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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 – PUBLIC HEARINGS
Former- President Trump’s efforts to enlist senior Justice Department officials into his effort to overturn the 2020 election will be the focus of today’s hearing by the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. The hearing is scheduled to include live testimony from officials including Jeffrey Rosen, the former acting attorney general who replaced William Barr atop the department in the final weeks of the Trump administration. Two of Rosen’s deputies, Richard Donoghue and Steven Engel, who were targeted by Trump’s pressure campaign, also are set to testify. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R – IL) will lead the questioning, according to committee aides. Scott Patterson reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Today’s hearing is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. EST. Live coverage is provided by the January 6th Committee Media Center.
Since Tuesday’s public hearing, there has been an uptick in the number of violent threats against lawmakers on the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. All lawmakers on the committee are now likely to receive a security detail, according to three people involved with the investigation. Amy Gardner, Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany report for the Washington Post.
JAN. 6 ATTACK – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Federal agents delivered grand jury subpoenas yesterday to at least four people connected to the plan by then-President Trump and his allies to create slates of ‘fake electors’ in a bid to overturn the 2020 election. 2 of the subpoenas were issued to individuals who worked on behalf of the Trump campaign in Arizona and New Mexico. The others were issued to Brad Carver, a lawyer and official of the Georgia Republican Party, and David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, both of whom acted as fake electors of Trump. Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman report for the New York Times.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The Senate is poised to take a critical vote today to advance a major bipartisan gun safety bill toward final passage. The vote will be held to overcome a Republican Party filibuster and requires 60 votes to succeed, meaning that at least 10 Republicans must join with Democrats to vote in favor. The vote is expected to succeed with Republican support after 14 Republicans voted to advance the bill in an initial vote on Tuesday evening. Clare Foran, Lauren Fox, Ali Zaslav and Ted Barrett report for CNN.
Pete Arredondo, the school-district police chief at the center of the broadly criticized response to last month’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, has been put on administrative leave. Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell said in a written statement that though he had pledged to wait until the investigation was concluded to make any personnel decisions, he opted to put Arrendondo on leave now “because of the lack of clarity that remains and the unknown timing of when I will receive the results of the investigations.” Elizabeth Findell and Alicia A. Caldwell report for the Wall Street Journal.
The California man who was arrested outside Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home earlier this month has pleaded not guilty to an attempted assassination charge. Nicholas Roske, of Simi Valley, formally entered the plea during a hearing yesterday afternoon in federal court in Greenbelt, MD. A grand jury indicted Roske last week on a charge that he attempted to assassinate the Supreme Court Justice. Roske was previously charged, through a criminal complaint, with attempted murder, a charge with a lower maximum sentence than attempted assassination. If found guilty Roske now faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Jan Wolfe reports for the Wall Street Journal.
State Department and U.S.A.I.D. officials are refusing to provide information to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (S.I.G.A.R.) needed for multiple audits related to the fall of the Afghan government. This is according to a letter the watchdog wrote to the secretary of State and U.S.A.I.D. administrator. The State Department and U.S.A.I.D. have in some cases ignored S.I.G.A.R.’s communications, declined to make officials available for interviews and refused to permit the watchdog to travel internationally to conduct on-the-ground research, director John Sopko wrote in the letter. Lara Seligman reports for POLITICO.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
Russian forces targeted at least two large North American-owned grain terminals in the Ukrainian port of Mykolaiv yesterday. The attacks form part of what Kyiv and Western governments say is a campaign to degrade Ukraine’s ability to export food. Russia has previously rejected accusations that Moscow is hindering Ukrainian wheat exports. However, E.U. officials have said that reports of Russia striking grain terminals casts doubt on that and have accused the Kremlin of weaponizing food supplies. Alistair MacDonald, Bojan Pancevski and Drew Hinshaw report for the Wall Street Journal.
