Read: Liz Cheney’s opening statement at Jan. 6 select committee hearing


“These are the things and events that happen,” he said, “when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”

As you will see in the hearings to come, President Trump believed his supporters at the Capitol, and I quote, “were doing what they should be doing.” This is what he told his staff as they pleaded with him to call off the mob, to instruct his supporters to leave. Over a series of hearings in the coming weeks, you will hear testimony, live and on video, from more than a half dozen former White House staff in the Trump administration, all of whom were in the West Wing of the White House on January 6th. You will hear testimony that “The President didn’t really want to put anything out” calling off the riot or asking his supporters to leave. You will hear that President Trump was yelling, and “really angry at advisors who told him he needed to be doing something more.” And, aware of the rioters’ chants to “hang Mike Pence,” the President responded with this sentiment: “maybe our supporters have the right idea.” Mike Pence “deserves” it.

You will hear evidence that President Trump refused for hours to do what his staff, his family, and many of his other advisors begged him to do: immediately instruct his supporters to stand down and evacuate the Capitol.

Tonight, you will see never-before-seen footage of the brutal attack on our Capitol, an attack that unfolded while, a few blocks away, President Trump sat watching television in his dining room off the Oval Office. You will hear audio from the brave police officers battling for their lives and ours, fighting to defend our democracy, against a violent mob Donald Trump refused to call off.

Tonight and in the weeks to come, you will see evidence of what motivated this violence, including directly from those who participated in this attack. You will see video of them explaining what caused them to do it. You will see their posts on social media. We will show you what they have said in federal court. On this point, there is no room for debate. Those who invaded our Capitol and battled law enforcement for hours were motivated by what President Trump had told them: that the election was stolen, and that he was the rightful President. President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.

You will also hear about plots to commit seditious conspiracy on January 6th, a crime defined in our laws as “conspir[ing] to overthrow, put down or destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to oppose by force the authority thereof.” Multiple members of two groups, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, have been charged with this crime for their involvement in the events leading up to and on January 6th. Some have pled guilty. The attack on our Capitol was not a spontaneous riot. Intelligence available before January 6th identified plans to “invade” the Capitol, “occupy” the Capitol, and take other steps to halt Congress’ count of Electoral Votes that day. In our hearings to come, we will identify elements of those plans, and we will show specifically how a group of Proud Boys led a mob into the Capitol building on January 6th.

Tonight I am going to describe for you some of what our committee has learned and highlight initial findings you will see this month in our hearings. As you hear this, all Americans should keep in mind this fact: On the morning of January 6th, President Donald Trump’s intention was to remain President of the United States despite the lawful outcome of the 2020 election and in violation of his Constitutional obligation to relinquish power. Over multiple months, Donald Trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power. In our hearings, you will see evidence of each element of this plan.

In our second hearing, you will see that Donald Trump and his advisors knew that he had, in fact, lost the election. But, despite this, President Trump engaged in a massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information – to convince huge portions of the U.S. population that fraud had stolen the election from him. This was not true.

Jason Miller was a senior Trump Campaign spokesman. In this clip, Miller describes a call between the Trump campaign’s internal data expert and President Trump a few days after the 2020 election:

A: I was in the Oval Office. At some point in the conversation, Matt Oczkowski who was the lead data person was brought on and I remember he delivered to the President in pretty blunt terms that he was going to lose.

Q: And that was based, Mr. Miller, on Matt and the data team’s assessment of this sort of county by county state by state results as reported?

A: Correct.

Alex Cannon was one of President Trump’s campaign lawyers. He previously worked for the Trump Organization. One of his responsibilities was to assess allegations of election fraud in November 2020. Here is one sample of his testimony — discussing what he told White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows:

A: I remember a call with Mr. Meadows where Mr. Meadows was asking me what I was finding and if I was finding anything and I remember sharing with him that we weren’t finding anything that would be sufficient to um change the results in any of the key states.

Q: When was that conversation?

A: Probably in November, mid to late November, I think it was before my child was born.

Q: And what was Mr. Meadows’ reaction to that information?

A: I believe the words he used were “so there’s no there there.”

There’s no there there. The Trump Campaign’s General Counsel Matt Morgan gave similar testimony. He explained that all of the fraud allegations and the campaign’s other election arguments taken together and viewed in the best possible light for President Trump, could still not change the outcome of the election.

President Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr also told Donald Trump his election claims were wrong:

A: And I repeatedly told the President in no uncertain terms that I did not see evidence of fraud, you know, that would have affected the outcome of the election. And frankly, a year and a half later, I haven’t seen anything to change my mind on that.

Attorney General Barr also told President Trump that his allegations about Dominion voting machines were groundless:

“I saw absolutely zero basis for the allegations, but they were made in such a sensational way that they obviously were influencing a lot of people, members of the public that there was this systemic corruption in the system and that their votes didn’t count, and that these machines, controlled by somebody else, were actually determining it, which was complete nonsense. And it was being laid out there. And I told him that it was crazy stuff and they were wasting their time on that and that it was doing great, great disservice to the country.”

But President Trump persisted, repeating the false Dominion allegations in public at least a dozen more times even after his Attorney General told him they were “complete nonsense.”

And after Barr’s resignation on December 23rd, the Acting Attorney General who replaced him, Jeff Rosen and the acting Deputy, Richard Donoghue told President Trump over and over again that the evidence did not support allegations he was making in public.

Many of President Trump’s White House staff also recognized that the evidence did not support the claims President Trump was making. This is the President’s daughter, commenting on Bill Barr’s statement that the Department found no fraud sufficient to overturn the election:

Q: How did that affect your perspective about the election when Attorney General Barr made that statement?

A: It affected my perspective. I respect Attorney General Barr so I accepted what he was saying.

