Michigan Governor Whitmar’s abduction plot ends next argument

The jury will hear the final arguments Friday in the trial of four people accused of plotting to assassinate Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The jury will hear the final arguments Friday in the trial of four men accused of conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a case involving two people who provided information, undercover agents, secret recordings and confessions, and two accomplices.

Only one defendant, Daniel Harris, chose to testify in his own defense. On Thursday, however, his denial of any crime was met with an aggressive cross-examination in which prosecutors used his own words to show his contempt for Whitmer and even to suggest how he could be killed.

Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr. and Brandon Caserta declined to testify, and defense attorneys called only a few witnesses. The four have denied any plans to take Whitmer to his holiday home in the fall of 2020, although they have been angry with the government and the restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 epidemic.

The men were arrested in October 2020 amid talks to raise 4,000 for an explosive that could blow up a bridge and stop police after the abduction, according to trial evidence. Fox twice traveled to northern Michigan to scout the area.

Defense attorneys, however, insisted that they were under the spell of informants and agents who were able to say and do their violent, provocative things.

Harris repeatedly answered “no” when his lawyer asked if he was part of a plot. His testimony was dangerous because he had faced numerous challenges from prosecutors who had been testifying against the group for days.

Harris and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Roth would occasionally talk to each other. At one point Harris said, “The next question.”

U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker later said, “Everyone can take it one step further.

Roth was confronted with his own chat messages about posing as a pizza deliveryman and killing Whitmer at his door. He reminded Harris, a former Marine, that he had worked with explosives while training with the group, especially in Luther, Michigan, in September 2020, about a month before their arrest.

Roth plays a conversation with Croft that militias overthrow governments in various states and talk about “breaking a few eggs” if necessary.

“When this guy talks about killing people with you at a dinner, you don’t get up and leave, are you, sir?” Roth asked. “You don’t say, ‘This party is not for me,’ are you, sir?”

“No,” Harris replied.

According to the government, a “shoot house” that resembled Whitmer’s second home was a key part of Luther’s training weekend. Harris admitted that he had brought the material but said that he had not made it with his house in mind.

He did not participate in the evening ride to Elk Rapids, Michigan, to scout Whitmer’s house and a bridge over the same weekend. Harris said he bought cheap beer and cigarettes for 200 so he could go back to camp and “hang out” with others.

Two other men, Ty Garbin and Caleb Franks, pleaded guilty and cooperated with investigators. Garbin said last week that the party had acted voluntarily and hoped the attacks before the election would cause national unrest and prevent Joe Biden from winning the presidency.

Whitmer, a Democrat, rarely spoke publicly about the abduction plot, although he did mention “surprises” during his term that seemed “out of the ordinary” when he filed for re-election on March 17.

He blamed former President Donald Trump for expressing anger over the coronavirus ban and for refusing to condemn right-wing extremists like those accused in the case. Whitmer says Trump was involved in the Jan. 6 Capital riots.

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Find the full AP coverage of the Whitmer Kidnap Plot Trial here: https://apnews.com/hub/whitmer-kidnap-plot-trial

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Report from White Detroit.

A California First: Women sign the state law bill

For the first time in history, a woman has signed a bill in the state of California

Sacramento, California – For the first time in California’s 171-year history, a woman signed a bill into state law.

Govt. Gavin Newsom usually signs for California law, but he left the state Wednesday night to spend family vacations in Central and South America. State law requires Lieutenant Governor Eleni Koonalakis to serve as governor until he returns.

On Thursday morning the legislature passed a bill to extend a law to prevent some tenants from being evicted by the end of June. The bill had to be signed into law on Thursday because the old law was about to expire and several thousand tenants could be evicted from Friday.

It ended as a historic moment for the country’s most populous state, which has a reputation as a progressive powerhouse but has never elected a female governor.

“It simply came to our notice then. And I have that feeling of history, “said Kaunalakis, who signed a separate election bill on Thursday. “Women have been writing laws for many years … but no woman has signed the law.” And it felt like a moment in history that we should recognize as important. “

California has selected lots of women in other offices across the state.

In 1992, voters sent two Democratic women to the U.S. Senate. When Barbara Boxer retired in 2017, Diane Feinstein was still in office and was replaced by Orange Harris, formerly the state’s attorney general and now vice president.

California Women’s Power was featured in President Joe Biden’s recent State of the Union address, while Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat behind him. Pelosi has represented San Francisco in Congress since 1987.

Kaunalakis, a former president of a real estate development company who served as ambassador to Hungary under President Barack Obama, is California’s first female lieutenant governor. He was elected in 2018 and replaced Newsom.

The powers of the State No. 2 executive are limited. He cast a tie-breaking vote in the state Senate and served as regent of the University of California, among other positions. Those in office sometimes use the post to increase name recognition for future statewide campaigns – as Newsm did.

