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Putin-backed mercenary group freeing 'high-risk criminals' as Ukraine war takes 'desperate turn': report
On Tuesday, The Daily Beast reported that the Wagner Group, a mercenary operation with ties to Vladimir Putin, is freeing murderous rebels, including some considered to be terrorists, from military prisons in the Central African Republic to fight alongside Russians in the invasion of Ukraine in what the publication describes as a "big, desperate turn."
"According to the sources in CAR, where armed rebels have controlled large parts of the country for about a decade, dozens of men held in military and police custody for crimes such as rape and murder are now being recruited into Wagner’s local wing, which includes hundreds of fighters commonly referred to as 'Black Russians,'" reported Philip Obaji Jr. "Many of the recruits, the officers said, are rebels the military consider to be terrorists because of their unlawful use of violence and intimidation against civilians and armed forces in pursuit of political aims."
According to one CAR official's account to the Beast, "Since October, they have been walking into military and police cells and releasing rebels, including those held for attacking Bokolobo village [in southern CAR] in May and for raping women and girls. Nobody can stop them because the government has given them so much power to act the way they want.”
"Many of CAR’s high-risk criminals, particularly rebels accused of harming, raping, and killing civilians are held in military and police cells rather than in understaffed and poorly secured conventional prisons," the report continued.
All of this comes as Putin's official draft within Russia has caused controversies of its own. Young men in Russia have been fleeing in droves to avoid conscription. Those who have been forced to fight were told by one recruiter that they are expected to buy their own first aid materials and use tampons to plug bullet wounds.
Russia's operation in Ukraine, which was sold under the pretense of "denazifying" the eastern part of the country and liberating so-called "independent Republics" in Donetsk and Luhansk declared by Kremlin-backed separatists, has earned the widespread condemnation of most nations, led to global embargoes against Russia, and has met numerous roadblocks as Ukrainians use Western-supplied weapons to drive Russian forces out of territory they claimed earlier in the year. Operations in the east have settled into a World War I-style trench warfare operation as Russians try to hold the front.
'Playing with fire': Former DHS chief burns Kari Lake for fueling bogus election conspiracy theories
Jeh Johnson, a former United States Secretary of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama, called out failed Trump-backed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake on Tuesday for potentially inciting violence with her refusal to concede her defeat.
During an interview with CNN's Don Lemon, Johnson said that it was dangerous for Lake to continue stoking false conspiracy theories about the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial election, following a playbook run by President Donald Trump in 2020 that culminated in the deadly January 6th Capitol riots.
"In Arizona, I believe Kari Lake is playing with fire," he said. "I believe that those who foment grievance, discontent, anger, in the face of a lot of contrary evidence do make violence inevitable in this country."
Lemon pointed out that Lake was far from the only Republican to push election conspiracy theories after her defeat, but Johnson countered that she is worth focusing on because she's currently the loudest and most high-profile denier in the United States other than Trump himself.
"Arizona is the focal point right now," he said. "And people really do listen to their leaders. People really do listen to those with the microphone, those with the public voice. And those who tap into suspicion, conspiracy theories, grievance, are playing with fire."
Watch the video below or at this link.
'Playing with fire': Former DHS chief burns Kari Lake for fueling bogus election conspiracy theories www.youtube.com
According to an analysis by the Guardian's Peter Stone, Donald Trump's lawyers' losing streak in the courts is slowly grinding down any defenses they can put forward as they now face the prospect that his loyalists will be forced to testify.
As Stone notes, members of Trump's inner circle have run out of reasons to avoid talking about the 2020 presidential campaign and the aftermath of a lost election -- including attempts to overturn the election results -- and that has put investigators in the driver's seat.
"Due to a number of court decisions, [Mark] Meadows, [attorney John] Eastman, Senator Lindsey Graham and others must testify before a special Georgia grand jury working with the Fulton county district attorney focused on the intense drive by Trump and top loyalists to pressure the Georgia secretary of state and other officials to thwart Biden’s victory there," Stone wrote. "Similarly, court rulings have meant that top Trump lawyers such as former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who opposed Trump’s zealous drive to overturn the 2020 election, had to testify without invoking executive privilege before a DC grand jury investigating Trump’s efforts to block Congress from certifying Biden’s election victory."
As the Guardian report points out, the timing of the court losses could not come at a worse time for the former president and his loyalists as special counsel Jack Smith steps into the fray and takes over two DOJ investigations including the one taking a look at stolen government documents hidden away at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.
According to attorney Michael Zeldin, Trump and his close aides are now finding themselves cornered.
“Trump’s multipronged efforts to keep former advisers from testifying or providing documents to federal and state grand juries, as well as the January 6 committee, has met with repeated failure as judge after judge has rejected his legal arguments, the former prosecutor explained. “Obtaining this testimony is a critical step, perhaps the last step, before state and federal prosecutors determine whether the former president should be indicted … It allows prosecutors for the first time to question these witnesses about their direct conversations with the former president.”
Ex-U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade concurred.
“Favorable rulings by judges on issues like executive privilege and the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege bode well for agencies investigating Trump,” she claimed. "Legal challenges may create delay, but on the merits, with rare exception, judges are consistently ruling against him.”
The Guardian's Stone added, "Ex-justice lawyers say that a number of the recent court rulings should prove helpful to the special counsel Jack Smith, who attorney general Merrick Garland recently tapped to oversee both DoJ’s investigation into Trump’s retention of sensitive documents post presidency and the inquiry into his efforts to stop Biden from taking office."
You can read more here.