As you will hear on Monday, the President had every right to litigate his campaign claims, but he ultimately lost more than 60 cases in state and federal courts. The President’s claims in the election cases were so frivolous and unsupported that the President’s lead lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, not only lost the lawsuits, his license to practice law was suspended. Here is what the court said of Mr. Giuliani:

Giuliani “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed effort at reelection in 2020.”

As you will see in great detail in these hearings, President Trump ignored the rulings of our nation’s courts, he ignored his own campaign leadership, his White House staff, many Republican state officials, he ignored the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security. President Trump invested millions of dollars of campaign funds purposely spreading false information, running ads he knew were false, and convincing millions of Americans that the election was corrupt and he was the true President. As you will see, this misinformation campaign provoked the violence on January 6th.

In our third hearing, you will see that President Trump corruptly planned to replace the Attorney General of the United States so the U.S. Justice Department would spread his false stolen election claims. In the days before January 6th, President Trump told his top Justice Department officials “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican Congressmen.” Senior Justice Department officials, men he had appointed, told him they could not do that, because it was not true. So President Trump decided to replace them.

He offered Jeff Clark, an environmental lawyer at the Justice Department, the job of Acting Attorney General. President Trump wanted Mr. Clark to take a number of steps, including sending this letter to Georgia and five other states, saying the U.S. Department of Justice had “identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election.” This letter is a lie. The Department of Justice had, in fact, repeatedly told President Trump exactly the opposite – that they had investigated his stolen election allegations and found no credible fraud that could impact the outcome of the election. This letter, and others like it, would have urged multiple states to withdraw their official and lawful electoral votes for Biden.

Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue described Jeff Clark’s letter this way: “This would be a grave step for the Department to take and could have tremendous constitutional, political and social ramifications for the country.” The Committee agrees with Mr. Donoghue’s assessment. Had Clark assumed the role of Attorney General in the days before January 6th and issued these letters, the ramifications could indeed have been grave. Mr. Donoghue also said this about Clark’s plan:

“And I recall towards the end saying, what you’re proposing is nothing less than the United States Justice Department meddling in the outcome of a Presidential Election.”

In our hearings, you will hear first-hand how the senior leadership of the Department of Justice threatened to resign, how the White House Counsel threatened to resign, and how they confronted Donald Trump and Jeff Clark in the Oval Office. The men involved, including Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen and Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, were appointed by President Trump. These men honored their oaths of office. They did their duty, and you will hear from them in our hearings.

By contrast, Jeff Clark has invoked his 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and refused to testify. Representative Scott Perry, who was involved in trying to get Clark appointed as Attorney General, has refused to testify here. As you will see, Representative Perry contacted the White House in the weeks after January 6th to seek a Presidential Pardon. Multiple other Republican congressmen also sought Presidential Pardons for their roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election.

In our fourth hearing, we will focus on President Trump’s efforts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count electoral votes on January 6th. Vice President Pence has spoken publicly about this:

“President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election. The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone. And frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”

What President Trump demanded that Mike Pence do wasn’t just wrong, it was illegal and it was unconstitutional. You will hear this in great detail from the Vice President’s former General Counsel. Witnesses in these hearings will explain how the former Vice President and his staff informed President Trump over and over again that what he was pressuring Mike Pence to do was illegal.

As you will hear, President Trump engaged in a relentless effort to pressure Pence both in private and in public. You will see the evidence of that pressure from multiple witnesses live and on video. Vice President Pence demonstrated his loyalty to Donald Trump consistently over four years, but he knew that he had a higher duty – to the United States Constitution. This is testimony from the Vice President’s Chief of Staff:

A: I think the Vice President was proud of his four years of service and he felt like much had been accomplished in those four years. And I think he was proud to have stood beside the President for all that had been done. But I think he ultimately knew that his fidelity to the Constitution was his first and foremost oath, and that’s – that’s what he articulated publicly and I think that’s what he felt.

Q: His fidelity to the Constitution was more important than his fidelity to President Trump and his desire …

A: The oath he took, yes.

You will also hear about a lawyer named John Eastman. Mr. Eastman was deeply involved in President Trump’s plans. You will hear from former Fourth Circuit Federal Judge Michael Luttig, a highly respected leading conservative judge. John Eastman clerked for Judge Luttig. Judge Luttig provided counsel to the Vice President’s team in the days before January 6th. The Judge will explain how Eastman “was wrong at every turn.” And you will see the email exchanges between Eastman and the Vice President’s Counsel as the violent attack on Congress was underway. Mr. Jacob said this to Mr. Eastman: “And thanks to your bullshit, we are under siege.” You will also see evidence that John Eastman did not actually believe the legal position he was taking. In fact, a month before the 2020 election, Eastman took exactly the opposite view on the same legal issues.

In the course of the Select Committee’s work to obtain information from Mr. Eastman, we have had occasion to present evidence to a federal judge. The judge evaluated these facts and he reached the conclusion that President Trump’s efforts to pressure Vice President Pence to act illegally by refusing to count electoral votes likely violated two federal criminal statutes. And the judge also said this: “If Dr. Eastman and President Trump’s plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution. If the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the Court fears January 6th will repeat itself.” Every American should read what this federal judge has written. The same Judge, Judge Carter, issued another decision on Tuesday night, indicating that John Eastman and other Trump lawyers knew that their legal arguments had no real chance of success in court. But they relied on those arguments anyway to try to “overturn a democratic election.”

And you will hear that while Congress was under attack on January 6th and the hours following the violence, the Trump legal team in the Willard Hotel war room continued to work to halt the count of electoral votes.

In our fifth hearing, you will see evidence that President Trump corruptly pressured state legislators and election officials to change election results. You will hear additional details about President Trump’s call to Georgia officials urging them to “find” 11,780 voted – votes that did not exist, and his efforts to get states to rescind certified electoral slates without factual basis and contrary to law. You will hear new details about the Trump campaign and other Trump associates’ efforts to instruct Republican officials in multiple states to create intentionally false electoral slates, and transmit those slates to Congress, to the Vice President, and the National Archives, falsely certifying that Trump won states he actually lost.