The U.K.’s defense intelligence service believes that Russia’s momentum in Ukraine will slow in the next few months as its army exhausts its resources. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a group of European newspapers that whilst Russia was pushing forward in the eastern Donbas region, this was at a heavy cost in soldiers and weapons. “Our defense intelligence service believes, however, that in the next few months, Russia could come to a point at which there is no longer any forward momentum because it has exhausted its resources,” Johnson said. Reuters reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Ukraine is set to be approved as an E.U. candidate at a summit in Brussels today. Candidate status is the first official step toward E.U. membership and several E.U states have agreed to back Ukraine’s candidacy, provided conditions are attached before accession negotiations can begin, including judicial and anti-corruption reforms. Moldova’s application is also recommended for conditional approval. Jessia Parker reports for BBC News.
Leaders from the Group of Seven rich democracies and the NATO alliance will work to increase pressure on Russia over its war in Ukraine next week, senior U.S. officials said yesterday. The leaders will also discuss their continued concerns about China, including China’s “coercive economic practices,” the officials added. Andrea Shalal and Humeyra Pamuk report for Reuters.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
The Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General will scrutinize the degree to which the Pentagon has planned to restock the weapons and ammunition it is providing to Ukraine. The Pentagon’s top independent watchdog signaled its interest in the topic in a memo to senior U.S. defense officials and reserved the right to “revise the objective” of the evaluation as it proceeds. The U.S. military has provided billions of dollars in arms to Kyiv as it fights off Russia’s invasion. Dan Lamothe reports for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Russian soldiers who control the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine are detaining workers and subjecting them to brutal interrogations, Ukrainian officials have said. “People are being abducted en masse,” the region’s exiled mayor, Dmytro Orlov, said during a meeting yesterday with officials from Energoatom, the state company that oversees the complex. “The whereabouts of some of them are unknown. The rest are in very difficult conditions: They are being tortured and physically and morally abused.” The New York Times reports.
Ukraine is expected to hold a preliminary hearing today in its first trial of a Russian soldier charged with raping a Ukrainian woman during Russia’s invasion. The suspect, Mikhail Romanov, 32, who is not in Ukrainian custody and will be tried in absentia, is accused of murdering a civilian in the Kyiv capital region on March 9 and then repeatedly raping his wife, according to court files. This case is likely to be the first of dozens, as up to 50 such crimes are currently under investigation, a prosecutor working on sexual violence cases has said. Reuters reports.
Russia has levied dozens of cyber espionage campaigns in 42 countries since it invaded Ukraine, according to a new report by Microsoft. The report says those efforts have targeted entities across six continents and primarily focused on NATO allies and groups supporting Ukraine. “The Russian invasion relies in part on a cyber strategy that includes at least three distinct and sometimes coordinated efforts – destructive cyberattacks within Ukraine, network penetration and espionage outside Ukraine and cyber influence operations targeting people around the world,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in the report. Zach Schonfeld reports for The Hill.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
The final part of a mammoth report into alleged corruption in South Africa under former President Jacob Zuma has been handed to his successor Cyril Ramaphosa. The report by Judge Raymond Zondo is more than 5,000 pages long. It paints a picture of a country whose coffers were looted by its former president and his associates – the prominent Gupta brothers. It also accuses him of halting an investigation into alleged financial misdeeds by the Guptas. They and Zuma deny wrongdoing. Nomsa Maseko reports for BBC News.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that the country would be redirecting trade to “reliable international partners.” Speaking at this year’s summit for the coalition known as BRICS — which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — Putin highlighted a 38 per cent increase in trade between Russia and the group’s member states during the first three months of the year. Amy Cheng reports for the Washington Post.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping said yesterday that Western sanctions are “weaponizing” the world economy. Xi, who spoke at a business forum ahead of today’s virtual summit with leaders from the BRICS economic bloc, portrayed the world as being at a critical juncture as it struggled to recover from the pandemic amid what he termed new “security challenges.” “The tragedies of the past tell us that hegemony, group politics and bloc confrontation bring no peace or security; they only lead to wars and conflicts,” he said via videolink. Simone McCarthy reports for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected over 86.64 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 541.439 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.