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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
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack yesterday voted to subpoena former President Trump. The vote marked a dramatic conclusion to yesterday’s public hearing, in which the committee laid out Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election result. “He is the one person at the center of the story of what happened on Jan. 6,” said committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS). “He must be accountable,” Thompson added. “He is required to answer for his actions.” Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer report for the New York Times.
The Secret Service had warnings earlier than previously known that supporters of Trump were plotting an armed attack on Jan. 6, 2021, according to records revealed in yesterday’s public hearing. Secret Service agents in charge of assessing the risks around the protests had been tracking online chats on pro-Trump websites and noted that rallygoers were vowing to bring firearms, target the Capitol for a siege, and even kill Vice President Mike Pence. As early as Dec. 26, 2020, Secret Service officials were sharing one tipster’s warnings about extremist groups coming to the Capitol with murderous plans. The evidence presented at the hearing adds the Secret Service to a long list of national security agencies who received prescient warnings about the assault protesters planned for Jan. 6, yet failed to respond with urgency or cohesion to prevent the attack. Jan. 6 committee member Adam B. Schiff (D-CA) said the new details raise questions about how the agency shared its intelligence and whether officials have been forthright about their knowledge of the warnings. Carol D. Leonnig reports for the Washington Post.
Highlights from the Jan. 6 committee’s ninth public hearing can be watched on NBC News.
The Supreme Court yesterday rejected a request from former President Trump to intervene in the case concerning documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate. The court’s single-sentence order noted no dissents, and the court gave no rationale, saying only that his application to lift a stay issued by a federal appeals court was denied. The order means that the special master in the case, and Trump’s legal team, will not have access to classified documents found at the former president’s estate. Adam Liptak reports for the New York Times.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
A white male teenager fatally shot five people, including an off-duty police officer, in Raleigh, NC, yesterday, according to local authorities. The suspect has been taken into custody, but authorities have not yet disclosed his exact age or a possible motive. Following the shooting Raleigh’s mayor, Mary-Ann Baldwin, made an impassioned speech calling for action to end gun violence. “We have to end this mindless gun violence that is happening in our country,” Baldwin said. “We have to wake up,” she added. “I don’t want other mayors standing here at the podium with their hearts breaking because people in their community died.” Emily Cataneo, Vimal Patel, McKenna Oxenden and Mike Ives report for the New York Times.
New Jersey’s top lawmakers unveiled sweeping gun legislation yesterday that would significantly restrict when and where guns can be carried outside of the home. The bill, which lawmakers touted as “the nation’s strongest measure concerning concealed carry,” would, among other things, require people wanting to carry guns in public to purchase liability insurance. It would also ban guns from being carried in 25 broad categories, including but not limited to government buildings, healthcare facilities, airports, casinos and private properties where the owners have not given express permission to have guns. The proposal was announced by state Senate President Nick Scutari and Gov. Phil Murphy has vowed to sign the measure, which comes in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this year which effectively broadened the scope of who can carry guns in public. Daniel Han reports for POLITICO.
Nikolas Cruz, the gunman who carried out a massacre at his former high school in Parkland, FL, was spared the death penalty yesterday and instead sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In delivering their decision the jurors indicated that prosecutors had convinced them that the 17 killings had been so depraved as to warrant the possibility of the death penalty. But they also indicated that none of the terrible facts about the gunman’s crimes outweighed the circumstances of his deeply troubled life that were the focus of his defense, and so rejected capital punishment. The decision was met with criticism from the families of the victims. Patricia Mazzei and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs report for the New York Times.
Veteran FBI agent Kevin Helson yesterday testified that the Trump Justice Department’s decision in 2020 to release sensitive documents about a bureau informant to a Senate committee examining the bureau’s Russia investigation had damaged national security. Helson’s testimony forms part of the trial of Igor Danchenko, a Russian analyst who is charged with lying to the FBI about matters related to the anti-Trump Steele dossier. Helson told jurors that Danchenko had provided extraordinary assistance for years as a paid FBI informant, before becoming a political target after Attorney General William P. Barr directed the FBI to declassify a redacted report about its three-day interview of Danchenko in 2017 and give it to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time. The testimony by Helson, a witness for the prosecution, represented another setback for the special counsel investigation examining the origins of the FBI inquiry into former President Trump’s ties with Russia. Adam Goldman reports for the New York Times.
Elon Musk is being investigated by federal authorities over his conduct in his $44 billion takeover deal for Twitter, the social media company said in a court filing released yesterday. While the filing said he was under investigation, it did not say what the exact focus of the probes was and which federal authorities are conducting them. Twitter, which sued Musk in July to force him to close the deal, said attorneys for Musk had claimed “investigative privilege” when refusing to hand over documents it had sought. However, Alex Spiro, an attorney for Musk, told Reuters that Twitter’s court filing was a “misdirection” and that “it is Twitter’s executives that are under federal investigation.” Tom Hals and Sheila Dang report for Reuters.
Saudi Arabia has suggested the U.S. asked it to wait a month before it cut oil production, defending a move the White House has heavily criticized as helping Russia’s war in Ukraine. Such a delay in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries Plus supply reduction could have staved off price rises at American pumps until after the midterm elections. The White House pushed back against any suggestion that it made a politically motivated request; National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement early today that it was “categorically false to connect this to U.S. elections.” “It’s always been about the impact on the global economy and impact on families at home and around the world, especially as Putin wages his war against Ukraine,” she added. Alexander Smith, Peter Alexander and Abigail Williams report for NBC News.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has warned the Pentagon that it may stop funding satellite internet terminals in Ukraine unless the U.S. military contributes tens of millions of dollars per month. The Starlink satellite internet terminals made by SpaceX have been a vital source of communication for Ukraine’s military, allowing it to fight and stay connected even as cellular phone and internet networks have been destroyed in its war with Russia. So far roughly 20,000 Starlink satellite units have been donated to Ukraine, with Musk tweeting that the “operation has cost SpaceX $80 million and will exceed $100 million by the end of the year.” However, according to documents obtained by CNN last month SpaceX sent a letter to the Pentagon saying it can no longer continue to fund the Starlink service as it has. The letter also requested that the Pentagon take over funding for Ukraine’s government and military use of Starlink, which SpaceX claims would cost more than $120 million for the rest of the year and could cost close to $400 million for the next 12 months. Alex Marquardt reports for CNN.