Historically, women have not competed for governorship at the same rate as other offices, according to Jean Sinjdak, associate director at Rutgers University’s Center for American Women in Politics. She said women typically make up about 25% of the nationwide governorship candidates. One of the reasons why only 45 women governors have served in US history.

“People have this kind of unconscious bias, even against women in executive positions when they’re bosses,” said Kim Naldar, a professor of political science at California State University in Sacramento. “When they are members of the legislature, they are members of a party. It works on the positive stereotypes that people have about getting better at cooperating with women. “

California is one of 19 states that have never elected a woman governor That is unlikely to change this year, as Newsom is in favor of re-election. But that could change in 2026 when Newsom can’t run again because of the expiration date.

Four women are now elected to state office in California, while 38 women are in the legislature – both of which are the highest ever. Along with Kaunalakis, Treasurer Fiona Ma, Controller Betty Yeh, Secretary of State Shirley Weber and State Senate President Pro Tempore Tony Atkins could all run for governor in 2026.

Kaunalakis said any woman with a statewide platform should consider running for co-governor herself. But with more than four-and-a-half years left before that election, he was still not ready to run for office.

“I think the important thing is that women get a chance to be elected governors. They think about how we respect each other’s abilities, because there is a lot of pressure on women not to help each other, when in fact we will see a female governor in the future. Women help each other, “said Kaunalakis.

Newsom is scheduled to return to the state on April 12.

“The governor could have changed his plan. But he is very supportive of promoting the people around him, especially those from the under-represented group, “said Kaunalakis.” And I am extremely grateful to him for helping this happen. “

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This story has been corrected to correct two misspellings in the last name of Kaunalakis.

Reporter’s notebook: Travel along the southern border of Ukraine

Our team spent five days exploring the southern border of Ukraine. We have traveled more than 650 miles through large open, vacant lands and small towns in Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova, countries that have welcomed more than 1 million people fleeing the war.

Along the way, we’ve found countless individual stories of panic, perseverance and compassion – and a bunch of unique countries they’ve given back anyway, while living with their own fears of what could happen next.

Moldova in some ways felt the most like Ukraine. Other bordering non-NATO, non-EU countries, Moldova and Ukraine are also among the two poorest countries in Europe. Many families live here across the border and both countries have lost territory to Russian aggression in the past.

There is a kinship between the countries that you can feel, we meet a lot of people here who call the Ukrainians “their neighbors, their brothers”.

Despite the scarcity of resources and crushing numbers, Moldovan is doing everything it can to help. Since the war began, more than 380,000 people have fled the country, accounting for more than 15% of the country’s total population and the highest per capita of any other country.

We discovered an old movie theater in Chisinau, the capital of the country, which had been empty for four years, now turned into a shelter for 200 people. The walls collapsed, but the place had a brand new mattress on the floor.

The temporary home is where Irina and her four-year-old son Arkady live. Irina tells us she doesn’t want to leave Odessa. Her other son turned 18 in October and since he is old enough to fight now, he has not been allowed to leave Ukraine. But he says he told her he had to go, he had to save his little brother. He had to make sure that at least one boy survived the war.

She chose to come here to Moldova because it could be with her other son. This is something we hear from many refugees – they want to be as close to home as possible. But Moldova is complex. It is close to Ukraine, but also close to Russia. There are pro-Russian parties in the government and several parties in the city.

While we were at the shelter, a tractor pulled to stop the supply. In it – a big Z, a symbol that has now become synonymous with Putin’s forces in Russia and is often seen in tanks there. A tractor with support for Russia, dropping items donated by locals to make the Ukrainians feel the Russian invasion? Nothing is understood about the scene, but it is probably the best explanation of Moldova’s life.

Russia’s proximity means some people are friends with the country and many are worried that they could invade later.

We have had similar fears in Romania. On the way out of this area, we flew from a small airport near the border. A security guard there asked us how it was in Ukraine. I asked if he had a family. He said, “No, I’m just worried that Putin will come after us.”

Romania is also a member of NATO and the European Union. Attacking it will have a global impact. But despite these assurances, the people here are living in fear.

Romania has the largest border with Ukraine in any country in the European Union. As we cross the dividing line between the two countries and drive along the winding road, we see mostly huge, empty miles. This implies that it is a well-known route for illegal crossings. This may mean that the men are trying to escape from Ukraine. We see at least one man sitting on the side of the road with the police. At government crossings, however, it is almost exclusively for women and children.

At the busiest border crossing in Romania, we meet Elena and her young daughter Katia shortly after they cross. Mom told us that they came from Kyiv and lived right next to the recently bombed television tower. They wanted to stay, but when one of Katia’s classmates died, Elena knew she had to leave. We were there when she made a facetime to let her husband know that they had passed it safely. He had to stay behind to fight.

