring out at nearly every protest in Israel imploring the government to do everything possible to win the immediate release of dozens of hostages held by Hamas.
But a small group of hostages’ families is pushing a different message: Let the army first finish the job of defeating the militant group, even if that delays the return of their loved ones.
These families argue that the price to be paid in any hostage deal — the release of large numbers of Palestinian militants held by Israel — would endanger the country in the future.
During a meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday, the American diplomat was shown photos of a giant tunnel that was exposed in recent days underneath the central headquarters of UNRWA in the Gaza Strip. The meeting was attended by senior officials from both sides.
The Israeli leader showed Blinken proof of the misuse of the UNRWA headquarters’ underground premises for apparent terrorist tunneling purposes.
Two questions: Why would anyone trust a Hamas hostage deal, and why is no one in the West marching and protesting Hamas?
Fifth news item
Belgium, because they hold the “biggest chunk of Russia’s frozen assets”.
Belgium’s government is shopping around an avant-garde solution to Ukraine’s money problems, now that further direct aid to the country seems all but dead in the U.S. Congress.
In broad strokes, the plan would entail Ukraine raising new debt from private-sector lenders, using Russian central bank assets (frozen by Western sanctions) as collateral, as the FT first reported.
Sixth news item
Former President Donald Trump and his allies are pushing to replace the chair of the Republican National Committee with North Carolina’s party leader who promoted 2020 presidential election lies and supported using the courts to overturn the results.
Michael Whatley, the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, shared false claims that Republican observers were prevented from accessing polling locations and repeatedly said Democratic cities in swing states were engaged in “massive fraud,” a CNN KFile review of Whatley’s comments following the election found.
Still no question about who’s s running the table over there…
Have a great weekend.