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A curated guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
CAPITOL INSURRECTION AND DOMESTIC EXTREMISM
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) yesterday warned that the US may face heightened threats from “ideologically-motivated violent extremists.” “DHS is concerned these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021 and some [domestic violent extremists] DVEs may be emboldened by the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to target elected officials and government facilities,” the agency wrote in a National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin, although not mentioning any specific threat. By Zolan Kanno-Youngs and David E. Sanger report for the New York Times.
US military veterans linked to extremist group Oath Keepers who were charged over their involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection stand accused of: recruiting for members from November, a few days after Election Day; conducting training with recruits in Ohio and North Carolina; and organizing their travel to the Capitol, with a bus full of supporters and a truck load of weapons, the Justice Department announced. Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner and Tom Jackman report for the Washington Post.
Leader of the far-right nationalist group Proud Boys has long been a secret informant for the FBI and police, court records and a former prosecutor suggest, indicating that Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, who has been a target of the FBI’s investigation into the Capitol breach, apparently worked undercover for investigators after his arrest in 2012. “Tarrio was a cooperator — like many who seek to provide information and try to obtain substantial assistance,” the former prosecutor, Vanessa Johannes, wrote in an email. A court transcript from 2014 also indicates that Tarrio again worked with investigators in an effort to have his sentence for fraud reduced. Tarrio denies it all. Alan Feuer reports for the New York Times.
Records seen by Al Jazeera show Tarrio received a lighter sentence under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 35(b)(2)(B), which states: “if the government believes that a sentenced defendant has provided substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person, it may move the court to reduce the original sentence.
Authorities are calling on the public to assist their investigation into a man seen putting two pipe bombs outside both the Republican and Democratic parties’ headquarters. Investigators have apparently made little progress in their investigations and have warned that the person may strike again. David Shortell report for CNN.
A second police officer who responded to riots Jan. 6 has died by suicide, acting Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee told House appropriators during a closed-door session Tuesday. Caitlin Emma and Sarah Ferris report for POLITICO.
Biden’s pick as secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, has had his Senate confirmation delayed as Senate Republicans are expected to try and filibuster the nomination. Some Republicans are calling for an additional hearing on the nomination, with the Senate scheduling a procedural vote this afternoon to break the filibuster. Manu Raju and Veronica Stracqualursi for CNN.
Delays are expected to the administration’s implementation of a host of immigration executive orders signed this week by Biden, including the announcement of a taskforce to address the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that led to the separation of thousands of families attempting to cross the US-Mexico border, according to two sources familiar with the discussions, although they declined to say what was causing the delay. Julia Ainsley, Jacob Soboroff and Geoff Bennett for NBC News.
Biden will sign two executive actions today aimed at reversing a Trump administration abortion policy and expanding health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. The abortion order aims “to protect and expand access to comprehensive reproductive health care” by revoking the Mexico City Policy, often dubbed the “global gag rule,” which prohibits international non-governmental organizations providing abortion-related counselling and referral services from receiving US funding. On expanding Obamacare provisions, Biden’s memorandum calls for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to open a special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act through HealthCare.gov; the enrollment period is running from Feb. 15 to May. 15. He has also requested a review of policies that were criticized as making enrollment very difficult. Jacyln Diaz reports for NPR.
OTHER US DEVELOPMENTS
Senate Democrats are now considering a rapid-fire impeachment trial of former President Trump, after yesterday’s test vote saw the majority of GOP senators indicate that they would not vote to convict Trump —Democrats are also considering alternatives like censure which could attract greater Republican support. Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane report for the Washington Post.
Biden will advance the creation of a bipartisan commission tasked with considering reforms to the Supreme Court and federal judiciary. “The commission will be housed under the purview of the White House Counsel’s office and filled out with the behind-the-scenes help of the Biden campaign’s lawyer Bob Bauer, who will co-chair the commission. Its specific mandate is still being decided. But, in a signal that the commission is indeed moving ahead, some members have already been selected, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions,” reports Tyler Pager for POLITICO.
Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) plans to introduce a resolution seeking to oust Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) after a CNN KFile reported that prior to joining Congress she had called for Democrats to be executed, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), as well as FBI agent. Matthew Choi reports for POLTICO.
Meanwhile, most Republicans have remained silent on Greene’s spotting of conspiracy theories and violence. Clare Foran, Daniella Diaz, Annie Grayer and Kristin Wilson for CNN.
Climate change will now become part of the Pentagon’s national security agenda, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin asked instead in a statement: “The Department will immediately take appropriate policy actions to prioritize climate change considerations in our activities and risk assessments, to mitigate this driver of insecurity,”Austin said, adding that, the department “will also support incorporating climate risk analysis into modeling, simulation, wargaming, analysis, and the next National Defense Strategy.” Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.
