Jan. 6 committee says Trump violated multiple laws in effort to overturn election

The Jan. 6 select committee says its evidence has shown that then-President Donald Trump and his campaign tried to illegally obstruct Congress’ counting of electoral votes and “engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.” In a major release of its findings, filed in federal court late Wednesday, the committee suggested that its evidence supported findings that Trump himself violated multiple laws by attempting to prevent Congress from certifying his defeat. “The Select Committee also has a good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his…

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Jan. 6 probe points lawmakers more and more toward GOP colleagues

There’s only a few weeks left until the lawmakers investigating the Capitol attack intend to hold their first public hearing — and they’re redoubling their focus on how their own GOP colleagues may have helped Donald Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election. Recent court filings, subpoenas and conversations with members of the Jan. 6 select committee show they’re homing in on interactions that Republican members had with Trump and his allies in the weeks preceding the riot. One critical pressure point is the committee’s search for communications between members…

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‘The tip of this mob’s spear’: Prosecutors begin first Jan. 6 trial

When Guy Reffitt, a Texas militia member charged with storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, advanced on Congress, prosecutors say, he did it with specific targets in mind: Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. A Justice Department lawyer laid out the case against Reffitt in opening remarks Wednesday at Reffitt’s criminal trial, the first to emerge from the Jan. 6 attack — with the government describing the mob assault on Congress in stark, foreboding terms. “The heart of democracy was attacked by a mob in what…

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Feds net first guilty plea in Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy case

Joshua James, one of the 11 Oath Keepers militia affiliates indicted earlier this year on a charge of seditious conspiracy alongside the group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes, on Wednesday became the first person to plead guilty to the sedition-related charge in connection with the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Under a plea deal revealed at a hearing on Wednesday evening, James has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, who appear to view him as an important witness against Rhodes. During the hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta,…

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Texas delivers a mixed message to the left

Progressives needed a good election night in Texas. They got something just short of that. A liberal candidate won a closely watched congressional primary in Austin and another is headed to a runoff in a Dallas-area House race with a big lead. But the left was unable to deliver a knockout blow to the incumbent conservative Democrat they’ve been targeting for years. Progressives had hoped a clean sweep of three House seats on Tuesday would give them a burst of momentum at the outset of a primary season that will…

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What the Fed’s Powell thinks about inflation and Ukraine

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday offered unusual clarity for lawmakers about the prospects of higher interest rates this month, while warning that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine presents a huge unknown for the economy. Powell, in particularly stark terms for the head of the U.S. central bank, said the Fed is likely to raise its benchmark federal funds rate a quarter percentage point when it meets March 15-16. But he said it’s too soon to tell how geopolitical risks — including the potential for higher prices, financial market instability…

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The U.S. is pushing Russians to defy Putin. But don’t call it regime change.

The United States is trying to take advantage of growing fissures in Russian society as an increasing number of that country’s citizens express opposition to dictator Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. strategy is often blunt and relies on information war tactics, such as President Joe Biden’s direct appeals to the Russian people or the State Department’s new Russian-language Telegram account, unveiled just days ago. But it likely also includes some clandestine elements, according to former intelligence officials, such as stepped-up efforts by American spies to recruit informants within…

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Putin withstood sanctions before. The West came back with a better plan.

The last time Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine, U.S. sanctions tipped the Russian economy into recession. This time, the Americans and their European allies have leveled penalties that could lead to a full-on economic collapse. While the blows against Russia by Western governments following last week’s invasion of Ukraine are potentially crippling, the seeds of the response were planted in 2014 after Moscow’s seizure of Crimea, when those who are today driving U.S. sanctions policy held more junior roles in the Obama administration. The 2014 penalties were…

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Opinion | Why Didn’t Putin Invade Under Trump? It Wasn’t Personal.

Now that Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched a ground war against Ukraine that he apparently has been planning for years, many have wondered why he waited until now. After all, the four years of Donald Trump’s presidency were an ebb tide of American power and influence, and Trump himself frequently went out of his way not to antagonize the Russian leader. Wouldn’t it have been easier for Putin to invade Ukraine when Trump was president? The United States had abdicated its traditional leadership role in global alliances and left…

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Russia crisis could sink the International Space Station

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could jettison NASA’s plan to extend the operating life of the International Space Station — and could even spell its more imminent demise. Russian space agency Roscosmos said Tuesday that it has authority to operate for only two more years and “the issue of extending the agreement in the current conditions causes our skepticism.” Backing out of the partnership could be catastrophic for NASA and its other international partners, which are heavily dependent on Moscow for key sections of the orbiting laboratory and to carry out…

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Congress returns to normal-ish for Biden’s speech — with cheers, jeers and viral moments

