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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.
Kevin McCarthy has again stepped up negotiations with Republican detractors, after failing to win support after a third day of House speaker votes. People familiar with the negotiations have indicated that the discussions center on concession over how Congress operates, including the ability to amend legislation and how and when lawmakers vote on spending bills, as well as how many far-right members get to serve on top committees. The House will reconvene at noon EST for a fresh round of votes. Natalie Andrews, Eliza Collins, and Siobhan Hughes report for the Wall Street Journal.
House Republicans’ inability to elect a speaker could continue to have an impact on U.S. national security oversight. Amongst other things, the hold-up means that representatives are not yet officially members of Congress and therefore do not have the requisite permission to see or discuss classified materials. This has prompted a statement from the presumptive chairs of the Intelligence, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs panels, who expressed concern that the delay is enabling the Biden administration to operate without sufficient checks and balances. Lee Hudson, Nahal Toosi, Daniel Lippman and Lara Seligman report for POLITICO.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
A federal judge has ordered former President Trump to give the government the names of the private investigators who searched his properties late last year for any remaining classified documents. The ruling in favor of the Justice Department appears to be a step towards the department questioning the investigators about their efforts, two people familiar with the matter said. Alan Feuer reports for the New York Times.
The partner of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick who died following the Jan. 6 attack has filed a lawsuit against Trump and two men accused of assaulting Sicknick during the attack. The suit, which seeks at least $10 million in damages, argues that the officer’s death was a “direct and foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s unlawful actions.” Chris Cameron reports for the New York Times.
President Biden yesterday announced a far-reaching crackdown on people who enter the U.S. by illegally crossing the border with Mexico. In remarks at the White House Biden said his administration would deny people from Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Haiti the chance to apply for asylum if they crossed the Mexican border without authorization between official ports of entry. In an attempt to offset the humanitarian impact of these new restrictions, Biden also announced that as many as 30,000 people per month from the four countries would be given the chance to migrate legally to the U.S.. However, this option will only be available to those able to afford a plane ticket, get a sponsor, download an app, and pass a background check, among other requirements. Michael D. Shear, Eileen Sullivan and Miriam Jordan report for the New York Times.
A U.S. warship sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait yesterday. While the U.S. military said this was part of routine activity, China issued a statement firmly opposing the move and urging the U.S. to “immediately stop provoking troubles, escalating tensions and undermining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.” Reuters reports.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
Russia yesterday announced a 36-hour cease-fire in Ukraine. The cease-fire would coincide with the Eastern Orthodox Christmas and would be the broadest truce since Russia’s invasion. Both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy and President Biden have expressed skepticism about the cease-fire, which began at noon local time and will end tomorrow at midnight. Anatoly Kurmanaev reports for the New York Times.
Both the U.S. and Germany have said they will send armored vehicles to Ukraine. They also plan to join together to supply Kyiv with a second Patriot missile battery, according to a joint statement released yesterday following a phone between Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Erika Solomon and John Ismay report for the New York Times.
The Belarusian Ministry of Defense announced that it is continuing to increase its joint military grouping with Russia in Belarus. “Personnel, weapons, military and special equipment of the armed forces of the Russian Federation will continue to arrive to the Republic of Belarus,” the ministry said in a statement. The ministry also announced upcoming joint air force exercises between the two countries. Uliana Pavlova and Sarah Dean report for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
The first group of Russian prisoners recruited to fight in Ukraine has been pardoned, the head of Russia’s paramilitary Wagner Group said yesterday. This is according to a report by Russian state news agency RIA, which published a video showing Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin congratulating about two dozen men for completing their military contracts. It is unclear whether the pardons are real as under the Russian Constitution only the president can pardon a prisoner. Anatoly Kurmanaev and Alina Lobzina report for the New York Times.
Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the possibility of negotiations with Ukraine depended on Kyiv accepting “new territorial realities.” This is according to a statement from the Kremlin, released after a phone call between the two leaders. According to a Turkish government readout, Erdogan urged peace and negotiations, saying they should be supported by a unilateral declaration of ceasefire and a vision of “a fair solution.” Uliana Pavlova and Ipek Yezdani report for CNN.
A U.N. fact-finding mission to the Olenivka prison complex is being disbanded due to a lack of necessary security guarantees. Dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed in an explosion at the complex in July, with Russia and Ukraine both blaming the other side. This latest development means there is unlikely to be an independent account of what happened at the complex. Anushka Patil reports for the New York Times.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
More than 20 have been killed and 30 wounded in a twin-car bombing in central Somalia, a Somali official said yesterday. The two explosions hit a residential area of Mahas, a town in the Hiran region. The Al Shabab, an extremist group affiliated with Al Qaeda, quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, asserting that they had killed 87 people, including military officials and soldiers. Abdi Latif Dahir reports for the New York Times.
Mexican authorities announced yesterday that they had captured Ovido Guzmán the son of drug lord “El Chapo” in an early morning operation in Culiacán. The arrest of Guzmán, who the U.S. State Department has previously described as a “high-ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel,” comes ahead of next week’s North American Leaders Summit, which will see President Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visit the country. Fidel Gutierrez, Mitchell McCluskey, Tara John and Elizabeth Plaza report for CNN.
The Taliban has signed a deal with a Chinese company to extract oil from northern Afghanistan. The agreement with China’s Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum and Gas Co is the first major international energy extraction deal the Taliban has signed since taking control of Afghanistan in 2021. The contract was signed in Kabul in the presence of the Taliban’s Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and the Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan, Wang Yu. Diksha Madhok, Ehsan Popalzai and Masoud Popalzai report for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected over 101.044 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 662.428 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 7.51 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.