Trump news – live: Ex-president declines to call Putin ‘evil’ on Fox News as Flynn pleads Fifth to Jan 6 panel

·36 min read

Donald Trump last night shied away from walking back on his praise for Russian president Vladimir Putin in an interview with Fox News late on Thursday, even as host Sean Hannity gave him multiple opportunities to do so.

Prompted to recognise Putin as “evil”, Mr Trump instead defended his description of the Russian leader as “smart”, saying: “Well, I was referring to the fact that he said this is an independent nation, talking about Ukraine, and I said that ... this was before there was any attack. He’s calling it an independent nation.”

Reiterating that the invasion would not have happened under his presidency, Mr Trump also criticised Joe Biden for not threatening Russia with “our nuclear capabilities”.

Meanwhile, one of Mr Trump’s most extreme allies, Mike Flynn, has refused to answer questions from the select committee investigating the 6 January riot, instead invoking his Fifth Amendment right to silence. The committee has previously sought access to his phone communications from the period leading up the the riot.

Mr Flynn is widely reported to have taken part in an Oval Office meeting in December 2021 at which the imposition of martial law was suggested as a means to keep Mr Trump in office.

Key points

  • Trump urges Biden to make Russia nuclear threats

  • Trump again declines to condemn Putin

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence’s dispatch from the Ukrainian border

  • Trump’s plane made emergency landing in New Orleans after engine failure

  • Backlash against ‘Putin Republicans’ after Madison Cawthorn comments

Mike Flynn pleads the Fifth to Jan 6 committee

12:01 , Andrew Naughtie

Mike Flynn, the disgraced former national security adviser who has become a hero to many right-wing conspiracy theorists, has appeared before the 6 January select committee – and refused to answer any questions, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to silence. This follows an example set by various other high-profile witnesses subpoenaed by the committee, among them Roger Stone and Alex Jones.

Read more:

Mike Flynn pleads the Fifth and refuses to answer Jan 6 committee’s questions

11:33 , Andrew Naughtie

Despite his seniority and the length of his service, Mitch McConnell is one of the least forthcoming members of the Senate when it comes to closely held personal politics.

For those seeking to understand him and his actions better, it seems there is hope on the horizon: an upcoming biography of the famously obstructionist and intransigent senator, whose iron grip on the Republican leadership Donald Trump is keen to break.

Ted Cruz heckled at trucker protest

11:05 , Andrew Naughtie

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has been visiting the “People’s Convoy” gathered near Washington, DC – an event inspired by the Ottawa truckers’ protest that has so far failed to create the same degree of obstruction.

Mr Cruz evidently expected a friendly reception, but not everyone in the crowd was glad to see him.

Voices | The first Jan 6 rioter to face trial has done us all a service

10:35 , Andrew Naughtie

Earlier this week, a jury found Texas man Guy Reffitt guilty of various offences connected to the Capitol riot, where he was caught on video. He is infamous for having threatened his family with violence if they turned him into the authorities, which his son nonetheless did.

In this opinion piece, Benedict Cosgrove argues that Mr Reffitt’s decision to plead not guilty has done the US a favour:

Thank you, Guy, for having enough faith in your cause to take your case to trial — the first trial of any January 6 defendant. Of course, you lost spectacularly in court and will likely spend years in prison when you’re sentenced for your crimes. But you showed the country and the world what can happen to otherwise decent folks when they willfully tumble down the fringe-right rabbit hole of stupid, toxic, anti-American lies and fall for stupid, toxic, anti-American politicians, lawyers, media outlets, and pillow salesmen. Thank you.

Read the full article below.

Why Guy Reffitt, the Capitol rioter who threatened his own kids, deserves our thanks

Is Donald Trump Jr a cocaine user, or the next MLK? Alex Jones weighs in

10:05 , Andrew Naughtie

Donald Trump Jr’s freewheeling, high-energy public speeches frequently meet with speculation about why exactly he speaks and behaves like he does. Despite what some have suggested, there is no evidence that he uses any kind of stimulant drug before appearing in public – and so says far-right extremist radio host Alex Jones, who denied that either he or the ex-president’s son had ever used drugs.

“They say Don Jr is a cokehead because he is high energy, they also said that about me,” said Mr Jones. “They don’t get like Don Jr gives a powerful speech and, I mean he is really becoming a good orator, one of the best.

