1/ Biden warned that “every indication” is that Putin will carry out an invasion of Ukraine “in the next several days.” Biden, maintaining there was a “diplomatic path” that avoids conflict, said the threat of a Russian invasion was “very high” and that the U.S. and its allies “have reason to believe that they are engaged in a false flag operation to have an excuse to go in.” Biden’s comments came after Ukraine said Russian-backed separatists were responsible for “a big provocation” after artillery shells hit a kindergarten in eastern Ukraine. The separatists accused the Ukrainians of staging the attack – the sort of incident the U.S. has warned Russia might try to use to create “an invented justification for war.” Despite earlier reports that Putin may be pulling some troops back, U.S. officials said they believe Moscow has instead increased its troop presence to some 150,000 along the Ukrainian border – with 7,000 new troops arriving in recent days. Russia, meanwhile, denied that it intends to invade Ukraine, dismissing the reports as “hysteria.” (NBC News / New York Times / Politico / ABC News / Associated Press / CNN / Wall Street Journal)
2/ Trump, Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump must testify in New York Attorney General Letitia James’s civil probe of the Trump Organization, a state judge ruled. New York judge Arthur Engoron rejected their request to block James’s subpoenas for testimony and related documents, ordering the three to appear for depositions within 21 days. Trump was also ordered to comply with a subpoena for documents and other information within 14 days. James is investigating whether the Trump Organization inflated the valuations of real estate assets to obtain loans and tax benefits. In court filings, James has said her office has “uncovered substantial evidence establishing numerous misrepresentations in Trump’s financial statements provided to banks, insurers, and the Internal Revenue Service.” In February, Trump’s longtime accounting firm ended its relationship with the company and warned that financial statements from 2011 to 2020 “should no longer be relied upon.” Trump’s lawyers indicated that they would appeal the decision. (NBC News / NPR / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / CNBC)
- NOTABLE: For Trump, a Perilous Exclamation Point to Years of Wealth Inflation. The former president has spent decades inventing facts and figures to suit his needs. Now, dropped by his accountants, he is making new claims. (New York Times)
3/ A House committee urged the General Services Administration to consider terminating the lease of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., citing Trump’s former accounting firm stating that a decade of the company’s financial statements cannot be relied on as accurate. In their letter to the GSA, the two top Democrats on the House Oversight Committee said the disclosures from Mazars warrant a closer look, pointing to a clause in the lease requiring that any information provided by the leaseholder to a bank “[…] shall be true and correct in all material respects.” Trump’s company, meanwhile, is preparing to sell the hotel lease soon, which is expected to net the Trump Organization a profit of more than $100 million. The House committee last year disclosed that the hotel lost more than $70 million from 2016 to 2020. (CNBC / Washington Post / The Hill)
4/ The Jan. 6 committee reportedly discussed issuing a subpoena for Ivanka Trump. Investigators last month requested Ivanka’s voluntary cooperation, saying she was “in direct contact” with Trump on the day of the riot and that she may have “direct knowledge” of his efforts to pressure Pence to block Congress’ certification of the 2020 election results. The prospect of a subpoena emerged in discussions about what options remained available after she appeared to refuse the request for cooperation. (The Guardian / Business Insider)
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