Ukrainian Servicemen of the 30th Army Brigade... SVITLODARSK, UKRAINE - JANUARY 23: Ukrainian Servicemen of the 30th Army Brigade are seen outside of Svitlodarsk, Ukraine on January 23, 2022. (Photo by Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) Anadolu Agency / Contributor
Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency/Contributor via Getty Images

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Crisis In Ukraine

It’s Tuesday, January 25th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:

1) Crisis In Ukraine

The Topline: The Pentagon is putting U.S. troops on higher alert as tensions continue to increase between Russia and Ukraine.

Quote Of The Day:  “Putin … is a shark who tastes blood in the water, and he senses weakness in his foe. And his foe, make no doubt about it, is the United States.” 

– former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany

Sean Gallup/Staff/Getty Images

Ukraine

Last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki warned that Russia could invade Ukraine at any moment.

As a result, nearly 10,000 American troops have been placed on alert. On Sunday, the State Department ordered the families of all American personnel, as well as some non-essential staff, at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to leave the country. The Biden administration has also stated they don’t know how many Americans are currently in Ukraine. 

Potential Response

During his press conference last week, President Joe Biden sowed doubt on what could be a catalyst for a response to an invasion. Since then, the Biden administration has tried to outline a more aggressive position.

On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “If a single additional Russian force goes into Ukraine in an aggressive way, as I said, that would trigger a swift, a severe and a united response from us and from Europe.”

The Biden administration is reportedly considering deploying thousands of troops to Eastern Europe and the surrounding area, which would signal a significant shift in messaging, if accurate.

While most officials are threatening some form of response, it’s unclear what it would be. The most likely response will be some form of economic sanctions placed on Russia. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred to this when he spoke on the matter.

Former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican party Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin addresses the audience at the 2016 Western Conservative Summit in Denver, Colorado on July 1, 2016.

JASON CONNOLLY/AFP via Getty Images

2) Sarah Palin Sues The New York Times

The Topline: Sarah Palin is suing The New York Times over an editorial that falsely linked her political action committee to the shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords (D-AZ).

The Lawsuit

In 2017, Sarah Palin first filed a lawsuit against The New York Times, but a judge dismissed her case. Two years later, a federal appeals court revived the lawsuit, which has led to a trial that will take place over the next two weeks.

In an editorial, the Times claimed there was a “clear” link between a map circulated by Palin’s PAC, which showed crosshairs over various political districts, to the 2011 shooting that killed six people and left former Rep. Gabby Giffords with a severe brain injury. 

Multiple media outlets tried to blame Palin’s map for the shooting when it occurred, but no connection was ever proven, and the shooter was a mentally ill man who couldn’t be defined as Right-wing or Left-wing. 

Although the link between Palin and the assassination attempt was only made by the legacy media and had no proof, the Times editorial included the accusation six years later, which is why Palin argues the newspaper acted with “actual malice” when publishing.

Possible Outcomes

It is unlikely Palin will succeed, as the Supreme Court has ruled that a public figure must prove an outlet operated with “actual malice” when defaming them, which is difficult for most public figures to prove. The Times also corrected the claim in the editorial and issued an apology two days later. They maintain it was an “inaccuracy” to link Palin to the shooting, and it will likely be difficult for Palin to prove otherwise.

Palin has indicated she’ll take her case to the Supreme Court in an effort to get them to reconsider a 1964 ruling in The New York Times vs. Sullivan. Two Supreme Court Justices – Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch – have each suggested the standard in Sullivan needs to be revisited. 

mphillips007 via Getty Images

3) Activist Coalition Goes After Charitable Organization

The Topline: A coalition of activist groups is pushing a prominent charitable fund organization to expose private individuals who donate to conservative groups. 

Quote Of The Day: “We know that if we win this campaign we could cut off massive amounts of funding…”

– Fatema Ahmad, Executive Director at Muslim Justice League

Unmasking Fidelity

“Unmasking Fidelity” is a coalition of activists that have joined together to apply pressure to another organization called “Fidelity Charitable” (FC). Fidelity Charitable is a 501(c)(3) organization associated with the investment firm Fidelity, and streamlines charitable giving, primarily for investors who use the Fidelity Investments platform. Investors are able to set up a charitable giving account and manage it in conjunction with their other investments. Fidelity Charitable is the top grant maker in the country and gave out $9.1 billion to charities in 2020. 

Activist group “Unmasking Fidelity” has issued a list of demands. Among other items, they’ve asked FC to publicly disclose all contributions, and fees related to those contributions, over the last five years, relating to ten specific organizations. Exposing those contributions would potentially expose the donation activity of private individuals. 

The Demands

Unmasking Fidelity is mostly going after conservative organizations. The activists claim these groups promote “rhetoric and policies that enable white supremacist and fascist violence.”

One organization on the list is Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal fund that focuses on religious liberty, and partnered with The Daily Wire in its lawsuit against the Biden administration over the employer vaccine mandate. Another is Turning Point USA, which is a campus organization for conservative students. The Family Research Council is also on the list. 

The group specifically acknowledges that FC is “cause-neutral” regarding which charities they donate to. They’re calling on FC to change that stance, and become more discriminatory in the name of ‘social responsibility.’ As of now, FC primarily relies on the IRS to regulate which charitable organizations can receive funds, and they don’t apply any ideological litmus tests. Individuals who use the program freely choose which charities to donate to, as long as they are IRS-approved.     

A group of over 1,800 professionals who are connected with Fidelity sent a letter to Fidelity Investments and Fidelity Charitable Leadership, demanding they refuse to give in to the activist pressure. The authors of the letter say it would potentially put individuals in a position to be threatened or doxxed if they are caught donating to a charity that the activists don’t approve of. 

Drew Angerer/Staff/Getty Images

Other Stories We’re Tracking

SCOTUS

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear cases on affirmative action programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. The lawsuits allege their admissions processes violate civil rights and equal protection laws. The arguments on the cases are expected to take place next term, which starts in October.

Governor Youngkin

In defiance of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s (R-VA) executive order, the superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools ordered principals on Friday to deny students who refuse to wear a mask access to in-person learning.

Taiwan

On Sunday, Taiwan intercepted dozens of Chinese military aircraft. The latest move by Communist China involved 34 fighters and four electronic warfare aircraft, along with a bomber. Taiwan used combat aircraft as a warning and deployed missile systems to keep watch.

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