“I mean just a couple of years ago he was okay, now it’s like damn, that’s a powerful speech, that’s better than Joel Olsteen or Martin Luther King.”

Alex Jones says Donald Trump Jr is not on cocaine but is a high energy speaker

ICYMI: Garland says all Jan 6 cases will be pursued

09:42 , Andrew Naughtie

More than a few Trump critics warning of the potential for a repeat of the 6 January insurrection have become concerned that the Justice Department is moving too slowly in cases against people accused of playing key roles in the events of that day, including Trump administration figures who have been held in contempt by the House of Representatives.

Attorney General Merrick Garland yesterday gave some of his widest-ranging comments yet on the matter, insisting that his department is “not avoiding cases that are political or cases that are controversial or sensitive.

“What we are avoiding is making decisions on a political basis, on a partisan basis,” he said.

Read more below.

Garland says Justice Department won’t avoid ‘controversial’ Jan 6 cases

Tucker Carlson’s pro-Russia tilt draws increasing alarm

09:05 , Andrew Naughtie

Many Fox News hosts are now working hard to recalibrate any perception that their network and Donald Trump have taken Vladimir Putin’s line in recent years – but one of their number, Tucker Carlson, is refusing to change course, and is attacking head-on his own network’s reporting.

In fact, so opposed is Mr Carlson to the US government line that his segments are being shown on Russian state media outlets:

In a discussion on MSNBC last night, Nicole Wallace and Jonathan Karl reflected on just how extreme Mr Carlson’s behaviour has become. As Mr Karl put it: “These are statements that are not only not true, but are precisely what is being said in Moscow by Vladimir Putin.”

‘I understood them, they understood me’

08:25 , Namita Singh

Sean Hannity gave former president Donald Trump another chance to walk back on his praise for Russian president Vladimir Putin. But instead of picking up on the opportunity, the former president said he “got along” with his former counterpart.

“Let me go back to the issue of the criticism, because I’ve known you well over 25 years,” began Hannity. “And when you got criticised for saying that Vladimir Putin is smart, we’ve had many conversations, and you’ve often quoted to me Sun Tzu, ‘The Art of War’: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Is that how you viewed Vladimir? Did you view Vladimir Putin and people like President Xi and Kim Jong-un and the Iranian mullahs as enemies that you needed to keep close?”

“I got along with these people. I got along with them well,” responded Mr Trump. “That doesn’t mean they are good people. It doesn’t mean anything other than the fact that I understood them and perhaps they understood me — maybe they understood me even better. That’s OK, because they knew there would be a big penalty.”

Trump criticises Biden administration for not threatening Russia ‘with our nuclear capability’

07:46 , Namita Singh

Criticising the Biden administration over the handling of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Donald Trump suggested using nuclear threats to push back again Vladimir Putin’s aggression.

“Well, I would have done it a lot differently than they have done it,” began the former president.

“Look, Biden... Everytime he gets up and says they are a nuclear nation. He should say, we are a nuclear nation. And you know, I rebuilt our whole nuclear arsenal. Stronger, bigger, better than ever before. Its better and bigger than Russia.”

He suggested that president Biden should say that “we are a nuclear nation and we don’t want war.”

“This is the way he should be talking. Instead, he doesn’t talk about our nuclear capability. He keeps saying that ‘they are a nuclear nation. We don’t war.’ And he is playing right into Putin’s hand when he does that.”

The former president added that “Putin is having a lot of trouble right now.

“He is having big big trouble because he thought this is going to be a 48-hour deal. And Ukrainians are good fighters.”

Trump declines to condemn Russia

07:22 , Namita Singh

Donald Trump shied away from condemning Russian president Vladimir Putin on Thursday, despite prompts to do so from Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Giving the former president the opportunity to walk back his comments praising Putin as a “genius”, Hannity said: “You came under some fire when you said that Vladimir Putin is very smart.

“I think I know you a little bit better than most people in the media, and I think you also recognise he’s evil, do you not?”

However, instead of commenting on the description of Mr Putin offered by Hannity, the former president said: “Well, I was referring to the fact that he said this is an independent nation, talking about Ukraine, and I said that ... this was before there was any attack. He’s calling it an independent nation.”

Reiterating that an invasion would not have happened under his presidency, Mr Trump said “this doesn’t seem to be the same Putin that I was dealing with”.

