Early Edition: November 3, 2020

A curated guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours.

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A curated guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.

US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION & ELECTION INTERFERENCE  

Governors in Massachusetts and Oregon have started to ready the National Guard for potential election unrest. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) called for up to 1,000 Guard members yesterday to assist state and local enforcement and “to maintain public safety or protect opportunities to exercise first amendment rights during large scale events,” Baker’s office said, although no specific threat has been identified, Massachusetts State Police Col. Christopher Mason confirmed in a statement. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) has put an unknown number of Guard members on standby, ordering a state of emergency for the Portland area from yesterday until tomorrow. Army Maj. Stephen Bomar, a spokesperson for the Oregon Military Department, said National Guard have received orders to be immediately ready if they are called upon. Alex Horton reports for the Washington Post.

A Nevada judge has ruled that ballot-counting measures in Clark County were legal, rejecting a lawsuit by President Trump’s reelection campaign and state Republican officials that sought to halt mail-in ballot counting because observers could not observe all aspects of the ballot-counting process closely enough, and wanted cameras installed to record the process. The lawsuit was filed Oct. 23, and the ruling was issued Thursday and revealed yesterday. District Court Judge James Wilson said the suit failed to provide evidence of “debasement or dilution of a citizen’s vote,” adding, “There is no evidence that any vote that should lawfully be counted has or will not be counted. There is no evidence that any vote that lawfully should not be counted has or will be counted. There is no evidence that any election worker did anything outside of the law, policy, or procedures.” Laurel Wamsley reports for NPR.

A federal judge yesterday rejected a lawsuit by Republicans that challenged the legality of over 127,000 votes cast at drive-thru voting sites in Harris County, Texas, ruling that the plaintiffs did not have standing, a decision that follows the Texas Supreme Court’s rejection Sunday of a similar lawsuit. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen said that although the Texas Election Code allows drive-thru early voting, it does not authorize movable structures like the tents. Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins also announced late yesterday that the county would, moving forward, only allow drive-thru voting at one site, The Toyota Center in Houston, which fit with the definition of a “building” provided by Hanen. Hanen also ruled that a record must be kept of all votes cast via a drive-thru in case of future challenges. Josh Gerstein and Zach Montellaro report for POLITICO.

US Cyber Command has upped its overseas operations efforts — in Russia, China, Iran and North Korea — aimed at identifying foreign hacking sources prior to Election Day, military officials said. The effort follows an initial push that begun in 2018, and aims to find hacking groups in Europe, the Middle East and Asia and identify the tools they are using to infiltrate computer network infrastructures. The 2018 operation was primarily focused on Russian hackers but has broadened its focus in the run up to this year’s election. Julian E. Barnes reports for the New York Times.

Lawyers for Trump, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, voting rights organizations and conservative groups have been assembled in mass over potential challenges expected following the election result, spurred on by disagreements over ballot-counting and claims of voter fraud. Jim Rutenberg, Michael S. Schmidt, Nick Corasaniti and Peter Baker report for the New York Times.

Cities and businesses are bracing themselves for civil unrest, protests and violence following the election. Shops, restaurants and other business are boarding up and putting films on windows, and the National Retail Federation are providing retail staff with training on crisis prevention and conflict de-escalation. David Schaper and Marisa Peñaloza report for NPR.

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter yesterday flagged posts by Trump that claimed the recent Supreme Court ruling on mail-in voting in Pennsylvania was “very dangerous” and would lead to “rampant” fraud. Twitter marked Trump’s post as “disputed [and] might be misleading” content, and blocked its users from reposting or replying to the post. Reuters reporting.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said yesterday that Congress is ready and prepared to decide the presidential election if the results are disputed: “We understand what the law is and the preeminence of the role of Congress and specifically the House of Representatives when it comes to counting the votes,” Pelosi said, adding, “We’re ready. We’re prepared. We’ve been ready for a while because we see this irresponsibility of the president, his disrespect for the Constitution, for our democracy and for the integrity of our elections. So, we’re ready for him.” Joseph Choi reports for The Hill.

