Early Edition: February 11, 2021

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

Signup to receive the Early Edition in your inbox here.

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

TRUMP IMPEACHMENT

House impeachment managers yesterday revealed harrowing, never-before-seen video footage of the attack on the Capitol Jan. 6 during their first day putting their case to the Senate. Although vast amounts of evidence and recordings have surfaced since Jan. 6, yesterday’s footage showed top officials, lawmakers and staffers running for their life and hiding in offices as insurrectionists swarmed the building. Officers could be seen and heard calling for help as they were overwhelmed by rioters. Peter Baker reports for the New York Times.

Unpublished video footage showed former Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) as they rushed to safety. House manager Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) said the footage showed rioters were only 58 steps away from lawmakers at one point. Elyse Samuels, Joyce Sohyun Lee, Sarah Cahlan and Meg Kelly report for the Washington Post.

Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman can be seen potentially saving Romney from the path of oncoming rioters. Romney spoke to reporters following yesterday’s proceedings, where he said it was “obviously very troubling” and that he was unaware that he had been in such close proximity to rioters. Paul LeBlanc reports for CNN.

Footage shows Pence and his family being rushed to safety by Secret Service. 

Despite the troubling footage shown, it is still highly unlikely that GOP senators will vote to convict Trump. Speaking on how many Republicans will vote to acquit, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who is thought to have whipped support for acquittal, said: “There will be at least 44. Or more. I think we might get one or two back on acquittal … Everybody objects to that violence. Everybody is horrified by that violence. But the question is: Did the president incite that?” Many Republicans seem to be relying on constitutional arguments to excuse their vote to acquit. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) said that although House managers delivered a “pretty polished approach,” Republicans were being asked to provide a “solution that we just don’t believe we have available.” “Their focus is on the actions of the day and they have still to reckon with the fact that most of us don’t believe we have the constitutional authority to impeach a private person,” said recently reelected Rounds, adding, “I don’t think they’re going to be able to overcome that based on the direction of their discussions today, as chilling as the events of Jan. 6 were.” Andrew Desiderio, Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine report for POLITICO.

Trump has shown no remorse for the Capitol attack and his relationsip with Pence remains damaged, Trump advisers said. Jim Acosta and Pamela Brown report for CNN.

Key takeaways from yesterday’s second day of the impeachment trial are provided by the New York TimesWashington Post and CNN.

Access to all the evidence presented in the trial is provided by Washington Post.

What to watch out for in today’s trial where House managers will close their case against Trump. Zach Montague reports for the New York Times.

US CAPITOL ATTACK

Around 60 percent of those facing charges for their involvement in the Capitol attack have a history of financial problems, including bankruptcies, debt, notices of eviction or foreclosure, and unpaid taxes, according to analysis by The Post. Todd C. Frankel reports for the Washington Post.

Proud Boys member Dominic Pezzola attempted to excuse his involvement in the Jan. 6 attack, telling a court that he was tricked by Trump’s “deception” and “acted out of the delusional belief” — but his attempt was not enough and he was detained without bond pending trial. Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein report for POLITICO.

CYBERSECURITY

Top National Security Agency (NSA) official Anne Neuberger will lead the Biden administration’s response to the Russian SolarWinds hack on federal government systems, a decision that was made back when President Biden took office but was not announced by the White House until yesterday. Dustin Volz reports for the Wall Street Journal.

Newly appointed ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee Rep. John Katko (R-NY) has called for a bipartisan effort to addressing cyberthreats, stressing that action must be taken on the SolarWinds hack as well as more general cybersecurity initiatives. Maggie Miller reports for The Hill.

“As long as the tools are available, vulnerabilities exist, money and secrets are to be had, and the lack of meaningful consequences persist, there will be malicious cyber actors,” said Christopher Krebs, former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), testifying to the House Homeland Security Committee during a hearing centered on cybersecurity threats. “The behavior will continue until the leadership has decided that it cannot tolerate further behavior,” Krebs said. “I think there are still options on the table for more destructive attacks, and more brazen attacks, particularly for Russia, I don’t think we’ve hit the upper limit of their pain threshold.” Maggie Miller reports for The Hill.

OTHER US DEVELPOMENTS

Georgia prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into former President Trump for his “attempts to influence the administration of the 2020 Georgia general election,” with the Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis requesting via letter that election officials, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, preserve evidence related to the highly reported phone call last month between Trump and officials where the former requested the latter to “find” votes in Georgia where he had lost the vote. Jason Morris and Devan Cole report for CNN.

Justice Department officials repeatedly thwarted efforts by Manhattan federal prosecutors to obtain search warrants last year in relation to digital records of Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani as part of prosecutors’ investigation into his links with Ukraine and possible violation of lobbying laws, with a department official saying that search warrants would be an unprecedented step. What happens next rests on the Biden administration. Kara Scannell and Evan Perez report for CNN.