“But I will tell you, he wouldn’t have changed if I were dealing with him. He wouldn’t have changed.”

Republican senators urge president to allow Polish warplanes to Ukraine

06:58 , Namita Singh

Republican senators are urging the Biden administration to reverse its earlier stance allowing Poland’s MiG fighter jets to aid Ukraine’s fight against Russia.

Forty GOP senators signed onto a letter from senators Joni Ernst and Mitt Romney calling on president Joe Biden to expedite the transfer of airpower to Ukraine.

“While we commend the lethal aid that your Administration has sent to Ukraine thus far, we strongly disagree with your decision to delay and deny Poland the option to transfer fighter jets to Ukraine,” the senators wrote.

“We implore you to direct your Department of Defense to facilitate the transfer of aircraft, air defense systems, and other capabilities by and through our Nato partners immediately," they said.

‘Credible allegation that LA mayor was aware of sexual harassment’

06:30 , Namita Singh

Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the US Senate Committee on Thursday said he has received “numerous credible allegations” that Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti was aware of sexual harassment of city employees done by his close friend and adviser, Rick Jacobs and did nothing to stop the misconduct.

In a statement released by his office, Mr Grassley said he intends to object to the nomination of Mr Garcetti to serve as ambassador to India.“The United States owes it to the Republic of India to send them a qualified ambassador that will represent the values of the United States,” Grassley wrote.

“Mayor Garcetti may very well be fully qualified, but at this time, the Senate needs to look into these allegations further,” Grassley added. “Until my staff and I have conducted a thorough investigation and are able to speak with everyone involved I cannot vote to confirm Mr Garcetti.”

Mr Garcetti’s office however denied the allegation as “malicious falsehood”.

“Repeating a malicious falsehood will never turn a lie into the truth.”

Grassley: 'Credible' allegations LA mayor was aware of abuse

US and allies likely to revoke Russia favoured trade status

06:09 , Andrew Naughtie

The US and G7 allies are likely to move to revoke “most favoured nation” trade status for Russia.

President Joe Biden is expected to make the announcement on Friday. The move however, requires an act of Congress in the US, with each of the allies expected to implement the measure through their own national process.

The Congress is expected to introduce legislation to the effect on Friday following the president’s announcement, reported CNN, citing sources.

US, allies to revoke 'most favored nation' status for Russia

Senate approves $13.6bn aid package for Ukraine

05:39 , Namita Singh

A $13.6 billion emergency package of military and humanitarian aid for besieged Ukraine and its European allies won final congressional approval as both Democrats and Republicans provided bipartisan support to the aid.

The Senate approved $1.5 trillion overall legislation by a 68-31 margin.

“We promised the Ukrainian people they would not go at it alone in their fight against Putin,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, said just before the vote. “And once we pass this funding in a short while, we will keep that promise.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks  during a news briefing after a weekly Senate Democratic policy luncheon at the US Capitol 8 March 2022 in Washington, DC (Getty Images)
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a news briefing after a weekly Senate Democratic policy luncheon at the US Capitol 8 March 2022 in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

Biden asks Democrats to sell agenda with ‘confidence and clarity’

05:34 , Namita Singh

President Joe Biden told Democrats that they have a record “to be proud of “ and must sell it with “confidence, clarity, conviction and repetition” as they head into midterm elections.

It would be a “sad, sad two year” if Republicans regain control, he said.

Delivering the message to Democratic National Committee members on the eve of the anniversary of his signing of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the president said: “People were hurting. We had to act, and we did.”

“We did it as Democrats without a single, solitary Republic vote.”

Biden to Dems: Sell agenda with 'confidence' and 'clarity'

How Trump targeted ‘that woman’ Gretchen Whitmer over militia threat

05:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Hours before the FBI revealed an alleged kidnap plot against Gretchen Whitmer, Donald Trump railed against the Michigan governor as the Covid “lockup queen”.

Within weeks, his supporters were chanting “lock her up” as the then-president used the threat against her life to rally support in the key swing state during the final days of the 2020 election.

The trial against four militia members, which began this week, heard that the so-called “Wolverine Watchmen” were “sent overboard” by Covid and the “tyrant” governor’s mask mandates and lockdowns.

Justin Vallejo reports.

