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1/ The White House said it believes Russia could invade Ukraine at “essentially any time,” and Britain’s prime minister said Europe is “on the edge of a precipice.” Russia, meanwhile, left the door open to further negotiations with Russia’s foreign minister suggesting that talks “are far from being exhausted” but “can’t go on indefinitely.” The Kremlin has continued to press Ukraine to drop its bid to join NATO, and on Monday, Ukraine’s president didn’t rule out the possibility, saying: “Maybe the question of open doors is for us like a dream.” On Sunday, Ukraine’s ambassador to Britain suggested that Ukraine was willing to be “flexible” over its goal to join the alliance in order to avoid war. The U.S., meanwhile, evacuated its diplomats and military advisers from Kyiv and is moving all remaining staffers to a city near the Polish border, citing the “dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces.” Russian has amassed more than 130,000 troops outside Ukraine – about 60% of its ground combat forces and more than half of its air power. Russia has also moved some long-range artillery and rocket launchers into firing position. The Pentagon ordered 3,000 additional troops to Poland, bringing the total number of troops sent to Europe in the past two weeks to 5,000. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / CBS News / ABC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Reuters / Politico / Associated Press / CNBC / CNN)
2/ The Western U.S. and northern Mexico are experiencing their driest period in at least 1,200 years, according to a new study. Scientists using tree ring data analyzed droughts in southwestern North America found that 2000-21 was the driest 22-year period since 800 A.D., which is as far back as the data goes. The last comparable multidecade megadrought occurred in the 1500s. The current drought is 5% drier than the old record. The study also calculated that 42% of the current megadrought can be attributed to human-caused climate change. (NPR / New York Times / Associated Press / CNBC)
3/ Trump’s long-time accounting firm cut ties with the Trump Organization last week, saying the annual financial statements it prepared for Trump from 2011 to 2020 “should not be relied upon.” In a Feb. 9 letter to the Trump Organization, Mazars USA said given what it called “the totality of circumstances,” it could no longer stand behind the financial statements it prepared for Trump. Mazars noted that while they had not “as a whole” found “material discrepancies” between the information the Trump Organization provided and the actual value of Trump’s assets, the statements should no longer be viewed as reliable. Mazars cited a “non-waivable conflict of interest” and that they can no longer do any new work for the company. The financial statements, which Trump used to secure loans, are at the center of two investigations by the Manhattan district attorney’s office and the office of the New York attorney general into whether Trump used the documents to defraud his lenders. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN)
4/ Rudy Giuliani is in discussions with the House Jan. 6 committee about testifying. The committee subpoenaed Giuliani last month for documents and testimony. Rep. Adam Kinzinger said he “fully” expects Giuliani to cooperate, while one person familiar with the matter said Giuliani was negotiating whether to give an informal interview or a formal deposition, as well as how much information he might try to shield from the committee by invoking executive privilege or attorney-client privilege with Trump. (New York Times / NBC News)
5/ The lawyer who helped craft Trump’s false argument that the 2020 election was stolen is attempting to shield more than 10,000 pages of emails from congressional investigators, citing attorney client or attorney work-product privileges. Last month, a judge ordered John Eastman to respond to the Jan. 6 committee’s subpoena of his Chapman University email account, which contains more than 94,000 pages of emails. In a court filing, Eastman said he had reviewed about 46,000 pages and provided about 8,000 to the committee, while holding back more than 10,000 pages he calls privileged material. (Politico / CNN)
poll/ 45% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters want the party renominate Biden in 2024, while 51% preferred a different candidate. 50% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters, meanwhile, want their party to nominate Trump again, while 49% want a different candidate. (CNN)
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