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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.
JAN. 6 ATTACK & 2020 ELECTION PROBES
When the National Archives handed Trump White House records to the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, some of the documents had been ripped up and then taped back together, according to people familiar with the matter. The National Archives confirmed then President Trump’s unusual habit of ripping up presidential documents, which forced aides to attempt to piece them back together in order to comply with the Presidential Records Act. Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, Amy Gardner and Tom Hamburger report for the Washington Post.
Federal authorities have arrested five members of a militia alleged to be run by a former Republican House candidate in connection with the Jan. 6 attack. Four of the people face a felony count of civil disorder, while one faces two misdemeanor counts. All of those arrested refer to themselves as members of the “B Squad”, a Three Percenters subgroup associated with Jeremy Liggett, who was briefly a Republican candidate for a House seat in Florida. Ryan J. Reilly reports for NBC News.
Rep. Scott Perry, a Republican ally of former President Trump, has sued the Justice Department for taking his cellphone, seeking a court order blocking prosecutors from reviewing its contents. The lawmaker from Pennsylvania is under investigation for his possible role in the efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. In the lawsuit, Perry’s lawyers argue that messages on the phone are protected by the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause, which shields lawmakers from questioning about legislative acts. After filing the case, Perry’s lawyer’s told a judge they were in talks with the Justice Department about resolving the dispute out of court. The judge agreed to put Perry’s case on hold while those discussions played out. Jan Wolfe reports for the Washington Post.
RETURN OF TRUMP-ERA PRESIDENTIAL RECORDS
Presidential records stored in then-President Trump’s White House residence were not returned to the National Archives in the final days of his term despite Archive officials being told by a Trump lawyer that the documents should be given back. This is according to an email from the top lawyer at the record-keeping agency. “It is also our understanding that roughly two dozen boxes of original presidential records were kept in the Residence of the White House over the course of President Trump’s last year in office and have not been transferred to NARA, despite a determination by Pat Cipollone in the final days of the administration that they need to be,” wrote Gary Stern, the agency’s chief counsel, in an email to Trump lawyers in May 2021. The email shows that both National Archive officials and Trump lawyers had concerns about Trump taking the documents even before he left the White House. Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany report for the Washington Post.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The Biden administration released a Trump-era memo yesterday which outlined the Justice Department’s reasoning for proclaiming that then-President Trump could not be charged over his efforts to impede the Mueller investigation. The March 2019 memo, delivered to the attorney general at the time, William P. Barr, concluded that none of Trump’s actions chronicled in the report by the special counsel, Robert Mueller could be shown beyond a reasonable doubt to be criminal acts. The memo’s release is largely significant for historical reasons. While Barr immediately pronounced Trump cleared of any obstruction of justice offense, he never discussed in detail his rationale for rejecting many of the episodes in the Mueller report. Mark Mazzetti, Michael S. Schmidt and Charlie Savage report for the New York Times.
The school board in Uvalde, TX, has fired its school police chief, Pete Arredondo, in response to the deadly mass shooting at an elementary school earlier this year. The unanimous vote, which Arredondo, through his lawyer, called “an unconstitutional public lynching,” represented the first direct accountability over what has been widely seen as a deeply flawed police response which left trapped and wounded students and teachers waiting for rescue as police officered delayed their entry. Edgar Sandoval reports for the New York Times.
President Biden has named Kim Cheatle to lead the Secret Service. Cheatle who protected Biden as vice president will be the second woman to lead the agency in its 157-year history. She replaces James M. Murray, who announced his retirement after three years in the role. “When Kim served on my security detail when I was vice president, we came to trust her judgment and counsel,” Biden said in a statement. “She is a distinguished law enforcement professional with exceptional leadership skills.” Michael D. Shear reports for the New York Times.
Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Twitter have removed an influence operation from their networks that promoted U.S. foreign policy interests abroad. This is according to a new report from the Stanford Internet Observatory and research company Graphika. This is the first time that an influence campaign pushing U.S. interests has been discovered and taken down from social media platforms. The operation, which ran for almost five years on eight social networks and messaging apps, promoted the views, values and goals of the United States while attacking the interests of Russia, China, Iran and other countries, the researchers found. Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, said the “country of origin” of the accounts was the United States, while Twitter said the “presumptive countries of origin” for the accounts were the United States and Britain, according to the report. Sheera Frenkel and Tiffany Hsu report for the New York Times.
Twitter’s former chief security officer is set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next month following the public release of his whistleblower complaint alleging “egregious” privacy and security violations at the company. The hearing, announced for Sept. 13, is the first of likely numerous investigations expected by Congress in the coming months, as lawmakers probe the implications of the cybersecurity vulnerability claims Peiter Zatko — a renowned cybersecurity expert — made against his former employer. Rebecca Kern reports for POLITICO.
U.S. RELATIONS -IRAN
As Washington and Tehran edge closer to restoring the 2015 nuclear deal, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid yesterday issued a stark rebuke of the agreement being negotiated. In his strongest public comments against the deal since coming to office in July, Lapid warned that the deal would fail to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon whilst handing Tehran a significant financial boon. He also accused the U.S and its European allies of shifting their negotiating red lines to prevent the talks from collapsing. “Israel is not against any agreement. We are against this agreement, because it is a bad one,” Lapid said. “In our eyes, it does not meet the standards set by President Biden himself: preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state.” Dov Lieber and Laurence Norman report for the Wall Street Journal.
Three U.S. service members were injured in rocket attacks in Syria carried out Wednesday by suspected Iran-backed militants, according to U.S. Central Command. The strikes were the latest in a slew of attacks on American personnel that U.S. officials said were directed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. U.S. forces responded to the strikes using attack helicopters, according to a command release. The response destroyed three vehicles and equipment used to launch some of the rockets, and initial assessments indicate that two or three suspected militants were killed. Lara Seligman reports for POLITICO.
25 people have been killed in strikes in and around a train station in Chaplyne in eastern Ukraine. The strikes, which came as Ukraine celebrated its Independence Day, represent the deadliest attack on civilians in weeks. In addition to the strikes on Chaplyne, Ukrainian officials said that Russians had used cluster munitions in the Kharkiv region in northeastern Ukraine, wounding two civilians, and also in the city of Kryvyi Rih in the south, where the damage was still being assessed. Missiles hit near the central Ukrainian town of Poltava, officials said, as well as in the Kyiv region. No casualties were reported in those strikes. The New York Times reports.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been granted an extension of his pre-arrest bail while police investigate whether he violated anti-terror laws. The news was celebrated by hundreds of Khan’s supporters, who rallied outside the Anti-Terrorism Court in the capital, Islamabad, where the ousted leader’s arrival was met with a heavy security presence. The court extended Khan’s pre-arrest bail until September 1, which means he cannot be arrested before then. Police opened an investigation into Khan this week after he vowed to “take action” against the head of police and a magistrate during a speech in the capital on Saturday. Sophia Saifi, Rhea Mogul and Azaz Syed report for CNN.
A long-awaited U.N. report on Xinjiang may be further delayed, stalling what is seen as a chance to hold China to account for its treatment of Uyghur and other Muslim minority peoples. It was hoped that the report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet would create a turning point for how the international community handle the accounts of survivors and their families. However, the report appears to be bogged down in review, with Bachelet saying her office was “trying” to release it before the end of her term on August 31 as promised in June, but they were still reviewing “substantial input” from China, which she said was granted access to make “factual comments” as per standard procedure. Bachelet has already been accused by human rights groups and academic experts of being soft on Beijing after a controversial visit to China earlier this year. Simone McCarthy reports for CNN.
Taiwan has announced a record jump in defense spending for next year as the self-governing democracy seeks to deter a Chinese military invasion. Because Taiwan is in a period of needing to strengthen and upgrade its military hardware, there is likely to be a few years of double-digit growth in military spending before leveling off, said Wang Kun-Yih, president of the Taiwan International Strategic Study Society. Taiwan’s current strategy to defend against Chinese threats means the main things it needs are new fighter jets, more missiles and larger warships — all of which are expensive. As such, the jump in defense spending is “directly related to China’s incessant military threats,” he said. Christian Shepherd and Alicia Chen report for the Washington Post.
Top Japanese police officials have announced their resignations after an investigation identified security lapses at the political campaign event where former prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot. Itaru Nakamura, the commissioner of Japan’s National Police Agency, took responsibility for the failures and announced his departure, marking a rare move by a national law enforcement official to step down in the aftermath of a local agency’s lapses. The cabinet is expected to accept Nakamura’s resignation Friday. Tomoaki Onizuka, chief of prefectural police in Nara, the city near Osaka where Abe was killed, also announced his resignation but did not say when it would be effective. Three other Nara police executives will face disciplinary measures, including a pay cut. Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Julia Mio Inuma report for the Washington Post.
COVID-19 has infected over 93.90 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 598.676 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.