FBI RAIDS MAR-A-LAGO
The FBI raided the Florida residence of Donald Trump, according to a statement made by the former president. The search of the residence, which he said included opening his safe, was authorized by a court as part of an investigation into the potential mishandling of classified documents, according to a person familiar with the probe. The investigation concerns whether documents, some of which were classified, were taken with the president to his golf club after he departed the White House, as opposed to being handed to the National Archives as is required by the Presidential Records Act. Devlin Barrett, Mariana Alfaro, Josh Dawsey, and Jacqueline Alemany report for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
An estimated 70,000 to 80,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded in the past six months during the assault on Ukraine. Colin Kahl, the U.S. under secretary of defense for policy, provided the figures in a briefing with reporters yesterday. Ukrainian forces are advancing in the direction of Izyum, a key city in the country’s northeast, according to presidential adviser Alexsey Arestovych. He said the forces are “moving very successfully” towards the city, which is considered a gateway to the Donbas region, the majority of which is controlled by Russian forces. Jennifer Hassan and Sean Fanning summarize key developments for the Washington Post.
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy called on the west to ban all Russian travelers. In an interview with the Washington Post, Zelenskyy said the way to stop Russia from taking more Ukrainian territory is to ban the migration of all Russian people. Zelensky said that “the most important sanctions are to close the borders — because the Russians are taking away someone else’s land.” He said Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy.” Isabelle Khurshudyan reports for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
The U.S. will send an additional $1 billion in aid to Ukraine, including new rockets, the Pentagon announced yesterday. The shipment brings the total U.S. military assistance for Ukraine since February to more than $9 billion. The new supplies will include rockets for the HIMARS launchers that have proved critical in Ukraine’s fighting. Most of the munitions will resupply weapons that have already been shipped to the country. The shipment comes as the conditions in eastern Ukraine have “essentially stabilized” and the focus of combat with Russian forces has shifted to the south, according to Colin Kahl, the under secretary of defense for policy. John Ismay reports for the New York Times.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of the long-term repercussions for global security if Russia’s assault on Ukraine is not stopped. Speaking in South Africa, Blinken warned that failure to stand up to Russia would give a green light to similar acts of aggression around the world. “If we allow a big country to bully a smaller one, to simply invade it and take its territory, then it’s going to be open season, not just in Europe but around the world,” he said yesterday. Edward Wong reports for the New York Times.
Russia will not permit the United States to inspect its nuclear weapons. Under the New START nuclear arms treaty, American inspectors were permitted to travel to Russia to examine their stock of nuclear weapons; however, citing travel restrictions imposed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that inspections would not proceed this year. The travel restrictions, as well as tightened visa regulations, the Foreign Ministry said, “create unilateral advantages for the United States and effectively deprive the Russian Federation of the right to carry out inspections on American soil.” Michael Gordon reports for the Wall Street Journal
JAN. 6 ATTACK
The Justice Department on Monday rejected attorney John Eastman’s attempt to reclaim his cellphone that FBI agents had seized in June. A key player in Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election, Eastman had lodged myriad complaints, such as not showing a search warrant before taking his phone, and demanded the government destroy any information copied from it. However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Dohrmann stated in the Justice Department’s filing that Eastman’s “rights and privileges do not eliminate the Government’s ability to seize and search his phone in furtherance of a criminal investigation.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom previously had revealed that the department had obtained a second search warrant for Eastman’s phone over matters that may be covered by attorney-client privilege. Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu report for POLITICO.
Doug Mastriano, the Trump-endorsed Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, is expected to appear virtually on Tuesday before the House January 6th Select Committee. The 10 a.m. interview likely will be brief due to disagreement whether Mastriano’s attorney is allowed to record the deposition, among other reasons. Mastriano was a key ally in Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election; he led a fake legislative “hearing” in Gettysburg, where Trump and his team made false allegations of election fraud, and chartered buses to bring Trump supporters to Washington on Jan. 6. Zachary Cohen and Sara Murray report for CNN.
More than two years’ worth of text messages from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ phone were turned over to the Select Committee on Monday, but the files do not appear to have messages from the day of Jan. 6, and the weeks leading up to that day. Although the phone data was collected mid-2021, the most recent message comes from mid-2020, according to Mark Bankston who represents Sandy Hook parents suing Jones for defamation for lies about the 2012 school shooting and who provided the committee with the data. Although he did not enter the building, Jones was there at the Capitol on Jan. 6. He galvanized protestors despite his claims that he was trying to prevent people at the Capitol from breaking the law. Oliver Darcy reports for CNN.
Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said today that China’s military drills, which were executed in protest against U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit, are part of a plan to prepare for an invasion of the self-ruled island. “It is conducting large-scale military exercises and missile launches, as well as cyberattacks, disinformation, and economic coercion, in an attempt to weaken public morale in Taiwan,” Wu said. He described the moves as a “clear image of China’s geostrategic ambitions beyond Taiwan.” The U.S. military will continue to carry out voyages through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks, according to Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl. Sarah Wu and Yimou Lee report for Reuters.
China shifted the status quo over Taiwan following Speaker Pelosi’s visit. After days of military exercises around Taiwan, Beijing appears to be accelerating efforts to establish a new normal in its military posture around Taiwan. At the core of the push is the destruction of the so-called median line that has governed China-Taiwan relations in the past. Ishaan Tharoor provides analysis for the Washington Post.
U.S. and European officials announced on Monday the text for reviving the 2015 nuclear deal has been completed, along with its negotiations, and it is up to Iran to take or leave the deal. Tehran would have “very, very few weeks” to decide whether to agree with the deal, according to one senior E.U. official. Iranian officials stated that they have already sent an initial response with highlighted reservations and would send another response with additional views. The Iranian negotiating team is set to return to Tehran soon. Laurence Norman and Aresu Eqbali report for the Wall Street Journal.
Colombia Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo revealed a broad plan by the country’s new leftist government to raise taxes on the wealthy and on major commodity exports to finance rural development and social programs for the poor. The primary focus is the country’s top 2 percent, who make more than $2,300 monthly. The proposal would also introduce a wealth tax on savings or property worth more than $700,000, and a 10 percent windfall tax on the country’s main commodities exporters such as in the oil, coal, and gold industries, and would cover many other businesses. The government of President Gustavo Petro, who was sworn in on Aug. 7, seeks to raise about $6 billion annually starting next year and to close tax loopholes and exemptions. The bill heads to Congress for approval, and while Petro has a majority coalition in Congress, the legislation could be amended throughout the debates. Kejal Vyas reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken promoted democracy during his trip to Africa as the United States seeks to push back against rival nations’ influence. Speaking in South Africa yesterday, Blinken unveiled the main U.S. strategy to combat Russia and China’s growing influence across Africa: promoting democratic governance across the continent. “History shows that strong democracies tend to be more stable and less prone to conflict — and that the poor governance, exclusion and corruption inherent in weak democracies makes them more vulnerable to extremist movements and foreign interference,” Blinken said. Edward Wong and Lynsey Chutel report for the New York Times.
COVID-19 has infected more than 92.2 million people and has killed 1.03 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been more than 585.4 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.