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A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
The House has voted to recommend holding Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff of former President Trump, in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with the House Jan. 6 select committee’s subpoena. The vote was 222 to 208, with the two Republicans who serve on the committee joining Democratic party members. The vote now sends the matter to the Justice Department to consider whether to prosecute Meadows. Luke Broadwater reports for the New York Times.
The District of Columbia is suing the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, alleging that the far-right groups conspired to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and disrupt the certification of President Biden’s election victory. The civil lawsuit, filed yesterday in federal court in Washington, names the two groups and more than 30 individuals it says are associated with them. Alexa Corse reports for the Wall Street Journal.
John Eastman, the attorney who helped Trump try to persuade then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 election, has sued Verizon and the Jan. 6 select committee. Eastman’s lawsuit argues the Jan. 6 committee’s subpoena of cell phone records from Verizon is invalid for multiple reasons and follows a similar lawsuit filed Monday by four organizers of the Jan. 6 rally. “Monday’s lawsuit, against Verizon, argued the select committee doesn’t have the proper authority to obtain the cell phone data. The lawsuit filed Tuesday says the committee subpoenaed Verizon ‘without prior notice,’ requesting nine categories of data from Eastman’s personal cell phone over a three-month period,” Myah Ward reports for POLITICO.
Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have lashed out at the Jan. 6 committee for releasing text messages they sent to Meadows during the Jan. 6 attack. Dartunorro Clark reports for NBC News.
A man who pleaded guilty to threatening House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) the day after the Jan. 6 attack, has been sentenced to more than two years in prison. Mychael Schnell reports for The Hill.
Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel who worked with Trump’s outside legal team on claims of election fraud, was an invited speaker yesterday at a state commission charged with shaping Louisiana’s voting system. “Waldron’s 90-minute talk in Louisiana came just days after revelations that he circulated and briefed members of Congress on a PowerPoint presentation that urged then-Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6 to reject electoral votes from ‘states where fraud occurred,’ replace them with Republican electors or delay counting electoral votes until ballots could be seized and recounted with the help of National Guard troops,” Emma Brown reports for the Washington Post.
OTHER U.S. DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Prosecutors in Manhattan are weighing whether to charge former President Trump with fraud based on financial documents that Trump used to obtain loans. The annual statements of financial condition, which are compiled by Trump’s accountants, could help answer the question of whether Trump inflated the value of his assets to defraud his lenders. William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess and Jonah E. Bromwich report for the New York Times.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by Trump that sought to block Congress from obtaining his tax returns. In a 45-page opinion, the judge ruled that a House committee chair has broad authority under the law to request the documents, despite Trump’s status as a former president, and therefore the Treasury Department can provide the tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, which could vote to publish them. The ruling was however stayed for 10 days to give Trump time to file an appeal. Charlie Savage reports for the New York Times.
A longtime accountant for Trump, Donald Bender, of the firm Mazars, testified recently before a New York grand jury investigating Trump’s financial practices, according to people familiar with the investigation. In recent weeks prosecutors have also interviewed Rosemary Vrablic, a former managing director at Deutsche Bank who arranged hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to Trump. Vrablic’s interview was not before the grand jury and one person said that “prosecutors pressed Vrablic about Trump’s role in dealings with the bank,” David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell report for the Washington Post.
Congress has unanimously passed legislation granting the head of the Capitol Police the power to “unilaterally” request emergency backup from the D.C. National Guard and federal law enforcement agencies, without getting prior approval from the Capitol Police Board. Lawmakers have said the lack of authority had caused “unnecessary delays” during the Jan. 6 attack. Bryan Pietsch reports for the Washington Post.
