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A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s the news from the weekend.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to travel to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin as soon as next week, people familiar with the matter said. Plans for a visit follow China’s offer to broker a peace deal in Ukraine. Reuters reports.
More than 1,100 Russian soldiers died in less than a week of battles near the city of Bakhmut, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy yesterday. He also said Russian forces had to remove 1,500 injured soldiers from the battlefield. Dozens of pieces of enemy equipment were also destroyed, as were more than 10 Russian ammunition depots. Reuters reports.
Russian forces shot down four missiles over the Belgorod region today, leaving one person injured, said regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov. Gladkov did not say who he thought had fired the missiles at the border region, but he has accused Ukrainian forces of similar attacks in the past. Reuters reports.
FBI bought geolocation data derived from mobile-phone advertising in the past, said FBI Director Christopher Wray before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last week. Wray said the FBI now seeks court orders when obtaining phone data from commercial vendors. Several government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, have bought access to commercial information without court authorization. The advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation obtained records last year showing that local and state police departments also use this data. Byron Tau reports for the Wall Street Journal.
House Oversight Chairman James Comer has subpoenaed Bank of America asking for records relating to three of Hunter Biden’s business associates, Jamie Raskin (D-MD) disclosed in a letter sent to Comer yesterday. The subpoena called for “all financial records” beginning in 2009, according to a copy of the letter obtained by CNN. Comer said accessing financial information for the Biden family and its business associates is a top priority as he seeks to investigate alleged influence peddling, particularly surrounding any of the family’s foreign business deals. Zachary Cohen, Alayna Treene, Sara Murray, and Annie Grayer report for CNN.
The data of at least 56,000 people were stolen in a hack on D.C. Health Link marketplace, including members of Congress, small businesses, and residents, officials said in a statement on Friday. The stolen data includes names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, health plan information, and other personal information, including home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, ethnicity, and citizenship status. Luke Broadwater reports for the New York Times.
Reported sexual assaults at three military service academies in 2022 reached the highest level on record, according to a Pentagon report released Friday. Sexual assault allegations at the Navy, Air Force, and Military academies for the 2021-2022 school year jumped to 206, an increase of 45 reports from the previous academic year, which had been the highest before this year’s report. An anonymous survey also found 63 percent of academy women and 20 percent of academy men experienced some form of sexual harassment last year at the three academies, which enroll more than 12,000 students collectively. Brad Dress reports for The Hill.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
“History will hold Donald Trump accountable for Jan. 6,” former Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday. “Make no mistake about it: What happened that day was a disgrace, and it mocks decency to portray it in any other way. President Trump was wrong. His reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day.” These comments are his strongest rebuke of Former President Trump and may indicate growing momentum in his nascent presidential campaign. Adam Wren reports for POLITICO.
A federal jury in Washington, D.C., found the retired New York City police officer, Sara Carpenter, guilty on Thursday on seven felony and misdemeanor charges related to her role in the Jan. 6 attack. According to court records, the charges included civil disorder, obstruction of official proceedings, and entering or remaining in a restricted building or ground. Carpenter was charged after security cameras captured her confronting officers as they guarded a hallway leading to the U.S. Senate chambers, prosecutors said. Hurubie Meko reports for the New York Times.
Prosecutors in the Proud Boys seditious conspiracy trial struck back yesterday at defense attorneys who had accused the government of misconduct. The accusations were made following the inadvertent disclosure of messages sent to FBI agent Miller, which the defense attorney say demonstrates, among other misconduct, a breach of attorney-client privilege. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly will decide today whether to permit the defense attorneys to ask Miller about the alleged misconduct. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jocelyn Ballantine, the supervising prosecutor on the case, told the court on Friday that the Justice Department was concerned that the disclosed messages contained potentially classified information. Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein report for POLITICO.
Federal prosecutors yesterday pushed back against claims that the clips of so-called “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley that Fox News’ Tucker Carlson showed exonerated anyone in the mob during the Jan. 6 attack. Defense attorney Roger Roots, who represents Proud Boys member Dominic Pezzola, asked the judge to throw out his case – citing Carlon’s clips of Chansley walking around parts of the Capitol with officers, calling the video “exculpatory.” In court filings yesterday, prosecutors said the clips failed to show Chansley, who was sentenced to 41 months in prison, facing off with officers for half an hour outside the Senate chamber or being forcibly removed. Holmes Lybrand reports for CNN.
