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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.
House Republicans failed to elect a Speaker yesterday, with Representative Kevin McCarthy falling short in three rounds of votes. The election has exposed deep fractures within the Republican party – McCarthy is the first majority party leader in a century to falter in the first ballot. The House is set to convene at noon EST to resume voting. Lauren Fedor reports for the Financial Times.
Republican Representative-elect George Santos admitted to using stolen checks in Brazil in 2008, according to case documents. In a police interview in 2010, Santos confessed to forging a signature on two checks to purchase clothes and shoes costing $1,313.63 on the date of the forgery. Law enforcement officials in Brazil had suspended the investigation into Santos for almost a decade, but have now reinstated the fraud charges. AnneClaire Stapleton, Julia Vargas Jones and Marcia Reverdosa report for CNN.
New York’s Attorney General asked the Supreme Court yesterday to allow a new state law that places restrictions on carrying concealed firearms to stay in effect while legal challenges play out. The dispute relates to the “Concealed Carry Improvement Act,” which was introduced after New York’s prior concealed carry gun law was struck down by the Supreme Court. Last fall, a district court blocked key provisions of the new law. However, a federal appeals court put that decision on hold and ordered expedited consideration of the matter. The Supreme Court will not consider the merits of the case, only whether to lift the appeal court order pending appeal. Ariane de Vogue reports for CNN.
New York City subway shooting defendant Frank James pleaded guilty yesterday to terrorism and gun charges. James told the court that while he did not want to kill anyone during the attack on April. 12 he was “fully aware of the fact that a death or deaths could occur with my discharging of the firearm.” At his sentencing, James said he plans to make a statement expressing remorse. James Fanelli reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Twitter is planning to expand the political advertising it allows on the platform, in the latest policy change by new owner Elon Musk. Most political ads have been banned from Twitter since 2019, but in the coming weeks, the company will align its “advertising police with that of TV and other media outlets,” according to tweets from the Twitter safety account. Meghan Bobrowsky reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty yesterday to criminal charges over the collapse of FTX, the crypto exchange he founded. The eight charges against Bankman-Fried include wire fraud, conspiracy to commit commodities and securities fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and campaign finance violations. His trial was tentatively set for Oct. 2. Scott Chipolina and Joe Miller report for the Financial Times.
U.S. regulators have issued their first-ever joint warning to banks over the risks associated with the cryptocurrency market. In the joint statement, the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency told financial institutions to be wary of potential fraud, legal uncertainty, and misleading disclosures by digital asset firms. They also said they were closely monitoring the crypto activity of banking organizations. Annabelle Liang reports for BBC News.
In a new book, the former chief of the Capitol Police has criticized federal intelligence officials and the military for their response to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. According to Steven Sund, who was the Capitol Police chief during the attack, the intelligence in the possession of the FBI, the Homeland Security Department and the Defense Department should have had those agencies “seeing red,” but they instead failed to warn the Capitol Police. He also criticized the military’s slow response to the siege, revealing how he was met with delays as he pleaded with the military to deploy the National Guard to the Capitol. Luke Broadwater reports for the New York Times.
The U.S. is coordinating with South Korea to respond to “a range of scenarios” from North Korea, including the possible use of nuclear weapons by the North. However, the two allies are “not discussing joint nuclear exercises,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a press briefing. Olivia Olander reports for POLITICO.
U.S. officials “have had direct conversations with Russian officials regarding Paul Whelan,” since the release of Brittney Griner from Russian detention, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said yesterday. Whelan was arrested in Moscow in December 2018 on espionage charges, which he had vehemently denied. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison in June 2020. Jennifer Hansler reports for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – MAKIIVKA STRIKE
The “mass use” of cell phones by soldiers was the “main reason” for the New Year’s Day attack on the eastern Ukrainian city of Makiivka, Russia’s Defense Ministry has said. Some Russian lawmakers and military bloggers have pushed back against the assignment of blame, calling it an attempt by the Russian military to fault the rank and file rather than their commanders. Victoria Kim reports for the New York Times.
The Russian Defense Ministry has acknowledged that 89 Russian troops died in the Makiivka strike. Moscow had previously put the death toll at 63. The Guardian reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
Investigators have discovered an alleged Russian torture chamber in a village in the Mykolaiv region, Ukrainian authorities said yesterday. This adds to the more than 50 similar sites found in territory recaptured from Moscow’s forces. Andrea Kannapell reports for the New York Times.
Ukraine wants the U.N. to send peacekeepers to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant even without a deal with Russia to establish a safety zone there, the head of Ukraine’s state nuclear power company has said. This is the first time a Ukraine nuclear official has suggested publicly peacekeepers should be deployed in the absence of an agreement to create a safety zone at the plant. Timothy Gardner reports for Reuters.
A summit between Ukraine and the E.U. will take place in Kyiv on Feb. 3. This is according to a statement from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy’s office. The statement says that Zelenskyy and E.U. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had discussed the upcoming summit and “agreed to intensify preparatory work.” Nicolas Camut reports for POLITICO.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Two car bombs killed at least nine civilians in central Somalia, security officials and witnesses said. Al-Shaba, an al-Qaeda affiliate, claimed responsibility for the attack in Hiran, which came after the group was pushed out of the region by government forces. Al Jazeera reports.
The Chinese navy’s massive new aircraft carrier, the CNS Fujian, is expected to undergo its first sea trial soon, according to the ship’s executive officer. The Fujian is the largest warship China has ever built and bringing it into operation was a key aspect of the People’s Liberation Army’s naval objectives. Brad Lendon reports for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected over 100.759 million people and has now killed over 1.09 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 661.401 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.69 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.