In our final two June hearings, you will hear how President Trump summoned a violent mob and directed them, illegally, to march on the U.S. Capitol. While the violence was underway, President Trump failed to take immediate action to stop the violence and instruct his supporters to leave the Capitol.

As we present these initial findings, keep two points in mind. First, our investigation is still ongoing, so what we make public here will not be the complete set of information we will ultimately disclose. And second, the Department of Justice is currently working with cooperating witnesses, and has disclosed to date only some of the information it has identified from encrypted communications and other sources.

On December 18, 2020, a group including General Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and others visited the White House. They stayed late into the evening. We know that the group discussed a number of dramatic steps, including having the military seize voting machines and potentially rerun elections. You will also hear that President Trump met with that group alone for a period of time before White House lawyers and other staff discovered the group was there, and rushed to intervene.

A little more than an hour after Ms. Powell, Mr. Giuliani, General Flynn and the others finally left the White House, President Trump sent the tweet on the screen now, telling people to come to Washington on January 6th: “Be there,” he instructed them. “Will be Wild!”

As you will see, this was a pivotal moment. This tweet initiated a chain of events. The tweet led to the planning for what occurred on January 6th, including by the Proud Boys who ultimately led the invasion of the Capitol and the violence that day. The indictment of a group of Proud Boys alleges that they planned to “oppose by force the authority of the government of the United States.” And according to the Department of Justice:

“On Jan. 6, 2021, the defendants directed, mobilized and led members of the crowd onto the Capitol grounds and into the Capitol, leading to dismantling of metal barricades, destruction of property, breaching of the Capitol building, and assaults on law enforcement.”

Although certain former Trump officials have argued that they did not anticipate violence on January 6th, the evidence suggests otherwise. As you will see in our hearings, the White House was receiving specific reports in the days leading up to January 6th, including during President Trump’s Ellipse rally, indicating that elements in the crowd were preparing for violence at the Capitol. And, on the evening of January 5th, the President’s close advisor Steve Bannon said this on his podcast: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this, all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.

As part of our investigation, we will present information about what the White House and other intelligence agencies knew, and why the Capitol was not better prepared. But we will not lose sight of the fact that the Capitol Police did not cause the crowd to attack. And we will not blame the violence that day, violence provoked by Donald Trump, on the officers who bravely defended all of us.

In our final hearing, you will hear a moment-by-moment account of the hours-long attack from more than a half dozen White House staff, both live in the hearing room and via videotaped testimony. There is no doubt that President Trump was well aware of the violence as it developed. White House staff urged President Trump to intervene and call off the mob. Here is a document written while the attack was underway by a member of the White House staff advising what the President needed to say: “Anyone who entered the capitol without proper authority should leave immediately.”

This is exactly what his supporters on Capitol Hill and nationwide were urging the President to do. He would not. You will hear that leaders on Capitol Hill begged the President for help, including Republican Leader McCarthy, who was “scared” and called multiple members of President Trump’s family after he could not persuade the President himself.

Not only did President Trump refuse to tell the mob to leave the Capitol, he placed no call to any element of the U.S. government to instruct that the Capitol be defended. He did not call his Secretary of Defense on January 6th. He did not talk to his Attorney General. He did not talk to the Department of Homeland Security. President Trump gave no order to deploy the National Guard that day, and he made no effort to work with the Department of Justice to coordinate and deploy law enforcement assets. But Vice President Pence did each of those things. For example, here is what General Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified to this committee:

A: There were two or three calls with Vice President Pence. He was very animated, and he issued very explicit, very direct, unambiguous orders. There was no question about that. And I can get you the exact quotes from some of our records somewhere. But he was very animated, very direct, very firm to Secretary Miller. Get the military down here, get the guard down here. Put down this situation, et cetera.

By contrast, here is General Milley’s description of his conversation with President Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on January 6th:

A: “He said: We have to kill the narrative that the Vice President is making all the decisions. We need to establish the narrative, you know, that the President is still in charge and that things are steady or stable, or words to that effect. I immediately interpreted that as politics. Politics. Politics. Red flag for me, personally. No action. But I remember it distinctly.”

And you will hear from witnesses how the day played out inside the White House, how multiple White House staff resigned in disgust, and how President Trump would not ask his supporters to leave the Capitol. It was only after multiple hours of violence that President Trump finally released a video instructing the riotous mob to leave, and as he did so, he said to them: “We love you. You’re very special.”

You will also hear that in the immediate aftermath of January 6th, members of the President’s family, White House staff and others tried to step in to stabilize the situation “to land the plane” before the Presidential Transition on January 20th. You will hear about members of the Trump cabinet discussing the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment, and replacing the President of the United States. Multiple Members of President Trump’s own Cabinet resigned immediately after January 6th. One member of the Cabinet suggested that remaining Cabinet Officers needed to take a more active role in running the White House and the Administration. But most emblematic of those days is this exchange of texts between Sean Hannity and former President Trump’s Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany. Sean Hannity wrote in part: “Key now, no more crazy people.” “No more stolen election talk.” “Yes, impeachment and 25th amendment are real, and many people will quit.” Ms. McEnany responded in part: “Love that. That’s the playbook.”

The White House staff knew that President Trump was willing to entertain and use conspiracy theories to achieve his ends. They knew the President needed to be cut off from all of those who had encouraged him. They knew that President Donald Trump was too dangerous to be left alone. At least until he left office on January 20th. These are important facts for Congress and the American people to understand fully.

