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A curated guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
Israel carried out airstrikes in Gaza overnight after Palestinians launched incendiary balloons from the territory, according to a statement from the Israel Defense Forces. There were no casualties on either side and the Israeli military said it targeted compounds belonging to Hamas. Hamas said that the balloons were launched in response to a march by Israeli nationalists in occupied East Jerusalem. The air strikes were the first carried out under Israel’s new government, which took office on Sunday. BBC News reports.
A new public opinion poll has found a dramatic surge in Palestinian support for Hamas following last month’s conflict in Gaza. The poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that about 53% of Palestinians believe that Hamas is “most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people” and that 77% believe that Hamas were the victors in the latest 11-day conflict with Israel. Joseph Krauss reports for AP.
Israeli troops have shot and killed a Palestinian motorist who tried to ram them in the occupied West Bank and then brandished a knife, the Israeli military said. Reuters reporting.
President Biden is meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin today in Geneva, as relationships between the two leaders’ countries are at their lowest point in 30 years. Issues expected to be covered include recent cyberattacks that the United States have said originated from Russia, arms control, human rights and climate change, however both leaders have attempted to temper expectations of a major breakthrough from the meeting. Isabelle Khurshudyan reports for the Washington Post.
Live updates on the Biden-Putin summit are provided by Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Aditi Sangal, Nick Thompson, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Melissa Mahtani reporting for CNN.
Lawmakers are urging Biden to be tough on cybersecurity during his summit with Putin and to strongly push back on recent Russia-linked cyberattacks. Those joining the calls include Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) who tweeted that it he hoped that Biden “makes clear that any exploitation of compromised networks to produce harmful effects will prompt an appropriate and proportional response,” Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) who sent Biden a letter underlining the need to be clear that the United States would use a range of measures to respond to further cyberattacks, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) who said in a statement that he was “confident” that Biden would address concerns including the cyberattacks. Maggie Miller reports for The Hill.
TRUMP-ERA JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
New emails from Department of Justice (DOJ) and White House officials show how former President Trump and his allies pressured the DOJ to investigate claims of election fraud and pushed then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to back the unproven claims. The emails were released by the House Oversight and Reform Committee and “also offer a window into how Rosen dealt with the political pressure coming from the White House,” Whitney Wild, Jeremy Herb, Lauren Fox, Zachary Cohen and Ryan Nobles report for CNN.
Analysis of the key takeaways from the latest emails released relating to Trump’s claims of election fraud is provided by Jeremy Herb for CNN.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
U.S. Capitol Police, Washington Metropolitan Police and local officials requested support from the DC National Guard 12 times on Jan. 6 during the Capitol attack, the House Oversight Committee Democrats said Tuesday. Democratic party members on the Committee pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray and two Army officials about the response to the Jan. 6 attack, including the time it took for National Guard officials to respond to the attack, which House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said “took far too long.” Jeremy Herb and Christina Carrega report for CNN.
The Pentagon and the FBI have come under fire for their failure to respond to warning signs on social media of the Jan. 6 attack. At a House Oversight Committee hearing on Tuesday Maloney described the failures of the Pentagon and the FBI, including the FBI’s failure to address dozens of worrying messages that social media company Parler had flagged, as “shocking.” Nicholas Wu, Nick Niedzwiadek and Josh Gerstein report for POLITICO.
The F.B.I. is pursuing potentially hundreds more suspects in the Jan. 6 attack, Wray told the House Oversight Committee. “We’ve already arrested close to 500, and we have hundreds of investigations that are still ongoing beyond those 500,” Wray said, calling the FBI’s efforts to find those responsible for the attack as “one of the most far-reaching and extensive” investigations in the FBI’s history. Luke Broadwater reports for the New York Times.
The Proud Boys group descended into dysfunction and finger-pointing as members were arrested following the Jan. 6 attack, a Proud Boys audio chat shows. Defense attorneys for Ethan Nordean, a leader of the Proud Boys in Washington state, released in a court filing a rough transcript of the audio messages from Feb. 1, which had been found on the Telegram app and transcribed by the FBI. One member had said that the situation “completely f–king crashes and burns on us,” with another saying “we are f–ked…they are coming for us,” Marshall Cohen reports for CNN.
The House has passed legislation that would award the highest congressional honor to all members of law enforcement for their service during the Jan. 6 attack. 21 House Republicans voted against the measure, nearly twice as many as those that opposed a similar bill in March. Nick Niedzwiadek reports for POLITICO.