How Trump targeted ‘that woman’ Gretchen Whitmer over kidnap plot

Biden intends to designate Colombia as a non-Nato ally

05:01 , Namita Singh

President Joe Biden on Thursday said he intends to designate Columbia as a major non-Nato ally.

The step, announced during his White House meeting with outgoing Colombian president, is expected to provide the Latin American nation with benefits in the area of defense, trade and security cooperation.

“I’m proud to announce that I intend to designate Colombia a major non-Nato ally,” Mr Biden said. “That’s exactly what you are, a major, major non-Nato ally, and this is a recognition of the unique and close relationship between our countries.”

Biden announces major non-NATO ally status for Colombia

Another Trump endorsee in trouble?

04:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Donald Trump prides himself on the power of his endorsement, and boasts loudly whenever someone he’s backed wins a primary or a public office. He’s already seen plenty of success in this year’s Texas primaries – but not all of his chosen outriders are on the rise, and now, NBC reports that one of Mr Trump’s chosen candidates is in danger of being frozen out by the Republican-dominated legislature in her own state.

Tennessee congressional candidate Morgan Ortagus is a former spokeswoman for Trump’s State Department, but her credentials from his administration may not carry her far. As the story quotes one state senator saying: “I voted for Trump. I supported him. I’ll vote for Trump as long as he lives. But I don’t want him coming out here to tell me who to vote for.”

Bill Barr reaffirms he would vote for Trump again if he were nominee

04:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Appearing on Fox News, former Attorney General Bill Barr says he would vote for Donald Trump if he were Republican nominee in 2024.

This, despite publishing a book that largely disparages the former president and claims he “went off the rails” after the 2020 election.

Mr Barr did concede that he hopes that Mr Trump is not the nominee, citing many qualified people in the party.

He also said that Joe Biden is too old to govern at 78‚ the age Mr Trump would be in 2024.

Tucker Carlson’s past comments could hurt Fox News in Smartmatic defamation suit, judge says

03:45 , Andrew Naughtie

A judge hearing a defamation lawsuit brought against Fox News by a voting software company has said the network’s case may suffer because one of its own hosts, Tucker Carlson, himself dismissed claims at the centre of the case.

In an opinion handed down in response to several motions to dismiss the lawsuit, New York State Supreme Court Judge David Cohen wrote that Smartmatic USA can continue pursuing its claims against the network and several of its hosts over the reporting of claims made by lawyer and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell about the company’s systems.

He also wrote that “ironically, the statements of Tucker Carlson, perhaps the most popular Fox News host, militate most strongly in favour of a possible finding that there is a substantial basis that Fox News acted with actual malice” by airing claims that Smartmatic’s software was compromised, allowing the election to be stolen in Joe Biden’s favour.

The Independent’s Andrew Naughtie has more.

Judge says Tucker Carlson’s comments could hurt Fox News in $2.7bn defamation suit

‘Putin Republicans’: Backlash to Madison Cawthorn’s comments about Zelensky

03:15 , Oliver O'Connell

North Carolina Republican Representative Madison Cawthorn has been slammed after a video emerged of him calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug” and his government “evil”.

“Remember that Zelensky is a thug,” Mr Cawthorn told supporters, a video obtained by WRAL shows. “Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies.”

California Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell tweeted that “100 per cent of Democrats are Zelensky Democrats. 50 per cent of Republicans are Putin Republicans”.

Gustaf Kilander reports on more the reaction to the far-right lawmakers comments.

‘Putin Republicans’: Madison Cawthorn suffers backlash for calling Zelensky a ‘thug’

Trump’s ‘go-to-banger’?

02:45 , Oliver O'Connell

If you didn’t know it was YMCA, “the gay national anthem” as he calls it, then you weren’t paying attention during his many, many rallies.

Trump says he loves playing ‘gay anthem’ when he DJs at Mar-a-Lago

Why the RNC is suing the 6 January committee

02:15 , Oliver O'Connell

The 6 January committee’s inquiry has many strands to it, and thus many people and organisations of interest – among them the Republican Party itself. Now, the GOP’s chief counsel, Justin Riemer, has claimed that the panel is “seizing” confidential information from the RNC and its supporters as it seeks to understand their activities leading up to the Capitol riot.

