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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
In yesterday’s public hearing, the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack directly tied former – President Trump to a scheme to put forward fake slates of pro-Trump electors. Using sworn in-person testimony from Republicans and videotaped depositions from other officials, the panel showed how Trump and a group of allies laid siege to state lawmakers and election officials after the balloting in a wide-ranging plot to reverse the outcome. The campaign led to harassment and threats of violence against those who resisted. Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer report for the New York Times.
The Jan. 6 committee yesterday unveiled new information showing the role that Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) played in pushing “fake” electors for Trump. A Johnson aide texted a staffer for then-Vice President Mike Pence that the Wisconsin Republican wanted to hand-deliver “fake” electors to Pence just before the start of the January 6 congressional session to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 election win, the committee revealed. After the hearing, Johnson told CNN he had “no idea” who had tried to get him to share the fake electors from Michigan and Wisconsin with Pence but he acknowledged he had been aware of the ask on the morning of Jan. 6. “I was aware that we got this package and that somebody wanted us to deliver it, so we reached out to Pence’s office,” he said. Jeremy Herb reports for CNN.
New footage of Trump and his inner circle taken both before and after the Jan. 6, attack, is now in the possession of the Jan. 6 committee. At yesterday’s public hearing British filmmaker Alex Holder revealed he had complied with a congressional subpoena to turn over all of the footage he shot in the final weeks of Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. The filmmaker said the footage includes exclusive interviews with Trump, his children and then-Vice President Mike Pence while on the campaign trail as well as before and after the insurrection on the Capitol. Farnoush Amiri reports for AP.
Proud Boys leaders facing seditious conspiracy charges shouldn’t face a jury until early 2023 the Justice Department (DOJ) has said, warning that the work of the Jan. 6 committee has made it difficult to prepare for trial. In a court filing yesterday evening, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason McCullough noted that the Proud Boys had been given a prominent role in the select committee’s televised hearings, and expressed frustration over the committee’s refusal to share transcripts of the witness interviews with the DOJ. “The parties’ inability to prepare their respective cases to account for such additional information is potentially prejudicial — to all parties,” McCullough wrote. “The parties’ inability to incorporate this information into their respective cases provides a strong basis to continue the trial until both sides are given a reasonable opportunity to review the information.” Kyle Cheney reports for POLITICO.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The Senate yesterday cast a procedural vote to advance newly finalized bipartisan gun safety legislation. The vote was a major step in moving the bill forward, but it still has a number of hurdles to clear. These hurdles include a critical vote to break a filibuster, which requires 60 votes to advance. Yesterday’s vote, which came shortly after a bipartisan group of senators released the legislative text, is the clearest sign yet that the gun safety bill will likely overcome that filibuster to end debate as soon as this week. Clare Foran, Lauren Fox and Ali Zaslav report for CNN.
The head of the Texas State Police yesterday called the police response to the shooting last month at Robb Elementary School “an abject failure” that ran counter to decades of training. In his comments before a special State Senate committee in Austin, Steven McCraw, the director of the Department of Public Safety, provided the most complete public account yet of his agency’s month-old investigation and a forceful argument that officers at the scene could have — and should have — confronted the gunman without delay after arriving. J. David Goodman reports for the New York Times.
President Biden yesterday signed two bipartisan bills into law aimed at enhancing federal, state and local governments’ cybersecurity measures. The bills’ passage comes following an increased pace of cyber incidents in recent years against government entities. One of the bills, dubbed the Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act, establishes a program to allow cybersecurity professionals to rotate through multiple federal agencies and enhance their expertise. The second bill, called the State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act, aims to improve coordination between the Department of Homeland Security and state and local governments on cybersecurity. Zach Schonfeld reports for The Hill.
The Air Force has detained a U.S. service member in connection with an attack in April at a small American military base in northeastern Syria. An airman was taken into custody at an undisclosed location in the U.S. on Thursday in relation to the attack on the Green Village base in Syria, Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokesperson, said in a statement yesterday. Stefanek said that the airman had not been charged, adding that “it is too early in the process” to do so, and that the military would release more information if charges were filed. Eric Schmitt reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
Attorney General Merrick Garland yesterday made an unannounced visit to Ukraine to discuss U.S. and international efforts to prosecute war crimes resulting from Russia’s invasion. Appearing alongside Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, Garland expressed “the unwavering support of the United States for the people of Ukraine.” The United States, he added, “is sending an unmistakable message: There is no place to hide, We and our partners will pursue every avenue available to make sure that those who are responsible for these atrocities are held accountable.” Garland also announced the launch of a War Crimes Accountability Team to be led by Eli Rosenbaum, whom the attorney general tapped to serve as counselor for war crimes accountability, according to a Justice Department news release. Quint Forgey reports for POLITICO.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Russian lobbyists are set to be banned from the E.U. institutions following action by the Council of the E.U.. The French presidency of the Council informed national diplomats last week of its intention to have representatives of Russian interests, including lobbyists from companies such as Gazprom, Lukoil and Rusal, suspended from the EU’s transparency register, a presidency spokesperson has said. Inclusion in the register is a requirement for access to the European Commission, Parliament and Council premises. Sarah Wheaton reports for POLITICO.
