Fear, Frustration, and Fatalism
A dispatch from Kyiv.
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VLADISLAV DAVIDZON provides a dispatch from Kyiv: Fear, Frustration, and Fatalism.
The Americans, Russians, British, Israelis, and Canadians have all partially or wholly withdrawn their embassy staffs or their families from Kyiv. The American embassy has been calling the American passport holders among my friends and colleagues here to advise them to leave. Around half of my colleagues from the Atlantic Council have relocated to Lviv near the Polish border. I will be among the journalists and writers who stay. The embassy has backup: Family, friends, and colleagues from around the world call and message and email, imploring us to get out.
Over the weekend, some of the political officers from the American embassy gathered at the Veterano Pizzeria, a popular pace run by a Ukrainian Army veteran, to compare notes about which of their colleagues will be moving to Lviv and which would be going home.
The Zelensky government has succeeded in getting the Americans to cease using the word “imminent” about the invasion—somehow, “at any time” has a softer, more diplomatic tone. The Ukrainian military and intelligence agencies continue to insist that nothing has changed, and that large-scale preparations for a total invasion or bombardment of Ukrainian cities can’t yet be seen.
Perhaps Republican senators think Trump is less dangerous than foreign despots because his authoritarian instincts can be managed. But in the interview, Stephanopoulos pointed out that despite Graham’s frequent appeals to the former president, Trump “doesn’t really show any signs of changing. He continues to lie about the 2020 election. A couple weeks ago, he talked about pardoning the January 6th rioters.”
None of this evidence dissuaded Graham from his sycophantic posture. “He’s the most dominant figure in the Republican Party,” Graham said of Trump, admiringly. “He has a chance to come back.”
In fact, Graham used the interview to threaten Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has refused to bend the knee to Trump’s lies about the election and January 6. “Any Republican leader in the House or the Senate has to have a working relationship with President Trump,” said Graham. “Mitch McConnell, if he runs, or anyone else, I think, would have to show a working relationship with the president.”
Essentially, that policy grants Trump absolute power over the GOP.
Sexual anarchy, trucker protests, rumors of war, and Trump’s feral ego. Will Saletan and Charlie Sykes hash it out on today's Bulwark podcast.
DALIBOR ROHAC writes: How I Got Stung by Viktor Orbán.
It turns out that I am far from the only or the most prominent person targeted by this sting operation. A fake recruitment process for a nonprofit management role lured a number of Hungary’s civil-society figures into conversations that were recorded, edited, and then “leaked” as somehow revelatory of an international plot against Hungary, supposedly organized by Soros, who gets mentioned frequently in such stories.
Also in 2020, Szabolcs Panyi, a well-known investigative journalist, was approached by a supposed Middle Eastern philanthropist seeking to establish a new NGO—but Panyi ignored the request. That was probably because he had already gone through the experience of being targeted by the government’s Pegasus surveillance software. I genuinely doubt that my work would warrant the $500k license fee for that software but maybe I should have my phone checked. And the “revelations” currently percolating through Hungary’s pro-government press (apparently, more individuals were targeted) is not the first of its kind. Ahead of the 2018 election, the Israeli intelligence company Black Cube was hired to similarly smear activists involved in helping asylum seekers in Hungary.
CHRIS TRUAX argues: Trump Really Could Be Prosecuted for Destroying Documents.
The usual problem with a prosecution like this would be proving that Trump had the necessary mens rea, in other words, that he knew that these were federal records and that he knew that it was illegal to tear them up. In most cases, you have to prove a defendant had the required criminal intent through circumstantial evidence. Not here. Trump was repeatedly warned that tearing up documents was illegal, both by White House counsel Don McGahn and by his first two chiefs of staff, Reince Priebus and John Kelly. So there is no question whatsoever that Trump knew his behavior violated the law. In fact, we have Donald Trump’s own word for it.
You’ll recall that Nancy Pelosi ripped up a copy of Donald Trump’s speech after his 2020 State of the Union address. Trump, mistakenly, thought the copy he handed Pelosi was a federal record and he didn’t take kindly to this, telling reporters during a press gaggle on February 7, 2020, “Well, I thought it was a terrible thing when she ripped up the speech. First of all, it’s an official document. You’re not allowed—it’s illegal what she did.” You will never, ever see better proof of criminal intent than that.
Nonetheless, the Department of Justice could still decline to prosecute. Prosecutors have prosecutorial discretion and are supposed to weigh the costs and benefits of a prosecution before proceeding—even if they think they have a case. For example, the Department of Justice has, apparently, decided not to prosecute Donald Trump for obstruction of justice based on the findings in the Mueller Report. This is probably because the DOJ believes that it would be difficult to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt and out of concern for the precedent that would be set by prosecuting a former president for activity in what might be a complex constitutional gray area.
Great game, bad outcome. I put Ohio pride and AFC allegiances down as my reason to cheer for the Bengals this weekend, but there was another reason: Stan Kroenke. When you marry into a Rams family in Saint Louis and Kroenke pulls a Modell, you have to show solidarity. #NeverRams. It was a good game! (Though I might re-think BBQing in 23 degree weather for hours at end in the future.)
The best ad… Was for a product I suspect I’ll never use, Facebook’s “Metaverse” VR equipment. Hits you right in all the nostalgia feels: old arcades with animatronic robots, dogs, and missing out on the good times with your friends from the past. Great music, tugs at the heart strings, and, well, that Howlin’ Harry pupper looked an awful lot like my newest dog, Rusty, sealed the deal. Best commercial of the night.
And this is why you don’t try to get nations to trade… Leave it to individuals.
Speaking of China… Josh Hawley’s insurrection mugs from the Mo. Lincoln Days gathering were apparently made there. Whoopsie!
Good for Nils van der Poel. The Swedish Olympian speaks out against China after winning Gold. And while we’re on the Olympics, while I think the Americans and Canadians playing hockey for Team China are making a huge mistake, there is something poetic about changing your citizenship after your country’s Olympic team allegedly mistreated you.
The return of Gumby. He’s here to stay…
The great school resignation. Here’s what one school in Oklahoma has to deal with.
Don’t run, Kevin. Testify.
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