There’s a war in Europe and economic angst at home, but President Joe Biden’s State of the Union brought Democrats closer to the backdrop they’ve craved ever since he was elected: normalcy. Hundreds of lawmakers crammed into the House chamber Tuesday night, almost entirely maskless for the first time in Biden’s presidency — although somewhat distanced, despite falling Covid cases. Perhaps the clearest sign that Congress is regaining something of its old rhythms this year, though, was the tried-and-true partisanship that greeted the speech. When Biden declared that “we are…

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Biden to America: ‘We’re going to be OK’

President Joe Biden unfurled a resolute defense of democracy in his first State of the Union address on Tuesday, declaring that the United States would act as a leader for the free world as it rallies with Ukraine against a brutal Russian invasion. With a war raging an ocean away, Biden vowed that the United States would emerge from years of division and disease to protect and expand freedoms at home and abroad. “While it shouldn’t have taken something so terrible for people around the world to see what’s at…

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Opinion | A Tale of Two Speeches in Biden’s State of the Union

The Joe Biden who began his first State of the Union speech Tuesday night was someone we have not seen very much of: a passionate, strong-voiced speaker, seeking a united, free world and hailing his administration’s response to Vladimir Putin’s aggression. “I spent countless hours unifying our European allies,” the president noted. “We shared with the world in advance what we knew Putin was planning and precisely how he would try to falsely justify his aggression.” And while Biden’s adversaries will gleefully note his unintentional substitution of “Iranian” for “Ukrainian”…

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Biden promises punishment for Putin, pledges to lessen impact on U.S.

President Joe Biden in his first State of the Union pledged to inflict further financial pain on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, and pledged to work to lessen the impact on Americans. Biden launched into his speech to Congress on Tuesday touting the resolve of Ukrainians and efforts by his administration, alongside NATO allies, to punish Russia for the incursion. Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said, “badly miscalculated” in the move. “He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over. Instead he met a wall…

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Lawmakers wear blue and yellow to State of the Union in nod to Ukraine

The State of the Union is a distinctly red, white and blue affair. But blue and yellow were also a prominent color scheme in Tuesday’s address as lawmakers express sartorial solidarity with Ukraine. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), a Ukrainian-American who was born in Ukraine, wore a yellow dress with a blue blazer. Several members were wearing scarves in either of the two colors on Ukraine’s flag, while others carried miniature flags reportedly being handed out by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), a co-chair of the congressional Ukraine and Ukrainian American Caucus.…

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Biden nominates Meg Whitman as ambassador to Kenya

President Joe Biden on Wednesday nominated Meg Whitman, a business executive and onetime California gubernatorial candidate, to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Kenya. Whitman, the former leader of Hewlett Packard and eBay, endorsed then-candidate Joe Biden at the Democratic National Convention in August 2020. She also endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016 over Donald Trump despite her longstanding ties to the private sector and the GOP. In 2010 Whitman ran for governor of California, losing to Democrat Jerry Brown by double digits despite spending $177 million — including $144 million…

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Pelosi invites Biden for March 1 State of the Union address

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday invited President Joe Biden to deliver his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on March 1. In her brief letter, Pelosi (D-Calif.) thanked Biden for his “bold vision and patriotic leadership” and highlighted several achievements over his first year as president. “Thank you for your bold vision and patriotic leadership which have guided America out of crisis and into an era of great progress, as we not only recovery from the pandemic but Build Back Better!” she wrote. The…

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Ukraine presses Biden, senators to hit Russian energy exports

Ukrainian officials are pushing the Biden administration and lawmakers on the Hill to impose sanctions on Russian oil and gas exports and cracking down further on the energy supplies that international markets are already starting to shun. Andriy Kobolyev, the former head of the country’s state-owned natural gas company, Naftogaz, said he has been meeting with U.S. senators and Biden administration officials to push for sanctions on Russian fossil fuel exports, which he asserts will be necessary to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin and those around him to halt their…

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Exxon to leave Russian energy project, halt new investments in the country

U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil said on Tuesday it will wind down its operations at a major liquefied natural gas export facility in eastern Russia and halt any new investments in the country. Details: Exxon, the operator of the Sakhalin-1 LNG project that also includes Russian oil company Rosneft as a major stakeholder, will start a “carefully managed” exit, the company said in a press release. Sakhalin-1 has an export capacity of 6.2 million tons a year, and was one of the largest foreign direct investments in the country. “As…

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European plan to donate fighter jets to Ukraine collapses

A proposed deal to allow Ukrainian pilots to fly fighter jets donated by European Union countries has fallen apart. Over the course of a confusing 48 hours, the EU announced it had brokered an arrangement for member states to allow Ukrainian pilots to start flying their used Russian fighter planes, only to have those countries deny there was any such deal even as Kyiv trumpeted the impending arrival of the jets. The dissolution of the deal comes as European countries lined up Monday to announce new weapons packages for Ukraine,…

