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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.
HIGHLAND PARK SHOOTING
Robert E. Crimo III, the 21-year-old suspect in the Highland Park shooting, has confessed to targeting revelers during an Independence Parade, in an attack that killed seven and wounded dozens more, prosecutors have said. Crimo spoke briefly by videoconference from Lake County Jail during a bail hearing yesterday to say he hadn’t retained an attorney. Judge Theodore Potkonjak ordered Crimo held without bail and set his next court appearance for July 28. Douglas Belkin and Joe Barrett report for the Wall Street Journal.
Investigators investigating the Highland Park shooting have said that Crimo considered committing a similar shooting in Wisconsin later that same day. In the hours after the shooting in Highland Park, Crimo drove around and contemplated using a rifle to shoot more people at an Independence Day celebration in Madison, WI, said Christopher Covelli, a spokesperson for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force. Kim Bellware, Shawn Boburg, Mark Berman, Susan Berger and Marisa Iati report for the Washington Post.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel to then-President Trump who repeatedly fought Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, has reached a deal to be interviewed by Friday before the Jan. 6 committee. The agreement was a breakthrough for the panel, which has pressed for weeks for Cipollone to cooperate — and issued a subpoena to him last week — believing he could provide crucial testimony. Cipollone was a witness to pivotal moments in Trump’s push to invalidate the election results, including discussions about seizing voting machines and sending false letters to state officials about election fraud. However, those close to Cipollone have repeatedly cautioned that concerns about executive privilege and attorney-client privilege could limit his cooperation. Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater report for the New York Times.
Key House Republicans are threatening to subpoena records of the Jan. 6 committee if the Republican Party retakes the majority next year. “When Republicans retake the majority, we will exercise our oversight responsibilities including subpoena authority to review all transcripts and information that the committee has access to in order to identify the truth,” a senior Republican Party staffer on the House Administration Committee told Axios. Fresh talk of 2023 subpoenas marks an escalation of the Party’s efforts to undercut the investigations’ findings and means that the committee’s “final report” expected this fall may be far from the last word on the Capitol attack. Alayna Treene and Jonathan Swan report for Axios.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Former FBI director, James Comey, who was fired in 2017 by then President Trump, was later selected for a rare audit program that the tax agency claims is random. Two years later, Andrew G. McCade, Comey’s deputy at the F.B.I. had his 2019 return subject to the same scrutiny. The minuscule chances of the two highest-ranking F.B.I. officials — who made some of the most politically consequential law enforcement decisions in a generation — being randomly subjected to a detailed scrub of their tax returns a few years after leaving their posts calls into question whether this was the result of a corrupt process. “Maybe it’s a coincidence, or maybe somebody misused the I.R.S. to get at a political enemy,” said Comey. “Given the role Trump wants to continue to play in our country, we should know the answer to that question,” he added. Michael S. Schmidt reports for the New York Times. Michael S. Schmidt reports for the New York Times.
A police officer had the Uvalde school shooter in his rifle sight before the gunman entered Robb Elementary School but didn’t fire because he believed he needed permission to take the shot, a report has found. According to the report “The [Uvalde police] officer, armed with a rifle, asked his supervisor for permission to shoot the suspect. However, the supervisor either did not hear or responded too late.” The report also cites a Texas penal code that would have allowed an officer to use deadly force against an attacker when an officer “reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary to prevent the commission of murder.” The report, released by the Texas State University’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center yesterday, highlights a number of new details about the troubled response to the May mass shooting. Tala Ansari reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Kate Bedingfield, the White House communications director, will step down from her position this summer, marking the latest departure of a senior adviser from the Biden administration. Bedingfield is a longtime aide to President Biden who helped shape the messaging strategy for his campaign and during his presidency. She is expected to assist the White House from outside the administration, although her next position remains unclear. Zolan Kanno-Youngs reports for the New York Times.
The heads of the FBI and MI5, the U.K.’s domestic security service, have issued sharply worded warnings to business leaders about the threats posed by Chinese espionage. In a rare joint appearance on Wednesday at the headquarters of MI5, Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, and Ken McCallum, director-general of MI5, urged executives not to underestimate the scale and sophistication of Beijing’s campaign and warned particularly of spying aimed at stealing Western technology companies’ intellectual property. “The Chinese government is set on stealing your technology—whatever it is that makes your industry tick—and using it to undercut your business and dominate your market,” Wray told the audience of business people. “They’re set on using every tool at their disposal to do it.” Max Colchester reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The Treasury Department announced sanctions yesterday against a number of export companies shipping Iranian petroleum products to China and other east Asian countries. The sanctions will likely help U.S. allies in the Gulf who are seeing their Asian market share undercut by discounted oil from Russia and Iran. Ahead of President Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia this month, the new Treasury sanctions will likely be read as a gesture of good faith on the part of the administration toward regional allies. Tobias Burns reports for The Hill.