Several battleground states have witnessed — between Sept. 1 and Oct. 29 — the largest volume of misinformation about mail-in voting, according to new data by Zignal Labs, a media insights company that tallied the likely misinformation mentions across online news outlets, television, print and social media. The company tallied over 1.1 million mail-in misinformation claims, with Pennsylvania at the top of that list with 226,907 falsehoods. Davey Alba reports for the New York Times.

Five things to watch out for in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania on Election Day are provided by Maura Barrett and Matt Wargo for NBC News.

Analysis of the key swing states that will help predict the election outcome is provided the Economist.

Forecasts and predictions for the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and state Governors are provided by POLITICO.

An infographic guide on the US elections is provided by Al Jazeera.

Live updates on the US Elections 2020 at the New York Times, Washington Post, Al Jazeera and NBC News.

US DEVELOPMENTS                 

Deutsche Bank (DB) — the German bank that has around $340 million in loans outstanding to the Trump Organization and has forked out around $2 billion to President Trump over the years — is reportedly looking for ways to sever ties with the president after it loses patience with the bad publicity it is receiving over its links to Trump, according to three senior bank officials with insider knowledge of the matter. DB is reportedly eyeing its ample opportunity to break ties with Trump — namely, if he loses the election — and has discussed selling on Trump’s debt, or demanding repayment when principal on the loans becomes due in two years’ time. Bank officials told Reuters that Trump has personally guaranteed the loans and so DB could seize the president’s assets if he is unable to repay the debt. The bank and the Trump Organization refused to comment. Matt Scuffham, Tom Sims and John O’Donnell report for Reuters.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett yesterday heard her first oral arguments at the Supreme Court, a case on procedural matters relating to the Freedom of Information Act. Adam Liptak reports for the New York Times.

A federal judge yesterday granted approval for the Trump administration’s law enforcement commission to release its controversial report on policing reforms, but only if the Justice Department includes a disclaimer stating that the report was drafted in violation of federal open meeting laws. The ruling signifies a somewhat victory for the department, following a ruling last month by District Judge John Bates that blocked the report’s publication following a lawsuit filed by NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (NAACP LDF). Reuters reporting.

CORONAVIRUS

The novel coronavirus has infected over 9.29 million and now killed over 231,500 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there has been over 46.97 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 1.2 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN  

Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, privately expressed to White House officials deep concern about the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic, calling for “much more aggressive action,” a White House report has revealed. In direct contrast to pronouncements by President Trump, a Nov.2 report from Birx states: “We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic … leading to increasing mortality,” adding, “This is not about lockdowns — It hasn’t been about lockdowns since March or April. It’s about an aggressive balanced approach that is not being implemented.” Lena H. Sun and Josh Dawsey report for the Washington Post.

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.

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS

Over 70 UN members yesterday expressed their “unwavering support” for the International Criminal Court (ICC) and denounced imposed sanctions on two of the court’s top officials, a joint statement read, clearly referring to U.S. sanctions, although not expressly naming the nation. The statement said that “any attempt to undermine the independence of the court should not be tolerated,” and stressed the nations’ commitment “to preserve the tribunal’s integrity and independence undeterred by any measures or threats against the Court, its officials and those cooperating with it.” AP reporting.

North Korea is currently building two new submarines, with one capable of firing ballistic missiles, a South Korean lawmaker confirmed today, following a closed-door briefing by South Korea’s National Intelligence Service. Reuters reporting.

Artillery strikes on civilians in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict could amount to war crimes, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said yesterday, urging Azerbaijan and Armenia to immediately stop attacks on towns, schools and hospitals in the region. Reuters reporting.

Four people have been shot dead in Vienna, with many more seriously injured, in what officials have said was an Islamist terrorist attack. One perpetrator has been identified, who was shot and killed by officers; officers continue to search for any possible accomplices. AP reporting. 

About the Author(s)

Siven Watt

Associate News Editor at Just Security and Legal Fellow at JUSTICE, a law reform and human rights organization based in the UK. Follow him on Twitter (@SivenWatt)