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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 committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack will focus in today’s hearing on then-President Trump’s involvement in the scheme to pressure officials in swing states to go along with the claim that Biden had lost the election. “We’ll show evidence of the president’s involvement in this scheme,” committee member Adam B. Schiff (D-CA) told CNN. “We’ll also, again, show evidence about what his own lawyers came to think about this scheme.” Rosalind S. Helderman reports for the Washington Post.
The committee will also hear from election workers and local officials who fended off Trump’s pressure to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Among them is Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is scheduled to testify about Trump’s phone call asking him to “find 11,780” votes that could flip the state to prevent Biden’s election victory. Farnoush Amiri and Lisa Mascaro report for AP.
Aaron Blake provides a timeline of Trump’s “fake elector” plot for the Washington Post. This will be updated with any new evidence presented by the committee in its hearing later today.
Today’s hearing is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. EST. Live coverage is provided by the January 6th Committee Media Center.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Three people claiming to be “sovereign citizens” were arrested after live ammunition and explosives were found in a vehicle they were driving, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. While conducting a traffic stop for suspected vehicle code violations deputies found “live ammunition, black gunpowder, and an improvised military-grade explosive device,” inside the car. Deputies then obtained a search warrant for a property in Johnson Valley, California, where they discovered more military-grade explosives and ammunition, as well as firearms. Sovereign citizens are a fringe group whose members consider themselves exempt from U.S. law and who sometimes use violent tactics to justify their beliefs. Elizabeth Chuck reports for NBC News.
Eric Greitens, a leading contender for the Republican Senate nomination in Missouri, yesterday released a new video in which he is depicted as hunting RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). “I’m Eric Greitens, Navy SEAL, and today we’re going RINO hunting,” Greitens says as he walks down a sidewalk with a gun in hand. The video comes a day after Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), a member of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, published a letter addressed to his wife from someone who had threatened to execute the couple. By mid-afternoon yesterday, Twitter had hidden the new ad behind a warning saying that it violated rules about “abusive behavior”. Facebook removed the ad altogether. Alan Feuer reports for the New York Times.
Peter Thiel left Facebook last month, in what his inner circle have said reflects a growing rift between Thiel and the company, as conservatives grow uncomfortable with the tech industry’s willingness to police online speech. Thiel’s departure leaves him free to pursue his ambition as an architect of the American right, with new reports showing Thiel has set his sights on transforming American culture — and funding its culture wars — through what his associates refer to as “anti-woke” business ventures. “These include a right-wing film festival, a conservative dating app founded by a former Trump administration ally and a firm, Strive Asset Management, that will ‘pressure CEOs to steer clear of environmental, social and political causes’, said Vivek Ramaswamy, the firm’s co-founder,” Elizabeth Dwoskin provides analysis for the Washington Post.
Police officers with rifles and at least one ballistic shield were in a hallway at Robb Elementary School around 19 minutes after a gunman entered classrooms there, according to reports by Texas media. The reports raise further questions about the long delay before officers breached the classroom doors and killed the 18-year-old gunman. It was around 80 minutes from when the gunman entered the school around 11:33 a.m. and when police entered the classroom around 12:50 p.m. and killed him, according to official accounts. Phil Helsel reports for NBC News.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
Russia is likely to end up with more territory in eastern Ukraine, senior officials in the Biden administration have said. However, neither side will gain full control of the region as a depleted Russian military face an opponent armed with increasingly sophisticated weapons. While Russia has seized territory in the easternmost region of Luhansk, its progress has been plodding. Meanwhile, the arrival of American long-range artillery systems, and Ukrainians trained on how to use them, should help Ukraine in the battles to come, said Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Julian E. Barnes provide analysis for the New York Times.
Ukrainian troops are resisting a heavy Russian offensive in and around the city of Severodonetsk in the Luhansk region, despite continued shelling from several directions, according to Ukrainian officials. Ukrainian resistance in Severodonetsk is mainly from the large Azot chemical plant on the western edge of the city, where several hundred civilians are also sheltering. “Fierce fighting continues in the Severodonetsk industrial zone. The Russians hit the building of the First Entrance of Azot, fired on the territory of the brick factory, and opened fire near three bridges,” said Serhii Hayday, head of the Luhansk regional military administration. Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych report for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
The U.S. is in talks with Canada and other allies to further restrict Moscow’s energy revenue by imposing a price cap on Russian oil, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said yesterday. “We are talking about price caps or a price exception that would enhance and strengthen recent and proposed energy restrictions by Europe, the United States, the U.K. and others, that would push down the price of Russian oil and depress Putin’s revenues while allowing more oil supply to reach the global market,” Yellen told reporters in Toronto. David Lawder reports for Reuters.
