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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.
A federal judge in Florida has given former President Trump until Friday to refine the legal arguments in his request for a special master to oversee the review of evidence gathered in the Mar-a-Lago search. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon ordered Trump’s lawyers to elaborate on their arguments for why the court has the ability to step in at this time, explain what exactly Trump is asking for and whether the Justice Department has been served with Trump’s special master motion. Cannon also asked Trump’s team to consider any effect the request might have on a separate review conducted by a magistrate judge into whether any portion of the sealed FBI affidavit laying out probable cause for the search can be released. Katelyn Polantz and Tierney Sneed report for CNN.
The country’s top intelligence officials do not appear to have launched a formal damage assessment relating to classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago, four current U.S. officials have said. This is despite the fact that the government has known since January that highly sensitive material had been improperly stored in former President Trump’s golf club and residential compound. Current and former officials said they found the apparent lack of a damage assessment puzzling. “I suspect that the Biden administration is being super careful right now not to appear to be involved beyond the independent FBI and Justice Department,” a former senior intelligence official said. Ken Dilanian, Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee report for NBC News.
Newly released correspondence and court filings, as well as the recollections of multiple people with knowledge of the investigation, show how Trump tried to keep the FBI from reviewing the classified material kept in his Mar-o-Lago residence. Trump only agreed to return some of the documents after a National Archives official asked a Trump adviser for help, saying they may have to soon refer the matter to Congress or the Justice Department, a report for the Washington Post has revealed. According to the report it also “could not be determined who was involved with packing the boxes at Mar-a-Lago or why some White House documents were not sent to the Archives, though people familiar with the episode said Trump oversaw the process himself — and did so with great secrecy, declining to show some items even to top aides.” Josh Dawsey, Carol D. Leonnig, Jacqueline Alemany and Rosalind S. Helderman report for the Washington Post.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
A former Louisville, KY, detective pleaded guilty to helping falsify a warrant affidavit to search the home of Breonna Taylor. The detective, Kelly Goodlett, is one of four former Louisville Metro Police Department officers charged by the Justice Department earlier this month in connection with a 2020 raid on Taylor’s apartment to execute a search warrant. By pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy in a federal court in Louisville on Tuesday, she became the first person convicted as a result of federal and state investigations of the killing. Arian Campo-Flores reports for the Wall Street Journal.
A jury yesterday convicted two men of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, in a plot prosecutors described as a rallying cry for a U.S. civil war by anti-government extremists. The jury also found Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. guilty of conspiring to obtain a weapon of mass destruction, namely a bomb to blow up a bridge and stymie police if the kidnapping could be pulled off at Whitmer’s vacation home. It was the second trial for the pair after a jury in April couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict. Two other men were acquitted and two more pleaded guilty and testified for prosecutors. The result was a victory for the government following the shocking mixed outcome last spring. AP reports.
The FBI yesterday arrested a former Marine accused of assaulting two officers during the Jan. 6 attack. Kaleb Dillard, of Columbiana, Alabama, was arrested in his hometown after the FBI identified him as the man who appeared to throw a Capitol Police officer to the ground during the attack and appeared to shove another officer in the chest. Dillard, 26, was charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding law enforcement officers and interfering with a law enforcement officer during a civil disorder. He was also charged with six misdemeanors. Ryan J. Reilly reports for NBC News.
U.S. RELATIONS -IRAN
The U.S. military said it had carried out strikes on ammunition and logistics bunkers in northeast Syria used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The strikes were in retaliation for attacks conducted by Iranian-backed groups on Aug. 15, U.S. military officials said. President Biden approved the strikes, which are likely to raise tensions at a time when the U.S. and Iran are engaged in talks to revive a nuclear agreement. Gordon Lubold reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Iran yesterday launched exercises to test its combat and reconnaissance drones, state media reported. This comes amid U.S. concerns over the possible supply of Iranian-made unmanned aircraft to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine. The two-day war-games will involve 150 drones and will cover Iran’s Gulf coast and most of its territory, state television reported. The country’s air-defenses and “electronic warfare” capabilities will also be tested against mock enemy drones. Reuters reports.
Israeli national security advisor Eyal Hulata met with his U.S. counterpart, Jake Sullivan, yesterday to raise Israel’s concerns about the revival of the Iran nuclear agreement. In a readout of the meeting, the White House said Sullivan had underscored the Biden administration’s “steadfast commitment to preserve and strengthen Israel’s capability to deter its enemies and to defend itself by itself against any threat or combination of threats, including from Iran and Iranian-backed proxies; and our commitment to ensure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon.” Meanwhile, former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett sent out a series of tweets urging the U.S., “even now at this last minute,” to walk away from the talks. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz is due to see Sullivan in Washington on Friday. Nahal Toosi reports for POLITICO.