By working in this job, you are accustomed to being with people in the worst and often the most difficult moments of their lives. But witnessing this intimate moment broke me. A simple check between husband and wife, now separated by war. Their daughter is now asking when she will see her father again. A heartbreak so big, you can see it.

Sadly, their story is not unusual. We have met many families who have been forced to separate, not sure when, or if, they will be together again.

And as the war intensifies, so does the number of fugitives. We hear voices from NGOs and volunteers, even from other refugees, about a few thousand internally displaced Ukrainians waiting on the other side of the border. People want to stay in Ukraine, but may have to flee as the war moves west. We want to know their number at the border, but no one is able to tell us for sure.

Although everyone says they want to be open to refugees, resources are already thin. If one million people become 2 or 3 million, there are concerns about how these countries can sustain themselves.

For now, people are moving forward as much as they can.

In Slovakia, we meet Father Pavel Novak, who leads a congregation in a small church less than a mile from the border. He helped turn a nearby school into a shelter, one of 24 in the small area. Everything inside is donated from the community. He has already helped more than 100 refugees, and 34 people live there the day we visit. The whole group of family and friends share a room, but always walk around with a roof, food and lots of hope.

Father Pavel says refugees of all faiths are welcome. He showed us his church and told us that sermons are always sung in Orthodox Christianity and he started praying as soon as the sun went down outside. After one day running behind the story and driving hundreds of miles, his song stops our entire crew and forces us to stay still. His voice filled the small house of worship with a serenity that we had not felt for days. In that brief moment, the war, the heartache, the violence were all felt away.

These moments will stick with me. People give up everything to save their families. People are given everything they have to help others. People trying to find joy even in the darkest moments of war.

On our last day, we went to a small park in Moldova and stumbled upon a group of elderly people dancing. When Moldovan music explodes on the speakers and the elderly couple clap their hands and shout for joy, you can feel their joy throughout the park. With the war just a few miles away from where they stood and the refugees fleeing unimaginable violence, the group remembers dancing.

We saw this moment of joy, life was well lived and we were reminded of what it is worth to fight for.

Ukrainians hunt down Russians as they leave Kyiv: Pentagon Update 36

The Pentagon is providing daily updates on Ukraine’s efforts to counter and invade Russia.

Here are the highlights of what a senior U.S. defense official told reporters Wednesday, July 36:

The Russians are being hunted down as they withdraw from the Kyiv region

The United States has seen about 20% of Russian troops stationed against Kiev stay away from the capital, officials say. And Ukrainian forces are attacking these troops as they withdraw from the area.

“As these forces begin to take up positions again, the Ukrainians are moving against them,” the official said.

Most of the Russian forces are stationed north and northwest of Kiev. Most notably, they seem to have abandoned Hostomel Airport, which has been the scene of intense fighting in various locations since the beginning of the attack.

“We believe they may have abandoned Hostmail Airfield,” the official said.

Although some troops are retreating, long-range attacks on Kiev continue.

“Despite the de-escalation speech, we are still monitoring artillery fire and air strikes in and around Kyiv,” the official said.

The focus is shifting to Donbass

“The restoration that they are doing around Kiev and other places in the north and this predominance over Donbass clearly indicates that they know they have failed to take the capital city, they know they are under pressure somewhere else around the country,” the official said.

Although Russia could offer more power to take control of the Donbass region, the Ukrainians are ready to fight it hard.

“The Ukrainians know the area very well. Many of their troops are still there, and they are fighting for the area as hard as they have for the last eight years,” the official said. “So they’re going to prioritize it and applying more energy or more energy there doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy for them.”

Russian ships could hit Donbass

Although there are still no signs of an impending amphibious landing, Russia has several ships in the Black Sea and Azov Sea that could be used to threaten the Donbass region with cruise missiles, officials said.

Putin is not getting the full picture from his advisers

“Our assessment is that this war was planned with a very small circle, and the number of Mr. Putin’s advisers is not large. And, you know, our assessment is how they were not completely honest with him. It’s going on,” the official said.

The official said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has kept a “very, very close circle”, a leadership style that inherently limits access to information.

“I can’t account for the fact that the people advising him have chosen to block certain information or omit certain information. We can only say that we do not believe he is getting the full picture,” the official said.

Odessa under siege

“We know that the Russians continue to blockade Odessa,” the official said. “So obviously it’s having an economic impact there.”

Kherson competed

“We assess that they are still fighting with Kherson. We know that the Russians are in the city, but we are not ready to call it one side or the other at the moment. I mean, it was under Russian control. But the Ukrainians are trying to recover Kherson.” , So it’s still a fight, “the official said.

The bombing of Mariupol continues

“I have no update on the extent to which the ceasefire is being enforced in Mariupol. What I have tried to give you is what we have seen, you know, in the last 24 hours since we last spoke, and we can see that Mariupol is under airstrikes. Will come, ”the official said.