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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, 2021 ATTACK, FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP
In the weeks after the 2020 election, Rudolph W. Giuliani and other legal advisers to former President Trump asked a Republican prosecutor in northern Michigan to get his county’s voting machines and pass them to Trump’s team, the prosecutor has said. In an interview, Antrim County prosecutor James Rossiter said that Giuliani and several colleagues made the request during a telephone call after the county initially misreported its election results, with Rossiter responding that he could not fulfill the request. Jon Swaine, Emma Brown and Jacqueline Alemany report for the Washington Post.
The National Archives and Records Administration discovered what it believed was classified information in documents Trump had taken with him from the White House as he left office. Trump had returned 15 boxes of documents to the government last month. The National Archives reached out to the Justice Department for guidance, who has told the agency to have its inspector general examine the matter, according to a person briefed on the matter. Reid J. Epstein and Michael S. Schmidt report for the New York Times.
It is not yet clear whether the Justice Department will investigate Trump’s handling of the White House Records, and it is possible that the department might be interested in merely reclaiming classified materials. Matt Zapotosky, Jacqueline Alemany, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey report for the Washington Post.
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack has subpoenaed Peter Navarro, a trade adviser to Trump. The committee has said that Navarro appears to have been involved in plans to delay the certification of the 2020 election, pointing to passages of Navarro’s book and press reports as evidence. “You, then a White House trade advisor, reportedly worked with Steve Bannon and others to develop and implement a plan to delay Congress’s certification of, and ultimately change the outcome of, the November 2020 election,” the committee wrote. Rebecca Beitsch reports for The Hill.
“Navarro appears to have information directly relevant to the Select Committee’s investigation into the causes of the January 6th attack on the Capitol,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the chair of the committee, said in a statement. “He hasn’t been shy about his role in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and has even discussed the former President’s support for those plans,” Thompson added. Zachary Cohen, Annie Grayer and Ryan Nobles report for CNN.
Further reporting on the Jan. 6 select committee’s subpoena of Navarro is provided by Luke Broadwater for the New York Times.
Leaked emails have revealed the connection of two Trump allies — Washington lawyer Katherine Friess and Texas entrepreneur Russell Ramsland — to the failed push to seize voting machines following the 2020 election. “The emails show…Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and another former military officer workshopping the draft of a Trump executive order to seize voting machines,” Betsy Woodruff Swan reports for POLITICO.
Sarah Matthews, a Trump White House press aide who resigned over the Jan. 6 attack, attended an interview with the Jan. 6 select committee on Tuesday, sources have said. Matthews, who currently works as a Republican party congressional staffer, appeared before the committee voluntarily. Benjamin Siegel and Will Steakin report for ABC News.
Trump has blasted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) after McConnell criticized the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) censure of Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and the RNC’s characterization of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack as “legitimate political discourse.” “Mitch McConnell does not speak for the Republican Party and does not represent the views of the vast majority of its voters. He did nothing to fight for his constituents and stop the most fraudulent election in American history,” Trump said in a statement. Max Greenwood reports for The Hill.
OTHER U.S. DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
In recent years a growing number of Americans have lodged concrete threats of violence against members of Congress, taking ideological and political grievances to a new level. The concerning trend has been revealed by a review conducted by the New York Times of more than 75 indictments of people charged with threatening lawmakers since 2016. Catie Edmondson and Mark Walker report for the New York Times.
The Senate has confirmed Sasha Baker as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy by a vote of 75-21.
OTTAWA PROTESTS – U.S. DEVELOPMENTS
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has warned police partners that protests similar to those in Canada could potentially disrupt the Super Bowl or the State of the Union address. However, the bulletin describes the plan as “aspirational.” DHS “has received reports of truck drivers planning to potentially block roads in major metropolitan cities in the United States in protest of, among other things, vaccine mandates for truck drivers,” the bulletin says. Alex Gangitano reports for The Hill.