Xi Jinping has pledged today to strengthen China’s security and build the military into a “great wall of steel” to defend China’s interests as relations with the U.S. have hit their lowest point in decades. China’s new foreign minister warned during the National People’s Congress that Washington’s efforts to contain Beijing’s interests could drive the rival superpowers toward “conflict and confrontation.” Newly appointed premier Li Qiang struck a more conciliatory tone in his first press conference, saying China and the U.S. were closely intertwined economically to the benefit of both sides. Ryan McMorrow, Joe Leahy, and Cheng Leng report for the Financial Times.
A surprise deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic ties was brokered by China last week. White House spokesperson John Kirby on Friday downplayed the role of China in the agreement that did not directly involve the U.S.. Beijing’s involvement adds to a perception of growing Chinese power and influence that contributes to a narrative of a shrinking U.S. global presence, said Jon Alterman of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies. Phil Stewart and Michelle Nichols report for Reuters.
Iran has made “cruel” false claims yesterday that a prisoner exchange between the U.S. and Iran was agreed, said a national security spokesperson. While insisting the claim was incorrect, the spokesperson said Washington was committed to securing the release of Americans held in Iran – naming Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz. Tehran has sought the release of more than a dozen Iranians in the U.S. for years. Doug Faulkner reports for BBC News.
At least eight people died yesterday after two boats capsized off the California coast in what San Diego Lifeguard chief James Gartland called one of the state’s worst maritime smuggling tragedies. Eric Lavergne, a U.S. Border Patrol official in San Diego, said this was one of a few hundred migrant smuggling events recorded in the area over the past five months. Doug Faulkner reports for BBC News.
Officials stopped hundreds of migrants entering the U.S. from Mexico yesterday after a large group broke through Mexican lines to demand asylum in the U.S.. Many migrants have become fed up with the asylum process since the Biden administration made an app called CBP One available to them that intended to streamline applications. Users report the app is beset by persistent glitches and high demand, leaving migrants in limbo in unstable border regions. Jose Luis Gonzalez reports for Reuters.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has advised American citizens not to travel to Mexico during the spring break holidays for security reasons, citing drug cartel violence. George Wright reports for BBC News.
China poses an “epoch-defining systemic challenge,” U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said yesterday, as the U.K. government said it would increase military spending by an extra $6 billion. Most of the increased spending would go into the U.K.’s nuclear program, including enhanced support for its submarine fleet. The comments were made before Sunak is scheduled to meet with President Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in California today to discuss the so-called Aukus deal that would give Australia nuclear submarines for the first time. Paul Beckett and Max Colchester report for the Wall Street Journal.
The U.K. approved a sharp increase in submarine parts and technology exports to Taiwan last year as it upgrades its naval forces, a move that could impact British ties with China. The value of licenses granted by the U.K. government to companies for exporting submarine-related components and technology to Taiwan reached a record $201.29 million during the first nine months of 2022, more than the previous six years combined. China’s foreign ministry said: “If this is true, it is a serious violation of the one-China principle, undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests, and undermines peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.” One lawmaker, who spoke anonymously, said authorizing the export licenses gave a “green light” to better equip Taiwan. Andrew Macaskill and Elizabeth Piper report for Reuters.
Taiwan’s defense spending this year will focus on preparing weapons and equipment for a “total blockade” by China, the military said in a report. In the report seeking parliamentary budget approval, Taiwan’s defense ministry said it began reviewing its strategic fuel reserves and repair abilities last year to “strengthen combat continuity.” The report outlines China “is adopting an actual war approach and shifting from training to combat preparation.” Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard report for Reuters.
North Korea launched two underwater cruise missiles from an experimental submarine, the regime said today. South Korea’s Defense Ministry confirmed the launch took place but said its intelligence differed with the North’s description without revealing further details. The missiles were launched before large-scale joint U.S. and South Korean military drills are set to begin this week. Jiyoung Sohn reports for the Wall Street Journal.
COVID-19 has infected over 103.804 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 676.609 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.88 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.