Filing a lawsuit to stop the committee’s move, he said:

Nancy Pelosi and the Committee have weaponized Congress’ investigatory powers by issuing this staggeringly broad subpoena which tramples on core First Amendment rights of the RNC and millions of Americans,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “The RNC is challenging this unconstitutional overreach so that one of America’s two major political parties may not use the force of government to unlawfully seize the private and sensitive information of the other.

Eric Garcia has more on the latest contretemps.

Republican National Committee sues the January 6 Committee

Garland: DoJ won’t avoid ‘controversial’ Jan 6 cases

01:45 , Oliver O'Connell

US Attorney General Merrick Garland gave some of his most wide-ranging comments yet about the January 6 investigation in an interview with NPR, telling the news organisation that his agency would not shy away from tough prosecutions based on political decisions.

Mr Garland is seen as a lionising figure among some liberals in the US after he was appointed to the Justice Department following his unsuccessful nomination to the Supreme Court in the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency. He now heads up one of the largest investigations in the agency’s history that has already led to hundreds of prosecutions and shows no sign of slowing down.

John Bowden reports from Washington, DC.

Garland says Justice Department won’t avoid ‘controversial’ Jan 6 cases

Fox News correspondent debunks network’s own Russia-friendly falsehoods

01:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Fox News’s national security correspondent, Jennifer Griffin, has been valiantly explaining the reality of the war in Ukraine even as some of her network colleagues and their on-air guests indulge in sometimes bizarre alternate versions of reality.

Last night, she once again found herself having to correct some of her own network’s output, this time on a brewing conspiracy about “bio labs” in Ukraine that she says Russia may be pointing to as a prelude to a false flag attack.

Polling shows Republican voters are taking Ukraine’s side

00:30 , Andrew Naughtie

For all that the likes of Tucker Carlson are questioning why the US is opposing Russia so strongly during its assault on Ukraine, new data shows that the American electorate is broadly united around a set of strong opinions: that Russia is in the wrong, Ukraine is in the right, and paying for the costs created by sanctions is worth it.

CBC News’s Alexander Panetta walks through the data:

Disney CEO says LGBT+ representation is more powerful than lobbying. Pixar staff have a different story to tell

Thursday 10 March 2022 23:45 , Oliver O'Connell

The Walt Disney Company’s CEO Bob Chapek, who announced that the company opposes Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation after it passed the state’s legislature, insists that the company’s diverse representation in its programming reflects Disney’s “inclusive culture” and is “more powerful” than any lobbying efforts.

But a group of LGBT+ Pixar employees and their allies say the company has “shaved down to crumbs” what little representation makes it to the screen.

“Nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest, regardless of when there is protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar,” employees wrote in a statement to Disney leadership on 9 March.

Alex Woodward has the latest.

Disney CEO says LGBT+ representation is important. Pixar staff say they can’t make it

Civil rights groups warn Florida’s ‘election police’ could be used to intimidate voters

Thursday 10 March 2022 23:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Florida’s state legislature has approved the creation of a new office dedicated to the investigation of election-related crimes, among the latest state-level Republican efforts targeting voting rights and election administration.

Voting rights and civil groups warn that such legislation – which has also been proposed by GOP officials in Arizona and Georgia – could end up criminalising a bedrock of democracy and be used to intimidate voters from casting their ballots.

Alex Woodward reports.

Florida’s ‘election police’ poses threat to voting rights, groups warn

Hero of Russian Federation resigns with damning note denouncing Putin

Thursday 10 March 2022 22:45 , Oliver O'Connell

A highly decorated former Russian test pilot has delivered a dramatic criticism of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and his war on “brotherly Slavic people”.

Over the course of three decades, Alexander Garnaev flew for the airforce of the Soviet Union and then as a test pilot for experimental prototypes of the MiG-29M fighter jet.

In 1998, he was made a Hero of the Russian Federation, one of the country’s highest honours.

Andrew Buncombe and Katya Bandouil report.

Hero of the Russia Federation resigns with damning note denouncing Putin’s war

Mike Pence meets refugees on Ukraine’s border

Thursday 10 March 2022 22:28 , Oliver O'Connell

Former Vice President Mike Pence travelled to the border of Ukraine this week to meet refugees fleeing the country as a group he founded seeks to hit vulnerable congressional Democrats on the dual issue of American energy independence and reliance on Russian oil.