Biden administration will maintain the US-Mexico border policy introduced by Trump to reduce the spread of coronavirus, turning away the majority of migrants arriving at the southern border, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, adding that the policy would remain in place whilst more “humane” asylum processing systems are considered and implemented. Al Jazeera reporting.

This year’s Pentagon budget is causing serious debate over whether the US should continue to pursue its new $100 billion replacement program of the 400 Minuteman III missiles, with the Air Force making clear it opposed a delay or reversal of the program as it could weaken the U.S. nuclear deterrent against countries like Russia and China. Bryan Bender reports for POLITICO.

During President Biden’s address to the Pentagon workforce he spoke about important role of Black service members and the need to uphold diversity. Missy Ryan reports for the Washington Post

CORONAVIRUS

The novel coronavirus has infected over 27.28 million and now killed over 471,000 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 107.43 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 2.35 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.

MYANMAR

President Biden yesterday announced sanctions on those responsible for Myanmar’s recent military coup; the sanctions will target military leaders, their business interests and close relatives, and limit military access to $1 billion of Myanmar government funds and assets held in the United States. “Strong export controls” will also be applied, although the president made clear measures would be thought through carefully so as not to hinder support of “health care, civil society groups, and other areas that benefit the people of Burma directly.” The sanctions will be implemented via executive order this week. Dan Payne reports for POLITICO.

It is unclear which military leaders will be targeted by sanctions and if the US will also act against military chief Min Aung Hlaing, the nation’s de facto leader. The severity of the sanctions is also unclear, particularly as many senior military leaders are already sanctioned for their actions against the Rohingya Muslim community. Anne Gearan and John Hudson report for the Washington Post.

Myanmar police forces unleashed machine gun fire against peaceful protesters Tuesday, shooting one woman in the head, Amnesty International announced Thursday.  Al Jazeera reporting.

More top Myanmar officials have been arrested, including a close aide to already-detained Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as well other electoral officials. Reuters reporting.

The UN Human Rights Council will tomorrow consider a resolution by the UK and EU calling for condemnation of the military coup and demanding access to monitors, although diplomats said China and Russia are expected to raise objections or attempt to weaken the resolution’s text. The request by Europe received formal support from 19 members, including Japan and South Korea. “It’s only a matter of time until there is a big-scale confrontation,” a U.N. official told Reuters of the protests. Stephanie Nebehay reports for Reuters.

IRAN

Iran has begun the production of uranium metal, a key violation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said yesterday. IAEA chief Rafael Grossi told U.N. members nations that inspectors had confirmed Feb. 8 that 3.6 grams of uranium metal had been produce. AP reporting.

The US has sold 1.2 million barrels of fuel seized from Iran under its 2020 sanctions program, a Justice Department official said, adding that the proceeds would be given to the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund. Al Jazeera reporting.

During talks with US officials, Qatar’s foreign minister said the country is working to de-escalate tensions in the region “through a political and diplomatic process” pushing for a return to the 2015 deal. “The remarks came in briefing notes about two separate calls earlier in the week between Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and US Special Representative for Iran Robert Malley and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.” Al Jazeera reporting.

Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was assassinated near Tehran in November, was killed by a one-ton gun which was smuggled into Iran in pieces by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, according to a report by The Jewish Chronicle. Al Jazeera reporting.

US-CHINA RELATIONS

President Biden yesterday had his first call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, where he confronted the Chinese leader about “coercive and unfair economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan,” according to a readout of the call. The leaders also discussed the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, and other issues. Natasha Bertrand reports for POLITICO.

Taiwan expressed its gratitude and “admiration” for Biden after he voiced his concerns to Jinping about Beijing’s pressure on Taiwan. Reuters reporting.

Biden also announced during his visit to the Pentagon a review by the Defense Department of its China strategy. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.

US-TURKEY RELATIONS

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to speak with Turkish foreign minister Melvut Cavusoglu soon, a State Department official said, while also maintaining that America remains opposed to Turkey’s purchasing of Russian S-400 missiles. Humeyra Pamuk and Daphne Psaledakis report for Reuters.

The US has called for Turkey to release jailed Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala and criticized charges brought against a US citizen involved in the Kavala case. Laura Kelly reports for The Hill.

SAUDI ARABIA AND YEMEN

Saudi forces intercepted an armed drone fired by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebel group, which follows a similar attack the previous day on an airport in the kingdom, although that was not intercepted in time. Al Jazeera reporting.

Secretary of State Blinken discussed the war in Yemen and strengthening the kingdom’s defenses in a call with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud on Wednesday, the U.S. State Department said. Reuters reporting.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

China and India have reached an agreement on their border conflict, each withdrawing their troops from the disputed region in the western Himalayas, officials from both sides have confirmed. AP reporting.

A warning has been issued by the Russian prosecutor’s office against planned protests Feb. 14 in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, stating the event has not been official authorized. Reuters 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)