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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.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – LEAKED INTELLIGENCE REPORTS
Jack Teixeira, 21, a Massachusetts Air National Guard member, was arrested by the FBI yesterday in connection with the leaked intelligence reports, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced. Teixeira will appear in a Boston court today, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Teixeira joined the service in September 2019 as a Cyber Transport Systems journeyman, tasked with ensuring the service’s “vast, global communications network” is “operating properly.” Evan Perez, Jeremy Herb, Natasha Bertrand, Zachary Cohen, and Kevin Liptak report for CNN.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Former President Trump has asked a judge to delay E. Jean Carroll’s assault and defamation trial against him after learning that a donor to Democratic causes, Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, paid some of Carroll’s legal fees. Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled yesterday that the defense can look into how Carroll’s legal bills are paid and may depose Carroll again to question her on this matter. Kaplan set tight deadlines for next week and noted that the issue would not delay the Apr. 25 trial start date. Kara Scannell and Lauren del Valle report for CNN.
Former President Trump “spent nearly seven hours” defending the Trump Organization during his second deposition for the New York attorney general, Letitia James’ $250 million lawsuit, his lawyers said yesterday. For the first time, Trump spoke about the Trump Organization in the civil investigation that accuses him, his business, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump of fraud. Rebecca Falconer reports for Axios.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Michael Riley, a Capitol Police officer who tried to help a Jan. 6 attacker avoid detection from law enforcement, was sentenced yesterday to 120 days of home incarceration for obstructing justice. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Riley lied to colleagues about his contact with convicted Jan. 6 attacker, Jacob Hiles, and misrepresented his actions on the witness stand and in the chronology he laid out during his sentencing hearing. Despite this, Jackson emphasized that evidence suggests Riley acted “honorably” in responding to the mob’s attack. Kyle Cheney reports for POLITICO.
The FBI was searching for messages about Darin LaHood (R-IL) because it was investigating suspicions that a foreign government had targeted him as part of an espionage or influence operation, people familiar with the matter have said. The revelations follow the declassification of a government report about incidents where FBI officials failed to comply with rules for retrieving messages. Section 702 allows the government to obtain, without a warrant, the messages of targeted foreigners abroad from U.S. companies, even when those foreigners are communicating with or about Americans. The revelations carry policy implications as Congress debates whether to reauthorize Section 702. Charlie Savage reports for the New York Times.
Mexico and the United States yesterday agreed to ramp up the fight against fentanyl trafficking, as well as Mexico’s Sinaloa and CJNG drug cartels. Both countries have recently asked China to help curb the delivery of precursor chemicals to prevent the synthetic drug production responsible for thousands of U.S. deaths. The White House said this week that it plans to expand efforts to disrupt the illicit financial activities of drug traffickers involved in the fentanyl trade by using more sanctions to obstruct their access to the U.S. financial system. Adriana Barrera and Lizbeth Diaz report for Reuters.
The number of migrants crossing the dangerous Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama bound for the United States could soar to as many as 400,000 this year, according to the U.N. yesterday. The U.N. agencies for refugees and migration said in a report that nearly 100,000 people may have already crossed this year, six times more than in a similar period last year. The United States pledged assistance to Colombia and Panama to dismantle smuggling rings operating in the Darien Gap, a senior Biden administration official said on Wednesday. AP News reports.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – LEAKED INTELLIGENCE REPORTS
The leaked intelligence reports “have no operational significance” on a critical Ukrainian offensive planned for the coming weeks, said Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian presidential adviser. The United States and its allies are equipping and training nine Ukrainian brigades for the offensive, while the Ukrainian military is preparing three additional brigades by itself. Podolyak said the timing of the attack depended on equipment and personnel being ready. James Marson and Yaroslav Trofimov report for the Wall Street Journal.
China approved the “provision of lethal aid” to Russia earlier this year and planned to disguise military equipment as civilian items, according to a U.S. intercept of Russian intelligence revealed in the leaked intelligence reports. “We have not seen evidence that China has transferred weapons or provided lethal assistance to Russia. But we remain concerned and are continuing to monitor closely,” a senior administration official said. A senior defense official agreed with that assessment. Karen DeYoung and Missy Ryan report for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – U.S. RESPONSE
Russia could only consider a prisoner exchange for jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich after a Russian court renders a verdict on an espionage allegation, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russian state news yesterday. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov repeated Moscow’s claim yesterday that Gershkovich was “caught red-handed” without providing details of any evidence against the reporter. Ann M. Simmons reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Intense Russian artillery bombardment has forced Ukrainian forces into an “orderly withdrawal” in Bakhmut, according to the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence today. “Russia has re-energized its assault on the Donetsk oblast town of Bakhmut as forces of the Russian ministry and Wagner group have improved cooperation,” the Ministry has stated. Martin Belam reports for the Guardian.
China would not sell weapons to any country involved in the conflict and would regulate the export of items with dual civilian and military use, China’s foreign minister, Qin Gang, said during a news conference with his visiting German counterpart Annalena Baerbock today. Baerbock said that as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, China bore a special responsibility for helping end the conflict. AP News reports.
Norway has expelled 15 Russian officials accused of spying under diplomatic cover, said Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt. Details about the officials’ alleged activities have not been revealed. Huitfeldt said Norway would not allow Moscow to use its embassy to conduct “covert intelligence activities.” The Kremlin will respond and is weighing up an “appropriate answer,” Russian news agency Tass reported. Sean Seddon reports for BBC News.
North Korea today said it launched a new solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile, which is faster to deploy and harder to detect, “radically [promoting] the effectiveness of its nuclear counterattack posture.” The regime’s acquisition of solid-fuel missile capabilities significantly undermines South Korea’s “Kill Chain” system that aims to pre-emptively strike the North’s military assets, including missile launch facilities and even its leadership, if an imminent attack is detected. The U.S. National Security Council called the missile launch a brazen violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions that needlessly raised tensions and destabilized regional security. Jiyoung Sohn reports for the Wall Street Journal.
European foreign policy officials sought to present a tough stance against China’s threats over Taiwan today after comments by French President Emmanuel Macron drew a backlash for being perceived as weak. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that any attempt by China to control Taiwan would be unacceptable and have serious repercussions for Europe. E.U. foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell echoed Baerbock’s remarks in a statement, “Any attempt to change the status quo by force would be unacceptable.” Yew Lun Tian and Liz Lee report for Reuters.
Executions in Iran rose by 75% in 2022, with at least 582 people put to death as authorities sought to “spread fear” among protesters, according to a report by Iran Human Rights and Together Against the Death Penalty.
Jordan is promoting a joint Arab peace plan that could end the devastating consequences of the Syrian conflict ahead of a meeting today to discuss Syria’s readmission to the Arab League, according to a source close to the matter. Saudi Arabia is hosting the meeting in Jeddah, which foreign ministers from Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries will attend. The plan is crucial to “tackle the humanitarian, security and political consequences of the conflict, a senior official said. Suleiman Al-Khalidi reports for Reuters.
The sharp rise in migrants and asylum-seekers making the deadly Central Mediterranean crossing into Europe requires urgent action to save lives, the U.N. High Commission for Human Rights, Volker Türk, said yesterday. Türk called for concerted efforts to ensure swift rescues at sea and urged countries to open more regular migration channels. The Central Mediterranean is considered among the deadliest migration routes in the world. U.N. News reports.