Mr Pence tweeted photos of him and former second lady Karen Pence meeting with families fleeing violence. Pictures of the crowds depicted mostly women and young children.

John Bowden reports.

Mike Pence meets refugees on Ukraine’s border

US Census missed 18.8 million people in 2020

Thursday 10 March 2022 22:15 , Oliver O'Connell

The US Census continued a trend of undercounting Black, Latino and Native American populations in its 2020 survey, which overcounted white Americans and Asian Americans in the once-a-decade count of the nation’s population.

Latinos were undercounted in the 2020 survey at a rate of roughly three times the missed count in 2010, while people who identified as white and not Latino were overcounted at a rate of nearly double that of 2010, according to findings released on 10 March.

Alex Woodward has the details of the missing millions.

Black, Latino and Native Americans undercounted in 2020 Census

The Lincoln Project doesn’t think Cawthorn is an “outlier” in GOP

Thursday 10 March 2022 22:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Using the hashtag #PartyOfPutin, anti-Trump group The Lincoln Project retweeted a clip of Senator Lindsey Graham saying that Madison Cawthorn was an “outlier” in the party for his views on Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin.

The group linked to their own tweet listing the 15 Republicans who voted against banning the import of Russian oil last night.

They crossed out the phrase “Russian assets” in their tweet.

Bill Barr reaffirms he would vote for Trump again if he were nominee

Thursday 10 March 2022 21:56 , Oliver O'Connell

Appearing on Fox News, former Attorney General Bill Barr says he would vote for Donald Trump if he were Republican nominee in 2024.

This, despite publishing a book that largely disparages the former president and claims he “went off the rails” after the 2020 election.

Mr Barr did concede that he hopes that Mr Trump is not the nominee, citing many qualified people in the party.

He also said that Joe Biden is too old to govern at 78‚ the age Mr Trump would be in 2024.

Palin uses derogatory stereotype in rant about US gas prices

Thursday 10 March 2022 21:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Sarah Palin revived a derogatory stereotype in an attempt to make her point about rising US gas prices during a Fox News appearance on Wednesday.

Gas prices have climbed to record highs across the states as the country cut off Russian oil imports this week following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

During a segment on Jesse Watters’ show, the former Alaska governor complained about how much it cost to fill up her truck, and described vehicles which use comparatively little gas as “rice rockets”.

Louise Boyle reports.

Sarah Palin uses derogatory stereotype in rant about gas prices

No heads up from Pence about Ukraine border mission

Thursday 10 March 2022 21:38 , Oliver O'Connell

More GOP reaction to Cawthorn comments

Thursday 10 March 2022 21:25 , Oliver O'Connell

Responding to the description of Volodymyr Zelensky as a “thug” by a member of their own party, Senator Lindsey Graham says Madison Cawthorn is an outlier “in the largest sense possible on our side”, adding that “there are some on the left that are outliers”.

Senator Joni Ernst responded by calling Putin “an actual murderous thug” and says she would tell her colleague in the House that Ukraine didn’t invade Russia, Russia invaded Ukraine.

It begs the question what they would say to Donald Trump about his praise for Vladimir Putin.

US says North Korea missile trials were warm up for ‘full range’ test

Thursday 10 March 2022 21:10 , Oliver O'Connell

Two medium-range ballistic missile tests conducted by North Korea over the last two weeks were likely test runs for a new missile system and were made in preparation for a full-scale Intercontinental Ballistic Missile test that could be disguised as a space launch, US officials have said.

A senior administration official who briefed reporters on the government’s findings called the latest tests “a serious escalation” by North Korea, and a “brazen violation” of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding the rogue state abandon its nuclear weapons programme, suspend ballistic missile development and testing, and re-join the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

“These launches … needlessly raise tensions and risk destabilizing the security situation in the region. We urge all countries to condemn these violations,” the official said.

Reporting for The Independent in Washington, DC, Andrew Feinberg has the details.

North Korea missile trials were warm up for ‘full range’ test, US says

Trump’s ‘go-to-banger’

Thursday 10 March 2022 21:00 , Oliver O'Connell

If you didn’t know it was YMCA, “the gay national anthem” as he calls it, then you weren’t paying attention during his many, many rallies.

Trump says he loves playing ‘gay anthem’ when he DJs at Mar-a-Lago

Heckler: ‘Ted Cruz sucks!’