The House has voted for legislation to monitor and combat Islamophobia globally. The measure calls for the State Department to establish an office headed by a special envoy appointed by the president, which would report on Islamophobia. The vote followed a rancorous debate in which Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) falsely claimed that the goal of the legislation is “to silence dissent and critiques of terrorism,” and basely claimed that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a co-sponsor of the bill, is “affiliated with” terrorist organizations. Felicia Sonmez and Anjuman Ali report for the Washington Post.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has dismissed suggestions from Russia that NATO is planning on deploying long-range missiles in Europe. On Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov claimed there were “indirect indications” that NATO intended to deploy intermediate-range missiles, which are banned in Europe under a 1987 treaty. Stoltenberg responded by saying that Russia had violated the treaty in question for years by deploying new intermediate range nuclear capable missiles in Europe, adding that NATO did not aim to mirror Moscow’s behavior. Reuters reports.
Russia has provided the U.S. with concrete proposals for the binding security guarantees that Russia wants from the West, including a guarantee that NATO will not expand further eastwards or deploy certain weapons systems in Ukraine and other countries that border Russia, the Kremlin has said. The proposals were handed over during a meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried in Moscow today. Reuters reports.
The E.U. is ready to scale up its sanctions and take “unprecedented measures” against Russia if it shows further aggression towards Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said. “Von der Leyen, speaking in the European Parliament, said the E.U. had worked closely with the United States to draw up options going beyond existing sanctions targeting Russia’s financial and energy sectors, dual-use goods and defense,” Reuters reports.
The House has voted unanimously to ban imports from China’s Xinjiang region over concerns about human rights abuses and the use of forced labor. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act is expected to pass the Senate this week. The House vote came after a bipartisan agreement was reached with the Senate on the language of the legislation. Natalie Andrews reports for the Wall Street Journal.
A Harvard chemistry professor, Charles Lieber, has gone on federal trial in Boston over whether he misled the U.S. Defense Department, Harvard University, and others about his relationship with the Chinese Wuhan University of Technology. “Lieber, a pioneer in the field of nanoscience, was arrested in January 2020 on charges of lying to government agents about his involvement with a Chinese talent-recruitment program and the money he received through it. He has pleaded not guilty to those and related tax charges, and his lawyers have argued he didn’t mean to mislead anyone about his affiliations,” Aruna Viswanatha and Byron Tau report for the Wall Street Journal.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is threatening to pull out of a multibillion-dollar deal to buy U.S.-made F-35 aircraft, Reaper drones, and other advanced munitions. The UAE is complaining that security requirements that the U.S. laid out to safeguard the high-tech weaponry from Chinese espionage are too onerous, and the country’s national sovereignty was in jeopardy. “The UAE has informed the U.S. that it will suspend discussions to acquire the F-35…Technical requirements, sovereign operational restrictions, and cost/benefit analysis led to the re-assessment,” an Emirati official said. “The U.S. remains the UAE’s preferred provider for advanced defense requirements and discussions for the F-35 may be re-opened in the future,” the official added. Mostafa Salem, Jennifer Hansler and Celine Alkhaldi report for CNN.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that the U.S. is prepared to move forward with the sale of F-35 fighter jets and drones to the UAE, following the reports that the UAE intends to suspend discussions on the sale. “Speaking at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Blinken said Washington had to conduct some reviews. ‘We’ve wanted to make sure, for example, that our commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge is assured, so we wanted to make sure that we could do a thorough review of any technologies that are sold or transferred to other partners in the region, including the UAE,’ Blinken said. ‘But I think we continue to be prepared to move forward if the UAE continues to want to pursue both of these,’ he said.” Humeyra Pamuk and Rozanna Latiff report for Reuters.
The Afghan survivors of the botched Aug. 29 U.S. drone strike that killed 10 members of their family in Kabul have said that they are frustrated and saddened that U.S. troops involved in the attack will not face disciplinary action. The drone strike hit a car belonging to aid worker Zemerai Ahmadi, killing him and nine relatives, including seven children. Three of Ahmadi’s brothers spoke yesterday of their loss and said that they have not yet heard anything from Washington about financial compensation or when they would be evacuated from Afghanistan. Kathy Gannon reports for AP.
The U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada Al-Nashif, has called the situation in Afghanistan one that “threatens the most basic of human rights,” during an update on Afghanistan. “Nashif voiced particular concern over the brutal nature of killings carried out by the Taliban as well as the treatment of women and girls,” Monique Beals reports for The Hill.