The Pentagon is considering establishing a permanent naval task force in the Pacific region to counter China’s growing military, according to sources familiar with the matter. The Pentagon is also considering creating a named military operation for the Pacific that would enable the defense secretary to allocate additional funds and resources to operations countering China. The initiatives come from the work by the Pentagon’s China Task Force and a defense official has stressed that none of the plans are finalized. “We are looking at a number of proposals in the Indo-Pacific and across the Department, to better synchronize and coordinate our activities,” said the person, responding to a request for comment. Lara Seligman reports for POLITICO.
The Pentagon is weighing a proposal to send dozens of Special Forces trainers back to Somalia to help local forces combat Al Shabab, the terrorist group affiliated with Al Qaeda. The proposal, which not yet been presented to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III or been approved by Biden, would partly reverse former President Trump’s January order to withdraw nearly all 700 U.S. troops from Somalia. Eric Schmitt and Charlie Savage report for the New York Times.
Reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear will have to be put off until a new Iranian government is formed in mid-August, said Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica, in response to a question about what stage negotiations on the deal were at. “Everyone knows that, at this point, it will be necessary to wait for the new Iranian government,” Grossi, adding, “the discussions that have been going on for weeks have dealt with very complex and delicate technical questions, but what is needed is the political will of the parties.” Reuters reporting.
President Biden has named nine ambassador nominees. Julianne Smith, a former deputy national security adviser to Biden when he served as vice president, will be nominated as ambassador to NATO and Tom Nides, a former deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration and an executive at Morgan Stanley, will be nominated as ambassador to Israel, along with nominations for ambassadors to Mexico, Paraguay, Costa Rica and Guinea, Sri Lanka and Gambia, and the nomination of Capt. Chesley Sullenberger III to the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization. Jeff Zeleny reports for CNN.
The newly appointed U.S. envoy for North Korea, Sung Kim, will make his first visit to South Korea on Saturday for a possible three-way meeting with his counterparts from Seoul and Tokyo, the Kyodo news agency said on Wednesday. “Kyodo said arrangements were being made for the visit during which the officials of the three nations would discuss the future direction of the Biden administration’s attempts to open dialogue with North Korea in pursuit of denuclearization,” reports Reuters.
A Ukrainian hacking group which targeted the servers of U.S. and South Korean companies, threatening to disclose confidential data if the victims did not pay ransoms, has been uncovered by Ukrainian police. Reuters reporting.
The embassy for Saudi Arabia in the U.S. has helped Saudi citizens facing criminal charges flee the U.S. Dozens of Saudi citizens, many of them students, who are wanted in the United States for offences including first-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, vehicular hit-and-run, rape and possession of child pornography, have fled to Saudi Arabia with the assistance of Saudi officials, “and for some, their path out of the United States was eased by the negligence of prosecutors or police who failed to consider flight risk,” Shane Harris reports for the Washington Post.
President Biden’s administration has said that it is adding staff to speed up the visa process for Afghans who worked for the U.S. government and fear Taliban reprisals, as the military completes its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. “But for refugee advocates and members of Congress, the effort still isn’t enough to ensure that Afghans who worked as U.S. military translators, guides and in other roles aren’t persecuted in large numbers in the months ahead,” Phil Stewart reports for Reuters.
The U.N. has condemned attacks on polio vaccination teams in Afghanistan which killed five health workers and injured four others. “The U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the country, Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov, said that he was ‘appalled by the brutality of these killings’ on Tuesday, adding that ‘the senseless violence must stop,’ urging Afghan authorities to bring those responsible to justice,” UN News Centre.
China has flown 28 warplanes into Taiwan-controlled airspace, the biggest such move since the Taiwanese government started publishing information about the incursions last year. China describes such flights as routine, however the flights often follow actions by Taiwan or the United States that Beijing disapproves of and “are widely seen as part of an effort by Beijing to dial up pressure on Taiwan,” John Ruwitch reports for NPR.
The E.U. has agreed additional sanctions on Belarus in response to the forced landing of a Ryanair light and the arrest of a dissident journalist on board in May, an E.U. diplomat said. The sanctions will be adopted by the bloc’s foreign ministers at a meeting on Monday and target seven individuals connected to the Belarus aviation sector, according to the diplomat. “E.U. ambassadors also signed off on a fourth package of asset freezes and travel bans, to be imposed on more than 70 individuals in response to last year’s contested presidential election, the diplomat said. These measures were already being prepared when the Ryanair jet was forced to land on May 23,” reports Reuters.
A car bomb has exploded inside a military base in Colombia leaving at least 26 people injured, including three in critical condition. A small group of U.S. military personnel were at the base to conduct training exercises when the explosion occurred but were not harmed. “During an emergency visit to the base, Defense Minister Diego Molano described the blast as a ‘vile terrorist attack’ that targeted Colombian soldiers and sought to injure as many troops as possible,” Manuel Rueda reports for AP.
