Signup to receive the Early Edition in your inbox here.
A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
The House yesterday approved the formation of the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. The panel will oversee a wide-ranging investigation into federal law enforcement and national security agencies, as Republicans promise to use their power in Congress to scrutinize what they say was a concerted effort by the government to silence and punish conservatives. Luke Broadwater and Catie Edmondson report for the New York Times.
President Biden said he was “surprised” to learn in November that his lawyers had found classified government documents in his former office at a think-tank in Washington. Speaking a day after the White House acknowledged the discovery, Biden said that he takes “classified documents seriously” and that his team had immediately contacted the National Archives to turn over the materials. The Justice Department is now considering how to proceed. Glenn Thrush and Charlie Savage report for the New York Times.
The new Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee has said the panel is launching an investigation into how a set of classified documents ended up at Biden’s former office. “The Committee is concerned that President Biden has compromised sources and methods with his own mishandling of classified documents,” Rep. James Comer (R – KY), wrote in a letter to the White House requesting copies of the documents by Jan. 24. Annie Linskey reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Former Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg was sentenced to five months in prison yesterday for his role in the company’s tax fraud scheme. Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty, also paid over $2 million in taxes and penalties and will be on probation for five years. Tom Winter, Adam Reiss, Chloe Atkins and Dareh Gregorian report for NBC News.
The Justice Department yesterday charged Trevor Bickford with four counts of attempted murder in relation to the New Year’s Eve machete attack on three New York police officers. Bickford, who was motivated by Islamic extremism, “targeted the iconic yearly celebration to carry out a brazen act of violence and hatred in the name of jihad,” said Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Sadie Gurman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
During yesterday’s North American Leaders’ Summit, the Biden administration rolled out additional measures to keep migrants from journeying to the U.S.-Mexico border. The latest efforts are designed to curb border crossings while making programs to legally migrate to the U.S., Mexico, and Canada more accessible, according to a senior administration official. The measures include a virtual platform that will serve as a one-stop shop for migrants to find information about legal pathways they might be eligible for – either in the U.S., Mexico or Canada – and the opening of a new resource center in southern Mexico, the official said. Priscilla Alvarez reports for CNN.
The U.S. and Japan are set to deepen their strategic partnership in an effort to counter China. This week the two allies will announce the repurposing of a Marine Corps regiment based in Okinawa, which will be equipped with advanced capabilities, such as anti-ship missiles that could be fired at Chinese ships in the event of a Taiwan conflict. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is also set to meet with President Biden in Washington. Ellen Nakashima and Dan Lamothe report for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – FIGHTING
The Russian paramilitary organization Wagner Group claimed victory in the eastern Ukrainian town of Soledar yesterday. The claim that the town is now under the control of Wagner Group mercenaries could not be verified and was rejected by Ukrainian officials. However, prior to the emergence of Wagner Group’s claims, the U.K. defense ministry said Russian forces and the Wagner Group were likely in control of most of Soledar. Megan Specia, Ivan Nechepurenko and Matthew Mpoke Bigg report for the New York Times.
The Kremlin has tempered the Wagner Group’s announcement on the capture of Soledar. Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that whilst there is a “positive trend,” “success in military operations will be achieved when we fulfill the goals set by the Supreme Commander [Putin].” Anna Chernova and Seb Shukla report for CNN.
Russia’s artillery fire is down nearly 75% from its wartime high, U.S. officials have said. Whilst U.S. and Ukrainian officials don’t yet have a clear explanation for this, the striking decline is further evidence of Russia’s increasingly weak position on the battlefield nearly a year into its invasion. Natasha Bertrand, Oren Liebermann, Alex Marquardt report for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
The U.S. will train roughly 100 Ukrainian troops to use the Patriot missile system at a U.S. military base, the Pentagon said yesterday. The training, which will take place at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, will begin as early as next week and will take several months. Nancy A. Youssef reports for the Wall Street Journal.