Russia has threatened Lithuania with serious consequences if the Baltic country prevents it from exporting EU-sanctioned goods to the exclave of Kaliningrad. Nikolai Patrushev, Russia’s security council secretary, said during a trip to Kaliningrad yesterday that Russia would “react to such hostile actions” after Lithuania began enforcing the sanction. Patrushev warned that “appropriate measures” would be “taken in the near future”, adding that “their consequences will have serious negative influence on the population of Lithuania”, according to the Interfax news agency. Max Seddon and Richard Milne report for the Financial Times.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the virtual BRICs summit hosted in Beijing this Thursday. His attendance marks his first meeting with heads of major economies since his invasion of Ukraine, and signals that despite sanctions and remonstrations, Russia is not alone on the world stage. The leaders of the countries that make up this acronymous group – China’s Xi Jinping, India’s Narendra Modi, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, and South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa – have avoided condemning Russia outright for the invasion. Simone McCarthy provides analysis for CNN.
Indonesian President and Group of 20 chairman Joko Widodo will meet leaders of Ukraine and Russia next week to advocate for peace and try to help ease a global food crisis. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Jokowi, as the president is known, will meet counterparts in both Kyiv and Moscow after the G7 Summit in Germany, which ends on Tuesday. Stanley Widianto reports for Reuters.
German self-propelled howitzers have arrived in Ukraine in the first delivery of heavy weapons promised by Berlin. “We have replenishment!… The German Panzerhaubitze 2000 with trained Ukrainian crews joined the Ukrainian artillery family,” Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said yesterday on social media. Reuters reports.
German foreign policy adviser Jens Plotner sparked criticism yesterday after saying the media should focus more on Germany’s future relationship with Russia than on supplying weapons to Ukraine. Speaking at a debate at the German Council on Foreign Relations, he said the discussion about helping Ukraine was driven by a “feverishness that misses the big issues”. “You can fill a lot of newspaper pages with 20 Marders [a kind of infantry fighting vehicle Kyiv has requested from Germany], but there are somehow fewer articles about what our relationship with Russia should be like in future,” he said. “That is at least as exciting and relevant an issue,” he added. Guy Chazan reports for the Financial Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
The Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in Russia’s Rostov region, bordering Ukraine, has suspended its operations after what may have been a drone strike. Regional governor Vasily Golubev said on social media that a fire had broken out in the refinery’s vacuum unit and that fragments of two drones had been found on the territory of the refinery. Golubev added that the fire had been put out and no one was injured. An investigation was underway. Reuters reports.
Russia has held up to three battalion tactical groups and airborne units in border areas as potential reinforcements, according to the Ukrainian military’s General Staff. It also said there had been intense shelling of settlements near Kharkiv, in the northeast. 15 people were reported killed yesterday by artillery strikes in the area. Tim Lister, Olga Voitovych and Julia Kesaieva report for CNN.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
Retired Gen. Keith Alexander, the former National Security Agency chief and head of U.S. Cyber Command, warned yesterday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to unleash cyberattacks against the U.S. financial sector. Alexander said Putin has stated that the U.S. was intending to launch cyberattacks against Russian banks following sanctions that crippled the country’s economy. The general said that this type of statement could give Putin the authority to go after U.S. financial institutions, including in cyberspace, as retaliation for the West’s involvement in its war in Ukraine. Ines Kagubare reports for The Hill.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met yesterday with his senior military officials to discuss national defense policies, Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency has said. During the meeting, the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Military Commission reviewed defense work during the first half of 2022 and confirmed “crucial and urgent tasks” to expand military capabilities and implement key defense policies. The review, which will continue today, follows highly provocative ballistic missile testing that has revived tensions with the U.S. and South Korea. Kim Tong-Hyung reports for AP.
South Korea will establish a mission to NATO in Brussels, a national security adviser has announced. The move signals growing ties between the country and the military alliance. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol is also set to attend a NATO summit in Madrid next week. Min Joo Kim and Emily Rauhala report for the Washington Post.
A total of 29 Chinese warplanes entered Taiwan’s self-declared air defense identification zone yesterday, according to the island’s Defense Ministry. The Defense Ministry said the People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes were a mix of fighter jets, early warning and control aircraft, electronic warfare aircraft, anti-submarine aircraft, electronic intelligence aircraft, and aerial refueling aircraft. In response, the Taiwanese military scrambled combat aircraft to warn the Chinese jets away, issued radio warnings and deployed air defense missile systems to monitor the activities, the Defense Ministry added. Brad Lendon and Wayne Chang report for CNN.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will meet today with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during his first visit to the country in years. The talks are aimed at normalising ties that were ruptured after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The visit marks a step in Prince Mohammed’s effort to rehabilitate his image beyond the Gulf, and comes as Erdogan seeks financial support that could help relieve Turkey’s beleaguered economy ahead of tight elections for the president. Orhan Coskun and Tuvan Gumrukcu report for Reuters.
Tens of thousands of Georgians took to the streets of Tbilisi this week to show support for their country’s E.U. aspirations and protest against the government. E.U. concerns over democratic backsliding have consigned the country to the slow lane of accession. Last week, the European Commission recommended against giving Georgia E.U. candidate status and instead proposed a “conditional perspective” of membership that would depend on it passing reforms. Nadia Beard reports for the Financial Times.
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.