Thursday 10 March 2022 20:30 , Oliver O'Connell

A heckler interrupted Senator Ted Cruz as he gave a speech alongside the “People’s Convoy” trucker protesters who’ve been circling Washington DC to protest Covid mandates.

Midway through the Texas Republican’s remarks about the Covid Chinese lab leak theory, a member of the crowd shouted, “Ted Cruz sucks!” eliciting chuckles from even the truckers alongside Mr Cruz.

“God bless you,” the senator responded.

Josh Marcus reports.

‘Ted Cruz sucks!’Heckler interrupts senator’s speech at DC trucker convoy protest

Garland: DoJ won’t avoid ‘controversial’ Jan 6 cases

Thursday 10 March 2022 20:01 , Oliver O'Connell

US Attorney General Merrick Garland gave some of his most wide-ranging comments yet about the January 6 investigation in an interview with NPR, telling the news organisation that his agency would not shy away from tough prosecutions based on political decisions.

Mr Garland is seen as a lionising figure among some liberals in the US after he was appointed to the Justice Department following his unsuccessful nomination to the Supreme Court in the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency. He now heads up one of the largest investigations in the agency’s history that has already led to hundreds of prosecutions and shows no sign of slowing down.

John Bowden reports from Washington, DC.

Garland says Justice Department won’t avoid ‘controversial’ Jan 6 cases

‘Putin Republicans’

Thursday 10 March 2022 19:43 , Oliver O'Connell

North Carolina Republican Representative Madison Cawthorn has been slammed after a video emerged of him calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug” and his government “evil”.

“Remember that Zelensky is a thug,” Mr Cawthorn told supporters, a video obtained by WRAL shows. “Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies.”

California Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell tweeted that “100 per cent of Democrats are Zelensky Democrats. 50 per cent of Republicans are Putin Republicans”.

Gustaf Kilander reports on more the reaction to the far-right lawmakers comments.

‘Putin Republicans’: Madison Cawthorn suffers backlash for calling Zelensky a ‘thug’

Republican ridiculed for supporting Ukraine ‘no fly zone’ but not knowing what it means

Thursday 10 March 2022 19:30 , Oliver O'Connell

A Republican congresswoman has been ridiculed online for supporting a no-fly zone above Ukraine even though she allegedly does not “know what it will mean”.

Maria Elvira Salazar, who represents Florida’s 27th congressional district, told reporters she “absolutely” supported Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s calls for a no-fly zone when asked on Wednesday.

“Absolutely, I support everything that has to do with punishing Vladimir Putin and helping the Ukrainians,” Ms Salazar said when asked whether or not she supported a no fly zone in Ukraine while adding, “I don’t know what it will mean but freedom is not free”.

Gino Spocchia reports.

Florida Republican ridiculed for Ukraine ‘no fly zone’ comments

Madison Cawthorn calls Zelensky a ‘thug’ and Ukrainian government ‘woke’ and ‘evil’

Thursday 10 March 2022 19:00 , Oliver O'Connell

A video has emerged of North Carolina Republican Representative Madison Cawthorn calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug” and his government “evil”.

“Remember that Zelensky is a thug,” Mr Cawthorn told supporters, a video obtained by WRAL shows. “Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies.”

While it remains unclear where the video was filmed, Karl Rove, who served as President George W Bush’s deputy chief of staff, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that Mr Cawthorn made the comments over the weekend during an event in Asheville. Mr Rove said he believed that the comments “didn’t reflect Republican opinion”.

Gustaf Kilander reports.

Madison Cawthorn calls Zelensky a ‘thug’ and Ukrainian government ‘woke’ and ‘evil’

How Trump targeted ‘that woman’ Gretchen Whitmer over militia threat

Thursday 10 March 2022 18:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Hours before the FBI revealed an alleged kidnap plot against Gretchen Whitmer, Donald Trump railed against the Michigan governor as the Covid “lockup queen”.

Within weeks, his supporters were chanting “lock her up” as the then-president used the threat against her life to rally support in the key swing state during the final days of the 2020 election.

The trial against four militia members, which began this week, heard that the so-called “Wolverine Watchmen” were “sent overboard” by Covid and the “tyrant” governor’s mask mandates and lockdowns.

Justin Vallejo reports.