President Biden said yesterday that he is “not likely” to visit Ukraine when he travels to Europe this weekend. Biden has not visited Ukraine since the Russian invasion. Instead, he has sent U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, as well as first lady Jill Biden. On whether he’s confident Ukraine will become a member of the E.U., Biden told reporters he thinks it’s “very likely” to happen. Allie Malloy reports for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Talks in Brussels yesterday failed to resolve Turkey’s objection to Finland’s and Sweden’s applications to join NATO, but negotiations will continue in the coming days, officials have said. “I welcome the constructive meeting held today on the historic applications by Finland and Sweden to join NATO,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. “Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO would make the Alliance stronger and the whole Euro-Atlantic area more secure. Türkiye has legitimate security concerns over terrorism that we need to address,” he continued. “So we will continue our talks on Finland and Sweden’s applications for NATO membership, and I look forward to finding a way forward as soon as possible.” Emily Rauhala reports for the Washington Post.
Russia’s foreign ministry is set to summon E.U. ambassador to Moscow Markus Ederer over Lithuania’s ban of the transit of certain goods through Kaliningrad, the governor of Kaliningrad said yesterday. Lithuania has banned the transit of goods under E.U. sanctions through Lithuanian territory to and from the Russian exclave sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland, citing E.U. sanction rules. “This is, of course, a situation that can be resolved by diplomatic means,” Anton Alikhanov, Kaliningrad’s governor, told Russian television. “As far as I know, tomorrow Marcus Ederer, the European Union ambassador to Russia, will be summoned to the foreign ministry …. and he will be told of the appropriate conditions involved here.” Reuters reports.
Kazakhstan’s foreign minister, Mukhtar Tleuberdi, yesterday called for the elimination of all nuclear weapons by 2045. His statement comes following the release last week of an annual report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute warning that the post-Cold war decline in nuclear arsenals appears to be ending. “The current military conflict on the territory of Ukraine, talk about the return of nuclear weapons and mutual threats to use nuclear weapons make us, more than ever before, think about the collective vulnerability of humanity and the urgent need to ban and eliminate these deadly weapons,” the minister said. Andrea Salcedo reports for the Washington Post.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said yesterday that his country is committed to joining NATO. However, before this happens the country must solve its territorial problems with Russia, he said. Reuters reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
American soldiers taken into Russian custody will not be afforded the protections granted by the Geneva Conventions to prisoners of war, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov confirmed yesterday. In response to Peskov’s comments, the U.S. State Department said in a statement: “We call on the Russian government — as well as its proxies — to live up to their international obligations in their treatment of any individual, including those captured fighting in Ukraine.” Reis Thebault, Emily Rauhala, Bryan Pietsch, Victoria Bisset, Rachel Pannett, Jennifer Hassan, Andrea Salcedo and Brittany Shammas report for the Washington Post.
Ukraine has detained a senior government official and a business leader suspected of being part of an alleged Russian spy network, the Security Service of Ukraine said today. The Security Service said in a statement on the Telegram app that it had carried out a “multi-stage special operation” to neutralise the alleged spy ring. “As a result: in Kyiv, the head of a department of the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers and the head of one of the directorates of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry were detained,” it said. Reuters reports.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Israel is heading to its fifth election in three and a half years after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid gave up yesterday on their efforts to stabilize the coalition. In a joint statement, Bennett and Lapid said they would bring a bill to dissolve the Knesset to a vote next Monday. There is a consensus in the coalition and opposition on an October 25 date for the election. According to the coalition agreement, Lapid will become caretaker prime minister until the election and until the new government takes power. Gil Hoffman reports for the Jerusalem Post.
The Israeli government confirmed yesterday that it is part of a regional military partnership to combat threats from Iran. The members of the new initiative, called the Middle East Air Defense Alliance, are working together with the U.S. against Iranian missiles, rockets and unmanned drones, Israel’s defense minister, Benny Gantz, said in a briefing to Israeli lawmakers. “This program is already operative and has already enabled the successful interception of Iranian attempts to attack Israel and other countries,” Gantz said. Patrick Kingsley and Ronen Bergman report for the New York Times.
The Taliban has released five British citizens after six months of captivity, ending a dispute with the U.K. government that had complicated the group’s effort to obtain international legitimacy. The five men were detained separately in December and hadn’t been formally accused of any crime. Margherita Stancati reports for the Wall Street Journal.
More than 130 civilians were killed by jihadists in three neighbouring towns in Mali over the weekend, the Malian government has said. It blamed a group called Macina Katiba which is affiliated with al-Qaeda for the attacks in Diallassagou and two other localities in central Mali’s Mopti region. Will Ross reports for BBC News.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has denied interfering with the country’s judiciary over delays in the presentation of the final report of a corruption inquiry. The commission headed by Justice Raymond Zondo investigated allegations of widespread corruption in South Africa during President Jacob Zuma’s nine years in power, known as “State Capture.” It already handed over its first, second, third and fourth reports and was due to present the final part of its findings by last Wednesday. A statement by the presidency said Zondo had communicated last Thursday on the delay “and undertook to finalize the report as soon as possible.” “The presidency, therefore, rejects claims that the president has in any manner interfered with the work of the commission or the judiciary,” the statement said. BBC News reports.
COVID-19 has infected over 86.29 million people and has now killed over 1.01 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 539.783 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.32 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
A map and analysis of the vaccine rollout 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.