Americans whose relatives are detained in Saudi Arabia and Egypt have called on President Biden to help secure their freedom as he prepares to meet the leaders of the two Middle Eastern countries during a trip to the region next week. The appeal was made yesterday on behalf of more than 30 men and women, including a journalist, rights activists and dissidents, some of whom were released but are barred from traveling abroad. A few have been on trial for years, and others have received harsh sentences over their public criticism of the authorities. At least three are U.S. citizens, two are legal permanent residents and four are one-time U.S. student-visa holders. Most of the other detainees have at least one immediate relative with a direct connection to the U.S. Stephen Kalin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
President Biden in a letter to Congress yesterday said that he will officially rescind Afghanistan’s designation as a major non‑NATO ally. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the President wrote: “In accordance with section 517 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (22 U.S.C. 2321k), I am providing notice of my intent to rescind the designation of Afghanistan as a Major Non‑NATO Ally.” The ally status had made Afghanistan eligible to receive military training and assistance, including expediting the sale and leasing of military equipment even after NATO troops left the country. Shawna Mizelle and Sam Fossum report for CNN.
GROUP OF 20 MEETING
The presence of Russia at the Group of 20 meeting in Indonesia this week is an obstacle to reaching consensus on issues related to Ukraine, a senior U.S. State Department official has said. “With Russia’s presence and participation, I certainly doubt there will be consensus on Ukraine,” said the senior official. The U.S. and some European officials had hoped that the Indonesian government would not invite Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, but Indonesian officials viewed a full participation list as the best way of achieving a more productive gathering. John Hudson reports for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – WAR CRIMES INVESTIGATIONS
Top Russian official, Dmitri Medvedev, yesterday threatened the U.S. with the “wrath of God” for pursuing war crimes investigations against Russia. In a message posted to Telegram, Dmitri Medvedev, said: “The idea of punishing a country that has one of the largest nuclear potentials is absurd. And potentially poses a threat to the existence of humanity.” He also called the United States hypocritical for accusing Russia of war crimes, denouncing “all American history” as “a bloody war of annihilation.” He listed the subjugation of Native Americans and the dropping of nuclear bombs on Japan as examples. The New York Times.
Ukraine says it is investigating more than 21,000 war crimes and crimes of aggression allegedly committed by Russia since the start of its invasion. Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova told the BBC that she was receiving reports of between 200 to 300 war crimes a day, and that whilst many trials would be held in absentia, it was a “question of justice” to continue with the prosecutions. Yaroslav Lukov reports for BBC News.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Western artillery that has been steadily flowing into Ukraine is starting to make a noticeable difference on the battlefield, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in yesterday’s nightly address. Zelensky praised the accuracy of the weapons, saying they are helping Ukrainian troops “inflict very noticeable strikes” against Russian logistical targets, significantly reducing “the offensive potential of the Russian army,” he added. Andrew Jeong reports for the Washington Post.
Sri Lanka’s president Gotabaya Rajapaksa has asked Russia’s Vladimir Putin to help his nation import fuel, as it faces its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948. In a post on Twitter, Rajapaksa said he “had a very productive” discussion with Putin, where he “requested an offer of credit support to import fuel.” “We unanimously agreed that strengthening bilateral relations in sectors such as tourism, trade and culture was paramount in reinforcing the friendship our two nations share,” he added. The request, which is likely to trigger displeasure among Western nations, comes after Sri Lanka’s energy minister warned at the weekend that the country may soon run out of petrol. Peter Hoskins reports for BBC News.
Two proposed economic laws making their way through Russia’s parliament would allow the Kremlin to fund its war effort in Ukraine without formally mobilizing the state economic apparatus, the U.K. Defense Ministry has said. “The legislation is likely an attempt by the Kremlin to put in place economic measures to support the ‘special military operation’ without a formal declaration of state mobilisation, which remains politically sensitive,” the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its latest intelligence update. “It also allows Russia to avoid acknowledging it is engaged in a war or its failure to overcome Ukraine’s military that was outnumbered and outgunned,” it added.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will resign as leader of the Conservative Party today and will continue as Prime Minister until the autumn. Johnson is expected to give a statement at 12.30 GMT to publicly announce his resignation. A Conservative leadership race will take place this summer and a new Prime Minister will be in place in time for the Conservative Party conference in October. Live coverage is provided by BBC News.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has detained several foreigners it accuses of spying, including a man it identified as Giles Whitaker, the U.K.’s former deputy head of mission in Tehran. The group of foreigners — including a Polish researcher and the spouse of an Austrian diplomat — are accused of collecting soil samples in a restricted area of the Shahdad Desert, Fars, the Iranian news agency which is linked to the IRGC, reported. A spokesperson for the U.K. Foreign Office denied the original reports that a serving British diplomat had been arrested in Iran, calling them “completely false.” Erin Cunningham and Kareem Fahim report for the Washington Post.
A court in Argentina has sentenced 19 former military officers to long prison terms for crimes against humanity during the country’s military dictatorships from 1976-83. The crimes included forced disappearances, murder, torture and kidnapping of children. The sentences were handed down by the federal court in the capital Buenos Aires yesterday, which ruled that crimes were committed against some 350 victims. BBC News reports.
One in 10 people around the world faced hunger in 2021, according to a U.N. report released yesterday. The report, produced jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme, U.N.I.C.E.F., the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Health Organization, listed conflict, climate extremes and economic shocks as the major drivers behind the latest rise in food insecurity and malnutrition. World Food Programme chief David Beasley warned the number of people going hungry could rise even more in 2022, partly due to the impact of the war in Ukraine on international supply chains and food prices. “There is a real danger these numbers will climb even higher in the months ahead,” he said in a statement. Bartosz Brzezinski reports for POLITICO.
COVID-19 has infected over 88.01 million people and has now killed over 1.02 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 551.327 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.34 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.