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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.
MAR-A-LAGO DOCUMENTS PROBE
The House Oversight Committee sent a letter to the National Archives requesting a review to determine whether any additional records have been retained by former President Trump at his storage facility in Florida. The letter from the committee’s chair Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) expressed concern that Trump’s storage facility and other properties “may contain presidential records that were not the focus of the search and therefore have not been turned over to the federal government.” Whether this will gain traction is unclear, as Maloney has about two weeks left as chair before the Republicans take over the House in 2023. Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey report for the Washington Post.
JAN. 6 ATTACK AND 2020 ELECTION PROBES
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack will hold its final public meeting on Dec. 19 with its full report to be released on Dec. 21. Panel chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), told reporters that the panel will vote on the final report and will make announcements about criminal referrals to the Justice Department on the 19th. Annie Grayer, Sara Murray and Zachary Cohen report for CNN.
The Justice Department has tried to gain access to Republican Rep. Scott Perry’s (PA) text messages as part of a criminal probe into 2020 election interference. This investigative work, now overseen by special counsel Jack Smith, is significant given that Perry contacted powerful allies of former president Trump, including then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, about his belief that election security was compromised during the 2020 election. Katelyn Polantz reports for CNN.
U.S. officials are planning to expand a program creating a legal process for Venezuelan asylum seekers, to also include Nicaraguans, Cubans, and Haitians. The program would allow migrants from those countries to apply from abroad to fly to the U.S., according to internal government documents and two officials familiar with the plans. The administration hopes that the new program would give migrants in those countries an alternative path into the U.S., reducing attempts to cross the southern border illegally. Michelle Hackman and Alicia A. Caldwell report for the Wall Street Journal.
Nearly 50 African leaders converged in Washington yesterday to begin the three-day U.S. -Africa Leaders Summit. The first day’s meetings were centered on critical topics including the environment, public health, democratic governance and security. President Biden is expected to give speeches today and tomorrow. Edward Wong and Michael Crowley report for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
The U.S. is finalizing plans to send its most advanced ground-based air defense systems to Ukraine, according to U.S. officials. The plans to send the Patriot missile defense system still need to be approved by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin before they are sent to President Biden for his signature. Once the plans are finalized, the Patriots are expected to ship quickly in the coming days and Ukrainians will be trained to use them at a U.S. Army base in Germany. Barbara Starr and Oren Liebermann report for CNN.
Five Russian citizens and two U.S. nationals have been charged in relation to a global procurement and money laundering scheme on behalf of the Russian government. The defendants allegedly conspired to obtain military-grade technologies from U.S. companies for Russia’s defense sector, and to smuggle sniper rifle ammunition, in violation of new U.S. sanctions imposed earlier this year. According to the indictment, they used a global network of shell companies and bank accounts to acquire and ship advanced electronics and equipment to Russia that can be used for “quantum computing, hypersonic and nuclear weapons development and other military and space-based military applications.” The United States Department of Justice reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Ukrainian air defense systems shot down 13 Iranian-made drones fired by Russia over Kyiv yesterday, according to Ukrainian authorities. Debris from the downed drones hit one administrative building and four more residential buildings suffered minor damage, Serhiy Popko, head of Kyiv’s military-civilian administration, said. Roman Olearchyk reports for the Financial Times.
Russian commander Alexander Khodakovsky said yesterday that Russia can’t “defeat the NATO bloc” in Ukraine without using nuclear weapons. Khodakovsky, who is commander of the Russian militia in the Donetsk region, also claimed that Russia is now fighting the entire Western world, which is why nuclear escalation is necessary. Khodakovsky made his comments on state television. Philip Wang reports for CNN.
The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog will maintain a permanent presence at all of Ukraine’s nuclear power stations, the agency and Ukraine’s prime minister said yesterday. The International Atomic Energy Agency already has inspectors stationed at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, and will now install permanent teams of safety and security experts at four other plants, including the defunct Chernobyl plant. Anushka Patil report for the New York Times.
Three Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea were back up and running again yesterday, three days after Russian strikes on the southern city of Odesa forced the ports to shut down. “Port workers resumed loading ships with export agricultural products,” Olena Hiriayeva, a spokeswoman for the organization, told the Ukrinform news agency. Carly Olson reports for the New York Times.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Violent protests spread across Peru yesterday, over the ouster and arrest of leftist former president Pedro Castillo last week. Seven demonstrators, all teenagers, are reported to have died and 15 police injured in fierce clashes in mostly poor regions. Castillo also continues to have international support, as the presidents of Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Bolivia have all insisted that the jailed leader remains the rightful president of this troubled South American nation. Simeon Tegel reports for the Washington Post.
Lawmakers from South Africa’s governing African National Congress (A.N.C) voted not to hold impeachment hearings of President Cyril Ramaphosa. The A.N.C holds 230 of the 400 seats in Parliament, and his opponents fell far short of the 31 A.N.C. members they needed to break ranks and vote for impeachment hearings. John Eligon and Lynsey Chutel report for the New York Times.
Meta, Facebook’s parent company, was accused in a lawsuit yesterday of letting violent and hateful posts from Ethiopia flourish, inflaming the Ethiopian civil war. The lawsuit, filed by two Ethiopian researchers and the Kenyan Katiba Institute rights group, alleges that Facebook’s recommendations systems amplified violent posts in Ethiopia. The lawsuit also claims that Meta failed to exercise reasonable care in training its algorithms to identify dangerous posts and in hiring staff to police content for the languages covered by its regional moderation hub in Nairobi. Katie Paul and Ayenat Mersie report for Reuters.
A Paris court found eight people guilty of aiding the attacker who killed 86 people in a 2016 truck rampage in southern France. The prison sentences ranged from 2 – 18 years, with the most severe handed down for “terrorist criminal association.” None of those convicted had been charged with having participated in the attack or having been direct accomplices. Rick Noack reports for the Washington Post.
The German prince accused of organizing a plot to overthrow the German government met at least once with Russian diplomats at a consulate in Germany, according to people familiar with the investigation. Investigators are now trying to determine to what extent the prince tried to involve Moscow in the plot. These details, and others, were disclosed by police to German lawmakers during closed briefings on Monday evening. Erika Solomon reports for the New York Times.
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.