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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 former deputy counsel to President Trump has been subpoenaed in the federal criminal investigation into the Jan. 6 attack. Patrick Philbin was subpoenaed for testimony and documents, according to a source familiar with the matter. Philbin worked in the White House counsel’s office under Pat Cipollone, who was also subpoenaed. Philbin and Cipollone were both key witnesses to Trump’s actions in the last days of his presidency. Cipollone repeatedly pushed back on efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and according to a Senate Judiciary Committee report, he and Philbin opposed a proposal to replace the attorney general with someone willing to look into false claims of election fraud. Katelyn Polantz and Pamela Brown report for CNN.
The Jan. 6 committee is preparing to subpoena the trove of Alex Jones’s text messages and emails revealed in a defamation lawsuit filed by the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. Yesterday, Sandy Hook victims’ attorney Mark Bankston told Jones that his attorney had mistakenly sent Bankston three years worth of emails and texts copied from his phone. Within minutes of the lawyer’s revelation being heard on the trial’s livestream, preparations had begun amongst members of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack to request the data from the victims’ attorneys, a source familiar with the matter said. Adam Rawnsley and Asawin Suesaeng report for Rolling Stone.
Hours after President Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, conservative lawyer John Eastman sent an email to Rudolph Guiliani proposing that they challenge the outcome of the runoff elections in Georgia for two Senate seats that had been won on Jan. 5 by Democrats. “A lot of us have now staked our reputations on the claims of election fraud, and this would be a way to gather proof,” Eastman wrote in the previously undisclosed email, which also went to others, including a top Trump campaign adviser. “If we get proof of fraud on Jan. 5, it will likely also demonstrate the fraud on Nov. 3, thereby vindicating President Trump’s claims and serving as a strong bulwark against Senate impeachment trial.” Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater report for the New York Times.
The Homeland Security watchdog now under scrutiny for his handling of deleted Secret Service text messages around the Jan. 6 attack had previously been accused of misleading federal investigators, according to a newly disclosed government report. In the 2013 report from the Justice Department inspector general, investigators said they did “not believe” Joseph V. Cuffari’s explanation for why he failed to inform his supervisors – against federal rules – about his testimony in a lawsuit. The report, which relates to Cuffari’s time in charge of a Justice Department inspector general field office in Tucson, raises questions over Cuffari’s appointment in 2019, and whether he was appropriately vetted for the role. Lisa Rein, Carol D. Leonnig and Maria Sacchetti report for the Washington Post.
The No. 2 Senate Democrat yesterday called for an inspector general investigation into missing text messages from top Defense Department officials in the Trump administration related to the Jan. 6 attack. Sen. Richard J. Durbin (IL), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he was sending a letter to Sean O’Donnell, the Defense Department’s inspector general, seeking an investigation into the disappearance of text messages from the phones of at least five former Trump administration officials. “The disappearance of this critical information could jeopardize efforts to learn the full truth about Jan. 6,” Durbin said in a statement. “I don’t know whether the failure to preserve these critical government texts from Jan. 6 is the result of bad faith, stunning incompetence or outdated records management policies, but we must get to the bottom of it.” A spokesperson for the inspector general said he was awaiting Durbin’s letter and would “review the letter once we receive it.” Luke Broadwater reports for the New York Times.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro was sued by the government yesterday over his refusal to turn over private emails allegedly relating to government work conducted during the Trump administration. Navarro, according to the court papers filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the National Archives, “has refused to return any Presidential records that he retained absent a grant of immunity for the act of returning such documents.” The lawsuit charges the economic adviser “is wrongfully retaining Presidential records that are the property of the United States, and which constitute part of the permanent historical record of the prior administration.” Navarro is already facing trial on charges of contempt of Congress for allegedly refusing to provide testimony or documents to the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Devlin Barrett reports for the Washington Post.
The man accused of opening fire on a July Fourth parade in Highland Park, IL, pleaded not guilty to 117 charges yesterday. Robert Crimo III has been held without bail since being arrested and confessing to opening fire with an assault rifle on the parade where seven people were killed and dozens were injured. His charges include 21 counts of murder—three for each victim killed—and 48 counts of attempted murder for those wounded by bullets or shrapnel. Crimo’s next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 1. Talal Ansari reports for the Wall Street Journal.