Civilians in the illegally occupied Kherson region of Ukraine have been advised to travel to Russia or Crimea. Russia has made the decision “to organize assistance for the departure of residents” of the Kherson region, Russia’s deputy prime minister, Marat Khusnullin, said on Russian state television yesterday. The first civilians fleeing from Kherson are expected to arrive in Russia’s Rostov region on Friday. The decision to ask civilians to evacuate comes as Kyiv’s forces continue to advance south, and has been described by Ukrainian officials as a sign of panic. Matthew Mpoke Bigg reports for the New York Times.
Ukrainian officials have urged the Red Cross (ICRC) to conduct a mission to a notorious prison camp in the illegally occupied Donetsk region. The Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, demanded that the ICRC visit the Olenivka prison within three days. “We just can’t waste more time. Human lives are at stake,” he tweeted. Last month, the Red Cross tried to secure access to the camp, but said it was denied by Russian authorities. In a statement today, the ICRC said: “We want to stress that our teams are ready on the ground – and have been ready for months – to visit the Olenivka penal facility and any other location where POWs are held. However, beyond being granted access by high levels of authority, this requires practical arrangements to materialize on the ground. We cannot access by force a place of detention or internment where we have not been admitted.” Oliver Slow reports for BBC News.
Video footage has emerged showing what appears to be Iranian security forces shooting at fleeing people with a gun mounted on the back of a pick-up truck. In the clip, which has been verified by the BBC Persian service, bangs can be heard as the vehicle chases people in Baneh, in Kurdistan province. Kurdistan has seen a fierce crackdown since mass protests began last month following the death in custody of 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini. Amini had been arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the law requiring women to cover their hair with a hijab, or headscarf. Raffi Berg reports for BBC News.
At least 23 children were killed by security forces during protests in Iran in the last 10 days of September alone, according to a report released by Amnesty International yesterday. In a statement, Amnesty said the “brutal crackdown” by Iranian authorities “on what many in Iran consider an ongoing popular uprising against the Islamic Republic system has involved an all-out attack on child protesters who have courageously taken to the streets in search of a future without political oppression and inequality.” “The child victims include 20 boys, aged between 11 and 17, and three girls, two of whom were 16 years old and one 17 years old,” the statement said. Mohammed Tawfeeq, Jomana Karadsheh and Tara Subramaniam report for CNN.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
The Iraqi Parliament elected Abdul Latif Rashid, 78, a Kurdish British-educated engineer and former minister, as president yesterday. The vote was held less than an hour after Katyusha rockets targeted the heavily guarded Green Zone, where Parliament is based, and other areas of Baghdad, including near the train station. The election of a new president paves the way for the nominee for prime minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, to form a government, breaking the crippling deadlock that has left the country without a new government for the past year. Sudani, a former human rights and labor minister, now has 30 days to present his cabinet choices to Parliament. Jane Arraf reports for the New York Times.
At least 18 Syrian soldiers were killed and dozens more wounded when an explosive device detonated on a military bus in the Damascus countryside yesterday. The bus was hit by a “terrorist bombing using an explosive device that was planted” pre-emptively, Syria’s official state news agency SANA quoted a military source as saying. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack which was one of the deadliest on government forces in recent years. Raya Jalabi reports for the Financial Times.
Algeria has brokered an apparent reconciliation between leading Palestinian factions with the signing of a unification agreement announced yesterday. The agreement calls for presidential and legislative elections in Gaza and the West Bank, including occupied east Jerusalem, within a maximum period of one year from the date of signing the declaration. The last elections in the Palestinian territories were in January 2006. Hamas – which controls Gaza – and Fatah, the leading party in the Palestinian Authority which governs the West Bank, are among 14 Palestinian factions to sign the document. The “Algerian declaration” also calls for a united Palestinian National Council, which Palestinians hope will end years of division. Abeer Salman and Ibrahim Dahman report for CNN.
North Korea launched another short-range ballistic missile on Friday, as well as a barrage of rockets inside a maritime buffer zone near the border with South Korea. Shortly prior to this ten North Korean warplanes flew close enough to the border for Seoul to respond with a show of force by deploying its own warplanes. The missile launch was North Korea’s 26th weapons test this year that involved either ballistic or cruise missiles, more than in any other year, and the sixth such test this month. The combination of missile and rocket tests and air force maneuvers signaled that the North was intent on keeping tensions high on the Korean Peninsula. Choe Sang-Hun reports for the New York Times.
Chinese authorities have strictly censored discussion of a rare protest in Beijing yesterday. The protest, which took place just days before the Communist Party’s national congress, involved large banners hung on an overpass calling for boycotts and the removal of Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Photos of the banners spread on western social media but were quickly removed from platforms behind China’s “Great Firewall.” Posts containing the words “Beijing,” “bridge,” or “Haidian” were strictly controlled, and a song that shared the name of the bridge was taken down from streaming services. On Twitter some users said their accounts had been temporarily disabled on another major Chinese platform, WeChat, after they shared photos of the protest. Helen Davidson reports for the Guardian.
COVID-19 has infected over 96.911 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 623.951 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.57 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.