Signup to receive the Early Edition in your inbox here.
A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
Ukrainian forces have destroyed 50 Russian ammunition depots using U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), according to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov. Reznikov said in televised comments that “this cuts [Russian’s] logistical chains and takes away their ability to conduct active fighting and cover our armed forces with heavy shelling.” Reuters could not independently verify the use of HIMARS. Max Hunder reports for Reuters.
Hours after signing an international agreement for grain exports to resume via the Black Sea, Russia launched a missile attack on Saturday on Ukraine’s key grain-exporting port of Odessa. At least two Russian Kalibr cruise missiles hit Odessa with another two missiles that were shot down by aerial defenses. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement that he “unequivocally” condemns the strikes as “all parties made clear commitments on the global stage to ensure the safe movement of Ukrainian grain and related products to global markets.” Matthew Luxmoore, Bojan Pancevski, and Jared Malsin report for the Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. Department of Defense “is making some preliminary explorations into the feasibility of providing fighter aircraft to the Ukrainians,” according to John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications. Kirby said in a briefing that the United States could provide training, maintenance, and spare parts prior to givingUkraine the jets. A former Pentagon official said the sale of F-15 and F-16 fighter jets were being discussed. Nancy A. Youssef and Yaroslav Trofimov report for the Wall Street Journal.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
The Select Committee has contacted Virginia “Ginni” Thomas’s counsel (Thomas is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas) concerning her attempts to press the Trump White House to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the Vice Chair of the Select Committee, told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “We certainly hope that she will agree to come in voluntarily, but the committee is fully prepared to contemplate a subpoena if she does not. I hope it doesn’t get to that. I hope she will come in voluntarily,” Cheney said. The Select Committee has email correspondence between Thomas and John Eastman, who played a critical role in Trump’s alternate elective scheme, and between Thomas and Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Daniella Diaz reports for CNN.
After 2.5 hours of deliberation on July 22, the jury found Stephen K. Bannon guilty of contempt of Congress for his refusal to provide documents or testimony to the Select Committee. Each of the two misdemeanor offenses that Bannon was convicted of carries a penalty of between 30 days and one year of jail time. Soon after the convictions, Bannon appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News, criticized the panel’s legitimacy, and said, “I will tell the Jan. 6 staff right now, preserve your documents, because there’s going to be a real committee and this has to be backed by Republican grass-roots voters.” Andrew Jeong reports for the Washington Post.
The Select Committee is preparing for the next round of interviews, including additional members of Trump’s cabinet, the Trump Campaign, and the Secret Service. The Secret Service recently has been under scrutiny over the potential deletion of text messages from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021. “The floodgates have opened…so many more witnesses have come forward,” said Rep. Elaine Luria (D., Va.) said one member of the Select Committee on “Meet the Press.” Scott Paterson and Lindsay Wise report for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER U.S. DEVELOPMENTS
The Oak Fire burned over 14,000 acres and forced thousands of evacuations in the Sierra National Forest, becoming one of the biggest California blazes of the year. More than 2,000 firefighters, along with helicopters and bulldozers, albeit hindered by hot and dry conditions and forest floor materials that fuels the flames, continue to fight the wildfire. California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Mariposa County, but the cause of the fire has not yet been determined. Ginger Adams Otis reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Myanmar’s military junta has executed four democracy activists allegedly for aiding in carrying out “terror acts” on Monday. The four men – Kyaw Min Yu, Phyo Zeya Thaw, a 41-year-old ally of ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Hla Myo Aung, and Aung Thura Zaw – received their death sentences in closed-door trials in January and April. “[The executions] are another example of Myanmar’s atrocious human rights record…The international community must act immediately as more than 100 people are believed to be on death row after being convicted in similar proceedings. Ed Davies and Michael Perry write for Reuters.
The Democratic Republic of Congo plans on auctioning off vast amounts of land, involving parts of the world’s most important gorilla sanctuary, Virunga National Park, in late July to become the “new destination of oil investments.” The vast parcels of land include 30 blocks, consisting of 27 oil and three gas blocks. Despite President Félix Tshisekedi eight months ago endorsing a 10-year agreement to protect its rainforest including parts of the second largest rainforest Congo Basin, Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, the country’s lead representative on climate issues, stated that auction’s sole goal is to earn enough revenue to support Congo’s finance programs in addressing poverty. Ruth Maclean and Dionne Searcey report for the New York Times.
The vote on the 2022 Tunisian constitutional referendum that could increase the powers of the presidency began on Monday, with many Tunisians planning on boycotting it. Groups such as Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists argued that the draft constitution removes essential checks on presidential powers. In the days leading up to Monday, hundreds of people began protesting on the streets. The police forcibly dispersed the protests, using pepper spray and sticks, as a crowd tried to march toward the Interior Ministry. Chao Deng reports for the Wall Street Journal.
President Biden’s physician, Kevin O’Connor, stated that the President “continue[s] to improve significantly.” On Saturday, President Biden completed his third day of Paxlovid, a COVID treatment, and “his pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature all remain normal. His oxygen saturation continues to be excellent on room air,” O’Connor wrote in his memo to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Biden likely had the BA.5 subariant, which accounts for the majority of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and is more resistant to vaccines than prior strains. Tal Axelrod reports for ABC.
COVID-19 has infected more than 90.4 million people and has killed around 1.03 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 570.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.4 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 theWashington Post.
A state-by-state guide to lockdown measures and reopenings is provided by the New York Times.