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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.
The Supreme Court announced yesterday that an internal investigation had failed to identify who leaked a draft of the opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, the decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. In a 20-page report, the court’s marshal, Gail Curley, who oversaw the inquiry, said that investigators had conducted 126 formal interviews of 97 employees, all of whom had denied being the source of the leak. Investigators also found no forensic evidence of who may have leaked the opinion in examining the court’s “computer devices, networks, printers and available call and text logs,” the report said. Charlie Savage and Adam Liptak report for the New York Times.
Three Marines have been arrested for their participation in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to court documents unsealed yesterday. Micah Coomer, Joshua Abate, and Dodge Dale Hellonen, who were arrested on four charges each, all have jobs connected to the intelligence community. The Marine Corps is “fully cooperating with the appropriate authorities in support of the investigation,” a spokesperson from the service said. Konstantin Toropin reports for Military.com.
A federal judge in Florida ordered former President Trump and his attornies to pay over $937,000 in sanctions on Thursday. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks ruled that in pursuing a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, they had perpetrated a “continuing pattern of misuse of the courts” in order to “dishonestly advance a political narrative.” Trump’s suit, which was dismissed last September, baselessly accused Clinton, her campaign, and other Democrats of working to paint a false narrative about Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia in order to win the 2016 presidential election. Shawna Chen reports for Axios.
President Biden yesterday sought to play down the significance of the discovery of classified documents at his Delaware home and former private office. When asked about the investigation whilst surveying storm damage at a California coastal community, the president said “a handful of documents” had been found that had been “filed in the wrong place.” He said that the administration had immediately turned over the documents to the National Archives and was cooperating with the Justice Department. “I think you’re gonna find there’s nothing there. I have no regrets,” Biden said. Ken Thomas reports for the Wall Street Journal.
A federal judge yesterday dismissed an indictment against a New York Police Department officer accused of spying for the Chinese government. The dismissal came after prosecutors made an uncommon request to drop the 2020 charges against Baimadajie Angwang, which included acting as an illegal agent of a foreign country, wire fraud and making false statements on a security clearance application as an Army reservist. Corinne Ramey and James Fanelli report for the Wall Street Journal.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
CIA director William Burns, traveled to Kyiv last week for secret consultations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, according to two U.S. officials. During the meeting, Burns briefed Zelenskyy on his expectations for what Russia is planning militarily in the coming weeks and months. The pair also discussed continued U.S. and Western support for Ukraine, with Burns acknowledging that at some point assistance would be harder to come by, according to people familiar with the meeting. John Hudson reports for the Washington Post.
The U.S. is stuck in a standoff with Germany over whether to send tanks to Ukraine ahead of a meeting of Western Defense leaders in Germany today. In recent days, German officials have indicated they won’t send their Leopard tanks to Ukraine, or allow any other country with the German-made tanks in their inventory to do so, unless the U.S. also agrees to send its M1 Abrams tanks to Kyiv. However, the U.S. has said it has no intention of doing this given the logistical costs of maintaining them. U.S. officials familiar with the situation told CNN that the tank questions is still undecided going into today’s meeting and that they would be surprised if Germany changed its mind. Natasha Bertrand, Kylie Atwood and Oren Liebermann report for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
South Africa’s military is planning to hold joint training exercises with Russia and China next month. The naval drills will be held from Feb. 17-27 near the coastal towns of Durban and Richards, the South African National Defense Force said. The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, immediately released a statement condemning the decision to hold the drills and encouraging South Africa to “cooperate militarily with fellow democracies that share our mutual commitment to human rights and the rule of law.” Lynsey Chutel and John Eligon report for the New York Times.
Russia’s state nuclear power conglomerate Rosatom has been working to supply the Russian arms industry with components, technology, and raw materials for missile fuel, documents show. A letter from a Rosatom department chief, dated October 2022 and obtained by Ukrainian intelligence, shows the state nuclear company offering to provide goods to Russian military units and Russian weapons manufacturers that are under sanctions. These new disclosures are likely to increase the pressure on Western allies to sanction Rosatom, which has previously escaped such measures due to its extensive involvement in the civilian nuclear industry. Catherine Belton reports for the Washington Post.
Russia’s domestic intelligence agency has opened a criminal investigation into a U.S. citizen for collecting intelligence information related to “biological” topics. This is according to a report by the country’s Interfax news service, which did not identify the person or say whether they had been taken into custody. A spokesperson from the U.S. State Department said the U.S. was “aware of unconfirmed reports” of an investigation into an American citizen and was looking into the matter. Michael Crowley reports for the New York Times.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
The European Parliament yesterday urged member states to list Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. The parliament’s resolution is a sign of growing support for new measures against Tehran as it arms Russia in Ukraine and suppresses protests at home. Member states decide the bloc’s sanctions policy by unanimity but the parliament has influence over E.U. decisions. Laurence Norman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol dialed back recent remarks that Seoul could develop its own nuclear weapons. In an interview, Yoon noted that South Korea, a non-nuclear nation, is part of the decades-old Non-Proliferation Treaty aimed at curbing nuclear arms. “I can assure you that the Republic of Korea’s realistic and rational option is to fully respect the NPT regime,” he said, adding that his focus is on working closely with the U.S. to combat North Korean proliferation. Matt Murray reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Peru’s capital yesterday to demand the resignation of President Dina Boluarte. A large fire broke out in the city’s historic center near San Martín Plaza in Lima where large crowds of protestors had gathered. These protests are the latest in a string of demonstrations following the ouster of former president Pedro Castillo. Samantha Schmidt reports for the Washington Post.
COVID-19 has infected over 101.958 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 668.373 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.74 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.