The Washington Post is reporting the Justice Department is investigating former President Trump as part of its criminal probe into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. As part of the probe, prosecutors have reportedly received phone records of key officials within Trump’s circle, including his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows. The Post also revealed two aides to former Vice President Mike Pence — his chief of staff, Marc Short, and lawyer, Greg Jacob — recently testified before a grand jury.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke to Lester Holt on NBC’s “Nightly News.” Garland refused to rule out charging Donald Trump.
Attorney General Merrick Garland: “We intend to hold everyone, anyone who was criminally responsible for the events surrounding January 6, for any attempt to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another, accountable. That’s what we do. We don’t pay any attention to other issues with respect to that.”
Lester Holt: “So, if Donald Trump were to become a candidate for president again, that would not change your schedule or how you move forward or don’t move forward?”
Attorney General Merrick Garland: “I’ll say again that we will hold accountable anyone who was criminally responsible for attempting to interfere with the transfer — legitimate, lawful transfer of power from one administration to the next.”
Part of the Justice Department probe is reportedly focused on an effort by Trump’s team to submit fake electors who would claim to the Electoral College that Trump had won states where he had actually lost. On Tuesday, The New York Times revealed details of internal emails sent by lawyers working on this effort. In one email, the Arizona-based lawyer Jack Wilenchik described the plan as “kind of wild/creative.” He wrote, “We would just be sending in 'fake' electoral votes to Pence so that 'someone' in Congress can make an objection when they start counting votes, and start arguing that the 'fake' votes should be counted.” In a follow-up email, he wrote, “'alternative' votes is probably a better term than 'fake' votes.” He then added a smiley face emoji to the email.
In related news, the House January 6 Committee has released an audio clip from testimony by former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller. He denied Trump ever gave a formal order to have 10,000 troops ready to be deployed to the Capitol on January 6, 2021 — a claim that has been made by former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and others. In the clip, Miller was questioned by committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney.
Rep. Liz Cheney: “To be crystal clear, there was no direct order from President Trump to put 10,000 troops to be on the ready for January 6th, correct?”
Christopher Miller: “No. Yeah, that’s correct. There was no direct — there was no order from the president.”
On Tuesday, Donald Trump gave his first speech in Washington since leaving office. He hinted that he may run for president again.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown has declared a state of emergency in 25 counties due to a scorching heat wave in the Pacific Northwest. In Portland, temperatures reached 102 degrees Fahrenheit Tuesday, breaking a new daily record which had been set just two years ago. Forecasts show temperatures could rise above 110 degrees in eastern Washington later this week.
In Missouri, at least one person has died in massive flooding after more than nine inches of rain fell in the St. Louis region. The storm broke a century-old record and came after a period when the region was experiencing an extended drought.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at least 15 people have died after a series of protests targeting U.N. troops who have been stationed in Congo since 1999. On Monday, protesters in the city of Goma stormed the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping force known as MONUSCO. Some U.N. personnel had to be airlifted to safety. In a separate incident, one U.N. peacekeeper from Morocco and two U.N. police officers from India were killed in the city of Butembo. Protesters have accused the United Nations of failing to protect civilians from attacks by various armed groups in the region.
Anselme Musimbwa: “They are tear-gassing us because we came to say that MONUSCO does not help us. They’ve been in Congo for 22 years, and nothing works. We came to demand our rights, but they shoot us with tear gas.”
Russia has announced plans to withdraw from the International Space Station after 2024 and build its own orbital station. The United States and Russia have been the core stakeholders in the project, which has long been a symbol of cooperation between Washington, D.C., and Moscow after the Cold War.
U.S. basketball superstar Brittney Griner is testifying today in a Russian courtroom as her trial continues. She has been jailed since February, when she was arrested at a Moscow airport for possession of cannabis oil in her luggage. On Tuesday, Griner’s legal team argued she had the cannabis oil for legitimate medical uses. A Russian drug expert was questioned by Griner’s attorney Maria Blagovolina.
Maria Blagovolina: “Based on what you have just said, did we understand you correctly that a professional athlete suffering from chronic pain could have been prescribed medical cannabis in the U.S. — for example, in the U.S. — as a therapy?”
Mikhail Tetyushkin: “I cannot testify for a doctor working in the United States, because they have their own standards of diagnostics and treatment, but these types of treatment are prescribed. This is a fact.”
The director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Michael Carvajal, came under intense criticism during a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday examining the horrific conditions inside the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, where at least 13 people have died by suicide since 2012. Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff, who chairs the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said the conditions inside the prison were “abusive and inhumane.”
Sen. Jon Ossoff: “Inmates hanging themselves in federal prisons, addicted to and high on drugs that flow into the facilities virtually openly, and as they hang and suffocate in the custody of the U.S. government, there’s no urgent response from members of the staff, year after year after year.”
A former administrator at the Atlanta federal penitentiary, Terri Whitehead, also testified at Tuesday’s Senate subcommittee hearing on conditions at the prison.
Terri Whitehead: “I was shocked and appalled by the USP Atlanta big picture. On a daily basis, there were numerous policy violations, which put the staff, inmates and the local community in danger. For example, there were so many rats inside the facility dining hall and food preparation areas that staff intentionally left doors open so the many stray cats that hung around the prison could catch the rats. It is never a good idea to leave prison doors open.”
In other prison news, 28 women who were held in a county jail in Indiana have filed lawsuits over what is being described as a “night of terror.” The women say they were raped, groped and assaulted by male prisoners inside the Clark County Jail after a jail official gave two male prisoners keys to the women’s area in exchange for $1,000. The lawsuit also claims jail officials allowed the attack to go on for hours, even though it could be seen on surveillance video. Twenty women filed a lawsuit in June; eight more filed a lawsuit this week.
The Senate has voted to advance a bill to provide as much as $76 billion in corporate subsidies to companies making semiconductor chips in the United States. Senator Bernie Sanders said he supported expanding domestic microchip production but opposed subsidizing the industry.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Should American taxpayers provide the microchip industry with a blank check — blank check — of over $76 billion at the same exact time when semiconductor companies are making tens of billions of dollars in profits and paying their CEOs exorbitant compensation packages?”