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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.
JAN. 6 ATTACK AND 2020 ELECTION PROBES
The special grand jury that investigated election inference by former president Trump and his allies in Georgia saw possible evidence of perjury by “one or more” witnesses who testified before it. This is according to portions of the jury’s final report that were released yesterday. The jurors also unanimously rebutted claims of widespread fraud made by Trump after the 2020 election. The excerpts, however, offered only a narrow picture of the jury’s conclusions, providing no indication of who it believed should be charged, or which violations of Georgia law, beyond perjury, may have taken place. Danny Hakim and Richard Fausset report for the New York Times.
Lawyers for the five members of the Proud Boys standing trial for seditious conspiracy are seeking to issue a subpoena to Trump to compel him to testify in the case. The lawyers are hoping to elicit testimony from Trump that could persuade the jury that he, rather than their clients, instigated the crowd that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. It is not clear whether the judge overseeing the case will allow the subpoena, which Trump will almost certainly seek to quash if permitted. Alan Feuer reports for the New York Times.
Executives and stars at Fox News privately ridiculed claims of election fraud in the 2020 election, despite the channel allowing the claims to be promoted on its air. This is according to damning messages revealed in a court filing as part of Dominion Voting System’s $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News. The lawsuit, filed in March 2021, alleges that during the 2020 presidential election the network “recklessly disregarded the truth” and pushed various pro-Trump conspiracy theories because “the lies were good for Fox’s business.” Oliver Darcy reports for CNN.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
A lawyer for former President Trump has retained an attorney to represent him in the Justice Department’s probe into the handling of classified documents found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. Evan Corcoran, who has represented Trump in interactions with the government during the probe, appeared before a grand jury in connection with the investigation in January and has been called for questioning for a second time. Andrew Goudsward reports for Reuters.
A senior FBI official yesterday warned secretaries of state from across the U.S. of the “growing threat” posed by Chinese hackers. At a National Association of Secretaries of State conference in Washington, DC, Cynthia Kiser, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, said that Chinese hackers’ willingness to target the infrastructure of political parties ahead of the 2022 election demonstrates that “we could see more significant Chinese cyber activity against your states in the coming year.” Sean Lyngaas reports for CNN.
Justice Department prosecutors in Washington, DC, have taken over the corruption investigation into Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The investigation, which was initiated after several aides accused Paxton of bribery, abuse of office, and other potentially criminal offenses, will now be handled by the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section. It was previously under the control of federal prosecutors in Texas. Hannah Rabinowitz reports for CNN.
The Supreme Court yesterday canceled arguments in a challenge to ending a pandemic-era immigration measure, known as Title 42. The justices had been scheduled to hear arguments over the measure on March. 1, but the case has now been removed from the calendar. The step suggests that the court may dismiss the case based on the Biden administration’s announcement that the health emergency would end in May. Last week Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar filed a briefing to the court saying that the end of the public health emergency would make the case moot. Adam Liptak reports for the New York Times.
President Biden said yesterday that the U.S. had no indication that the three objects shot down in North American airspace last weekend were tied to China’s surveillance balloon program. In his first formal remarks on the objects, Biden said that they were “most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research.” Maegan Vazquez and Sam Fossum report for CNN.
China has imposed sanctions on two U.S. defense manufacturers over arms sales to Taiwan. Lockheed Martin Corporation and Raytheon Missiles & Defense will be added to China’s sanctions list banning them from importing, exporting, and investing in China, the country’s Ministry of Commerce said in a Thursday statement. The decision comes a day after Beijing pledged to take “countermeasures” in response to Washington’s shooting down of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon earlier this month. Wayne Chang and Simone McCarthy report for CNN.
North Korea threatened to take “unprecedentedly constant, strong responses” if South Korea and the U.S. press ahead with planned military drills scheduled for next week. In a statement, the North’s foreign ministry accused the two countries of raising tensions in the region, adding that it would also consider military actions if the U.N. Security Council, under the influence of the U.S., continued to pressure Pyongyang. Reuters reports.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that he will not concede any Ukrainian territory in a potential future peace deal with Russia. In an interview with BBC News, he warned that making territorial compromises would lead Russia to “keep coming back.” Allegra Goodwin reports for CNN.
Canada supports the establishment of a special tribunal to investigate war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine, the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly confirmed yesterday. Speaking from Kraków, Poland, days after meeting with Zelenskyy, Joly highlighted that the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice “don’t necessarily have the mandate” to be able to prosecute alleged Russian crimes. Joseph Gedeon reports for POLITICO.
Moldova’s Parliament approved another pro-Western prime minister yesterday. The appointment of Dorin Recean, a close ally of head of state President Maia Sandu, comes as the country grapples with the economic ruptures and heightened security threats caused by Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine. Prior to the approval vote, Recean outlined his plans for Moldova before Parliament, which include pressing ahead with the country’s E.U. candidacy. Margherita Stancati reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Since the start of Russia’s war with Ukraine, U.S. and European security services have ramped up their campaign to identify Russian spies. While Russia retains significant intelligence capabilities, its spy agencies have sustained greater damage in the past year than at any time since the end of the cold war, U.S. and European security officials have said. Moreover, the magnitude of the campaign appears to have caught Russia by surprise, officials added, reducing its ability to carry out influence operations in Europe, stay in contact with informants, or provide insights to the Kremlin on key security issues. Greg Miller, Souad Mekhennet, Emily Rauhala and Shane Harris report for the Washington Post.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
One of China’s top investment bankers has gone missing, his company has reported. Bao Fan, the chief executive of China Renaissance Holdings, had not been able to be reached in recent days, the firm said in a market update yesterday. His firm’s announcement has renewed concerns about a potential Beijing crackdown on finance and tech figures. Joel Guinto, Fan Wang and Frances Mao report for BBC News.
Tunisian authorities have detained a handful of opposition figures and businessmen viewed by President Kais Saied as posing a threat to his rule. According to Human Rights Watch, at least nine people have been detained or arrested since the weekend, including the head of the country’s main independent news outlet. Saied began targeting his critics after he held parliamentary elections in December and January that saw a voter turnout of only 11%. Chao Deng reports for the Wall Street Journal.
COVID-19 has infected over 103.088 million people and has now killed over 1.12 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 673.752 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.86 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.