Nuclear weapons are high up on the agenda as the presidents of the United States and Russia meet today. Former top military commanders and diplomats from both countries have been urging the leaders to cooperate to reduce the size of nuclear arsenals.
Meanwhile, emails just released by House Democrats investigating the January 6th Capitol insurrection show how Donald Trump tried to get the Justice Department to help overturn last November’s election. The details are as loopy as you might imagine.
And lastly, two of the biggest states, New York and California, have lifted many pandemic restrictions thanks to progress in their vaccination campaigns. Covid will be with us for a long time, but public health measures are working, and the return to normalcy is happening just about on schedule.
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This read on the day’s big diplomatic news comes from Politico. Expectations are low that Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin can reach any significant accommodation during their first presidential summit today in Geneva – with one possible exception: nuclear arms control. Washington and Moscow have publicly expressed a desire to use the summit to reestablish formal talks on the issue. In the days leading up to the tense meeting, ex-defense chiefs, foreign ministers and retired nuclear commanders from both nations also proposed a series of steps the two leaders could take to help constrain the world’s deadliest arsenals. Those steps range from a simple pledge to resume regular negotiations, to a more ambitious public commitment to reduce current arsenals as a goodwill gesture.
Politico says no one is banking on detailed agreements to emerge from Geneva. The definition of strategic threats has only grown more complex now that cyber attacks, political warfare and other forms of mischief can destabilize entire nations. But both governments have been striking a similar tone in recent days on the nuclear front, at least rhetorically. National security adviser Jake Sullivan expressed the administration’s desire to get back to a regular dialogue with Moscow on nuclear matters. Sullivan’s comments came a day after
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also hinted at a desire to reach common ground on nuclear issues. The two countries may never agree on some things, but if Biden and Putin can agree to keep a lid on the nukes, that’s no small victory.
Trump Pressured Rosen On Election
This deep dive into Donald Trump’s outbox comes from the Washington Post. Trump’s staff began sending emails to Jeffrey Rosen, the Number Two at the Justice Department, asking him to embrace Trump’s claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election at least ten days before Rosen assumed the role of acting attorney general. That’s according to new emails disclosed by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. On the same day as the electoral college met to certify the election results, Trump’s assistant sent Rosen an email with a list of complaints concerning the way the election had been carried out in Antrim County, Michigan. The file included a so-called forensic analysis of the Dominion Voting Systems machines the county employed, alleging they were calibrated to create fraudulent results. The claims were false.
According to the Post, the email sheds light on the type of pressure Trump was putting on the Justice Department to take up his crusade against Joe Biden’s 2020 victory. The campaign swiftly accelerated once Rosen was appointed acting attorney general. On January 1st, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows forwarded Rosen a YouTube link. The subject line suggested it was a video in which a retired CIA station chief argued that the 2020 election totals were altered by the Italians. Rosen forwarded the email to his acting deputy, Richard Donoghue, who responded simply: QUOTE Pure insanity ENDQUOTE. So Trump’s flunkies knew his election lies were crazy, but said nothing. More like pure cowardice!
New York, California Lift Restrictions
It’s a mixed bag on the pandemic front. The Associated Press reports that the US death toll from Covid-19 topped six hundred thousand yesterday. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that the vaccination drive has drastically brought down daily cases and fatalities and allowed the country to emerge from the gloom and look forward to summer. The milestone came the same day that California and New York lifted most of their remaining restrictions, joining other states in opening the way, step by step, for what could be a fun and close-to- normal summer for many Americans.
The AP says that with the overall picture improving rapidly, California – the most populous state and the first to impose a coronavirus lockdown – dropped state rules on social distancing and limits on capacity at restaurants, bars, supermarkets, gyms, stadiums and other places. They’re billing it as California’s Grand Reopening, just in time for summer. Disneyland is throwing open its gates. Fans will be able to sit elbow-to-elbow and cheer without masks at Dodgers and Giants games. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said yesterday that seventy percent of adults in the state have received at least one dose of the vaccine. And he announced that the immediate easing of many restrictions will be celebrated with fireworks. Massachusetts and Kansas yesterday lifted their states of emergency. And Maryland’s governor announced that the emergency there will end on July 1, with the state no longer requiring masks. It’s time for slightly socially anxious barbecues!
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According to the Washington Post, more than forty million Americans are in the crosshairs of triple-digit heat this week, with some spots soaring over one hundred and twenty degrees. The heat in many areas is dangerous, prompting excessive-heat warnings in seven Western states. So there you go, homebodies: an excuse to stay inside post-vaccination.
Stars and Stripes reports that Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal yesterday called on US Army leaders to investigate a QUOTE blood curdling ENDQUOTE news report that found nearly two thousand military firearms went missing during the last decade. An Associated Press investigation found that some of the lost or stolen firearms turned up at the scene of violent crimes. Whoops!
The Los Angeles Times reports that Harvey Weinstein will soon be extradited to California to stand trial on charges that he sexually assaulted five women in LA and Beverly Hills. A New York judge’s ruling yesterday sets the stage for a second trial focused on the mogul’s alleged pattern of sexually abusing actresses and models. That’d make two trials and, let’s see... eighty victims. Sounds like Harvey’s still ahead!
NBC News reports that the manager of a New York City Shake Shack said he was unlawfully detained and taunted by police after he was falsely accused last year of poisoning three officers' milkshakes. The manager, Marcus Gilliam, is now suing members of the New York Police Department, seeking damages for defamation and deprivation. Thank you for your service, Mister Shake Shack Manager, sir.
The New York Times reports that President Biden has named Lina Khan, a prominent critic of Big Tech, as the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission. Her appointment was a victory for progressive activists who want Biden to take a hard line against big companies. Let's hope she makes Mark Zuckerberg sweat -- I mean, even more than usual.
AM QUICKIE - JUNE 16, 2021
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Corey Pein
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn