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A curated weekday guide to major national and international security news and developments. Here’s today’s news:
Liz Cheney has lost her Republican congressional primary contest to Trump-backed Harriet Hageman. Cheney’s defeat marks the most significant victory in the former President’s campaign to purge the Republican Party of his critics. Cheney has been the leading Republican voice against the former president, serving as the vice chairwoman of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. Jonathan Martin reports for the New York Times.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin advances to the November election along with two other candidates. Mary Peltola, a Democrat, and Nick Begich III, a Republican, advanced along with Ms. Palin. The three are vying to replace Don Young, who died last year after serving for 50 years as Alaska’s sole member of the House. As part of Alaska’s new ranked choice voting system, the November ballot will have four candidates, but the fourth candidate is yet to be identified. Blake Hounshell reports for the New York Times.
FALLOUT FROM EXECUTION OF SEARCH WARRANT ON TRUMP’S MAR-A-LAGO
The FBI interviewed two senior White House lawyers about the missing documents. Pat A. Cipollone and Patrick F. Philbin, the White House counsel and his deputy under President Trump, were interviewed by the F.B.I. in connection with the boxes of sensitive documents that the former president took to Florida. Cipollone and Philbin are the most senior people who worked for Mr. Trump who are known to have been interviewed by investigators after the National Archives referred the matter to the Justice Department this year. Maggie Haberman reports for the New York Times.
Former President Trump is failing to assemble a respected and experienced legal team in the wake of the search of his Florida home. “Everyone is saying no,” said a prominent Republican lawyer about working on the former President’s defense team. His current legal team includes a Florida insurance lawyer who has never argued a federal case, former general counsel for a parking-garage company, and a former host at far-right One America News. Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey, Carol D. Leonnig, Jacqueline Alemany and Rosalind S. Helderman report for the Washington Post.
JANUARY 6TH ATTACK ON THE U.S. CAPITOL
Leading Democrats accuse the Department of Homeland Security watchdog of blocking testimony related to the Jan. 6 attacks. Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney, (D-NY), who serves as the chairwoman of the Oversight Committee, and Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, have alleged that the DHS’ internal watchdog has refused to cooperate with congressional demands, even blocking his employees from testifying before Congress. This is the latest in a series of clashes surrounding the missing text messages that were sent and received by Secret Service agents and later erased. Luke Broadwater and Eileen Sullivan report for the New York Times.
A federal judge rejected a plea deal for a Navy engineer and his wife who attempted to sell nuclear secrets. The judge said that the prison times under the plea deal were too lenient for such a severe crime. Jonathan Toebbe worked as a nuclear engineer with top-secret security clearance, focused on the Navy’s multibillion-dollar effort to build submarines that can stay submerged and undetected for the longest time possible. Jonathan and his wife each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to share “restricted data” in violation of the Atomic Energy Act, which carries a possible life sentence. Paul Duggan reports for the Washington Post.
The Department of Education forgave all remaining student debt related to the now-defunct for-profit college ITT. The nearly $4 billion group discharge will wipe out loans for 208,000 borrowers who attended ITT from 2005 through its closure in September 2016, which the students say defrauded them. This announcement comes as part of a broader program within the Education department to wipe out the debt owed by students to institutions that it says swindled its borrowers, with an expected total forgiveness of $13 billion. Isabelle Sarraf reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Former Democratic Congressman TJ Cox was indicted on fraud charges yesterday. The Justice Department said that Cox had created off-the-books business accounts to solicit and steal roughly $2 million as part of a number of financial fraud schemes, including one that allegedly raised more than $25,000 in illegal straw donations for his 2018 House campaign. A federal grand jury indicted Cox on 28 counts of charges, including wire fraud, money laundering, financial-institution fraud, and campaign-contribution fraud in connection with the crimes that prosecutors said began as early as 2013. Lindsay Wise and Sadie Gurman report for the Wall Street Journal
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
Ukraine accused Russia of launching a cyber attack against its nuclear power agency. The attack on the agency’s website failed, Ukrainian officials said. Energoatom said Tuesday night that the hacking efforts did not “significantly affect” the company’s official site. While the attack did not appear to impact Ukraine’s power grid, the state energy company that oversees the country’s nuclear plants described it as “unprecedented.” The Washington Post reports
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Top U.S. national security officials told President Biden in an Oval Office briefing in October 2021 that Russian President Vladimir Putin was putting pieces in place for a massive assault on Ukraine. “The U.S. intelligence community had penetrated multiple points of Russia’s political leadership, spying apparatus and military, from senior levels to the front lines, according to U.S. officials.” Shane Harris, Karen DeYoung, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Ashley Parker and Liz Sly provide the first of a series of articles on the buildup to the assault, in the Washington Post. Shane Harris, Karen DeYoung, Isabelle Khurshudyan offer five takeaways.
Finland has announced it will slash the number of Russian visas it issues. Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said that, starting from September, Finland would accept only 10 percent of visa applications by Russian tourists. This means Finland will accept around 100 visa applications daily, compared with around 1,000 successful applications per day presently. Exceptions could be made for some groups like journalists, dissidents or activists, via a potential national humanitarian visa. Wilhelmine Preussen reports for POLITICO
The United States will spend more than $68 million to ship 150,000 metric tons of Ukrainian wheat for the World Food Program. This represents the largest export deal since the start of the war and since grain was allowed to move freely out of the country in July. This comes after a string of other shipments out of the Black Sea to nations struggling with food insecurity. The shipments have raised hopes that the Black Sea grain corridor can meet the U.N.’s goal of alleviating a global hunger crisis caused in part by the invasion. William Mauldin and Jared Malsin report for the Wall Street Journal
North Korea launched two cruise missiles this morning for the first time in months. The test comes as South Korea and the United States prepare for joint military exercises, just two days after South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol offered economic incentives if the North took steps toward eradicating its nuclear arsenal. South Korea and the United Stateswill hold 11 days of joint exercises beginning this week; the exercises had been suspended under President Trump as part of his outreach to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Choe Sang-Hun reports for the New York Times.
A Chinese military ship docked in Sri Lanka yesterday despite the opposition of both India and the United States. Indian and U.S. officials had voiced concerns about the political optics of a Chinese navy vessel docking at Hambantota International Port. The Sri Lankan government leased the port to state-owned China Merchants Port Holdings in 2017 after Sri Lanka failed to repay debts to China. The U.S. condemned the port’s transfer as a prime example of China’s harmful lending practices and its growing influence over the island nation — allegations that China has vehemently denied. Hafeel Farisz and Gerry Shih report for the Washington Post.
European officials expressed optimism concerning a potential imminent agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. Iran had responded to the E.U.’s final offer, in which they sought further clarifications on assurances that the United States would lift economic sanctions and continue to abide by its commitments once President Biden leaves office. Stephen Erlanger reports for the New York Times
Inflation in the United Kingdom breaks 10 percent, the highest among the G7. Part of the price spike is connected to surging energy prices as a result of the economic sanctions on Russia, a surge which has not abated. Household energy costs are set to rise further when a cap on prices is lifted in October. The Bank of England estimates that could send the annual rate of inflation to 13% as the year draws to a close. Paul Hannon reports for the Wall Street Journal
Israel and Turkey will restore full diplomatic relations. They will return ambassadors to each other’s country following a steady improvement in relations, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office said on Wednesday. “Upgrading relations will contribute to deepening ties between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade, and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability,” the official statement said. Reuters reports.
COVID-19 has infected almost 92.93 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 590.4 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 the Washington Post.