When a President fails to take the steps necessary to preserve our union, or worse, causes a constitutional crisis, we are at a moment of maximum danger for our Republic. Some in the White House took responsible steps to try to prevent January 6th. Others egged the President on. Others, who could have acted, refused to do so. In this case, the White House Counsel was so concerned about potentially lawless activity, that he threatened to resign, multiple times. That is exceedingly rare and exceedingly serious. It requires immediate attention, especially when the entire team threatens to resign. However, in the Trump White House, it was not exceedingly rare and it was not treated seriously. This is a clip of Jared Kushner, addressing multiple threats by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and his team of White House lawyers to resign in the weeks before January 6th.

Q: Jared, are you aware of instances where Pat Cipollone threatened to resign?

A: I kind of, like I said, my interest at that time was on trying to get as many pardons done, and I know that he was always, him and the team, were always saying oh we are going to resign. We are not going to be here if this happens, if that happens … So, I kind of took it up to just be whining, to be honest with you.

Whining. There is a reason why people serving in our Government take an oath to the Constitution. As our founding fathers recognized, democracy is fragile. People in positions of public trust are duty-bound to defend it – to step forward when action is required.

In our country, we don’t swear an oath to an individual, or a political party. We take our oath to defend the United States Constitution. And that oath must mean something. Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.

Finally, I ask all of our fellow Americans as you watch our hearings over the coming weeks, please remember what’s at stake. Remember the men and women who have fought and died so that we can live under the Rule of Law, not the rule of men. I ask you to think of the scene in our Capitol rotunda on the night of January 6th. There, in, a sacred space in our constitutional republic, the place where our presidents lie in state, watched over by statues of Washington and Jefferson, Lincoln and Grant, Eisenhower, Ford and Reagan, against every wall that night encircling the room, there were SWAT teams, men and women in tactical gear with long guns deployed inside our Capitol building.

There in the rotunda, these brave men and women rested beneath paintings depicting the earliest scenes of our Republic, including one painted in 1824 depicting George Washington resigning his commission, voluntarily relinquishing power, handing control of the Continental Army back to Congress. With this noble act, Washington set the indispensable example of the peaceful transfer of power. What President Reagan called, “nothing less than a miracle.” The sacred obligation to defend this peaceful transfer of power has been honored by every American president…Except one.

As Americans, we all have a duty to ensure what happened on January 6th never happens again, to set aside partisan battles to stand together to perpetuate and preserve our great Republic.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


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First Jan. 6 hearing highlights Barr testimony


Thursday night’s prime-time hearing is the first of a series set to paint a picture of a carefully planned and orchestrated attack on democracy. In his opening statement, committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) didn’t mince his words about former Trump, who he said spurred “a mob of domestic enemies of the Constitution.” He bolstered this statement with the clip from Barr.

“You can’t live in a world where the incumbent administration stays in power based on its view, unsupported by specific evidence, that there was fraud in the election,” Barr said.

The panel also showed a clip of testimony from Ivanka Trump, the former president’s daughter and White House adviser, in which she was asked about Barr’s dismissal of Trump’s election fraud claims. She said she had accepted that her father had lost the election.

“It affected my perspective,” she said. “I respect Attorney General Barr, so I accepted what he was saying.”


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Cheney: Scott Perry sought pardon for role in trying to overturn 2020 election results


Perry was a major actor in then-President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the election, connecting Trump with Jeffrey Clark, an official in the Department of Justice who supported Trump’s efforts, according to testimony and documents obtained by the committee.

Cheney on Thursday talked about how close the former president came to appointing Clark as acting attorney general, and that the former president wanted Clark to send a letter to Georgia and five other states saying that “the U.S. Department of justice had ‘identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election.’”

“This letter is a lie,” Cheney said.

Perry, who is now chair of the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus, repeatedly pushed Trump’s chief of staff at the time, Mark Meadows, to implement the plan to sow doubt in the election results.

“Mark, just checking in as time continues to count down,” Perry texted Meadows on Dec. 26, 2020, according to messages released by the select panel. “11 days to 1/6 and 25 days to inauguration. We gotta get going!”

These efforts were halted after other Justice Department leaders threatened to resign if Trump moved forward with selecting Clark as attorney general.

Perry has not complied with a subpoena for his testimony, and as POLITICO reported last week, the select committee was told that Meadows burned papers after meeting with the Republican in his office at the White House. The meeting took place in the weeks after Election Day in 2020, as Trump and his allies began seeking ways to overturn the loss against Joe Biden.


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24/7 Gambling Sites: Play Your Favorite Games Anytime, Anywhere

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UkraineX: How Elon Musk’s space satellites changed the war on the ground


It’s not just about military communications. Others in Ukraine’s 93rd mechanized brigade let friends and family know they are safe through daily encrypted satellite messages after the local cellphone network was severed weeks ago during heavy shelling.

In their downtime, Oleksiy and his comrades keep tabs on the latest developments in the war via Starlink’s internet connection and — when there’s a lull between artillery duels — play “Call of Duty” on their smartphones while sheltering in bunkers and standing by for orders.

“Thank you, Elon Musk,” said Oleksiy soon after logging on through Starlink’s satellites to discover the Biden administration would be sending long-range rockets to the Ukrainian army in its fight with the Russians.

“This is exactly what we need,” he added in reference to the rockets.

The first 100 days of Russia’s invasion of its western neighbor have left thousands dead and even more injured. Ukrainian forces now find themselves in a war of attrition with the Russian army that, despite setbacks in and around Kyiv, continues to chip away at local resistance in the country’s east.

The United States, European Union and other NATO countries have donated billions of dollars in military equipment to Ukraine since the war began in late February. But Musk’s Starlink — based on a cluster of table-sized satellites flying as low as 130 miles above Ukraine and beaming down high-speed internet access — has become an unexpected lifeline to the country: both on the battlefield and in the war for public opinion.

Ukrainian drones have relied on Starlink to drop bombs on Russian forward positions. People in besieged cities near the Russian border have stayed in touch with loved ones via the encrypted satellites. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the country’s president, has regularly updated his millions of social media followers on the back of Musk’s network, as well as holding Zoom calls with global politicians from U.S. President Joe Biden to French leader Emmanuel Macron.

