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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 select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has received “first hand testimony” that former President Trump’s daughter, and then-senior adviser, Ivanka Trump asked him to intervene during the attack. “We have first hand testimony that his daughter Ivanka went in at least twice to ask him to ‘please stop this violence,’” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), vice-chair of the committee, told ABC News. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the committee, also told CNN that the panel has “significant testimony” that the White House “had been told to do something.” Daniella Diaz and Devan Cole report for CNN.
The Jan. 6 committee also has “first hand testimony” that Trump was watching the attack on the Capitol from the White House, Cheney said during an interview with CBS News. Cheney added that the panel “will not be deterred,” despite the expectation that Trump will continue to “make the same false claims,” and described Trump as “a man who has demonstrated that he is at war with the rule of law.” Caroline Linton reports for CBS News. The full transcript of Cheney’s interview with CBS is available here.
Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, an adviser to Trump and ally of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, has provided the Jan. 6 select committee with a trove of documents in response to a subpoena by the panel for efforts involving overturning the election. Kerik also provided the committee with a “privilege log” describing materials he declined to provide, which include documents with titles suggesting plans to seize election equipment in states whose results Trump was attempting to overturn. As part of a seven-page letter to the panel, Kerik’s attorney Timothy Parlatore also told the committee that Kerik would accept a voluntary interview with the panel on Jan. 13, 2022, although, according to Parlatore, the panel later retracted its agreement for a voluntary interview and demanded a deposition instead. Nicholas Wu and Kyle Cheney report for POLITICO.
Thompson has said that the Jan. 6 select committee will recommend new intelligence-gathering legislation following its investigation. Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Thompson also said that: “we want to make sure that the line of communication between the Capitol Police and the structure of how we make decisions is clear. Right now, it’s kind of a hybrid authority. And that authority clearly broke down, the training components for our Capitol Police, a lot of things that we don’t have right now.” Mychael Schnell reports for The Hill.
The Jan. 6 select committee is readying for a slate of public hearings in 2022, and the panel’s chair has left open the possibility of subpoenaing Republican lawmakers as part of the investigation. Thompson “said that the panel will call in state and local election officials who are charged with conducting elections; government officials who told the Trump administration they could find no fraud in the elections; and National Guard members who weren’t immediately authorized on Jan. 6 to help stem the riot…Thompson also said that the committee won’t rule out making a referral of criminal charges to the Justice Department related to…Trump’s role in the Capitol attack,” Paul Kiernan and Joshua Jamerson report for the Wall Street Journal.
President Biden and Vice President Harris will deliver remarks on Thursday to mark the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack. “Their remarks will come alongside a slate of events prepared by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to commemorate the insurrection, including a moment of silence on the House floor and a prayer vigil on the steps of the Capitol,” Paul LeBlanc and Allie Malloy report for CNN.
OTHER U.S. DEVELOPMENTS
The Department of Defense is streamlining the process for requesting National Guard services in Washington, D.C.. According to a memo released last Thursday, “effective immediately,” the Secretary of Defense can approve requests by the D.C. government when the National Guard is needed within 48 hours of the request, or if they are needed to be involved in “direct participation in civilian law enforcement activities” such as crowd control, seizures, or arrests. The approval authority previously was delegated to the Army Secretary, the service’s top civilian official. Robert Burns reports for AP.
Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has resigned following further mass protests in Sudan’s capital Khartoum. Thousands marched against a recent deal Hamdok had made to share power with the military who staged a coup in October. In a televised address, Hamdok said the country was at a “dangerous turning point that threatens its whole survival.” He said he had tried his best to stop the country from “sliding towards disaster,” but that “despite everything that has been done to reach a consensus…it has not happened.” BBC News reports.
Hamdok’s resignation follows weeks of wrangling between civilian and military leaders over the formation of a new government and leaves the military solely in control of Sudan. The resignation “sets up a potentially explosive confrontation between the military, a powerful paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the protest movement,” Max Bearak and Miriam Berger report for the Washington Post.
Two people were killed in Omdurman, Sudan on Sunday by Sudanese security forces who responded with force against protestors calling for a return to full civilian rule, the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors has said. “The fatalities came as security forces fired tear gas at thousands of protesters in Khartoum, televised images showed,” Al Jazeera reports.
RUSSIA AND UKRAINE
President Biden has spoken by phone to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the White House has said. In a statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that “President Biden made clear that the United States and its allies and partners will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine.” In a Tweet, Zelenskiy said that: “joint actions of [Ukraine, the U.S.] and partners in keeping peace in Europe, preventing further escalation, reforms, deoligarchization were discussed. We appreciate the unwavering support of [Ukraine].” Christina Zhao reports for NBC News.
Russia is “very likely” to invade Ukraine and might only be deterred by “enormous sanctions,” Rep Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has said. Schiff also said an invasion could backfire on Moscow, by drawing more countries into NATO. Martin Pengelly reports for the Guardian.
Biden has said that he warned Putin in a call between the two leaders last Thursday that there would be “a heavy price to pay” if Russia invades Ukraine again. “Biden said he ‘made it clear’ that any further military action by the Kremlin would result in ‘severe sanctions’ but did not go as far as to say that Washington would respond to Russia’s continued military presence near the border with Ukraine,” Meryl Kornfield reports for the Washington Post.
