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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.
Ten people have been killed and at least ten others wounded in a mass shooting at a dance studio in Monterey Park, California. The dance studio was hosting a Lunar New Year party at the time of the attack. The suspect, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, was found in a van in Torrance, Los Angeles, having died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The motive for the shooting remains unclear. Corina Knoll, Jill Cowan, Victoria Kim and Edgar Sandoval report for the New York Times.
FBI investigators found additional classified materials at President Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware home on Friday. According to Biden’s personal attorney, Bob Bauer, the materials seized by the Justice Department included “six items consisting of documents with classified markings and surrounding materials,” as well as “personally handwritten notes from the vice-presidential years.” Those six items are in addition to materials previously found at Biden’s Wilmington residence and his private office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington. Betsy Klein and Jeremy Herb report for CNN.
Biden’s lawyers told the Justice Department in November that they had no reason to think that official documents had ended up anywhere beyond Biden’s private office in Washington. This mistaken premise, which was based on interviews with former officials who had been involved in the process of packing and shipping such material, helps explain why nearly two months elapsed before Biden’s lawyers searched his Wilmington residence for classified records. Charlie Savage reports for the New York Times.
Jeff Zients, who led Biden’s COVID-19 task force, is expected to replace Ron Klain as White House chief of staff. This is according to two sources familiar with the plans. Klain will likely step down following Biden’s State of the Union address on Feb. 7. Alex Gangitano reports for The Hill.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – U.S. RESPONSE
The U.S. has decided to designate the Russian paramilitary organization Wagner Group as a significant transnational criminal organization. The move will allow the government to freeze any assets the company may have in the U.S. and ban Americans from providing money, goods or services to the group. The new measures against the group, which is already under U.S. sanctions, will take effect this week. Katie Rogers reports for the New York Times.
The Pentagon will keep several thousand American troops in southeast Romania for at least nine more months. The buildup is part of President Biden’s commitment to increasing U.S. forces in Europe in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The decision to extend U.S. troops deployment in Romania “would ensure the United States continues to be well positioned to provide a robust deterrent and defensive posture alongside our allies across the European continent,” the Army said in a statement. Lara Jakes reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
U.S. and European officials believe that Russian agents directed associates of a far-right Russian-based militant group to carry out the recent letter bomb campaign in Spain. The campaign, which took place in late November and early December, targeted Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, as well as the country’s defense minister and foreign diplomats. U.S. officials say that the Russian officers who directed the campaign, which investigators believe was carried out by the Russian Imperial Movement, appeared intent on keeping European governments off guard and may be testing out proxy groups in the event Moscow decides to escalate a conflict. Edward Wong, Julian E. Barnes and Eric Schmitt report for the New York Times.
Germany would not stop Poland from sending German-made Leopard 2 combat tanks to Ukraine if asked, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said yesterday. Under German law, the German government must consent to any delivery of German-made weapons to a war zone, with the final decision resting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Scholz has been heavily criticized over his reluctance to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Inke Kappeler reports for CNN.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said today that Warsaw would submit a request to Germany to reexport its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Poland sees Annalena Baerbock’s comments as a “glimmer of hope” Morawiecki said, according to the Polish Press Agency. Loveday Morris and Emily Rauhala report for the Washington Post.
Continued deliveries of weapons to Ukraine by Western allies will lead to retaliation with “more powerful weapons,” the chair of Russia’s lower house, the State Duma, said yesterday. In a statement on Telegram, Vyacheslav Volodin threatened Europe and the U.S. with “global catastrophe” over their continued military support for Ukraine. He also called arguments that nuclear powers have not previously used nuclear weapons in local conflicts “untenable.” Carlo Martuscelli reports for POLITICO.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Sweden’s NATO bid is in peril after the country permitted a Koran-burning protest outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm. Turkey’s foreign ministry condemned the decision saying in a statement that “permitting this anti-Islam act, which targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, under the guise of ‘freedom of expression’ is completely unacceptable.” Ayla Jean Yackley reports for the Financial Times.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed key ally Aryeh Drei on Sunday, heeding a Supreme Court ruling ordering him to do so. Netanyahu announced he was firing Drei, who serves as Interior Health Minister, at a meeting of his Cabinet. Israel’s Supreme Court last week decided that Drei’s appointment could not stand due to his conviction last year for tax offenses. According to his office, Netanyahu told Deri he was removing him from his post with “a heavy heart and great sorrow.” AP reports.
Haiti now has no democratically elected government after its 10 remaining senators departed office last week after their terms ended. The country has had no president since its last one, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated in 2021. The national government, such as it is, is run by Ariel Henry, an appointed prime minister who has yet to set a date for elections, and who is accused by opponents of being a dictator. Widlore Mérancourt and Amanda Coletta report for the Washington Post.
The military government of Burkina Faso has demanded the departure of French troops from the country, according to the government press agency. France has exactly one month to remove its troops from Burkina Faso, according to the terms of the 2018 agreement which governs the presence of the French Armed Forces in the country, the agency reported. Niamh Kennedy reports for CNN.
COVID-19 has infected over 102.006 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 668.913 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.