Members of the public in Myanmar are urging targeted sanctions against oil and gas funds, the single largest source of foreign currency revenue in Myanmar. “But Western governments — most notably the United States and France — have refused to take that step amid lobbying from energy company officials and resistance from countries such as Thailand, which gets gas from Myanmar,” Kristen Gelineau, Victoria Milko and Lori Hinnant report for AP.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that President Biden’s administration is weighing tough new sanctions on Myanmar. Blinken, speaking in Malaysia, said the situation in Myanmar since the coup in February has “gotten worse” with mass arrests and violence against protesters. “I think it’s going to be very important in the weeks and months ahead to look at what additional steps and measures we can take individually, collectively to pressure the regime to put the country back on a democratic trajectory,” Blinken said. Blinken added that the Biden administration is also looking “very actively” at designating ongoing repression against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim population as a “genocide.” Matthew Lee reports for AP.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has pledged to strengthen relations with Indo-Pacific nations through U.S. investment and aid, while downplaying any direct confrontation between the U.S. and China. The soft-power pitch was delivered by Blinken at Universitas Indonesia in Jakarta, and continued with a series of agreements on maritime cooperation and education and Peace Corps exchanges. “We all have a stake in ensuring that the world’s most dynamic region is free from coercion and accessible to all,” Blinken said. Lara Jakes and Sui-Lee Wee report for the New York Times.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has said that he has made an offer to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) to drop his hold on some of President Biden’s ambassador nominees in exchange for a vote on Nord Stream 2 pipeline sanctions. Cruz, who, along with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), has been leading a blockade in the Senate against most of Biden’s State Department nominees, also said that he spoke to Blinken about his offer. Jordain Carney reports for The Hill.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
The E.U. is weighing changes that could chip away at the borderless model of the bloc. Under the new rules proposed yesterday, E.U. member states could introduce border checks in the face of unforeseen or foreseeable events. The border checks, which were once emergency measures only, could also be extended almost indefinitely. Elian Peltier and Monika Pronczuk report for the New York Times.
A Belarusian court has convicted a Belarusian opposition leader on charges of organizing mass unrest and inciting social hatred over his attempt to challenge the country’s leader Aleksander Lukashenko in a presidential election last year. The activist, Sergei Tikhanovsky, 43, was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Tikhanovsky “ran a popular YouTube channel in Belarus before announcing his candidacy for the 2020 vote. But he was arrested before the election, prompting his wife, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, to step in and lead the popular movement against Lukashenko,” Ivan Nechepurenko reports for the New York Times.
A South African court has ruled that South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma should return to prison as his medical parole was “unlawful.” Zuma was released on Sep. 5 for an undisclosed medical condition, having been jailed for failing to attend an inquiry into corruption during his presidency. The court also ruled that the time Zuma has spent out of prison should not be counted in his 15-month sentence BBC News reports.
Kim Yong Ju, the brother of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung, has died aged 101. Kim Yong Ju was praised for “accelerating socialist construction and developing the Korean-style state social system,” North Korean state media has reported. Timothy W Martin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Pham Doan Trang, a Vietnamese activist known for her writing on women’s empowerment and environmental issues, has been sentenced to nine years in prison for disseminating anti-state propaganda. Trang denied all charges. Chris Humphrey reports for the Washington Post.
Police in Germany’s eastern state of Saxony have launched a series of raids after death threats were made against German Premier Michael Kretschmer for backing Covid-19 measures. BBC News reports.
Pfizer has said that preliminary laboratory tests have given encouraging signs that its experimental Covid-19 pill for the newly infected could work against the Omicron Covid-19 variant. Jared S. Hopkins reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. death toll from Covid-19 has passed 800,000, with 200,000 lives having been lost after vaccines became available last spring. The figure represents the highest reported toll of any country around the world. The U.S. accounts for approximately 4% of the world’s population but about 15% of the 5.3 million known deaths from Covid-19. The Guardian reports.
The coronavirus has infected over 50.23 million people and has now killed over 800,400 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 271.55 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 5.32 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
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.