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A curated weekday guide to major national and international security news and developments. Here’s today’s news:
TRUMP’S MAR-A-LAGO SEARCH
A federal judge ordered the FBI to redact its affidavit justifying the search of Mar-a-Lago. The judge added that he was inclined to unseal parts of the affidavit too, saying that it was “very important” that the public have as “much information” as it can about the search. He concluded that the government had “not met its burden of showing that the entire affidavit should remain sealed.” The document would reveal what led prosecutors and a different judge to believe that they had probable cause to search Mar-a-Lago in connection with missing classified information. This decision comes after both Republicans and the media have pushed for the document to be made public. Patricia Mazzei and Alan Feuer report for the New York Times.
The FBI has started to send interview requests to former Trump administration officials, including former National Security Council personnel, to determine whether they have heard of the “standing” declassification order Trump claims to have given. The order allegedly stated that any “documents removed from the Oval Office and taken into the residence were deemed to be declassified.” Although these interviews have been voluntary, witnesses in FBI investigations are required by federal law to be truthful in their answers or risk potential prosecution for false statements. John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser from 2018 to 2019, told The New York Times that he was unaware of any such order and described the assertion “almost certainly a lie.” Adam Rawnsley and Asawin Suebsaeng report for the Rolling Stone.
JANUARY 6TH ATTACK ON THE U.S. CAPITOL
Former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro in a motion on Wednesday asked the court to dismiss the criminal contempt of Congress case for his noncompliance with the Select Committee’s subpoena. Navarro contended that the Justice Department’s choice to bring charges was “in direct contradiction of decades of Department of Justice policy and precedent” and that close advisers to the President were shielded from congressional demands for testimony “even after the tenure of a particular advisor to the President.” Tierney Sneed reports for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
Ukraine warned yesterday that Russia was planning a “large-scale terrorist attack” on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Ukrainian officials said Moscow would seek to blame the attack on Kyiv, and State Department spokesman Ned Price said such a false flag operation is the “Russian playbook — accuse others of what you have done or what you intend to do.” The Washington Post reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres met with Zelenskyy and Turkish leader Erdogan yesterday to discuss the war in Ukraine. The discussions focused on the diplomatic paths to ending the conflict as well as the conditions surrounding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The Washington Post reports.
Estonia repelled a major Russian cyberattack yesterday. The cyberattacks, the largest Estonia has faced in over a decade, came after they removed a Soviet-era tank from a war memorial celebrating the Red Army on its border with Russia. The cyberattacks were claimed by Killnet, a Russian hacking group. After another major attack in 2007, Estonia rapidly stepped up its cyber defenses and, as a result, this attack went “largely unnoticed,” according to Luukas Ilves, the under secretary for digital transformation at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. Andrew Higgins reports for the New York Times.
Denmark is expected to invest over $5 billion in new warships. The major new investment comes as the NATO member seeks to step up its maritime security in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “With Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the new security situation in Europe, it is more important than ever that Denmark is able to defend itself. Security of supply plays a decisive role here,” Defense Minister Morten Bodskov said. Reuters reports.
Israel on Thursday raided seven Palestinian human rights organizations that it claimed have ties to terrorist groups. Israeli soldiers broke down office doors, seized documents, printers, and computers, and left behind military orders stating that the groups were illegal and no longer allowed to operate. Not only have the Palestinian groups rejected the allegations of links to terrorism, but international human rights organizations and the U.N. have criticized the move, describing the move as aimed towards restricting and silencing criticism regarding Gaza. Raja Abdulrahim reports for the New York Times.
In an official inquiry, Mexico has stated that the disappearance of 43 Mexican students in 2014 was a “crime of the state” involving every layer of government–a significant admission of government responsibility for an atrocious event in Mexico’s modern history. “At all times the federal, state and municipal authorities had knowledge of the students’ movements,” a government truth commission found in its preliminary findings. Alejandro Encinas, Under Secretary for Human Rights, revealed at a news conference that the government had issued arrest warrants for 33 former officials linked to the case. Oscar Lopez reports for the New York Times.
North Korea has rejected South Korea’s offer of economic support for denuclearization. Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, criticized President Yoon Suk Yeol’s offer to improve North Korea’s economy and the livelihood of its people as “pipedream-like remarks.” She also stated on Friday that “We make it clear that we will not sit face to face with him.” Gawon Bae and Jessie Yeung report for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected almost 93.27 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 593.3 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.