All told, Starlink — and Ukraine’s use of the satellite network, both for its military and civilians — has thwarted Russia’s efforts to cut the Eastern European country off from the outside world, giving Kyiv a much-needed victory against Moscow in a conflict that shows no sign of ending.

“The strategic impact is, it totally destroyed [Vladimir] Putin’s information campaign,” said Brig. Gen. Steve Butow, director of the space portfolio at the Defense Innovation Unit, the Pentagon’s Silicon Valley tech outpost. “He never, to this day, has been able to silence Zelenskyy.”

The conflict in Ukraine also has provided Musk and SpaceX’s fledgling satellite network with a trial-by-fire that has whetted the appetite of many Western militaries. Commanders have been impressed by the company’s ability, within days, to deliver thousands of backpack-sized satellite stations to the war-torn country and keep them online despite increasingly sophisticated attacks from Russian hackers.

“We’ve got more than 11,000 Starlink stations and they help us in our everyday fight on all the fronts,” Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s vice prime minister, told POLITICO. “We’re ready, even if there is no light, no fixed internet, through generators using Starlink, to renew any connection in Ukraine.”

Star Wars: Battle for the sky

Ukraine isn’t the only country to see the importance of satellite communication in the unfolding war in Eastern Europe.

Just an hour before Russian troops launched their full-scale assault in the early hours of Feb. 24, the Kremlin successfully hacked Viasat, an American satellite provider whose network was used by the Ukrainian military to communicate with front-line troops, according to intelligence reports from the U.S., EU and the United Kingdom.

The cyberattack, which crippled the country’s military communications and also took out thousands of other internet users across Europe, fast-tracked negotiations, started in early 2022, between Kyiv and SpaceX to bring the satellite network to the country, according to four officials with knowledge of those discussions.

Zelenskyy’s government had realized that internet access — both for the military and civilians — would be critical in the likely war to come. Soldiers needed a sure-fire way of staying in touch during the haze of war, and raw footage of Russian attacks, often uploaded by Ukrainians themselves via social media, has brought the conflict directly to people’s smartphones worldwide.

SpaceX, whose goal is to launch more than 40,000 satellites into so-called low earth orbit in the coming years, quickly positioned roughly 50 satellites ready to be used in the Eastern European country. But red tape, including official government approval needed to turn on the system, slowed down the rollout.

Then, Russia attacked. Two days after the invasion, on February 26, Fedorov — the Ukrainian vice prime minister who doubles as the country’s digital minister — tweeted directly at Musk to urgently send Starlink equipment. Two days after that, the first shipment showed up.

“They tweeted at Elon and so we turned it on,” Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president, told an audience at the California Institute of Technology on March 7 in reference to Starlink’s arrival in Ukraine. “That was our permission. That was the letter from the minister. It was a tweet.”

SpaceX did not respond to repeated requests for comment about its involvement in Ukraine.

What’s the big deal with Starlink?

Starlink isn’t the first commercial satellite provider to be used on the battlefield. The U.S. military piggybacked on private networks during the first Gulf War — a tactic that has become a mainstay of conflict zones globally.

But where the system — one of many low-orbit satellite networks, including a rival early-stage project from Amazon, currently under development — stands apart is its ability to withstand attacks from the Russians, according to three military officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, and two researchers who have studied Starlink.

Unlike traditional high-orbit satellites, which orbit thousands of miles above the earth, hovering over one point on the ground and beaming down radio signals, the new generation of low-orbit satellites relies on many more satellites working in a constellation. That configuration makes it more difficult, if not impossible, to take offline because an attacker would have to pinpoint all the satellites, at once, to cripple the entire system.

Starlink, too, is more adaptable than alternatives because each device’s computer code can be quickly altered in response to possible hacks. Last month, Musk said the Kremlin was “ramping up” its cyberattacks on his network, and SpaceX has repeatedly rewritten its code to keep one step ahead of Russia.

Todd E. Humphreys, a professor at the University of Texas who has delved into the Starlink’s inner workings and consulted with SpaceX and the U.S. military, said the system’s encryption technology also had proven more resilient than many had expected.

Together with the network’s other incremental tech advances, including providing high-speed internet from space that rivals people’s home broadband networks, Musk’s satellite system represents a step change in how satellites can be rolled out, and used, in conflict zones.

“It’s a crystal clear example that secure backup communications is going to be the lifetime of any modern military engagement,” said Humphreys. “The nimbleness with which Starlink was set up in Ukraine was just astounding.”

All eyes on Musk

Like with everything to do with Musk — the enigmatic billionaire whose business interests include everything from Tesla, the electric car giant, to a potential bid for Twitter, the social network — just how the Starlink equipment made its way to Ukraine is shrouded in confusion and rumor.

Soon after the first equipment began arriving in Kyiv, the South African-born tech magnate, who has picked fights with others on social media and run afoul of financial regulators, briefly swapped texts with Fedorov, the Ukrainian politician. He also talked — powered by Starlink — with Zelenskyy via Zoom about the ongoing rollout and promised to visit Ukraine as soon as the war was over.

In public statements, the company said funding for the satellite communication system in Ukraine — estimated to be around $15 million, with each satellite receiver, known as Dishy McFlatface, costing $499 a piece — came almost exclusively from private sources. SpaceX has pledged to pay for all internet access that, for those outside Ukraine, costs $110 a month.

Yet USAID said in early April it had bought over 1,300 satellite dishes as part of the Starlink project, with SpaceX donating a further 3,600 stations. The U.S. federal agency subsequently scrubbed references to how much equipment Washington had purchased from its press release, though it confirmed to POLITICO that it had shipped the equipment from the U.S. to Eastern Europe.

A USAID spokesperson said the agency was grateful to SpaceX and other donors for contributing to the Starlink project.

