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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:
FALLOUT FROM EXECUTION OF SEARCH WARRANT ON TRUMP’S MAR-A-LAGO
The Justice Department’s national security division filed a motion yesterday to unseal the search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s Florida home and an inventory of items retrieved in the Aug. 8 search. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, in a brief two-minute statement to reporters, said he personally approved the search. “Two people briefed on the classified documents that investigators believed remained at Mar-a-Lago indicated that they were so sensitive, and related to national security, that the Justice Department had to act.” The FBI inventory of what was taken “alludes to miscellaneous confidential documents as well some labeled ‘top secret.’” Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman and Ben Protess report for the New York Times.
Trump said Thursday night that he won’t object to releasing the search warrant and inventory related to the search of Mar-a-Lago by federal investigators. In a post on his social media platform, he added that he encourages “the immediate release of those documents.” Trump’s attorneys have copies of the documents and could release them. “A federal judge in Florida has given the Justice Department until Friday afternoon to confer with Trump’s attorneys and advise the court as to whether Trump objects to the release.” Deepa Shivaram reports for NPR.
Documents related to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents were looking for in the Aug. 8 raid, according to people familiar with the probe. It was unclear whether the people were referring to U.S. nuclear arms or those of other nations, or whether the agency recovered such documents. Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Perry Stein, and Shane Harris report for the Washington Post.
The Aug. 8 raid was at least the third time federal authorities had taken U.S. government documents from Mar-a-Lago. In addition to the removal of 15 boxes by the National Archives and Records Administration in January, the Justice Department retrieved “sensitive national security documents” in June pursuant to a grand jury subpoena, people familiar with the matter told CNN. From Evan Perez, Gabby Orr and Pamela Brown for CNN.
Death threats are increasing against FBI agents and top officials of the agency and the Justice Department since the Aug. 8 raid on Trump’s Florida home. Trump and other conservative political leaders have denounced the FBI investigation as “corrupt” and “politicized.” The FBI Agents Association said the volume of threats was “unacceptable” and “contribute to an atmosphere where some have, or will, accept violence against law enforcement as appropriate. It is not.” From Agence France-Presse (AFP) via Yahoo News.
A man wearing body armor who tried to get into the FBI’s Cincinnati field office yesterday and then fled and was killed in an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement officers. Although officials declined to identify the alleged shooter or his motives, sources said authorities are investigating his potential ties to right-wing extremist groups including the Proud Boys. From Meryl Kornfield, Spencer S. Hsu and James Bikales for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
Renewed shelling of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, prompted renewed calls for a cease-fire. “Russia and Ukraine traded accusations of responsibility for shelling on Thursday at an enormous Russian-occupied nuclear power complex” in southern Ukraine. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres “expressed growing concern for the complex’s security and repeated calls for international experts to visit the facility.” From Shashank Bengali for The New York Times. The Washington Post reports International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafeal Grossi “pleaded with Russia and Ukraine to demilitarize the area and allow international inspectors onto the site.” The BBC reports how the Zaporizhzhia crisis unfolded.
Seven civilians were killed and six wounded in a Russian missile attack on the city of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s east. The assaults damaged shops, private houses, high-rise buildings, and infrastructure. “A British intelligence report this week said that Moscow’s advance toward Bakhmut had been the most successful element of its wider drive in Donetsk Province, but that, overall, Russia’s forces had progressed only about two miles there in the past month.” Matthew Mpoke Bigg for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Defense ministers from Western countries pledged $1.5 billion in military aid for Ukraine. “The money will pay for weapons, ammunition and training of Ukrainian forces, and the nations promised that more assistance is on the way.” The Washington Post reports.
Estonia will no longer issue tourist, business, or student visas to Russians, except to students completing a degree. “The moves close two main land routes for Russians to access Europe,” the Washington Post reports.
New research has identified blind spots in efforts by social media giants such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok in curbing Russian propaganda and anti-Ukrainian hate. The pattern shows the difficulty tech companies are encountering in efforts to curb disinformation. “Research finds that Russian Embassy accounts around the world have gained more engagement on Facebook and Twitter since the war in Ukraine began.” Will Oremus and Cat Zakrzewski report for the Washington Post.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, his staff, and Republican U.S. senators are taking actions that effectively delay a probe into his actions related to missing Secret Service text messages. Cuffari and his staff “have refused to release certain documents and tried to block interviews by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE).” The senators are demanding the panel reduce records requests from his office and are questioning CIGIE’s motives in the investigation. By Lisa Rein for the Washington Post.
(Readers may be interested in this related Just Security piece published yesterday: DHS IG Cuffari’s Actions Exhibit Clear Pattern: Unwillingness or Inability to Meet the Mission by Liz Hempowicz.)
OTHER U.S. DEVELOPMENTS
Trump has hired a prominent Atlanta lawyer known for representing rappers, Drew Findling, to help represent him in a criminal inquiry into election interference. “his hiring underscores the seriousness of the investigation — as well as the potential legal jeopardy for Mr. Trump.” Danny Hakim and Richard Fausset report for the New York Times.
Historians told President Joe Biden in a meeting last week that democratic governance is at a perilous moment within the United States and globally. The Aug. 4 discussion “included Biden’s occasional speechwriter Jon Meacham, journalist Anne Applebaum, Princeton professor Sean Wilentz, University of Virginia historian Allida Black and presidential historian Michael Beschloss.” It continued a tradition of presidents meeting with historians to get an outside view of their tenures within the arch of history. The group made various comparisons to “the years before the 1860 election when Abraham Lincoln warned that a `house divided against itself cannot stand’ and the lead-up to the 1940 election, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt battled rising domestic sympathy for European fascism and resistance to the United States joining World War II.” Michael Scherer, Ashley Parker and Tyler Pager report for the Washington Post.
President Biden signed legislation this week that expands benefits for veterans sickened after exposure to toxins from “burn pits” where the U.S. military burned trash in open-air lots. The former service members are “suffering from respiratory ailments, cancer and other diseases that were most likely caused by exposure to toxins released by trash fires on combat outposts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other countries.” John Ismay reports for the New York Times.
Dozens of people have died, and hundreds were arrested, in anti-government protests in Sierra Leone. “Demonstrations against the rising cost of living and corruption that began on Wednesday turned into a violent confrontation between police and protesters.” The BBC reports that the “West African regional bloc Ecowas has condemned the violence and called for calm.”
New research confirms the Arctic has warmed much faster than the rest of the world in the past several decades. “The pace of the temperature increase around the North Pole in recent decades was four times higher than the rest of the planet” according to researchers. Rachel Ramirez reports for CNN. “Scientists previously estimated that the Arctic is heating up about twice as fast as the globe overall. The new study finds that is a significant underestimate of recent warming,” writes Rebecca Hersher at NPR.
U.S. and Indian officials are pressuring the Sri Lankan government to revoke access to Hambantota port for the Chinese navy’s satellite-tracking vessel the Yuan Wang 5. The standoff places the economically and politically struggling Sri Lankan government in the middle of a tug of war between countries that Sri Lanka depends on for financing. Gerry Shih, Hafeel Farisz, and Niha Masih report for the Washington Post.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people who come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19 no longer have to quarantine. The agency also dropped its advice for social distancing and for schools to do routine daily testing, according to new guidelines issued to adapt to changing conditions and public receptiveness to restrictions. “Masks continue to be recommended only in areas where community transmission is deemed high, or if a person is considered at high risk of severe illness.” Mike Stobbe and Collin Binkley report for the Associated Press.
COVID-19 has infected more than 92.72 million people and has killed almost 1.04 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been more than 588.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.4 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Byron Manley, Sean O’Key, 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.