Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 19, 2022

Biden 'convinced' Putin has decided to invade Ukraine, Trump brought classified documents to Mar-a-Lago, and more

1

Biden 'convinced' Putin has decided to invade Ukraine

President Biden told reporters on Friday that he is "convinced" Russian President Vladimir Putin has made up his mind to invade Ukraine. "As of this moment, I'm convinced he's made the decision. We have reason to believe that," Biden said, when asked if he thought Putin was leaning one way or another. In response to a question about whether or not diplomacy is still an option, Biden replied, "Until he does, diplomacy is always a possibility." Kyiv and Moscow have been engaged in a delicate back and forth for weeks now, as Russian troops continue to threaten Ukraine's border, despite Putin's repeated insistence that there's no invasion on the horizon.

2

Trump brought classified documents to Mar-a-Lago, Archives says

Classified national security documents were in fact among the boxes former President Donald Trump brought with him upon leaving office, the government's chief archivist said Friday. In a letter to the chair of the House Oversight Committee, Archivist David Ferriero said the National Archives "has identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes" recently recovered from Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. By removing classified information from the White House in this way, Trump may have violated the Presidential Records Act. The Archives staff has been in touch with the Department of Justice.

3

Freedom Convoy: Police move in on Ottawa protesters

Police moved in to arrest Canadian protesters in downtown Ottawa Friday morning, with the goal of ending weekslong demonstrations that have transformed into a referendum on the country's COVID-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's handling of the pandemic. Hundreds of officers began handcuffing protesters and towing away vehicles as truckers honked defiantly. Ottawa police tweeted late Friday night that there have been no serious injuries or deaths. Police also set up a secured area within Ottawa's downtown core and announced that "[o]nly those with an exception or who live/work there are allowed into the Secured Area." Anyone else remaining in or attempting to enter the area, police said, "will be subject to arrest."

4

Putin orders nuclear weapons drills

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the order Saturday for his country's military to begin a series of drills involving its nuclear arsenal. The exercises will include ballistic and cruise missile launches as well as nuclear-capable bombers and warships from the Black Sea Fleet. This latest show of force comes after President Biden warned on Friday that he is "convinced" Putin has decided to invade Ukraine. The Russian-backed separatists who control part of eastern Ukraine are also preparing for war. On Friday, separatist leaders, warning of an imminent Ukrainian offensive, told 700,000 women and children to evacuate the region. On Saturday, they called on all military-age men to register to fight.

5

Daunte Wright's family 'very disappointed' by Kim Potter sentencing

Former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter has received a two-year sentence for the killing of Daunte Wright. Judge Regina Chu during a hearing on Friday announced a 24-month sentence for Potter, 16 months of which she will serve in prison and the rest she will serve on supervised release. Prosecutors had pushed for a seven-year sentence. Potter was found guilty in December on charges of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter after she fatally shot Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop in April 2021. She says she mistook her gun for her taser. Daunte's mother Katie Wright, who is white, said Chu had been swayed by Potter's "white women tears."

6

Judge won't throw out Jan. 6 incitement lawsuits against Trump

Former President Donald Trump's motion to dismiss lawsuits accusing him of inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol failed on Friday. Trump faces three lawsuits, one from Democratic members of Congress and two others from police officers. The Supreme Court ruled in 1982 that presidents are immune from lawsuits stemming from their officials acts, but Judge Amit Mehta ruled that Trump's speech on Jan. 6 was outside the scope of his presidential duties. Mehta also seemed sympathetic to the accusations of incitement. "President Trump's January 6 Rally Speech was akin to telling an excited mob that corn-dealers starve the poor in front of the corn-dealer's home," he wrote in his decision.

7

Harris to meet with Ukrainian president in Munich

Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. In a speech delivered the same day, Harris warned that the U.S. and NATO would respond to a Russian invasion of Ukraine with "far-reaching financial sanctions and export controls" that "will target Russia's financial institutions and key industries" and "inflict great damage." She told Eastern European allies on Friday that "our greatest strength is our unity." Zelensky has faced criticism for leaving Ukraine when an invasion might commence any day, but President Biden said Friday that it was "a judgment for [Zelensky] to make."

8

IOC president offers 'rare' criticism of China over official's comments on Taiwan, Xinjiang

The president of the International Olympic Committee — Thomas Bach — offered what has been described as a "rare" criticism of a Chinese Olympic official during a news conference on Friday. Bach said he reminded the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games of "the unequivocal commitment to remain politically neutral as it is required by the Olympic charter." Rule 50 of the Olympic charter prohibits any "political, religious, or racial propaganda" at the Olympics. Beijing Olympics spokesperson Yan Jiarong said Thursday that "Taiwan is an indivisible part of China" and that reports of genocide and forced labor in China's Xinjiang region are "based on lies."

9

Defense rests in hate crimes trial of men who killed Ahmaud Arbery

The defense rested Friday after calling only one witness in the federal hate crimes trial of Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William Bryan, who were convicted in November of murdering Ahmaud Arbery. The defense argued the three white men who chased Arbery down in pick-up trucks and shot him while he was out jogging, were motivated by concerns about neighborhood crime, not racial animus. The prosecution called 20 witnesses, who said the three men routinely made racist remarks. One witness said Gregory McMichael told her, "All these Blacks are nothing but trouble. I wish they'd all die." Another said Travis McMichael called her a "n----rlover" after learning she'd once dated a Black man.

10

2022 Olympics: U.S. men's curling team fails to medal

After winning gold in 2018 and becoming internet sensations in the process, the U.S. men's curling team came up short in the 2022 Olympics, placing fourth. The beloved Midwestern dads lost to Great Britain in the semifinals on Thursday and to Canada in Friday's bronze medal game. "If you have people you enjoy traveling with and hanging around with, the curling is a bonus … And winning in curling is even a bigger bonus," American team leader John Shuster said. The British team went on to defeat Sweden and win the gold medal.

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