Other Western allies, including the French and Polish governments, have also helped with logistical support, including handling the last-mile delivery of the equipment to Ukraine, according to two European officials with direct knowledge of those discussions. One of those officials added that a so-called ground station, or hardware that linked Starlink’s satellites with local internet infrastructure, was housed in neighboring Poland to avoid Russian attack.

Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

“The invasion happened on a Thursday and by the next day, Elon had called together a meeting and said, ‘I want to get Starlink up over Ukraine,’” said Butow of the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit.

“By Sunday, the link was active. By Monday, 500 ground terminals showed up in Ukraine. By Wednesday of that week, all but 25 of those terminals were alive and providing real-time data,” he added. “That’s commercial speed. That’s amazing.”

Crowdsourced communications

Not all of the Starlink equipment has arrived via official channels.

For Alisa Kovalenko, who joined the Ukrainian military after Putin’s invasion and now fights with the 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade near the Russian border in the northern Kharkiv region, her satellite dish was donated by a group of Ukrainian volunteers, who crowdfunded to buy the system and delivered it directly to the frontline.

“There’s no communication for us with the outside world without Starlink,” Kovalenko told POLITICO by phone over a Starlink connection. “During the last weeks, we had no mobile connections because we moved in our sector from a town to a village. It was impossible to call with any mobile network.”

Like everything on the frontline, her team’s Starlink has had its fair share of close calls — even as it gives both soldiers and civilians a direct connection with friends and family after Kovalenko’s comrades handed over Starlink’s password to locals so they could let relatives know they were safe.

Fuel to power the equipment is always in short supply. During a recent Russian artillery attack, the satellite dish was left exposed in a nearby field, and narrowly missed being destroyed. Whenever the soldiers move positions, they have to gently pull apart the high-tech equipment, putting the small components in a duffle bag and the dish in a waiting vehicle.

But for Kovalenko, a documentary filmmaker, the ability to keep in touch with almost anyone in the world via Musk’s satellite system is a godsend, even if it’s a tricky balance to keep the equipment safe and operational in the middle of the ongoing war.

“If there is bombing and you need to pack up fast and run, it still takes time to grab everything for the Starlink,” she said. “You have to be careful with it. It’s not just a pile of clothes which you can throw in the car.”

Laurens Cerulus contributed reporting from Brussels.


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What Makes Slot Sites Without Agents Different: Why to Try Them

When it comes to online gambling, there are a few different options to choose from. One type of gambling site is known as a slot site without agents. These sites are becoming increasingly popular for a number of reasons.

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Dems meddle in Senate primary to advance hardline MAGA Republican


The group is currently running an ad burnishing state Rep. Ron Hanks’ conservative credentials — a spot that GOP strategists say will undoubtedly boost his underfunded effort in the June 28 Republican primary.

Hanks, who believes former President Donald Trump won in 2020 and that all abortions should be outlawed, has raised just $38,000 throughout the course of his Senate campaign and has never placed a TV ad of his own. He is up against Joe O’Dea, whom many in the GOP think could have a shot at winning over crucial unaffiliated and disaffected Democratic voters in November.

While Democrats have dominated statewide races in recent years — President Joe Biden won Colorado by double digits in 2020 — the president’s approval ratings are currently underwater in the blue state.

“Beating Hanks in the general election is a layup,” said Greg Brophy, a GOP strategist and former Colorado state legislator who is supporting O’Dea. “If Democrats spend $1 million to help Hanks win the GOP primary, that will save them $20 million in the general. It’s actually brilliant.”

Bennet is seeking reelection to his third term after eking out victories in 2010 and 2016. In both races, he failed to crack 50 percent of the vote. Polling earlier this year showed Bennet tied with a generic Republican candidate on the general election ballot, a sign of the favorable midterm environment for the GOP.

The Democratic strategy has prompted flashbacks of Republicans’ disastrous 2012 Senate election in Missouri, when vulnerable Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill similarly placed ads designed to influence the Republican primary. The ads her campaign purchased to play up Todd Akin’s conservative credentials helped him secure the nomination over other Republican contenders who were viewed as stronger general election candidates.

The strategy paid dividends after Akin blundered an interview question about abortion — he said at the time that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely become pregnant — and sparked a public outcry. McCaskill went on to beat him by 15 percentage points in an election that Republicans were once expected to win.

Democrats in Colorado have succeeded with the strategy, too. Democratic spending in the state’s 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary helped political newcomer Dan Maes narrowly take the nomination over an establishment Republican. That fall, Maes received just 11 percent of the vote — much less than even the third-party candidate on the ballot — and Democrat John Hickenlooper won the governor’s office.

As speculation mounted among Republicans on Wednesday that national Democrats’ Senate Majority PAC was funding the Hanks ad, the super PAC, operated by allies of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), remained tight-lipped.

A spokesperson for Senate Majority PAC declined to say whether the group was behind the ad or connected with Democratic Colorado, a super PAC that registered with the FEC on Thursday. Reached by phone, the super PAC’s treasurer, a Colorado Democratic operative, said she was merely listed as the group’s registered agent and was not involved, declining to provide additional information.

Senate Leadership Fund, the Republican super PAC aligned with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), declined to comment on whether it will get involved in the primary to support O’Dea, something the group has done in past GOP contests. Beyond reserving $141 million of national ad time this year, SLF most recently dropped $2 million in the Alabama Republican Senate primary to oppose Rep. Mo Brooks.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee continues to hold firm on Sen. Rick Scott’s (R-Fla.) policy not to intervene in open-seat primaries, but signaled on Wednesday that they believe the new ad could cause problems. In a carefully worded press release, the NRSC accused Democrats of trying to “stir up drama” by funding the Hanks ad.

“Just goes to show you how vulnerable Michael Bennet is in a state that Joe Biden won by more than 13 points,” the NRSC statement said.