Iran will not allow inspections beyond what is in the 2015 nuclear deal, the country’s nuclear chief has said. “We are committed to inspections in the framework of the nuclear deal that are linked to nuclear restrictions which we have accepted in the past… Not one word more, not one word less,” said Mohammad Eslami, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization. Eslami’s statement comes as the U.S. prepares to respond to a proposal to revive Iran’s nuclear deal. Reuters reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
The U.S. plans to announce an additional roughly $3 billion in aid to train and equip Ukrainian forces to fight for years to come, U.S. officials have said. This marks a shift in U.S. security assistance towards a longer-term campaign that will likely keep more American military troops in Europe into the future. The package, which is expected to be announced today, will fund contracts for drones, weapons and other equipment that may not see the battlefront for a year or two, officials said. Unlike most previous packages, the new funding is largely aimed at helping Ukraine secure its medium- to long-term defense posture, according to officials familiar with the matter. AP reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Russia and its proxies in eastern Ukraine would be committing war crimes if they go ahead with show trials of prisoners of war, the U.N. said yesterday. Officials in the U.N. human rights office were reacting to photos and videos that have emerged of giant metal cages being built on the stage of the philharmonic theater in apparent preparation for the trials. “We are very concerned about the manner in which this is being done,” said Ravina Shamdasani, the spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for human rights. “Apparently the idea is to restrain the prisoners of war during proceedings in these cages. This is not acceptable.” The U.N. also urged Moscow to allow independent observers to access the detainees. The New York Times reports.
The U.N. nuclear agency renewed its request yesterday to assess the safety and security at Europe’s largest nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine. U.N. political chief Rosemary DiCarlo announced at the start of an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant that Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, requested to send an I.A.E.A. mission “to carry out essential safety, security and safeguard activities at the site.” Grossi said in a statement that “the mission is expected to take place within the next few days if ongoing negotiations succeed.” Edith M. Lederer reports for AP.
Norway and the U.K. will jointly supply micro-drones to Ukraine to aid in its fight against Russia’s invasion, the Norwegian Defense Ministry has said. The package includes Black Hornet units, spare parts, transportation and training, which will be financed by a British-led fund to which Norway has contributed, according to the ministry. Manveena Suri reports for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
A pro-Russian official in occupied Ukraine has been killed by a car bomb, Russian-backed authorities have said. Ivan Sushko, head of the military-civil administration of the village of Mikhailovka, was killed after an explosive device was planted under his car, according to a Telegram post by Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Russian-appointed council in occupied parts of Zaporizhzhia. Tim Lister reports for CNN.
Russian opposition politician Yevgeny Roizman was shown being detained at his home in a video published on social media, in the latest move by authorities to punish critics of the war in Ukraine. Video footage of the arrest showed Roizman, former mayor of the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, being taken away by law enforcement officials. Roizman was seen in the video telling reporters that he was being investigated under a law against discrediting the armed forces. He said he was being arrested “basically for one phrase, ‘the invasion of Ukraine’.” Reuters reports.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Brazilian police have raided the premises of several prominent business supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro days after leaked messages appeared to show the men backing a coup d’état if the far-right leader loses his re-election bid in October. Acting on an order from Supreme Court justice Alexandre de Moraes, who also heads the country’s electoral court, federal police yesterday launched a search operation in eight premises in five states, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The move highlights the growing sensitivity of the court towards threats to Brazil’s democracy ahead of what is expected to be a highly polarized election. Byran Harris reports for the Financial Times.
Fighting between forces from Ethiopia’s rebellious northern region of Tigray and central government forces has erupted around the town of Kobo, ending a months-long ceasefire. The fighting is a major blow to hopes for peace talks between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party that controls Tigray. Both sides have blamed each other for the outbreak of fighting. Reuters reports.
South Korea’s new envoy on North Korean human rights Lee Shin-wha has called for diplomatic pressure to persuade Beijing against deporting defectors from North Korea. Describing China as “a responsible member of the international community with power”, Lee said “quiet diplomacy” might be needed to convince Beijing to adhere to the principle of non-refoulement, which obliges host countries to refrain from returning asylum seekers or refugees to a place where their life or liberty would be at risk. U.N. experts have for years criticized China for sending back North Korean defectors, whom it regards as illegal migrants who flee their country for economic reasons. Hyonhee Shin reports for Reuters.
COVID-19 has infected over 93.75 million people and has now killed over 1.04 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 597.775 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.46 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.