Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio
Friday, March 4, 2022, 12:16 PM

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The Ukrainian government said Russian forces caused a fire at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine, according to the Wall Street Journal. Ukrainian officials told the International Atomic Energy Agency that Russian shelling attacks caused the fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy addressed concerns of the deadly consequences of a potentially damaged nuclear reactor. In a video posted to Twitter, Zelenskyy accused Russia of nuclear terror and said, “Europe needs to wake up. Only immediate action can stop the Russian troops. Do not let Europe die in the nuclear catastrophe.” After an evaluation, it was determined that the fire caused no damage to the nuclear reactors and that there was no release of radioactive material after a military projectile hit a nearby building, reports Reuters. Russian forces have since gained control of the nuclear power plant. 

Russian troops reportedly managed to enter Mykolayiv, a Ukrainian Black Sea port city, reports Reuters. On Friday, the city issued an air raid warning amid fighting in and around the center of the city. 

Delegations from Russia and Ukraine reached an agreement to allow for the creation of “humanitarian corridors” to evacuate civilians trapped in Ukrainian towns and cities under Russian attack, writes the Washington Post. The corridors will also reportedly be used to send humanitarian aid such as food and medical supplies into Ukraine. The Ukrainian presidential advisor said that for limited times, local ceasefires would operate in areas around the evacuation corridors and that other details and a communications link would be agreed to “in the near future.”  

NATO rejected Ukraine’s demands for a no-fly zone over the country, according to Reuters. A no fly zone is a militarily enforced airspace that prohibits the entrance of certain aircraft, according to Axios. During conflicts, enforcing a no fly zone often involves shooting down banned aircraft from the restricted airspace. NATO said that even though they would not issue a no-fly zone, they would increase supplies of artillery and humanitarian support to Ukraine. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters that a no-fly zone would not be enforced because “"We have a responsibility as NATO allies to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine because that would be even more dangerous, more devastating and would cause even more human suffering.”

The Biden administration requested $32.5 billion in emergency spending from Congress in order to strengthen the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic and to assist Ukraine in its war against Russia, writes the New York Times. The administration asked for $22.5 billion for additional vaccines, oral antivirals, monoclonal antibodies, testing and support for the global vaccination effort as part of its new coronavirus response strategy. The additional $10 billion will reportedly be used in humanitarian and military aid efforts to support Ukraine.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol subpoenaed Kimberly Guilfoyle, according to Politico. Guilfoyle is a former Fox New Host, former Trump campaign aide and is also the fiancée of Donald Trump Jr. The select committee allegedly has reason to believe that Guilfoyle was a “key” organizer of the rally that took place moments before the attack on the Capitol began. In a statement, select committee chairman Bennie Thompson said that “Ms. Guilfoyle met with Donald Trump inside the White House, spoke at the rally that took place before the riot on January 6th, and apparently played a key role organizing and raising funds for that event. The Select Committee is seeking information from her about these and other matters.”

A video obtained by the Washington Post revealed new evidence that longtime former Trump advisor Roger Stone was involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The video shows that Stone had prior knowledge of a plan to oust Justice Department leadership, that he privately coordinated post-election protests with prominent figures and that he also communicated via text message with members of far-right groups involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Additionally, the video shows Stone in his hotel room with members of the far-right Oath Keepers a few hours before the attack. 

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the U.S. government in FBI v. Fazaga. The court ruled that the state secrets privilege used to block information from the government is not displaced by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s procedures for court review of the government’s assertion, reports Bloomberg Law. The case was brought to court by Sheikh Yassir Fazaga and other Muslim men who claim that they were the targets of illegal FBI surveillance on Muslims. 

A bombing at a mosque in Pakistan killed at least 56 people, writes BBC News. The deaths are a result of a suspected suicide attack on a Shia mosque in the city of Peshawar during prayer services. A spokesperson for the local hospital reported that in addition to the casualties, over 190 individuals were wounded in the attack. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Drew Harwell about Truth Social, a new, Trump-run platform to share his thoughts with the world.

Will Mackie explained how members of the Oath Keepers promoted self-serving, distorted “patriotic” rhetoric to justify criminal acts against government officials in both the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and a 2010 attempt to take over a Tennessee courthouse. 

David Priess shared an episode of the Chatter Podcast in which Shane Harris sat down with Elizabeth Samet to discuss Hollywood’s portrayal of World War II and how that influences what Americans think about “the good war.”

Christopher Gorman published a roundup of recent developments in artificial intelligence and national security. 

Rohini Kurup and Katherine Pompilio posted a court filing by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that said that there was enough evidence to conclude that former President Donald Trump and some of his allies might have conspired to commit fraud and obstruction in their effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Kurup also posted a Supreme Court decision that ruled that the federal government could invoke the state secrets privilege to block two CIA contractors from testifying about a Guantanamo detainee’s treatment at a CIA black site.

Roger Parloff, Elizabeth McElvein, Stephanie Pell and Benjamin Wittes examined whether the Jan. 6 committee’s recent filing will be enough to push the Justice Department to commence a criminal inquiry of Trump. 

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