A nationwide convoy starting in California and heading toward Washington, D.C. is expected to get underway on March 4. The U.S. mobilization, which started online and builds on the growing clamor from those who believe their freedoms are under threat from government COVID-19 restrictions, has been championed by far-right influencers and rightwing politicians, including former President Trump and Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). The planned convoy has also garnered the attention of more extremist groups, including white supremacists. Marc Scott reports for POLITICO.
Manufacturing plants at the heart of the automotive industry are facing potential shortages, shutdowns, layoffs, and multimillion-dollar losses as the protests in Canada continue to block traffic at the Ambassador Bridge crossing into the United States. “The Ambassador Bridge, between the car-manufacturing cities of Detroit and Windsor, remained mostly blocked on Wednesday, as business associations warned that manufacturers in the region risk losing $50m a day because of delays,” Tracey Lindeman reports for the Guardian.
While limited U.S.-bound traffic is being allowed to cross the Ambassador Bridge, Canada-bound lanes from Detroit remain closed. “Business associations have called for the bridge to be immediately cleared to ensure the steady flow of goods,” BBC News reports.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said that the blockade poses a risk to auto industry supply chains, and that President Biden’s administration was also tracking potential disruptions to agricultural exports from Michigan into Canada. Ana Swanson reports for the New York Times.
A new trucker protest has limited traffic at a third point along the U.S.-Canada border. A barricade of trucks in Sarnia, Ontario, stalled traffic traveling on the only expressway route to a bridge into the U.S. that connects Sarnia and Port Huron, Michigan. The bridge was already swamped with traffic detouring from the Ambassador Bridge. Ian Austen and Dan Bilefsky report for the New York Times.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the protests around the country “unacceptable.” “Blockages, illegal demonstrations are unacceptable, and are negatively impacting businesses and manufacturers…We must do everything to bring them to an end,” Trudeau said yesterday speaking to the Canadian parliament. BBC News reports.
The White House has approved a Pentagon plan for U.S. troops in Poland to help thousands of Americans flee Ukraine if Russia attacks. “Some of the 1,700 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division being deployed to Poland to bolster that ally will in coming days begin to set up checkpoints, tent camps and other temporary facilities inside Poland’s border with Ukraine in preparation to serve arriving Americans, U.S. officials said. The troops aren’t authorized to enter Ukraine and won’t evacuate Americans or fly aircraft missions from inside Ukraine, officials said,” Gordon Lubold and Nancy A. Youssef report for the Wall Street Journal.
The White House has said, however, that it does not expect to conduct a mass evacuation of U.S. citizens from Ukraine. “We are constantly evaluating the evolving security situation and planning for a range of contingencies as we always do, but to be clear we are not planning for a mass evacuation of American citizens from Ukraine,” an official said, adding that “President Biden has been clear that we believe Americans in Ukraine would be wise to leave Ukraine.” Jordan Williams reports for The Hill.
Russia and Belarus have begun 10 days of joint military drills. “Russia has moved up to 30,000 troops, two battalions of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems and numerous fighter jets into Belarus for joint training exercises with the Belarusian army. Satellite imagery shows much of the hardware has been moved to locations close to the border with Ukraine,” Shaun Walker reports for the Guardian.
Top Russian military commanders, including Chief of the General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s most senior uniformed military officer, flew into Belarus yesterday for the maneuvers. Alex Horton and Rachel Pannett report for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – DIPLOMACY
Russia’s ambassador to the E.U., Vladimir Chizhov, has said that Russia still believes that diplomacy can help de-escalate the Ukraine crisis. “Chizhov said Moscow had no intention of invading anybody, but warned it was important not to provoke Russia into changing its mind,” BBC News reports.
U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is meeting the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today. Truss had planned to have put the “toughest sanctions regime against Russia” on the statute book in time for the trip, however, no legislation has yet been put to Parliament, raising suspicion that U.K. government lawyers are struggling to frame the sweeping and unprecedented new laws. Patrick Wintour reports for the Guardian.