Dustin Zvonek, a Republican on the Aurora city council, said Republicans are “set to make gains” in the state in November, potential victories that “could really change the narrative of Colorado being a blue state.”

A Hanks nomination, said Zvonek, who won his seat last fall in an election that resulted in the ouster of multiple Democratic council members, would be a step backward for GOP efforts to gain ground in the state, in part due to Hanks’ continued insistence that Trump won the 2020 election.

“In Colorado, that’s just not a message that’s going to help him in the general election,” Zvonek said. “Forty-four percent of our electorate is unaffiliated voters. They don’t care about red team or blue team. They want people who are going to solve problems.”

Hanks’ campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Privately, national Republican officials concede there will likely be no use in spending on the Senate race this fall if Hanks is the nominee. His far-right stances would be a problem in a general election, as would his inability to raise money, said one Republican operative involved in Senate races.

“In that scenario,” the Republican operative said, “Washington [state] becomes a better pickup than Colorado.”

Republicans are eyeing Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-Wash.) seat this fall despite the solidly blue nature of the state, and Scott, the NRSC chairman, has suggested Republicans could have a shot at flipping it with Tiffany Smiley, the likely GOP nominee. While Biden won Colorado by 13 percentage points, he won Washington by 20 points. Polling in both states show the Democratic senators up for reelection are in a vulnerable position.

While O’Dea waits to see whether top Republicans will swoop in to help, his campaign on Wednesday was sounding the alarm to allies and donors around the state, according to a person familiar with the conversations. “There will be an all-out blitz” on fundraising now, the person said.

Internal polling provided by O’Dea’s campaign to POLITICO shows the self-made construction company owner leading Hanks 33 percent to 12 percent, with more than half of Republican voters undecided. The campaign has booked television and radio ads totaling $325,000, but expects to increase that figure.

In a statement, O’Dea accused Democrats of “hijacking the Republican nomination for an unserious candidate who has zero chance of winning.”

O’Dea was in D.C. on Tuesday meeting with Republican senators. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) spoke favorably about their meetings with O’Dea.

Thune said he had “heard some” about Hanks, but doesn’t know him.

“I just think that we need somebody, obviously, that’s electable in the fall,” Thune said. “And I think Colorado, although people would argue that it’s probably not an easy state for us to win, if we get a good tailwind and we have a good candidate, you never know. So I think you want to be prepared. And he at least seemed, to me, to be a very credible possibility for us.”

The Republican Senate primary isn’t the only Colorado contest where Democrats are meddling this year. Democrats are also trying to give a last-minute boost to former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez in his GOP gubernatorial primary against Heidi Ganahl, a member of the regents of the University of Colorado and the only Republican in statewide elected office.

A group called the Colorado Information Network started running an ad earlier this week calling Lopez “too conservative for Colorado” and highlighting his support for Trump, his “unapologetically pro-life” stance and more. More than $1.5 million in airtime has been booked by the liberal group between Tuesday and the late June primary, according to AdImpact, an ad tracking firm.

The organization purchasing the Lopez ad is working with the prominent Democratic consulting firm GMMB, according to FCC filings, and the group’s stated purpose on filings with the Colorado secretary of state is “advocating for statewide Democratic candidates and opposing [Republican] candidates.”

The source of the group’s funding is not immediately clear. A person listed as its point of contact did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Democrats have also meddled in other Republican primaries this year, including in Illinois, where the Democratic Governors Association is spending millions ahead of the GOP contest, according to AdImpact.

Zach Montellaro and Burgess Everett contributed to this report.


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Congress targets Harvard, Yale and top universities with China-linked endowments


On Thursday, Murphy sent a letter to the 15 private universities with the largest endowments — Harvard, Yale, Duke and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among them — asking them to purge their investment portfolios of “entities that are supporting the imprisonment of Uyghur Muslims or aiding the Russian Federation’s horrific invasion of Ukraine.” Murphy also wants those schools to vet their endowment portfolios for any “adversarial entities” named on U.S. government sanction lists.

A successful congressional push to sever U.S. university endowments from Chinese investments could provide a template for legislation requiring private sector investors, including private equity firms and hedge funds, to do likewise, downsizing the U.S. financial sector’s relationship with China.

“Our colleges and universities which have been given a tax-free status do not need to be investing in this nation that wants to see our downfall,” Murphy told POLITICO. “I wanted to start with those institutions that have the biggest endowments and I think it will start a snowballing effect to other institutions.”

Murphy is a China hawk with a record of past — but so far unsuccessful — legislative initiatives targeting malign Chinese influence on U.S. university campuses and on Capitol Hill. Murphy urged Attorney General Merrick Garland in January to revive the Department of Justice’s controversial China Initiative program in order to “root out any possible Chinese espionage” on college campuses.

With Democrats in control, Murphy’s latest effort is unlikely to succeed in this Congress. But his letter is putting universities on notice that Congress wants a say in how they invest their endowments.

The value of U.S. university endowments totaled more than $800 billion in 2021. The endowments of the 15 private schools Murphy is targeting with legislation he’ll introduce in coming weeks have an estimated combined value of $331 billion.

That legislation would “disincentivize” university endowments from investments in firms listed on U.S. government sanction lists, including the Commerce Department’s Entity List, which targets individuals and companies implicated in any “activities sanctioned by the State Department and activities contrary to U.S. national security and or foreign policy interests.” The bill calls for a 50 percent excise tax on the principal and a 100 percent excise tax on any realized profits from investments in such entities.

Murphy’s initiative echoes the efforts of Keith Krach, former under secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment, who urged university governing boards in 2020 to disclose details of endowment investments in Chinese firms and to divest from those on the Commerce Department’s Entity List or linked to human rights abuses. Universities ignored Krach’s advice.

“I’m old enough to know about the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa … [and] the divestment movement that got started at Berkeley and then spread through campuses,” Krach said. “I really wanted [my divestment proposal] to be kind of a catalyst to create a movement … there’s nothing that can be more effective and have more passion and ground forces than students.”

