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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.
Twitter dissolved its Trust and Safety Council last night, hours before they were set to meet with Twitter executives. Members of the council received an email informing them that the council was no longer “the best structure” to bring “external insights into our product and policy development work.” The council was made up of civil rights leaders, academics, and advocates from around the world, who had volunteered for years to help improve safety on the platform. Cat Zakrzewski, Joseph Menn and Naomi Nix report for the Washington Post.
Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was arrested yesterday in the Bahamas. His arrest came after U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges against him. According to a person with knowledge of the matter, the charges include wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy and money laundering. David Yaffe-Bellany, William K. Rashbaum, and Matthew Goldstein report for the New York Times.
For the first time ever, U.S. scientists have successfully produced a nuclear fusion reaction resulting in a net energy gain. The U.S. Department of Energy is expected to announce the “major scientific breakthrough” today. The development is a massive step in the pursuit of a limitless, zero-carbon source of energy that could help end reliance on fossil fuels. Ella Nilsen and René Marsh report for CNN.
The FBI said yesterday that hate crimes in the U.S. fell in 2021, but acknowledged that the data was far less complete than in previous years. Only 63% of law-enforcement agencies reported their numbers to the federal government in 2021, compared with 81% in 2020. The FBI blamed the low participation on the transition to a new crime-data reporting system, adding that the Justice Department had been working to help agencies with the transition. Dan Frosch and Zusha Elinson report for the Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. Air Force carried out the first successful test of its complete air-launched hypersonic missile, the Air Force said in a statement. A full prototype of the Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon was launched from a B-52 off the coast of California on Friday. The program previously suffered a series of setbacks due to testing failures, which the Air Force described as “anomalies.” Oren Liebermann reports for CNN.
JAN. 6 ATTACK AND 2020 ELECTION PROBES
Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed to lead the Justice Department’s investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, has issued a subpoena to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The subpoena asks Raffensperger to provide documents; it is not a request for him to appear or testify in person, said a source familiar with the matter. Smith has also sent subpoenas to local officials in key presidential swing states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. Rebecca Shabad, Charlie Gile, Blayne Alexander and Natasha Korecki report for NBC News.
Appeals court judges yesterday considered a challenge to a key felony charge that prosecutors have wielded against Jan. 6 defendants. A defense attorney for some of those involved in the Jan. 6 attack argued that the way prosecutors have charged defendants with felony obstruction could be deployed against peaceful protestors. However, the judges disputed his contention, highlighting the unique nature of the Capitol attack that lent itself to unique charging decisions. Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney report for POLITICO.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Group of Seven (G7) leaders yesterday pledged to give “unwavering support” to Ukraine by promising to boost the country with military and air defense systems. In a statement, the leaders also condemned Russia’s ongoing “war of aggression,” and committed to holding Russian President Vladimir Putin and those responsible “to account in accordance with international law.” Inke Kappeler reports for CNN.
During a virtual meeting yesterday Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged G7 leaders to support his idea of convening a special Global Peace Summit to bring peace to Ukraine. The summit would be focused on the implementation of Kyiv’s 10-point peace plan that insists on, among other things, Russia’s withdrawal of all its troops from Ukraine and no territorial concessions on Kyiv’s part. Reuters reports.
The E.U. announced new sanctions against eight Iranian individuals and entities over their role in supplying drones to Russia. In a statement, the E.U. condemned Iran’s military partnership with Russia as a gross violation of international law, saying that Iranian-made drones had been used “indiscriminately by Russia against Ukrainian civilian population and infrastructure.” Anushka Patil reports for the New York Times.
French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting a conference of world leaders and French businesses eager to help in Ukraine’s reconstruction in the short and longer term. The meeting, which will take place today, is aimed at addressing Ukraine’s immediate needs: repairing its energy grid and ensuring that its residents have access to food and water. Catherine Porter and Liz Alderman report for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
U.S. officials met yesterday to discuss the next steps in securing the release of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan from Russian custody. U.S. officials have been in frequent communication with Russia about securing Whelan’s release, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said, adding that administration officials “will have an engagement” with Russia this week. Reuters reports.
A U.S. shipment of power equipment worth $13 mil is on its way to Ukraine, with a handover expected in Poland. The shipment is part of the Biden administration’s effort to help rebuild Ukraine’s electrical grid. Kelsey Ables and Victoria Bisset report for the Washington Post.
President Biden said yesterday that there are no plans to send U.S. troops to Ukraine. The U.S. will, however, continue to send “material,” Biden told reporters. DJ Judd and Betsy Klein report for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Russian President Vladimir Putin has canceled his annual press conference for the first time in a decade. According to the U.K.’s Defense Ministry, the decision to cancel was “likely due to concerns about the prevalence of anti-war feeling in Russia.” “Kremlin officials are almost certainly extremely sensitive about the possibility that any event attended by Putin could be hijacked by unsanctioned discussion about the ‘special military operation,” the ministry added. AP reports.
President Biden is planning a multi-country trip to Africa next year and is expected to announce the trip at this week’s U.S.-Africa summit. During the summit, Biden will also highlight his support for an African seat on the U.N. Security Council and will announce that he wants the African Union to join the Group of 20 as a permanent member. Dave Lawler and Hans Nichols report for Axios.
The Justice Department is not able to seek the death penalty for the Libyan official charged in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, a federal prosecutor told a judge yesterday. Abu Agela Mas’ud Kheir al-Marimi faces two different criminal charges, including destruction of an aircraft resulting in death. Prosecutors told Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather that while the charges Mas’ud faces now are punishable by death, they were not eligible for the death penalty in 1988. Perry Stein reports for the Washington Post.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Supporters of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attempted to invade the federal police headquarters in the capital Brasilia. The violence was sparked after a Bolsonaro supporter was detained for allegedly organizing violent “anti-democratic acts.” Earlier on Monday, the federal electoral court certified the Oct. 30 election victory of Bolsonaro’s rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The certification drew crowds of Bolsonaro supporters, with some calling for “military intervention” to stop the transfer of power. Ueslei Marcelino and Victor Borges report for Reuters.
Belgian authorities searched offices at the European Parliament yesterday, as part of their investigation into alleged bribes from Qatar. Four people have been charged in connection with the investigation, including European Parliament Vice-President Eva Kaili, a Greek MEP. The three other suspects are all Italian citizens, and searches have also taken place in Italy. BBC News reports.
China has sent a record 18 nuclear-capable H-6 bomber aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense zone, the island’s Defense Ministry has said. The 18 bombers were part of 21 total Chinese warplanes sent into Taiwan’s southwest air defense identification zone in the span of 24 hours, according to the ministry. Wayne Chang and Jessie Yeung report for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected over 99.470 million people and has now killed over 1.08 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 649.934 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.65 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.