Ethiopia’s U.N. ambassador Taye Atske Selassie Amde has said that Eritrean troops who have been fighting with Ethiopia’s forces in a war against the Tigray region’s fugitive leaders “will definitely leave soon.” The comments were made to reporters following an informal closed meeting of the U.N. Security Council, where the U.N. Security Council aid chief Mark Lowcock warned of the increasing number of people in famine conditions in Tigray. Amde “disputed the famine-related data but said there is ‘food insecurity’ in Tigray and expressed gratitude for donor help,” Edith M. Lederer reports for AP.
France along with other world powers will seek to raise tens of millions of dollars in emergency aid for the Lebanese army at a meeting tomorrow, aiming to prevent the country’s military from collapsing amid a worsening economic and political crisis, a French official said. “The official, who said the kind of support being envisaged was just a temporary solution, said the conference would not seek to pay wages but rather offer food, medical supplies, spare parts for military equipment and even fuel,” reports Reuters.
U.N. experts have found no evidence of direct support by the Islamic State for the Islamist militia group in eastern Congo, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which the U.S. blacklisted as a terrorist organization in March. “In its latest report, the U.N. Group of Experts on the Congo said the ADF and Islamic State both benefited from making public statements that link them with each other. Such statements were ‘complementing and amplifying ADF local propaganda, and suggesting increased global reach for ISIL,’ the report said … But it added: ‘The Group did not however find conclusive evidence of ISIL command and control over ADF operations, nor of ISIL direct support to ADF, either financial, human or material,’” reports Reuters.
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has called the country’s food shortage situation as “tense,” according to state media. “Experts are not expecting widespread famine this year. They say food shortages are not going to fatally undermine the regime, or force Kim to the negotiating table with the United States. But they do spell real hardship for millions of people inside the country, while the regime will be concerned about shortages also biting on the elite in Pyongyang,” Simon Denyer reports for the Washington Post.
FBI agents are calling on the government to enact a new federal terrorism statute, expressing disappointment in a press release that the domestic terror strategy released yesterday stopped short of making such a recommendation. The current federal terrorism statute does not outline specific penalties for violent terror acts carried out in the United States, however civil rights advocates are concerned about the impact of the proposal on disadvantaged groups. Rebecca Beitsch reports for The Hill.
At least 1,900 U.S. military firearms were lost or stolen during the 2010s, with some resurfacing in violent crimes, an Associated Press investigation has found. “Government records covering the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force show pistols, machine guns, shotguns and automatic assault rifles have vanished from armories, supply warehouses, Navy warships, firing ranges and other places where they were used, stored or transported,” Kristin M. Hall, James Laporta, Justin Pritchard and Justin Myers report for AP.
The criminal tax investigation into former President Trump’s long-serving chief financial officer Allen H. Weisselberg appears to have entered its final stages and Weisselberg could face charges this summer, according to sources familiar with the matter. A grand jury has recently been hearing evidence about Weisselberg and prosecutors have obtained Weisselberg’s personal tax returns. However, “even as the investigation has heated up, it remains unclear whether the prosecutors will seek an indictment of Mr. Weisselberg, which would mark the first criminal charges stemming from the long-running financial fraud investigation into Mr. Trump and his family company,” William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess and Jonah E. Bromwich report for the New York Times.
Jared Kushner has agreed a book deal for a “definitive” account of Trump’s presidency. “Broadside Books, a conservative imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, announced that Kushner’s book will come out in early 2022,” AP reports.
President Biden’s administration is expanding a program designed to let children and teenagers from Central America come to the U.S. legally. The expansion, which comes as the government continues to grapple with the large numbers of minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, could make tens of thousands of children newly eligible to participate in the program, said State Department deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter. Michelle Hackman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Former President Trump is to visit the Texas-Mexico border later this month along with Texas Governor Gregg Abbott. Trump, Abott and other Republicans have criticized Biden “for rolling back Trump immigration restrictions as the number of migrants arriving at the border has reached the highest monthly levels in two decades,” Reuters reports.
The coronavirus has infected over 33.48 million and now killed over 600,200 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 176.70 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 3.82 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named at the Covid-19 Delta, which is spreading through the U.S., a “variant of concern.” The New York Times reports.
Former President Trump’s administration search for a lab leak in China that led to the Covid-19 “went down many paths and came up with no smoking gun,” Yasmeen Abutaleb and Shane Harris report for the Washington Post.
E.U. governments have agreed to add the U.S. to the safe travel list of countries from which they will allow non-essential travel, according to E.U. diplomats. The change will come into effect in the coming days, though individual E.U. countries can still opt to demand a negative Covid-19 test or a period of quarantine. Reuters reporting.
A map and analysis of the vaccine roll out across the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
U.S. 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.