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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.
A U.S. contractor was killed and five U.S. service members were injured when a self-destructing drone struck a maintenance facility on a coalition base in northeast Syria yesterday. U.S. intelligence analysts concluded that the drone was of “Iranian origin,” the Pentagon said in a statement. In response, at President Biden’s direction, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he ordered airstrikes against facilities in eastern Syria used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Eric Schmitt reports for the New York Times.
A U.S. base in northeast Syria was targeted with a missile early today, following U.S. airstrikes in Syria against Iran-aligned groups that the Pentagon blamed for yesterday’s drone attack. It is unclear whether the attack caused any casualties. Reuters reports.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew appeared before Congress for five hours yesterday, as he tried to allay mounting national security concerns about the Chinese-owned video app. Chew faced aggressive questioning, with lawmakers from both parties seeking to tie Chew personally to the Chinese Communist Party and criticizing the app as a tool of China’s communist government. While the hearing exposed no new evidence to support lawmakers’ claims that the Chinese government has abused TikTok to access Americans’ user data or promote government propaganda, the appearance underscored the app’s precarious future in the U.S., dispute the legal and constitutional challenges an attempt to ban the app would face. Cat Zakrzewski reports for the Washington Post.
Authorities in China have raided the Beijing offices of Mintz Group, detaining all five of the New York-based due diligence firm’s staff members, the company said. The five employees, who are all Chinese nationals, were taken away on Monday afternoon, and haven’t contacted their families since then, according to an executive at the company. In a statement, Mintz said that it is licensed to do business in China and operates transparently and within the law. “Mintz Group hasn’t received any official legal notice regarding a case against the company and has requested that the authorities release its employees,” the statement said. James T. Areddy reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. and Canada have reached an agreement that would allow both countries to turn back asylum seekers who unlawfully cross the northern border, according to a U.S. official. President Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will announce the new policy today following a bilateral meeting in Ottawa. The agreement will also include Canada welcoming an additional 15,000 Central American migrants over the next year through legal pathways, the official said. Myah Ward reports for POLITICO.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – I.C.C. ARREST WARRANTS
The International Criminal Court (I.C.C.) and Ukraine have agreed to open a field office in the country to facilitate investigations into war crimes and other violations of international law. Ukrainian officials and the court announced the agreement yesterday, about a week after the I.C.C. issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and another Russian official. Ukrainian officials said the office would enable closer cooperation with international prosecutors and help ensure that those responsible for atrocities are held to account under international law. Victoria Kim reports for the New York Times.
Hungary would not arrest Putin if he entered the country, despite the I.C.C.’s arrest warrant for him. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyas said yesterday that even though Hungary is a signatory to the Rome Statute and ratified it in 2001, arresting Putin would have no basis in Hungarian law, as the I.C.C.’s statute “has not been promulgated in Hungary.” Gulyas also said that the Hungarian government had not yet “formed a stance” on the I.C.C. arrest warrant, adding that in his “personal subjective opinion” the decision to issue the warrant was “not the most fortunate.” Luke McGee reports for CNN.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
The E.U. is planning to organize an international conference aimed at tracing Ukrainian children abducted by Russia, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday. Speaking at the end of the first day of a meeting of E.U. heads of state von der Leyen called the abduction of Ukrainian children “a war crime” and “a horrible reminder of the darkest times of our history.” The conference is to be organized with Poland in partnership with Ukraine and will aim to assist U.N. bodies and international organizations in obtaining information on the abducted children. Monika Pronczuk reports for the New York Times.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will travel next week to China for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. During his visit, Sánchez intends to discuss China’s framework for negotiating a peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine. Speaking to reporters yesterday, Sánchez said he wants to “find out first hand” what Xi’s peace framework consists of and transmit the message that Ukraine must establish the conditions for talks. The proposed framework has received a frosty reception in the West, with the U.S. and other allies saying that the call for an immediate ceasefire would only help Russia consolidate its territorial gains. José Bautista reports for the New York Times.
Russia is unable to honor its arms delivery commitments to India due to the war in Ukraine, the Indian Air Force has said. The admission is the first official confirmation by Indian authorities amid rumors and reports in local media suggesting shortcomings in Russian capacity. Russia’s failure to make the delivery could place a strain on New Delhi’s relationship with its largest defense supplier. Rheo Mogul reports for CNN.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP HUSH MONEY PROBE
The Manhattan grand jury hearing evidence about former President Trump’s alleged role in paying hush money to adult actor Stormy Daniels won’t take action this week, according to people familiar with the matter. While the grand jurors reconvened yesterday, they met to hear another matter unrelated to Trump, the people said. As the grand jury doesn’t typically meet on Fridays, they likely won’t consider the case again until next week at the earliest. Corinne Ramey reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg yesterday rejected a request by House Republicans to provide communications, documents, and testimony relating to the potential indictment of Trump. In a letter to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and other Republican lawmakers, Bragg’s office said their request “treads into territory very clearly reserved to the states,” and noted that it had only come after Trump had “created a false expectation that he would be arrested … and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene.” “Neither fact is a legitimate basis for congressional inquiry,” the letter stated. Amy B Wang and Shayna Jacobs report for the Washington Post.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Timothy Parlatore, an attorney for former President Trump, yesterday revealed that he testified before a grand jury investigating the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago in December. Parlatore spent more than 7 hours in the courtroom answering questions about additional searches for classified documents at Trump properties. Parlatore, who was not subpoenaed for his testimony, told ABC News, “I voluntarily and happily chose to go into the grand jury so that I could present my client’s case to them in the context of our search efforts. During my testimony, it was clear that the government was not acting appropriately and made several improper attempts to pierce privilege and, in my opinion, made several significant misstatements to the jury which I believe constitutes prosecutorial misconduct.” Katherine Faulder and Alexander Mallin report for ABC News.
North Korea today claimed to have tested an underwater drone capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that could create a “radioactive tsunami.” However, analysts have expressed doubts about these claims, highlighting that no proof has been offered and that North Korea has previously exaggerated its capabilities and deployment timelines. Brad Lendon and Yoonjung Seo report for CNN.