The National Archives has asked the Justice Department to investigate Donald Trump’s handling of White House records, after officials recovered 15 boxes of materials from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort that should have been turned over to the federal government. According to The Washington Post, those documents include items that were clearly marked as classified, including several labeled “top secret.” When the FBI investigated Hillary Clinton in 2016 for possibly mishandling classified information, Trump led chants of “Lock her up!” on the campaign trail. It’s not clear if the FBI will open a similar probe into Trump’s mishandling of documents.
Meanwhile, investigators with the House committee probing the January 6 insurrection have found gaps in White House logs of Trump’s phone calls on the day of the Capitol assault. The gaps span a period of time during the attack when Trump is known to have been making phone calls.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is blasting Conservative lawmakers for supporting a convoy of truck drivers protesting COVID restrictions and vaccine mandates. Trudeau spoke from Parliament as truckers organized a third blockade of a port of entry into the U.S.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “People in Windsor are suffering and losing their jobs because they can’t get auto parts across the Ambassador Bridge. People in Alberta are seeing shelves empty because they can’t get deliveries across the Coutts border crossing. And this Conservative Party, that supports these blockades, won’t even stand up and say, 'Enough is enough. It's time to go home.’”
The border protests have forced automakers, including GM, Ford and Chrysler, to scale back production at plants in Michigan and Ontario. Organizers of the Canadian truckers’ protest have been linked to far-right and neo-Nazi movements. The convoy has inspired similar protests around the world.
Here in the U.S., a Department of Homeland Security memo predicts a convoy of anti-vaccine truckers will block roads in major cities in the coming weeks and could disrupt the Super Bowl on Sunday and President Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1.
President Biden is urging U.S. citizens in Ukraine to leave immediately, saying he would not send troops to rescue them in the event of a Russian invasion.
President Joe Biden: “That’s a world war when Americans and Russians start shooting at one another.”
Russia has denied it plans to invade Ukraine, but tensions remain high as the involved parties are at a stalemate over Russian demands NATO halt its eastward expansion. As Russia, the U.S. and NATO countries have been beefing up their military presence in Eastern Europe, progressive Democrats in the U.S. are calling for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis. On Thursday, Bernie Sanders spoke on the Senate floor.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “No one knows exactly what the human costs of such a war would be. There are estimates, however, that come from our own military and intelligence community that there could be over 50,000 civilian casualties in Ukraine, not to mention millions of refugees flooding neighboring countries as they flee what could be the worst European conflict since World War II.”
Meanwhile, the outlet Sludge reports some lawmakers are rushing to increase their stock in energy companies as the U.S. ramps up exports of liquid natural gas to Europe, in case Russia cuts off its supply.
The New York Times reports President Biden is seeking to split up $7 billion in frozen U.S.-held Afghan assets between the families of 9/11 victims and humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan. The move would keep the funds out of Taliban control, in line with U.S. policy since last August’s takeover. Aid groups, including the U.N., and others have been calling on the Biden administration to release the funds in order to stem a growing economic and humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan.
A new report by the Norwegian Refugee Council found civilian casualties in Yemen have nearly doubled since the U.N. Human Rights Council voted to disband an independent monitoring group in October. In the four months since then, at least 1,535 civilians have been killed in Yemen’s civil war. Human rights groups say all parties in the conflict have committed serious violations, including Houthi artillery attacks on civilian areas and Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on hospitals, weddings and funerals.
The Biden administration has approved $5 billion of new weapons sales to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The deals include missile defense systems and advanced fighter jets. The State Department also approved the sale this week of nearly $14 billion worth of U.S.-made weapons to Indonesia.
Meanwhile, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has proposed a resolution that would cancel the Biden administration’s planned weapons sale to Egypt, valued at over $2.5 billion. In an op-ed published Thursday, Paul blasted the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for extrajudicial killings, torture and harsh crackdowns on activists exercising free speech. Paul wrote, “My resolution to cancel military sales offers a choice–whether the United States will side with the Egyptian people, or with their oppressors.”
In Somalia, al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for a bombing Thursday that killed six people and wounded at least a dozen others in the capital Mogadishu. The attack targeted a minibus full of delegates involved in Somalia’s parliamentary elections.
In Mexico, Heber López, the director of the online news site NoticiasWeb, was shot and killed at his office in the southern state of Oaxaca on Thursday. Police say they’ve arrested two suspects in the murder. López is the fifth media worker assassinated in Mexico so far this year.
In Costa Rica, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights heard oral arguments Wednesday in a historic case of an Indigenous community accusing the Guatemalan government of violating their ancestral and collective land rights. Maya Q’eqchi’ residents of Agua Caliente, in the eastern Guatemalan region of El Estor, have fought to obtain formal titles for their lands for over 40 years, in a struggle to protect their communities from extractive industries. Rodrigo Tot, a Q’eqchi’ leader and winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2017, testified in front of the court about the repression he and other land defenders have faced from the Guatemalan government.
Rodrigo Tot: “We have faced many threats in response to our resistance. The most painful was the loss of my son. … His killers thought I’d stay silent, but what’s motivated me the most is that since my son’s assassination, more leaders have stepped up, like me, to fight for our land.”
In Haiti, police fired tear gas on striking factory workers in Port-au-Prince for a second straight day Thursday. The workers are demanding a pay increase to at least $15 a day as Haiti grapples with rising inflation and ongoing political and security crises. Several reports on social media say at least one person was killed. Workers say they will continue their strike next week if needed.
Dozens of Cameroonian asylum seekers who were deported by the U.S. government between 2019 and 2021 faced serious human rights violations, including torture, rape and arbitrary arrests, upon returning to Cameroon. That’s according to a new Human Rights Watch report that traced the whereabouts of at least 80 Cameroonians expelled from the U.S. despite saying they feared for their lives. This is one of the deported asylum seekers.
Deported asylum seeker: “I want to tell the American government that sending me back to Cameroon, that this harm has seriously impacted my life, and that I still need their protection and assistance because my life is seriously still in danger.”
Many of the asylum seekers also accused Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, of medical neglect and violent mistreatment while in custody.
President Biden pitched his plan to cut prescription drug costs during a speech at a community college in Virginia Thursday.
President Joe Biden: “Nearly 30% have skipped doses of essential drugs they’re supposed to take. Others have simply not filled prescriptions that the doctor had given them, tried to use over-the-counter drugs or pills cut in half because they can’t afford the cost of their prescription. This is the United States of America, for God’s sake. That’s just wrong. It’s simply wrong.”
Biden’s address came shortly after an inflation report was released showing a 7.5% increase in consumer prices over the past year, the steepest hike in 40 years. Earlier this week, Republican Senator Mike Crapo blocked a bill from Senators Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar that would slash prescription drug prices by half.
A newly declassified letter written by two senators reveals the CIA has been secretly and illegally carrying out a mass surveillance program on U.S. citizens and residents for years. Senators Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich called in their letter from April 2021 for more details about the CIA program to be released, and said it was “entirely outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection, and without any of the judicial, congressional or even executive branch oversight that comes from Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act collection.”