Truss has reiterated that Russia must respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, as she entered talks with Lagrov. “Minister Lavrov, I’m here on diplomats’ day to urge Russia to take the path of diplomacy,” Truss said, referring to the Russian professional holiday for diplomats. “A war in Ukraine would be disastrous for the Russian and Ukrainian people and for European security,” she added. Andrew Roth reports for the Guardian.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has said he will ask the U.S. to permanently station troops in Lithuania. Nauseda spoke after welcoming a new rotation of a German-led international NATO battle group. “Of course we will be talking to the U.S. to make sure that the rotational U.S. forces would be in Lithuania permanently,” Nauseda told a news conference. “That would be the best boost to security and deterrence that NATO could provide not only to Lithuania but to the whole region,” he added. Andrius Sytas reports for Reuters.
The prospect of a new but diminished nuclear deal with Iran is prompting debate in Washington about whether an accord merits the compromises involved. Advances Iran has made in its nuclear program since the U.S. exited the deal in 2018 have eroded gains for western negotiators, however some former officials are arguing that a “restored deal could keep the Iranians a safe distance from having sufficient weapons-grade uranium for a bomb for another eight years or so, but that without a deal they could soon be weeks or even days away,” Laurence Norman and Michael R. Gordan report for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
The main surviving suspect in the 2015 terrorist attack in Paris told a court yesterday that he had never killed or wounded anyone and was not a danger to the public. Salah Abdeslam is suspected of being a member of a group of jihadists who carried out a coordinated series of bombings and shootings across Paris in 2015. Abdeslam, who is suspected of planning to blow himself up in a suicide attack in Paris’s northern 18th arrondissement before backing out at the last minute, was called to be cross-examined for the first time yesterday in a marathon trial involving 20 defendants. Kim Willsher reports for the Guardian.
Abdeslam told the court the attacks were carried out to force an end to France’s military involvement in Syria and Iraq. Lucy Williamson reports for BBC News.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered Uganda to pay $325m to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) for its role in the conflict there. The ICJ ruled that Uganda had violated international norms as an occupying force in DR Congo between 1998 and 2003 and was responsible for the deaths of 10-15,000 people in the eastern Ituri region. DR Congo had demanded $11bn but the judges dismissed several parts of the claim and decided on a far lower amount. BBC News reports.
“The Court notes that the reparation awarded to the DRC for damage to persons and to property reflects the harm suffered by individuals and communities as a result of Uganda’s breach of its international obligations,” Judge Joan E. Donoghue, the ICJ’s president, said in the ruling. The total amount will be paid in five annual installments of $65 million, with the damages segmented into three distinct sections: $225 million for damage to persons; $40 million for damage to property; and $60 million for damage related to natural resources. Talal Ansari reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Violent clashes over a ban on hijabs in schools have led the Indian state of Karnataka to shut its schools for three days. On Saturday, in an apparent backing of schools’ right to impose a ban, the Karnataka state government directed colleges to ensure that “clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public law and order should not be worn.” At some colleges, Muslim students have been aggressively heckled, while in others the protests between students turned violent, prompting police to charge at crowds and fire into the air. Hannah Ellis-Petersen reports for the Guardian.
A judge at Karnataka’s state’s high court has referred petitions challenging the hijab ban to a larger panel, as protests spread across India. “Hundreds of people demonstrated against the ban in Kolkata and Chennai, two of India’s largest cities, and in Hyderabad. And the Pakistani government summoned the Indian ambassador to formally convey its concern,” BBC News reports.
Scientists in the U.K. have set a new record for the amount of energy released in a sustained fusion reaction. The test has been hailed as a “major milestone” on the road to fusion becoming a viable and sustainable low-carbon energy source. Ian Sample reports for the Guardian.
Austrian police found eight people from Turkey hidden in life-threatening conditions in a narrow wooden pallet box attached to the underside of a lorry. The police have said that the group had been trafficked from Romania via Hungary. AP reports.
COVID-19 has infected over 77.26 million people and has now killed over 912,200 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 403.30 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 5.77 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.