How Trump targeted ‘that woman’ Gretchen Whitmer over kidnap plot

Tucker Carlson’s past comments could hurt Fox News in Smartmatic defamation suit, judge says

Thursday 10 March 2022 18:05 , Oliver O'Connell

A judge hearing a defamation lawsuit brought against Fox News by a voting software company has said the network’s case may suffer because one of its own hosts, Tucker Carlson, himself dismissed claims at the centre of the case.

In an opinion handed down in response to several motions to dismiss the lawsuit, New York State Supreme Court Judge David Cohen wrote that Smartmatic USA can continue pursuing its claims against the network and several of its hosts over the reporting of claims made by lawyer and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell about the company’s systems.

He also wrote that “ironically, the statements of Tucker Carlson, perhaps the most popular Fox News host, militate most strongly in favour of a possible finding that there is a substantial basis that Fox News acted with actual malice” by airing claims that Smartmatic’s software was compromised, allowing the election to be stolen in Joe Biden’s favour.

The Independent’s Andrew Naughtie has more.

Judge says Tucker Carlson’s comments could hurt Fox News in $2.7bn defamation suit

Far-right congressman calls Ukrainian president a “thug"

Thursday 10 March 2022 17:40 , Oliver O'Connell

As the mainstream Republican Party tries to calibrate its position on Ukraine away from anything that looks like sympathy for Vladimir, North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn has lit into the Ukrainian president just as he becomes something of an international hero.

"Remember that Zelensky is a thug," state outlet WRAL reported Mr Cawthorn saying. "Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies."

Read more below:

Ted Cruz goes for a ride with “People’s Convoy” truckers

Thursday 10 March 2022 17:20 , Andrew Naughtie

The “People’s Convoy” protest based outside of Washington, DC has so far failed in its stated aim of snarling up the Capitol with a “boa constrictor” of traffic jams, but it has nonetheless attracted strong support from a segment of the right-wing activist grassroots – and from conservative senator Ted Cruz, who climbed into one of the trucks today.

Another Trump endorsee in trouble?

Thursday 10 March 2022 17:00 , Andrew Naughtie

Donald Trump prides himself on the power of his endorsement, and boasts loudly whenever someone he’s backed wins a primary or a public office. He’s already seen plenty of success in this year’s Texas primaries – but not all of his chosen outriders are on the rise, and now, NBC reports that one of Mr Trump’s chosen candidates is in danger of being frozen out by the Republican-dominated legislature in her own state.

Tennessee congressional candidate Morgan Ortagus is a former spokeswoman for Trump’s State Department, but her credentials from his administration may not carry her far. As the story quotes one state senator saying: “I voted for Trump. I supported him. I’ll vote for Trump as long as he lives. But I don’t want him coming out here to tell me who to vote for.”

Mike Pence’s dispatch from the Ukrainian border

Thursday 10 March 2022 16:33 , Andrew Naughtie

While his sometime boss faces a stream of criticism for his past praise of Vladimir Putin, Mike Pence has paid a visit to the Ukrainian border along with his wife, Karen.

Garland gives interview on Jan 6 investigations

Thursday 10 March 2022 16:10 , Andrew Naughtie

In a discussion with NPR, Attorney General Merrick Garland had plenty to say about the progress of the investigation into the causes and events of the 6 January riot.

“We begin with the cases that are right in front of us with the overt actions and then we build from there,” he told the broadcaster, “and that is a process that we will continue to build until we hold everyone accountable who committed criminal acts with respect to January 6.”

Mr Garland’s department has faced criticism from Democrats and Trump opponents who are frustrated how slowly it has moved in criminal contempt cases against Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows.

Read more from NPR and listen to the interview below.

Trump revisits hatred of windmills in bizarre interview

Thursday 10 March 2022 15:40 , Andrew Naughtie

Speaking to the Full Send podcast, hosted by the Canadian YouTubers known as the Nelk Boys, Mr Trump responded to a question on the war with Ukraine by launching a tirade against wind energy, which he has harboured an antipathy towards for years.

“The windmills don’t work,” he said. “They’re too expensive. They kill all the birds. They ruin your landscapes. And yet the environmentalists love the windmills,” he went on. “And I’ve been preaching this for years.

“The windmills – and I had them way down – but the windmills are the most expensive energy you can have. And they don’t work.”

Read more:

‘Windmills don’t work’: Trump gives nonsense answer when asked how Ukraine war

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