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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Sergei L. Loiko, Los Angeles Times

KIEV, Ukraine — At least 20 protesters were killed Thursday morning as gunfire rang out in central Kiev, breaking the shaky truce reached between President Victor Yanukovich and opposition leaders the previous night.

Oleh Musiy, chief of the protest camp health service, told the Los Angeles Times that dozens were injured.

Police reported that one officer died in a hospital of a gunshot wound.

Early in the afternoon, about 200 riot police, many with shotguns, were deployed in the Council of Ministers building in Grushevsky Street.

Not far away, in front of the parliament building, a police officer was instructing his squad armed with shields and clubs: “Remember, the more organized fashion you retreat in, the more chances for you to stay alive.”

In the meantime, protesters were busy building and fortifying new barricades a few hundred yards down the street.

The morning clashes began when police used stun grenades to attack the protest encampment in Independence Square. Protesters opened fire, forcing police to retreat, carrying their wounded to nearby buses.

One policeman was kneeling near another lying on the ground in central Khreshchatik Street. After a quick examination, he shouted: “Damn, another shotgun wound!”

Shots were fired and bullets were whistling all across the stretch between Independence Square and Europe Square nearby. At least 25 policemen were injured, 14 with shotgun wounds, said an officer who did not want to be named. He added that two officers are in critical condition.

As police ran for their buses to drive away with the injured, several dozen officers stayed behind to cover the retreat.

Then several hundred masked protesters with shields, clubs and Molotov cocktails charged police. A hand fight with shields and clubs ensued in Europe Square. Soon the protesters prevailed and police were in full retreat, some surrounded by club-wielding protesters, pushed to the ground, clubbed and kicked on all sides.

One police officer was shooting at protesters with a handgun but it jammed, so he turned around and fled. At least one protester also armed with a handgun was shooting at the retreating police. Some protesters were continuing to beat up police officers lying on the ground, some were pushing their colleagues away and trying to help injured officers.

At least half a dozen police officers were captured and led away by protesters to their camp in Independence Square. Some protesters were waving flags and shouting: “Glory to Ukraine!” Others were responding with a loud: “Glory to the heroes!”

Police officials acknowledged that some officers were taken prisoner but said they did not know the number.

The retreating police stopped and regrouped in Grushevsky Street, where the government and parliament buildings are located and which was the scene of many days of violence in January.

At about 10 a.m., the fighting subsided and protesters began building new barricades in the space they had captured in the morning assault.

City medical authorities report dozens of injured, most with gunshot wounds. Ambulance sirens could be heard coming from different locations in central Kiev, a significant part of which is in the hands of the protesters.

On Wednesday, the Ukraine Security Service announced the beginning of an anti-terrorist operation after protesters seized stored firearms from police stations and army facilities they captured earlier in the week in western Ukraine.

The death toll over the previous two days of clashes was 28, city authorities said Thursday morning before the clashes began. Hundreds were reported injured.

The situation has gone out of control with unknown consequences for Ukraine, said Vadim Karasyov, director of the Institute for Global Strategies, a Kiev-based think tank.

“The opposition leaders seem no longer capable of controlling the protesters, among whom there are a lot of people with firearms now,” Karasyov told The Times. “On the other hand, Yanukovich doesn’t have enough resources to crush the rebellion by force. There is only one way out for him now: to leave Kiev for a safe place and call an early presidential election.”

Sergei L. Loiko/Los Angeles Times/MCT

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

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