That groundswell of student action has coalesced in the nonprofit Athenai Institute, dedicated to prodding U.S. universities into divesting their endowments of any Chinese Communist Party-linked investments. Athenai’s strategy is to use university divestment of problematic Chinese investments as a roadmap for the private sector to purge its balance sheets of similar holdings.

“University endowments … [are] a substantial pool of money to create momentum for [wider] divestment,” said Athenai’s president, John Metz. “As the pool of university endowment funds and other institutional investor funds which can’t be invested in certain Chinese companies [grows] … it becomes harder for Wall Street to look away.”

U.S. universities face growing pressure to restrict educational ties with Chinese entities. Provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act deny Department of Defense funding to universities that host Beijing-backed Confucius Institutes — which academics and human rights activists have accused of being Chinese propaganda agents.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a bill last month that would prohibit universities from any collaborations with Chinese institutions “in areas of cutting-edge technology that could improve the PLA’s ability to wage war against the United States and its allies.”

Rubio and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, convened a meeting in April with several dozen college presidents organized by the Association of American Universities to voice congressional concerns about ties to problematic Chinese institutions.

The meeting, which included representatives of the FBI and the Office of the National Director of Intelligence, produced a consensus that “there is a real threat out there and that whatever partnerships that [universities] have with China should be viewed that way,” a meeting attendee told POLITICO. The group shared best practices to counter threats from China, such as nurturing relationships with FBI field offices, and university presidents pledged to continue to cooperate on the issue.

University endowments have a history of links to companies implicated in human rights abuses in China. BuzzFeed reported in 2019 that MIT, Duke and Princeton invested endowment funds in a company linked to human rights abuses against Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Princeton didn’t respond to a request for comment and Duke and MIT declined to comment.

“For far too long … university endowments have unwittingly helped fund Chinese companies responsible for perpetrating pretty egregious human rights abuses and not to mention China’s military,” said Craig Singleton, senior China fellow at the nonprofit Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “We think there’s a broader recognition that the Chinese Communist Party is keen to leverage American capital against American interests.”

Most private universities are reluctant to discuss the possibility that their massive endowments in index funds may seed Chinese firms implicated in rights abuses or technology development that could pose a threat to national security.

Yale’s University Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility announced in January that it would begin a review of investments linked to its endowment — which totaled $42.3 billion in June 2021 — “to determine whether some may be deemed ineligible for Yale investment in light of the Chinese government’s widespread human rights violations,” the Yale Daily News reported.

Harvard — which boasts an endowment valued at over $53 billion — is considering reducing its endowment’s investments in China due to “growing political and market risk,” Bloomberg reported in April. Both Yale and Harvard declined POLITICO’s requests for comment.

“The most skeptical response we’ve gotten [from universities] has been, ‘Well, this will be difficult for us because we don’t manage our own passive investments and therefore it’s difficult for us to audit our endowment,’” Metz said.

That argument ignores university initiatives to divest from fossil fuel investments in recent years.

“There’s precedent within these institutions to move their investments because of things that they either don’t like or feel that are better for our environment,” said Murphy. “If they tell their investment company ‘we want to divest out of companies in China,’ it’s very easily done.”

Catholic University of America is pioneering efforts to vet its endowments for problematic investments. CUA administrators in December responded to a student council resolution urging such divestment by reviewing its endowment portfolio to “align investments with moral beliefs.”

“The University is working with Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), the leading advocate for shareholder concerns to public companies, to identify any company involved in or benefiting from human rights violations, including Uyghur exploitation,” Amber Roseboom, CUA’s associate vice president of university communications, said in a statement. “The ISS deeper dive … searches thousands of publicly available media and stakeholder services to identify areas of exploitation or concerns for other moral abuses. At this point, the search has not identified a company in which the University invests that is known to be involved in or benefit from Uyghur exploitation.”

CUA has inspired divestment activism at other schools. Georgetown University’s Hong Kong Student Association and Muslim Student Association urged school administrators in January to divest the school’s endowment from any investments “that may implicate the university in the ongoing genocide in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.”

George Washington University has a Uyghur Divestment Committee with an online petition calling for endowment divestment from “companies complicit in the Uyghur genocide.” And last month, Cornell University faculty organized a “teach-in” focused on “Cornell Involvement in the People’s Republic of China.”

“It’s extremely important for Cornell and other universities with large endowments to look carefully at some of those investments particularly with respect to Xinjiang, but not exclusively,” said Eli Friedman, associate professor and chair of International & Comparative Labor at Cornell. “There are other companies in China that are engaged in activities that I think do not comport with our stated values like tech companies that are overseeing massive censorship operations.”

Athenai Institute plans to extend its divestment campaign to the endowments of U.S. service universities, including the U.S. Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, West Point, Coast Guard Academy and National Defense University. “Their endowments are much smaller than those held by public and private universities, but almost all of their endowment funding comes from alumni who may or may not realize that their gifts are being used to invest in Chinese companies supporting China’s military,” said Singleton.

POLITICO contacted all five of those service academies for comment. Only the U.S. Naval Academy responded. “The Joint Investment Committee of the USNA Alumni Association and Foundation specifically and proactively discussed the need for our portfolio to have no direct holdings in such Chinese entities,” Heather Epkins, director of communications at the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association & Foundation, said in a statement. “We have instituted a periodic review process and an exit strategy process … to date, we have had no direct holdings and have directed our investment managers, via our Outsourced Chief Investment Officer, to avoid such investment.”

Murphy wants universities to embrace the vetting of their endowment investments for problematic Chinese entities as ethically and financially prudent.

“This isn’t meant to penalize anybody, but this is a real problem,” Murphy said. “What greater issue should [we] be divested from than one that is adversarial to our national security?”

Daniel Lippman contributed to this report.


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