Day 380: "Amateur hour."
1/ The U.S. accused Russia of planning to fabricate a video showing an attack by Ukraine on Russia or Russian-speaking people as a pretext for an invasion. Defense Department press secretary John Kirby said the scheme to stage and film a fabricated attack, which could include “graphic scenes of a staged false explosion with corpses,” would be used to accuse Ukraine of conducting a genocide against Russian-speaking people. A senior Biden administration official said Russian intelligence is intimately involved in the effort, and that Moscow has already recruited people who would be involved in the fake attack. The White House declassified the intelligence to deny Russia the chance to use the video as a reason to mount an invasion. (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / ABC News / CNN)
2/ The leader of the Islamic State killed himself during an overnight raid by U.S. Special Operations commandos in Syria. Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi detonated an explosive, killing himself and 12 other people, including his wife and children, as U.S. forces approached with the intention of capturing him. Biden said that the raid serves as a “testament to America’s reach and capability to take out terrorist threats,” calling al-Quaryshi’s decision to detonate an explosive “a final act of desperate cowardice, with no regard to the lives of his own family or others the building.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / Politico / NBC News / USA Today)
3/ Less than three weeks before the Capitol riot, Trump’s allies circulated a memo arguing that he should use the National Security Agency and Defense Department to find evidence of election fraud and foreign interference. The plan, according to the memo, called for Trump to appoint three men to lead an effort to seize and analyze “NSA unprocessed raw signals data,” and then declassify the purported evidence to help Trump win. There is no evidence of widespread fraud or indication that foreign interference helped Biden win. One informal adviser to Trump at the time called the effort “amateur hour.” In a separate memo, authored just over two weeks after Election Day, lawyers working with the Trump campaign laid out the rationale for creating alternate slates of electors as part of an effort to buy time to overturn the results. (Washington Post / New York Times)
4/ Rudy Giuliani was unmasked as a contestant on “The Masked Singer,” prompting hosts Ken Jeong and Robin Thicke to walk out in protest. Giuliani is currently being sued for more than $1.3 billion in damages by Dominion Voting Systems for carrying out “a viral disinformation campaign about Dominion” made up of “demonstrably false” allegations intended to promote the “false preconceived narrative” that the election was stolen from Trump and to enrich himself through legal fees and his podcast. Giuliani is also the subject of a federal investigation into his dealings in Ukraine, including efforts to dig up damaging information on Trump’s political opponents. It’s unclear what costume Giuliani was wearing or what song he was singing and dancing to. (Deadline / Rolling Stone / A.V. Club / Intelligencer)
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