U.S. RELATIONS – CHINA, TAIWAN
China fired multiple missiles around Taiwan today, launching unprecedented military drills a day after a visit to the self-ruled island by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The exercises, China’s largest ever in the Taiwan Strait, began as scheduled at midday local time and included live-firing in the waters to the north, south and east of Taiwan, bringing tensions in the area to their highest in a quarter century. China’s Eastern Theater Command said at around 3:30 p.m. (0330 EST) it had completed multiple firings of conventional missiles in waters off the eastern coast of Taiwan as part of planned exercises in six different zones that Beijing has said will run until Sunday. Yimou Lee and Sarah Wu report for Reuters.
A meeting between China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Japanese counterpart has been canceled over a statement released by the Group of Seven (G7) nations about Taiwan. The foreign ministers of G7 nations- including Japan – had called on China to resolve tension around the Taiwan Strait in a peaceful manner. Speaking at a media briefing, Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, said Beijing was strongly displeased with the statement. BBC News reports.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
Iran, the U.S. and the E.U. said yesterday that they would send negotiators to Vienna for further talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran. However, expectations of an agreement weren’t high after months of stalled negotiations. The latest Vienna talks, which will start today, are a chance to agree on the final points of a draft text circulated last week by E.U. foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell, who chairs the negotiations. There is no more room to craft compromises Borrell has said, with another senior Western official saying that an agreement would need to be found by this weekend. Laurence Norman and David S. Cloud report for the Wall Street Journal.
The Senate overwhelmingly endorsed Finland and Sweden joining NATO yesterday. “The historic vote sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan U.S. commitment to NATO, and to ensuring our Alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” President Biden said in a statement. “Finland and Sweden joining the Alliance will further strengthen NATO’s collective security and deepen the transatlantic partnership,” he added.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol will not meet face-to-face with Nancy Pelosi during her visit, as it clashes with his summer vacation in Seoul. It would be inappropriate for Yoon to meet with Pelosi while he is on vacation, a senior presidential official said, given that South Korea’s president isn’t the House speaker’s direct counterpart. Yoon will be holding a phone call with Pelosi instead, a presidential office spokesperson said. Dasl Yoon and Timothy W. Martin report for the Wall Street Journal.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OLENIVKA PRISON ATTACK
Ukrainian officials are compiling proof that the attack on a Russian prison camp in Olenivka that killed at least 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war was a war crime committed by Russian forces. At a background briefing for journalists in Kyiv, senior Ukrainian officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity outlined evidence to suggest that Russian forces appeared to be preparing for mass casualties in the days before the July 29 explosion. Michael Schwirtz, Christiaan Triebert, Kamila Hrabchuk and Stanislav Kozliuk report for the New York Times.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres is appointing a fact-finding mission in response to requests from Russia and Ukraine to investigate the attack on the Olenivka prison camp. Guterres told reporters that the terms of reference for a mission to Ukraine are currently being prepared and will be sent to the governments of Ukraine and Russia for approval. He also expressed hope that the warring countries would facilitate the mission’s access and provide the data required “to clarify the truth about what happened.” Edith M. Lederer reports for The Hill.
U.S. officials believe Russia is working to fabricate evidence concerning the attack on the Olenivka prison camp. U.S. intelligence officials have determined that Russia is looking to plant false evidence to make it appear that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the July 29 attack on the prison, a U.S. official familiar with the intelligence finding said. Aamer Madhani and Edith M. Lederer report for AP.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Myanmar for talks yesterday, as the country’s military junta comes under increased pressure from the U.S. over the execution of democracy activists. Russia has emerged as one of the most visible backers of Myanmar’s military junta that seized power in a coup last year and is one of its top arms suppliers, alongside China. Russia’s foreign ministry said that Lavrov met with Myanmar’s foreign minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, a junta appointee, before traveling to a regional forum in Cambodia. Russian state-run news agency TASS said ahead of the visit that Lavrov would meet Myanmar’s foreign minister and Gen. Hlaing to discuss cooperation on trade, economics, defense, security and humanitarian ties. Feliz Solomon reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Ukraine is seeking an opportunity to speak “directly” with China about its ongoing war with Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said. “I would like to talk directly. I had one conversation with [President] Xi Jinping that was a year ago,” Zelensky told the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post in an exclusive interview published today. Zelensky said Ukraine has officially asked for a conversation with China after the Russian invasion began in late February. “But we (haven’t had) any conversation with China even though I believe that would be helpful,” he said. Sophie Jeong and Vasco Cotovio report for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected over 91.79 million people and has now killed over 1.03 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 580.732 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.41 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.