There has been a “substantive” change in the type of weaponry the U.S. and its allies are providing to Ukraine, according to two senior U.S. officials. This change reflects the nature of the battlefield in Eastern Ukraine and a belief that Ukraine sees a window to regain territory before Russia regroups. One official also noted that reservations about sending more capable systems have been tempered by Ukraine’s decision to abide by limitations on the use of the weapons provided by the West so far. Jim Sciutto reports for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE- OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
More than 200 Russian doctors yesterday signed a petition to Russian President Vladimir Putin urging him to give medical care to prominent opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, who is currently in jail. In the letter, doctors from across Russia said they cannot stand aside and watch how Mr. Navalny’s health is being “deliberately harmed.” The letter, published by Aleksei Polupan, an anesthesiologist, and Aleksandr Vanyukov, a surgeon, is a rare example of public criticism against the Kremlin in post-invasion Russia. Ivan Nechepurenko reports for the New York Times.
Russian President Vladimir Putin secretly pardoned dozens of convicts even before they were sent to fight in Ukraine, a member of Russia’s Human Rights Council said. Citing convicts’ family members, Human Rights Council member Eva Merkacheva said the pardons were signed in early July, around the same time the first men who accepted mercenary contracts were being transported to Ukraine. The revelation indicates legal flaws in the recruitment strategy that promised jail criminals that their sentences would be set aside only after they had completed military service. Mary Ilyushina reports for the Washington Post.
Peru’s top prosecutor has launched an inquiry into President Dina Boluarte and key ministers over weeks of violent clashes following the ouster of former President Pedro Castillo. Boluarte, Prime Minister Alberto Otárola, and the country’s defense and interior ministers are being investigated on charges of “genocide, qualified homicide and serious injuries,” the attorney general’s office announced yesterday. BBC News reports.
The killings of 17 civilians and one police officer in the Peruvian city of Juliaca have drawn widespread criticism of Peruvian security forces. Jennie Dador, executive secretary of the National Human Rights Coordinator of Peru, an accountability group, blamed “indiscriminate use of force,” for the deaths, calling them “extrajudicial killings.” The clashes in Juliaca raise the death toll since Castillo’s ouster to 47. Mitra Taj, Julie Turkewitz and Genevieve Glatsky report for the New York Times.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Brazil’s Supreme Court has ordered the arrest of two government security officials in relation to Sunday’s riots. Arrest warrants were issued for Anderson Torres, the secretary in charge of public security in the capital, and Fábio Vieira, the commander of the military police in Brasília at the time of the siege. Separately, a top public prosecutor asked a federal court to freeze the assets of former President Bolsonaro in relation to the investigation into the riots. Ana Ionova, André Spigariol and Jack Nicas report for the New York Times.
Six people were injured in an attack at Paris’s Gare du Nord, one of the capital’s busiest train stations. The attack was carried out with a homemade bladed weapon and is not being treated as a terrorist attack, French authorities said. The suspect was shot and arrested by police present at the scene. Aurelien Breeden reports for the New York Times.
Tigrayan forces in northern Ethiopia have started handing over heavy weapons in line with a peace deal to end the civil war in the country. Armored tanks, rockets, and mortars were among the weapons transferred by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front to the federal army yesterday, the Ethiopian military’s Lt-Col Aleme Tadele was quoted by local media as saying. The move was hailed by the African Union as a “step in the right direction.” Kalkidan Yibeltal reports for BBC News.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo yesterday acknowledged a series of human rights violations that took place in the country over the past 6 decades. At a news conference outside the presidential palace in Jakarta, Widodo outlined 12 events in Indonesia’s history that were “regrettable,” and promised to prevent similar violations from happening again. However, he stopped short of explicitly admitting the government’s role in the atrocities or making any commitments to pursue accountability. Rebecca Tan reports for the Washington Post.
U.S. troops are no longer required to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a memo yesterday rescinding the pair of 2021 memos that required active-duty and reservists to get vaccinated. The move was mandated by the 2013 defense policy bill. Bradley Peniston reports for Defense One.
COVID-19 has infected over 101.347 million people and has now killed over 1.10 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 665.331 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.71 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.