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How the Russia-Ukraine conflict has fundamentally changed Biden’s presidency

For weeks, President Joe Biden has started and ended his day trying to get inside Vladimir Putin’s head. The most consequential foreign policy crisis of his young term has overwhelmed the president’s schedule, shoving everything — from the State of the Union to a Supreme Court pick — to the backburner. And while he leans on a trusted inner circle of advisers to decipher Putin’s moves, he has also relied on his own experience, having practiced diplomacy with European leaders for decades and having been able to size up Putin…

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2 wars in 6 months: An Afghan family stuck in the hell of Ukraine’s conflict

After months in limbo and now days on the move, Mir Safi dreams of a better life in Canada. The 47-year-old prosecutor in the Attorney General’s Office of Afghanistan was one of thousands of government employees in the Taliban’s crosshairs when Kabul fell last August. “I left Afghanistan because my life was in danger,” he told POLITICO over Zoom last week. He fled to Ukraine with his wife and three children, a sister-in-law and nephew. “Now it’s not only me, but the life of my whole family is in danger.”…

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The Rural Hispanic County that Might Save Henry Cuellar

RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas — Beneath a deep blue sky flecked by cirrus clouds, the towering palm trees that line Rio Grande City’s downtown sway as though keeping time with the high school marching band. Pickup trucks tug trailers covered in metallic tinsel, sunflowers and American flags. The parade, the mid-February kickoff to the Starr County Fair, rolls past the stately but declining, yellow-brick courthouse that Henry Cuellar recently earmarked several million dollars to save. First though, Cuellar’s allies must save him. And it might come down to Starr County.…

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What to watch for in Texas’ primaries

Tuesday marks the first primary day of 2022 — and the first set of answers to big questions hanging over the political world ahead of the midterm election. Former President Donald Trump’s influence over the Republican Party will be on display in races that will shape the direction of the party going forward. Change is coming on the other side of the aisle, too, as progressive Democrats try to grow their ranks in the House. Democrats and Republicans will also pick their nominees for critical House seats in the Rio…

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6 House races to watch in Texas

The 2022 midterm elections officially kick off Tuesday in Texas, which will feature 38 congressional races, in addition to a handful of contested primaries for statewide office. Not all of those elections are competitive: 14 House incumbents have no primary opposition at all. But there’s still plenty to watch in the state, starting with Texas’ 28th District where progressives are trying to oust Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar in one of the biggest tests of how strong the party’s left wing will be this election season. “We have to do two…

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The primary foreshadowing the future of the GOP

THE WOODLANDS, Texas — An early test of Kevin McCarthy’s potential speakership is looming outside Houston, where he and some of the GOP’s biggest provocateurs have lined up on opposite sides of a primary that will shape the temperament of the next Republican House majority. A group of MAGA firebrands, including freshman Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), are catapulting into a GOP primary here to boost Christian Collins, a far-right activist who has vowed to govern in their image. But they are facing fierce resistance from…

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More like Reset of the Union: Dems hope for a pivot as Biden readies his speech

Democrats are hoping President Joe Biden’s prime-time address on Tuesday effectively hits the reset button ahead of the November election after months marked by legislative breakdowns. Biden will be delivering his first State of the Union speech to a nation that’s largely skeptical of his leadership at the moment. His approval ratings are near the lowest of his presidency as Americans remain immersed in anxiety over the pandemic, the economy, and now, a Russian invasion of Ukraine that’s increasingly demanding U.S. attention. Already worried they could lose control of both…

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U.S. officials: Russian escalation in Ukraine could lead to humanitarian crisis

The massing of Ukrainians at the Polish border is leading to urgent conversations among officials at the State Department and USAID about the need to quickly increase assistance to European countries accepting refugees, according to two senior Biden administration officials with direct knowledge of the situation. That U.S. support will require additional funding — more than the Biden administration has already committed for Ukraine, the officials said. Talks about supplemental humanitarian aid for Ukraine are also taking place between Congress and the White House, and it’s likely that funding will…

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‘Yes, He Would’: Fiona Hill on Putin and Nukes

For many people, watching the Russian invasion of Ukraine has felt like a series of “He can’t be doing this” moments. Russia’s Vladimir Putin has launched the largest ground war in Europe since the Second World War. It is, quite literally, mind-boggling. That’s why I reached out to Fiona Hill, one of America’s most clear-eyed Russia experts, someone who has studied Putin for decades, worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations and has a reputation for truth-telling, earned when she testified during impeachment hearings for her former boss, President Donald…

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