Source: Trump considering testifying to Jan. 6 Committee. Putin: No more mass bombardment of Ukraine, for now.
Source: Trump considering testifying to Jan. 6 Committee
Sources close to Donald Trump have told The Guardian that the former President is at least entertaining the idea of testifying before the Jan. 6 Select Committee investigating his role in the violent insurrection at the Capitol. Yesterday, the committee voted unanimously to issue a subpoena for testimony and documents from Trump.
Following the hearing and vote, members of the committee wouldn’t say whether or not they thought it was likely that Trump would answer the subpoena. However, there’s always a chance that Trump will be unable to resist the chance to appear before the committee. What’s clear is that despite Trump’s characterizations of the committee as a partisan “witch hunt”, its proceedings have certainly gotten a rise out of him. Immediately after the hearing, Trump took to social media to call the committee “a total BUST”.
Trump followed up that post by publishing a 14-page open letter to committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS). In the letter, Trump repeats thoroughly debunked claims about mass voter fraud in the 2020 election. He also claimed to have put thousands of National Guard soldiers on stand-by to protect the Capitol on Jan. 6, a claim that his then-acting Secretary of Defense has said is false.
The committee’s case against Trump
Yesterday’s hearing served largely as a summation of evidence the committee had previously presented, along with some new evidence the committee had obtained since its last hearing. The committee made the case that Trump had planned to declare victory and call the election “rigged” even before the election. They played recorded testimony in which various members of Trump’s staff stated that Trump knew that there was no evidence for his claims of election fraud.
The committee also outlined how Trump and his surrogates riled up supporters and urged them to converge on D.C. on Jan. 6. once it was clear that dozens of court challenges had failed to yield any wins for Trump. They also explained that Trump knew many of the supporters that showed up at his Jan. 6 rally were armed when he told them to march to the Capitol. New information from the Secret Service also showed that Trump’s security detail was on stand-by, ready to take him to the Capitol even after he’d returned to the White House. This was despite safety concerns and objections from Trump’s legal team.
The missing link
What the committee has so far failed to do is draw a direct link between Trump and the militant groups who led the assault on the Capitol. However, they have heavily implied that Trump’s political advisor Roger Stone may be that missing link. Stone was photographed with the militia leaders the day before the riot.
When testifying before the committee, Stone pleaded the 5th in answer to questions of his involvement in organizing the mob and his communications with Trump. The committee has so far been unsuccessful in obtaining any communications between Trump and Stone that would demonstrate Trump playing an active role in orchestrating the violence.
Putin: No more mass bombardment of Ukraine, for now
Speaking to reporters at a regional leaders conference in Astana, Kazakhstan, Vladimir Putin said that he was winding down a recent campaign of mass missile strikes in Ukraine, at least for the moment. After a bridge linking Crimea with Russia was partially destroyed last weekend, the Russian military launched at least 85 missiles on Monday. For the first time in months, missiles targeted Kyiv, the major western city Lviv and several other cities all over Ukraine. Strikes continued for the rest of the week, but to a much lesser degree.
Monday’s onslaught was significant not only for the loss of life but also because it was the first major widespread missile campaign Ukraine had seen in months. Analysts have said that although Russia still has superior firepower compared to Ukraine, their stockpiles are dwindling as foreign supply lines for key components have dried up. Putin’s comments in Astana may signal that he’s mindful of having to conserve his resources. However, he also said his plan to mobilize 300,000 new troops would be complete in a couple of weeks. For Putin, recruits, willing or not, are easier to come by than weapons parts and much more expendable.
Putin floats Turkish oil hub
While at the Astana conference, Putin met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the possibility of delivering Russian oil to Europe through Turkey. This followed statements from Putin earlier this week in which he implied he was ready to resume deliveries of gas to Europe. Despite sanctions and price caps, oil remains Russia’s biggest source of funding to continue its war effort. The recent decision by OPEC+ to cut daily oil production means that Russia will soon be able to demand higher prices for its fossil fuel exports.
Until Russia invaded, Ukraine was one of the main conduits for Russian oil to flow to the European market. For this service, Ukraine demanded billions in transit fees from Russian oil companies. Over the past decade, Russia opened direct pipelines to Germany to avoid paying Ukraine’s transit fees. Only one of these pipelines, Nord Stream 1, was ever operational. A second pipeline, Nord Stream 2 was built but never opened. Both of these pipelines were recently sabotaged by undersea explosives.
Putin has repeatedly threatened to cut off fuel supplies to Europe in hopes of denting the unified Western opposition to his Ukraine invasion. Despite cutting off supplies to Germany and the subsequent sabotage, Europe has not taken the bait. Instead, they instituted price caps on Russian oil and recently approved new sanctions following Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories through sham referendums. As a result, Putin seems to be backing away from his energy blackmail strategy in hopes of cashing in on potential rising oil revenues.
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