Putin warned in his phone call with Biden last Thursday that any new sanctions on Russia as a result of the Ukraine crisis could lead to “a complete rupture of relations” between Moscow and Washington, according to Putin’s foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov. Putin warned Biden that further sanctions would be a mistake, “which our descendants will later appreciate as a huge one,” Ushakov said, according to the Interfax news agency. Robyn Dixon and Paul Sonne report for the Washington Post.
CHINA, HONG KONG, TAIWAN
Hong Kong independent online news portal Citizen News has said that it will cease operations from tomorrow. “Regrettably, the rapid changes in society and worsening environment for [the] media make us unable to achieve our goal fearlessly. Amid this crisis, we have to first make sure everyone on the boat is safe,” Citizen News said in a statement. Reuters reports.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen in her New Year’s address warned China against “military adventurism,” to which Beijing responded with a stern warning that if Taiwan crossed any red line it would lead to “profound catastrophe.” Sarah Wu reports for Reuters.
SOUTH KOREA AND NORTH KOREA
A South Korean citizen has crossed the heavily fortified border into North Korea. South Korea’s military has said that the person was able to evade detection for several hours. Military chiefs said they did not know if the person was still alive, but had sent a message to North Korea, which has implemented a shoot-on-sight policy during the pandemic, asking for them to be protected. BBC News reports.
The man observed crossing from South Korea into North Korea is believed to be a North Korean who previously defected in 2020 in the same area, Seoul’s Defense Ministry has subsequently said. “Investigators are seeking to determine whether weekend movement detected on the northern side of the border was North Korean troops coming to escort the man, but that at this time the South Korean government does not think it is a case of espionage, [a ministry official has said],” Josh Smith reports for Reuters.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for solutions to economic hardships and the development of military prowess in a speech at a major policy meeting last week, state media has reported. “Food shortages and other domestic hardships were put in the foreground as Kim laid out plans for 2022 at the plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s central committee. He also vowed to build up North Korea’s military in light of a ‘destabilizing’ situation on the Korean Peninsula and international politics,” Min Joo Kim reports for the Washington Post.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has vowed to use his last months in office to press for a diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea, despite negotiations having stalled over Moon’s attempts for a declaration of peace between North and South Korea. “The government will pursue normalization of inter-Korean relations and an irreversible path to peace until the end,” Moon said in his final New Year’s address before his five-year term ends in May. Josh Smith reports for Reuters.
The U.S. military is focusing on the Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) cell behind the suicide attack at Kabul’s airport in August that killed nearly 200 people, as U.S., Afghanistan, and foreign intelligence officials piece together a profile of the assailant. U.S. officials have also said that the suicide bomber, identified by the Islamic State, was one of several thousand militants freed from at least two high-security prisons by the Taliban after the group seized control of Kabul on Aug. 15. Eric Schmitt reports for the New York Times.
Taliban officials are taking new actions to restrict women’s freedoms and dismantle democratic institutions. The latest restrictions include requiring women to be accompanied by a male relative if they travel more than 45 miles. A Taliban spokesperson also announced the shutdown of two national election oversight commissions and two cabinet ministries, including a ministry that dealt with parliamentary issues. Pamela Constable reports for the Washington Post.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
Russia and China are increasing cooperation on aviation, undersea and hypersonic-weapons technologies, according to military analysts, as well as conducting an ambitious joint military exercise in China this summer. Biden administration officials, however, have downplayed concerns that increasing cooperation could lead to a de facto or formal military alliance between Russia and China, which they view as unlikely. Brett Forrest, Ann M. Simmons and Chao Deng report for the Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. and Japan are staging joint military training exercises amid concerns about potential regional conflict and a rising threat from China. Alistair Gale reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Five Syrian soldiers were killed and 20 were injured in a rocket attack by Islamic State militants on a military transport bus yesterday in eastern Syria, Syrian state media has said. Reuters reports.
The U.K. Royal Navy’s maritime information service has received reports of an attack on a vessel near Yemen’s port of Ras Isa and an investigation is being conducted. In an advisory issued yesterday evening, the U.K. advised mariners to exercise extreme caution in the area. Reuters reports.
A man has been arrested in connection to a massive fire that severely damaged the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa. “The suspect, who is not a parliamentary employee, will appear in court on Tuesday, facing charges of arson, housebreaking and theft, police said,” BBC News reports.
Tunisian politician Noureddine Bhiri is in hospital in “critical condition” following his arrest in Tunis on Friday, activists and lawmakers have said. Tunisia’s interior ministry has not provided information on Bhiri but has said that two individuals had been placed under house arrest as a “preventive measure dictated by the need to preserve national security.” Al Jazeera reports.
Twitter has permanently suspended one of Rep. Marjorie Green (R-GA)’s verified Twitter accounts due to “repeated violations of [Twitter’s] Covid-19 misinformation policy.” Donie O’Sullivan and Daniel Dale report for CNN.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has tested positive for Covid-19. Austin has said that his symptoms are mild and that he will be attending meetings virtually as he isolates at home for the next five days. Idrees Ali reports for Reuters.
The Oklahoma National Guard has said that unvaccinated airmen cannot participate in drills. Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, commander of the state’s National Guard, acknowledged a federal court’s ruling which turned down the state’s bid to block the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate for National Guard members, although he said that the ruling does not mean that the legal fight is finished. Mancino also noted that the Department of Defense has said it will recoup pay provided to unvaccinated airmen who drill after Jan. 1. Jordan Williams reports for The Hill.
The coronavirus has infected over 55.11 million people and has now killed more than 826,000 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 290.18 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 5.44 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.