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A curated guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday launched a criminal investigation into whether President Trump’s former national security advisor, John Bolton, unlawfully disclosed classified information in his memoir, “The Room Where It Happened,” released earlier this year, with a federal grand jury issuing criminal subpoenas to Bolton’s publishing company and literary agency. The investigation follows a recent attempt by Trump’s lawyers to have the courts block the memoir’s publication; however, Judge Royce Lamberth expressed that thousands of copies of the book had already been distributed around the nation, although he did state that Bolton had “gambled with the national security of the United States” and “exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability.” Katie Benner reports for the New York Times.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday released documents that its chair, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), said proves the State Department attempted to “hide the truth” about civilian causalities in its arms sales report to Congress on the highly-criticized 2019 emergency declaration that allowed billions of dollars in arms sales to Gulf nations. “The picture is starting to come into focus: a top priority at Mike Pompeo’s State Department was to go around Congress to sell weapons, and his senior aides worked hard after the fact to obscure their indifference to civilian casualties,” Engel said in statement. The documents also reveal that Cooper and the department’s Deputy Legal Adviser Joshua Dorosin asked the OIG to redact parts of the report due to “potential executive privilege concerns.” Ana De Liz reports for Newsweek.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) will not investigate whether the appointment of Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and his deputy Ken Cuccinelli was unlawful because it would be “pointless” to get involved in an “inter-branch disagreement.” DHS Inspector General (IG) Joseph Cuffari said in a letter Monday sent to Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) that although a report released earlier this month by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) contained “troubling aspects,” “neither GAO nor DHS OIG can issue a binding determination on that issue, but a federal court can and probably will.” Celine Castronuovo reports for The Hill.
Growing tensions between intelligence community (IC) chiefs and lawmakers render the annual worldwide threats hearing an unlikely possibility before the November election, meaning the Senate Intelligence Committee will not hear testimony from Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe and other intel chiefs, preventing the public from benefitting from information on foreign threats. Ratcliffe had told Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mark Warner (D-VA), the acting chair and vice chair of the committee, that he would only testify if the session was behind closed doors, which both senators rejected. Martin Matishak and Andrew Desiderio report for POLITICO.
Democratic lawmakers yesterday called for a probe into an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Georgia which allegedly subjected immigrants to “jarring medical neglect” and carried out high numbers of hysterectomies, after a whistleblower complaint was filed Sept. 14 by Dawn Wooten, a nurse that works at the Irwin County Detention Center. Among those calling for an investigation is Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who sent a letter to DHS’s OIG. Rebecca Klar reports for The Hill.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Caputo yesterday apologized to staffers of his recently made conspiracy theories where he accused government scientists of “sedition” and plotting against the president, according to people familiar with the matter. Caputo made his allegations in a Facebook Live video but has since deleted his account. He also indicated that he may be stepping down from his position. Yasmeen Abutaleb and Josh Dawsey report for the Washington Post.
ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of video sharing app TikTok, who is set to potentially enter a deal with software giant Oracle as its US “technology partner,” would retain majority ownership of TikTok in new proposals touted, with a deal expected to be announced by Sunday and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (Cfius) currently reviewing the deal. Kate Davidson, Georgia Wells and Michael C. Bender report for the Wall Street Journal.
The Air Force yesterday said that it has secretly built and piloted a prototype of its next-generation fighter jet as part of its Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program, Will Roper, the service’s top acquisition official confirmed Monday. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.
The World Trade Organization found yesterday that Trump’s “America First” policy which imposed over $200 billion tariffs on China as part of the US’s ongoing trade war violated global trade rules. The ruling will have no immediate effect on the ability of the United States to collect the levies from American importers, but it does signify a weakening in the president’s trade offensive strategy. David J. Lynch reports for the Washington Post.
A bipartisan bill introduced yesterday by senators is seeking to resolve the Census Bureau’s controversial decision to end the decennial census count in just over two weeks’ time, four weeks earlier than planned. The bill, introduced by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both Republicans from Alaska, would require the bureau to continue its counting of the nation’s residents until at least Oct. 31, as well as extending the reporting deadlines for census results by four months. Hansi Lo Wang reports for NPR.
The novel coronavirus has infected over 6.60 million and killed close to 196,000 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there is more than 29.60 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 935,000 deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the US is available at the New York Times.
US and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.
A state-by-state guide to lockdown measures and reopenings is provided by the New York Times.
Latest updates on the pandemic at The Guardian.
ISRAEL-GULF NATIONS RELATIONS
The UAE and Bahrain have both signed agreements to normalize relations with Israel, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and representatives of the Arab nations agreeing to new diplomatic relations during a White House ceremony hosted by President Trump. Al Jazeera reporting.
Qatar normalizing relations with Israel would not be the answer, Lolwah al-Khater, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson said Monday in an interview with Bloomberg. Al Jazeera reporting.
Trump said yesterday that he is open to selling to other Gulf Nations the same weapons he has to Israel, speaking to Fox News. Reuters reporting.
A helpful explainer of what new normalized ties between Israel, Bahrain and the UAE entail is provided by Oren Liebermann for CNN.
The UN Security Council yesterday adopted a resolution urging all countries to enforce the widely violated UN arms embargo on Libya and withdraw all mercenaries from the country, with a vote if 13-0, Russia and China abstaining. AP reporting.