Joe Biden is ending US involvement with Saudi Arabia’s devastating war in Yemen. It’s bad news for arms merchants but a hopeful sign for humanitarians.
Meanwhile, an investigation into the people charged in connection to last month’s Capitol insurrection finds some came trained and ready for battle. Seditious conspiracy charges could still be in the cards.
And lastly, another voting machine company is suing Fox News for spreading lies about voting fraud in the presidential election. It’s one of the largest libel complaints in history, with damages of $2.7 billion at stake.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
It’s about time. The US has announced an end to its support for Saudi-led offensive operations in Yemen, the Guardian reports. Officials cited the role the bombing campaign has had in creating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The announcement was made by Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, in a preview of a speech Biden delivered at the State Department yesterday. The distancing of Washington from Riyadh is one of the most conspicuous reversals of Donald Trump’s agenda. But it also marks a break with the policies pursued by Barack Obama, who had backed the Saudi offensive in Yemen, although he later sought to impose constraints on its air war.
A bipartisan majority in Congress has previously voted to cut off support to the Saudi campaign, according to the Guardian. But Trump used his veto to block the move. The US will also freeze arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and name a special envoy to Yemen, to put more pressure on the Saudis, Emiratis and the Houthi forces they are fighting, to make a lasting peace agreement.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against the Arms Trade described the move to the Guardian as a long overdue step towards ending the catastrophic and brutal war in Yemen. The group said QUOTE With the US ending this support, the onus is now firmly on the UK government to follow suit, or face international isolation. For the UK to continue to sustain a war that its
closest ally is trying to end would be an untenable and shameful position ENDQUOTE. For the first time in years it’s possible to foresee an end to this catastrophe.
Impeachment: Trump Won't Testify
House Democrats yesterday asked Donald Trump to testify under oath for his Senate impeachment trial, the Associated Press reports. The request from House impeachment managers warns that any refusal to testify could be used to support a conviction. A Trump spokesman said Trump will not testify. The Senate impeachment trial starts next Tuesday, February 9th. Trump is charged with inciting an insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6th.
And we are learning more about that insurrection all the time. The New York Times investigated the backgrounds of one hundred and seventy five people who have been charged in connection to the assault on the Capitol. At least twenty one of those charged so far had ties to militant groups. At least twenty two were current or former members of the military. More than a dozen were clear supporters of the conspiracy theory QAnon. But a majority expressed few organizing principles, outside a fervent belief in the false assertion that Trump had won re-election. The Times review suggests that many of those in the horde were likely disorganized, but some groups and individuals came to the Capitol trained and prepared for battle.
Prosecutors have said some of the people involved in the riot could face charges of seditious conspiracy, according to the Times. No such charges have yet been filed. A majority of charges so far are for violations like trespassing or disorderly conduct, or for obstruction of a congressional proceeding. Many of these are misdemeanors. The stakes are certain to increase, as investigators put pressure on people already in custody, and as they determine who killed a Capitol Police officer, and who placed pipe bombs at nearby buildings. We’ll keep you posted.
Voting Firm Sues Fox
The bills are coming due. The Associated Press reports that a voting technology company is suing Fox News, three of its hosts and two former lawyers for Donald Trump – Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell – for $2.7 billion. The company charges that the defendants
conspired to spread false claims that the company helped steal the US presidential election. The 285-page complaint filed yesterday in New York state court by Florida-based Smartmatic USA is one of the largest libel suits ever undertaken. On January 25th, a rival election- technology company – Dominion Voting Systems – sued Guiliani and Powell for $1.3 billion.
Unlike Dominion, whose technology was used in twenty four states, Smartmatic’s participation in the 2020 election was restricted to Los Angeles County, the AP reports. Smartmatic’s limited role notwithstanding, Fox aired at least thirteen reports falsely stating or implying the company had stolen the 2020 vote in cahoots with Venezuela’s socialist government. This alleged disinformation campaign continued even after then-Attorney General William Barr said the Department of Justice could find no evidence of widespread voter fraud. For Smartmatic, the effects of the negative publicity were swift and devastating, the complaint alleges. Death threats, including against an executive’s fourteen-year-old son, poured in as Internet searches for the company surged, Smartmatic claims.
According to the AP, the complaint also alleges that Fox hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro also directly benefitted from their involvement in the conspiracy. The lawsuit alleges that Fox went along with the well-orchestrated dance due to pressure from newcomer outlets such as Newsmax and One America News, which were stealing away conservative, pro-Trump viewers. Once again, it all comes down to ratings.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
The House voted along party lines last night to remove the conspiracy theorist Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from her two committee posts. Only eleven Republicans joined with Democrats in the vote, which came about in response to Greene’s long record of frankly insane comments and posts, some of which condoned threats of violence against Democrats. As disturbing as Greene’s beliefs are, it’s even worse to see the GOP close ranks to defend her.
Ingredients in many baby foods are contaminated with heavy metals like arsenic, lead and cadmium, congressional investigators said yesterday, according to the New York Times. Investigators reserved their harshest criticism for three companies that did not provide requested information to the the House Committee on Oversight and Reform: Walmart, which sells Parents’ Choice and Parent’s Choice Organic products; Sprout Organic Foods; and Campbell Soup Company, maker of Plum Organics baby foods. Consider yourself advised.
Prosecutors on Wednesday sought a new arrest warrant and higher bond for Kyle Rittenhouse, who is charged with fatally shooting two people amid protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer, the Washington Post reports. They allege that the 18-year-old failed to notify authorities of a change in address. They also say Rittenhouse had minimal incentive to comply with his bond conditions because his $2 million bond had been paid by a QUOTE dubious Internet fundraising campaign ENDQUOTE. GoFundMe-a-killer. How creepy is that?
The Biden administration is reviewing whether it can provide student debt relief through executive action, the AP reports. Biden previously said he supports erasing up to $10,000 in student debt through legislation. His position changed yesterday with a tweet from White House press secretary Jen Psaki. The tweet came hours after a group of Congressional Democrats, including Senators Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren, urged Biden to use executive action to forgive $50,000 in federal student debt for all borrowers. Just do it, Joe.
FEB 5, 2021 - AM QUICKIE
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Corey Pein
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn