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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 appeals court yesterday agreed to expedite consideration of the Justice Department’s request to halt an outside review of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago. The Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order setting tighter deadlines in the government’s appeal to remove what prosecutors contend is an unnecessary obstacle to their investigation into potentially illegal retention of classified information, theft of government records and obstruction of justice. The schedule set by the appeals court for legal briefing on the issue is not quite as rapid as the Justice Department proposed, but is faster than Trump’s legal team urged. Under the new schedule, Trump’s lawyers would have to stake out their position in the dispute by Nov. 10 and briefing would be complete by Nov. 17. Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney report for POLITICO.
A detailed list of material seized by the FBI when it searched Mar-a-Lago in August was accidentally made public this week. The list splits the 520 pgs of documents present at Mar-a-Lago into two categories. The first is material related to Trump’s tenure as president, labeled Exhibit A. The second is material that appeared to be subject to attorney-client privilege, labeled Exhibit B. The list shows the breadth of information seized from Mar-a-Lago, ranging from documents related to grants of clemency, to endorsements, to legal fights, to policy proposals. Philip Bump reports for the Washington Post.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
A federal appeals court yesterday ordered a review of Biden administration revisions to a program preventing the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought into the U.S. as children. Texas-based U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen last year declared the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program illegal. He found that the program had not been subjected to public notice and comment periods required under the federal Administrative Procedures Act. However, he left the program temporarily intact for those already benefiting from it, pending the appeal. Yesterday’s ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the judge’s initial finding but orders him to take another look at the program following the revisions adopted in August. The ruling leaves the future of DACA up in the air, with current DACA recipients protected — for now — but new applicants barred. AP reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – ANNEXATION OF UKRAINIAN TERRITORIES
Russia is lobbying for a secret ballot instead of a public vote when the U.N. General Assembly considers whether to condemn its annexation of four regions of Ukraine following so-called “referenda.” Ukraine and its allies have denounced the votes in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia as illegal and coercive. A Western-drafted U.N. General Assembly resolution would condemn Russia’s “illegal so-called referenda” and the “attempted illegal annexation” of the areas where voting occurred. “This a clearly politicized and provocative development aimed at deepening the divide in the General Assembly and bring its membership further apart,” Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia wrote in a letter to U.N. He argued that a secret ballot was needed because Western lobbying meant that “it may be very difficult if positions are expressed publicly.” Michelle Nichols reports for Reuters.
Just Security has published a piece by Jens Iverson, Stop Saying “Annexed Territories”: Alternatives to the Bully’s Term.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – ZAPORIZHZHIA
Russia has carried out a deadly spate of missile attacks on the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia. One woman was killed and seven people, including a 3-year-old girl, were hospitalized. Authorities are still working to rescue people from the rubble. The attacks come just hours after the Kremlin said it was formally seizing the nearby Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Olga Voitovych and Joshua Berlinger report for CNN.
The director of the U.N.s’ nuclear watchdog plans to visit Kyiv today to continue talks about establishing a nuclear safety zone at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a Tweet that this goal had become “more urgent than ever” since Russia said it would seize operational control of the plant. Grossi will also visit Russia later in the week, according to a statement released by the agency. Carly Olson reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – ENERGY CRISIS
Saudi Arabia and Russia, acting as leaders of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Plus (OPEC Plus) energy cartel, agreed yesterday to their first large production cut in more than two years in a bid to raise prices. The decision was met with criticism from President Biden and European leaders, who have urged more oil production to ease gasoline prices and punish Moscow for its aggression in Ukraine. “The president is disappointed by the shortsighted decision by OPEC Plus to cut production quotas while the global economy is dealing with the continued negative impact of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” the director of the National Economic Council, Brian Deese, and National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, said in a statement. Stanley Reed reports for the New York Times.
The Biden administration is preparing to scale down sanctions on Venezuela’s authoritarian regime to allow Chevron Corp. to resume pumping oil there. In exchange for the significant sanctions relief, the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro would resume long-suspended talks with the country’s opposition to discuss conditions needed to hold free and fair presidential elections in 2024, people familiar with the proposal said. U.S. officials said details are still under discussion and cautioned that the deal could fall through because it is contingent on Maduro’s top aides resuming talks with the opposition in good faith. A deal would pave the way for a potential reopening of U.S. and European markets to oil exports from Venezuela and could serve as part of a longer-term strategy for countries trying to secure new energy sources as Russia’s war in Ukraine continues. Vivian Salama and Kejal Vyas report for the Wall Street Journal.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
U.S. intelligence agencies believe parts of the Ukrainian government authorized the assassination of Daria Dugina, the daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist. Dugina was killed in a car bomb attack in August, as part of a covert campaign that U.S. officials fear could widen the conflict. The U.S. took no part in the attack, either by providing intelligence or other assistance, officials said. U.S. officials also said they were not aware of the operation ahead of time and would have opposed the killing had they been consulted. Afterward, U.S. officials admonished Ukrainian officials over the assassination, they said. Julian E. Barnes, Adam Goldman, Adam Entous and Michael Schwirtz report for the New York Times.
Russian-speaking hackers yesterday claimed responsibility for knocking offline state government websites in a number of states including Colorado, Kentucky, and Mississippi. The hacking group claiming responsibility, known as Killnet, has stepped up its activity after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to target organizations in NATO countries. Whilst the hackers are politically motivated and support the Kremlin, their ties to the Russian government are unknown. The group also claimed responsibility for briefly downing a U.S. Congress website in July, and for cyberattacks on organizations in Lithuania after the Baltic country blocked the shipment of some goods to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad in June. Sean Lyngaas reports for CNN.
U.S RELATIONS – NORTH KOREA
North Korea has launched two more short-range ballistic missiles, the sixth such launch in 12 days. They were launched from near Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, toward the waters off the east coast, according to the South Korean military. In a statement issued just before the latest strikes, the North Korean Foreign Ministry has said the tests were “just counteraction measures” against the joint military drills the U.S. conducted with its allies last month, and accused its enemies of “unwarrantedly” referring it to the U.N. Security Council. North Korea “is watching the U.S. posing a serious threat to the stability of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity,” the statement said. Motoko Rich and Choe Sang-Hun report for the New York Times.
A U.S. Navy aircraft carrier strike group is moving into waters off the Korean Peninsula, as tensions flare following a spate of North Korean missile launches over the past two weeks. South Korea’s National Security Council called the redeployment of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan a “very unusual” move meant “to demonstrate the resolute will of the S.K.-U.S. alliance to respond decisively to any provocation or threat from North Korea.” Brad Lendon, Yoonjung Seo, and Caitlin Hu report for CNN.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – CHINA
Chinese fighter jets or drones that intrude into Taiwan’s territorial airspace will be regarded as a “first strike,” Taiwan’s Defense Minister warned yesterday. Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng made the remarks while addressing lawmakers on the threats posed by China’s recent spate of escalatory measures, which has seen Chinese warplanes and drones fly near to the self-governing island. “In the past, we said we won’t be the first to strike, which meant we will not fire the first shot without [China] firing artillery shells or missiles first,” Chiu Kuo-cheng said. “But now the definition has obviously changed, as China used means such as drones. So we have adjusted, and will view any crossing of aerial entities [into Taiwan’s territorial airspace] as a first strike,” Chiu said during a meeting of the Legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee. Wayne Chang and Brad Lendon report for CNN.
Ahead of this month’s communist party congress, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has sent a stark warning against disloyalty to the top ranks of the ruling party. In the weeks leading up to the congress, in which Xi is expected to secure a third term as party leader, China’s courts have orchestrated a series of high-profile corruption trials of senior cadres from the state’s police and security apparatus. Death sentences were last week handed down to Fu Zhenghua, Xi’s former justice minister, Sun Lijun, the former deputy minister of public security, and Wang Like, a former top official in Jiangsu. Jail terms of more than 10 years were also issued to other former police and security chiefs. “This clearly was a warning . . . against overt acts of factionalism and disobeying Xi Jinping diktats in the run-up to the 20th party congress, and beyond,” said Victor Shih, professor of Chinese political economy at the University of California, San Diego. Edward White reports for the Financial Times.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
A former police officer opened fire at a child-care center in Thailand on Thursday, killing more than 30 people, including 24 children. The gunman, identified by the police as Panya Kamrab, 34, shot and stabbed children at the child-care center, some as young as 2, the local television station, Thairath TV, reported, citing the local police. He then fatally shot himself and his wife and child. Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered government agencies to help the injured, said an acting spokesperson at the prime minister’s office. Sui-Lee Wee reports for the New York Times.
Gunmen have shot dead the mayor of a small town in western Mexico, and at least 17 others, according to local police and officials. Mayor Conrado Mendoza Almeda’s left-wing PRD party condemned his “cowardly” assassination and demanded justice. The attack has been blamed on the Los Tequileros criminal gang, which is linked to a powerful drug cartel. A highway in the state of Guerrero, where the town of San Miguel Totolapan lies, was reportedly briefly blocked by large vehicles to prevent security forces from getting into the city. Nathan Williams reports for BBC News.
COVID-19 has infected over 96.552 million people and has now killed over 1.06 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 619.926 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.55 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
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.