Latest Headlines: What We’ve Been Watching

October 12, 2022

news headlines Photo by Bank Phrom on Unsplash

In case you missed ’em—here are some of the stories making headlines this week.

Supreme Court Denies Trump’s Document Request

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected former President Trump’s request to reinstate a special master’s review of some 100 classified documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago country club estate.

The documents were taken among roughly 11,000 by FBI agents as part of the August 8 search warrant on Mar-a-Lago. Trump filed the emergency request with the Supreme Court on October 4. Had the Court granted Trump’s request it could have bolstered his attempt to legally challenge the search and have the documents returned to him.

The Department of Justice had asked the Supreme Court to reject Trump’s request on Tuesday, saying the former President had not pointed to any “clear error” in a lower court’s decision to give the DOJ access to the documents marked as classified, or shown how he is harmed by it.

The DOJ is also examining whether Trump tried to obstruct the criminal investigation. Trump has denied wrongdoing and has called the investigation politically motivated.

During what is likely to be its final televised hearing before the midterm elections, the House Select Subcommittee investigating the January 6, 2021 attempt to overthrow the 2020 Presidential election voted unanimously Thursday to subpoena former President Trump for questioning. 

While the Committee has ample evidence to make criminal recommendations, said Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), “a key task remains. We must seek the testimony under oath of January 6’s central player.” 

The Committee subpoenaed former Trump adviser Steve Bannon in September, 2021, who resisted, and the case did not go to court until July. If Republicans win the House majority in November, it’s very likely Trump can forestall answering the Committee’s subpoena indefinitely. 

The Committee’s vote followed a roughly two-and-a-half hour hearing, during which no live witnesses were called. However, all nine Committee members presented “opening arguments.”

The hearing focused on Trump’s “state of mind” in the days before and during the insurrection because according to Rep. Cheney, “The vast weight of evidence presented so far has shown us that the central cause of January 6 was one man, Donald Trump, who many others followed.” 

Among the evidence, Committee member Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) asserted Trump’s “direct participation” in the “coercive campaign” to get Vice President Mike Pence to reject legitimate electoral college votes and accept fake electors on January 6, despite attorney John Eastman having informed Trump “repeatedly” that such an act would violate federal law, such as the Electoral Count Act. 

The Committee also revealed new emails and text messages obtained from the Secret Service in the days leading up to and on January 6. According to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), “Secret Service had advance information more than ten days beforehand regarding the Proud Boys’ planning” to bring weapons to Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally that day. 

Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) built on this, saying President Trump “knew” the rally-goers were armed and “knew they were going to be dangerous.” He then presented more Secret Service communications showing that Trump planned to go to the Capitol as late as almost 1:55pm. Secret Service was only given the order to stand down at that time, when rioters had breached the Congressional building. 

Then, according to Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Trump stayed in the White House dining room ignoring “entreaties” by staff and family members until 4:17pm when he finally told the mob to go home via tweet. 

Earlier in the day, Rep. Murphy (D-FL) said this would be the last televised hearing “before November,” opening the door to possibly more public hearings after the midterm elections. 

A jury Wednesday determined that Alex Jones and the parent company of his Infowars media outlet, Free Speech Systems, must pay nearly $1 billion to 14 relatives of eight victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre and an FBI agent who was targeted by conspiracy theorists.

The jury found Jones liable for defamation after falsely calling a hoax the mass shooting that left 20 first graders and six elementary school teachers dead and accusing the victims’ families of being complicit in that so-called hoax.

Jones used his Infowars platform to spread those falsehoods, damaging the reputations of the victims’ relatives and exposing them to threats.

Biden Addresses Possibility of Son Being Prosecuted

During an interview that aired Tuesday on CNN, President Biden answered questions for the first time about the possibility of his son, Hunter, being prosecuted for tax crimes and a false statement about drug use during a gun purchase.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” the President said.

The Washington Post first reported last Thursday that federal agents think they have enough evidence to charge the younger Biden with tax crimes and the false statement.

In the CNN interview the President repeatedly stressed that he’s proud of his son for overcoming drug addiction and establishing “a new life.”

Supreme Court Undoes Key Ruling on Counting Mail-in Ballots

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday vacated a 3rd Circuit decision holding that a Pennsylvania county should count mail-in ballots even though they lacked a proper date on the outside envelope.

The ruling does not impact the outcome of an already-decided judicial election for which the case was brought, but it does mean that the 3rd Circuit’s ruling cannot be used as a precedent in the three states covered by that court—Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware—to allow the counting of ballots with minor flaws such as the voter failing to fill in the date in all requested spaces.

UN & G7 Denounce Russia for Possible War Crimes

On Wednesday at least seven people were killed and eight more wounded when Russia shelled a market in the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka.

The attack came one day after the United Nations’ human rights office called widespread Russian missile and drone strikes that killed at least 19 people in Ukraine “particularly shocking” and amounting to potential war crimes.

Leaders of the Group of Seven industrial powers (G7) also condemned the attacks on Tuesday, pledging to “stand firmly with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” despite warnings by Russia that further Western assistance would prolong the war.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told G7 leaders in a virtual meeting that Ukraine had shot down many of the Russian missiles and drones, but it needs “more modern and effective” air defense systems.

The Pentagon had already planned to send two advanced NASAMs anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine in the coming weeks. The systems, which Kyiv has long wanted, will provide medium- to long-range defense against missile attacks.

Russia Arrests Eight for Crimea Bridge Attack

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said Wednesday it arrested five Russians and three Ukrainian and Armenian citizens for involvement in the Saturday explosion of the Kerch Bridge—the only bridge connecting the occupied Crimean Peninsula to Russia.

The FSB said the attack was organized by Ukrainian military intelligence, and that the explosive device entered Russia from Ukraine via Bulgaria, Georgia and Armenia.

Ukraine has not officially confirmed involvement in the bridge blast.

Protests Lead to Labor Strikes in Iran’s Energy Sector

Protests that were sparked last month by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody, arrested for not properly wearing a hijab, have reached Iran’s energy sector in the form of strikes and work stoppages.

“Labor strikes have the potential to cripple the Islamic Republic, particularly in the energy sector. After three weeks of revolution, mass walkouts in the oil, gas and the petrochemical sector pose a serious existential threat to the regime,” Iran expert Alireza Nader told Fox News.

Meanwhile, the Iran-based Contractual Oil Workers Protest Organizing Council has posted on Telegram, “To [all] our colleagues in oil, gas and petrochemical projects, in all refineries and petrochemicals; in the oil platforms as well as the drilling sites, we declare that now is the time for widespread protests and to prepare ourselves for nationwide and back-breaking strikes.”

Iranian state-controlled media is claiming the labor actions are related to a wage dispute. The Islamic Republic has not acknowledged the strike activity.

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

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