👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
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1/ Russian forces bombed Ukraine’s second-largest city and closed in on the capital on Monday. A 40-mile convoy consisting of hundreds of tanks and other vehicles moved on the capital Kyiv and the northeastern city of Kharkiv, shelling a residential neighborhood and forcing Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to considering making some concessions. The Kremlin also threatened the prospect of using nuclear weapons for the second day in a row, announcing that its nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines and long-range bombers had all been put on high alert. (Associated Press)
2/ U.S. intelligence agencies say they’re worried Putin may escalate the invasion of Ukraine as he becomes increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress by Russian forces. U.S. officials say they have solid intelligence that Putin is directing unusual bursts of anger at people in his inner circle over the state of the military campaign, adding that they “don’t believe he has a realistic understanding of what’s going on.” (NBC News)
3/ Trump claimed “there would be no NATO” without him, despite the fact that his “America First” foreign policies often involved pulling back from U.S. allies, undermining NATO, and threatening to withhold military aide from Ukraine. Nevertheless, Trump attempted to take credit for strengthening NATO and arming Ukraine’s military with advanced weaponry. “I hope everyone is able to remember that it was me, as President of the United States, that got delinquent NATO members to start paying their dues, which amounted to hundreds of billions of dollars,” Trump said in a statement. He added: “Also, it was me that got Ukraine the very effective anti-tank busters (Javelins) when the previous Administration was sending blankets. Let History so note!” (ABC News / The Independent)
4/ Biden declined to invoke executive privilege for former Trump officials Michael Flynn and Peter Navarro to shield them from testifying before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. The move will likely force Flynn and Navarro to choose between cooperating with the select committee or face a potential criminal referral from Congress. Navarro says he will take his case all the way to the Supreme Court, while Flynn’s attorney insisted that his client has not asserted executive privilege or refused to appear for a deposition in front of the committee. (Axios / Washington Post)
5/ Biden will give his first State of the Union speech tonight — and he plans to focus on Ukraine, the economy, COVID-19, and more. The speech comes just days after Russia invaded Ukraine and days after Biden nominated the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court. Ukrainian president Zelensky urged Biden to deliver a strong and “useful” message about the Russian invasion and to highlight the urgency and implications of the invasion for the Ukrainian people and the rest of the world. Editor’s note: Look for more details about Biden’s first SOTU speech in tomorrow’s update. (ABC News / CNN / CBS News / Wall Street Journal)
poll/ 49% of Americans say the coronavirus pandemic is at least “somewhat under control,” while 15% say it’s “not under control at all.” 58% say they support restrictions aimed at trying to manage the pandemic, while 38% say it’s more important to get rid of the restrictions. (Washington Post-ABC News)
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