The Census Bureau is aiming to release its latest tally of state populations counts April 30, a long-awaited count used to determine each state’s share of votes in the House and the Electoral College for the next ten years. Brittany Renee Mayes reports for the Washington Post.
A suspected former Air Force captain and retired sergeant with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office in California was arrested Tuesday on charges that he made threats to the family of an unnamed New York congressman. Al Jazeera reporting.
A British national born in Iraq has been charged in New Jersey for his involvement in a bribery scheme to obtain millions of dollars of US Army Corps of Engineers reconstruction contracts in Iraq, the Justice Department said yesterday. “The defendant, Shwan Al-Mulla, and his co-conspirators allegedly received confidential information to get an edge in the bidding process for the contracts, in exchange for more than $1 million in bribes paid from 2007 to 2009 to a USACE employee deployed in Tikrit, Iraq,” reports Jonathan Stempel for Reuters.
The State Department has temporarily ordered a freeze on several arms sales that were approved by the Trump administration, including F-35 fighter jets to the UAE and precision-guided missiles to Saudi Arabia, as part of the Biden administration’s review of wider arms sales, which the department said was “a routine action.” Karen DeYoung reports for the Washington Post.
The State Department is taking a “very urgent and very close look” at the Trump administration’s designation of Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebel group as a foreign terrorist organization, insisting humanitarian support for the country is “vitally important,” Blinked said. Humeyra Pamuk and Daphne Psaledakis report for Reuters.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during his first full day yesterday as the US’s top diplomat, pledged to restore US leadership in the world, speaking to State Department employees in Washington. Abigail Williams report for NBC News.
On Iran, Blinken insisted that the country must comply with its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal before the US will consider re-joining: “if Iran comes back into full compliance with its obligations under the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] JCPOA, the United States would do the same thing.” Reuter reporting.
In a call with the Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Blinken reaffirmed US support for Israel’s security and for supporting further progress to Israel’s normalizing of ties with Gulf nations. Reuters reporting.
US special negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad, who helped broker the Afghan-Taliban peace deal, has been asked by Blinken to remain his top diplomatic position. Reuters reporting.
On China, Blinken said: “It’s not a secret that the relationship between the United States and China is arguably the most important relationship that we have in the world going forward,” in response to reporters’ questions during his first press conference since taking his position. “Increasingly, that relationship has some adversarial aspects to it. It has competitive ones. And it also still has cooperative ones … I think, and hope, that we’ll be able to pursue that, but that fits within the larger context of, of our foreign policy, and of many issues of concern that we have with China; issues that we need to need to work through,” he added. Reuters reporting.
The State Department is reviewing the Trump administration’s conclusion that China committed genocide against Uighur and other ethnic minority Muslims in its Xinjiang region, newly-appointed UN ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday. Patricia Zengerle and Michelle Nichols report for Reuters.
In a call Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, President Biden yesterday pledged his support for Japan over its rejection of China’s claim to the Senkaku islands, a group of uninhabited islets administered by Tokyo. The conversation comes after China last week passed legislation permitting its coast guard to use force against foreign ships thought to be carrying out illegal activities around the islets. The leaders also spoke about other concerns aroudj China and North Kora. AP reporting.
Blinken also said the US rejects China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea, pledging support for Southeast Asian countries who may come under fire from China. Reuters reporting.
China warned that Taiwan’s efforts to assert independence “means war.” Tony Munroe and Yew Lun Tian report for Reuters.
In a call with his German counterpart, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin yesterday praised Germany for hosting US troops, the Pentagon said in a statement, adding to speculation that Biden could reverse a Trump administration drawdown. Phil Stewart ad Idrees Ali report for Reuters.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court today ordered the release of a man convicted of beheading Daniel Pearl, journalist at the Wall Street Journal. “By a majority of two to one, they have acquitted all the accused persons and ordered their release,” a provincial advocate general, Salman Talibuddin, told Reuters.
The novel coronavirus has infected over 25.59 million and now killed over 429,000 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 100.98 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 2.17 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
A tracker for the number of people in the US who have received one dose of the vaccine is provided by 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.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has had his appeal for release denied in a court in Moscow. Isabelle Khurshudyan and Robyn Dixon report for the New York Times.
Russian police have detained Navalny’s brother, Oleg Navalny, and searched a number of associates’and other properties connected to the opposition leader, his allies said. Anton Zverev and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber report for Reuters.
A German neo-Nazi was yesterday convicted and sentenced to life inprison following the assassination of a German politician in 2019, which prosecutors argued was motivated by racism and xenophobia. Melissa Eddy reports for the New York Times.