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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 – TITLE 42
Local authorities and humanitarian organizations are bracing for a surge in attempted crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border. About 60,000 people are believed to be waiting to cross the southern border, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz has said. In a statement, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that authorities were “prepared for this transition.” Bernd Debusmann Jr reports for BBC News.
A federal judge in Florida issued an order yesterday directing the Border Patrol not to release any migrants without issuing them formal notices to appear in immigration court. In a statement, the Border Patrol said it would comply with the court order, which could complicate its efforts to manage how many migrants cross into the United States. Overcrowding at Border Patrol facilities could result from the court order, creating dangerous conditions for Border Patrol agents and migrants. Miriam Jordan and Eileen Sullivan report for the New York Times.
The House passed a bill to restrict migrant crossings by pouring money into personnel and equipment, making it harder to seek asylum and codifying Trump-era policies such as border wall construction. The vote was 219-213, primarily along party lines. Siobhan Hughes reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Virginia Federal District Court Judge Robert Payne on Wednesday struck down federal laws blocking handgun sales to buyers over 18 and under 21. Payne held that legislation enforcing age requirements on handgun sales by federally licensed weapons dealers was inconsistent “with our nation’s history and tradition.” The Justice Department is expected to appeal. Glenn Thrush reports for the New York Times.
Former President Trump admitted he took classified documents to Mar-a-Lago, saying he took them because he was “allowed to.” Trump’s statement was made during a televised town hall this week. Legal experts have called Trump’s interpretation of the law “muddled” and “confused.” Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman report for the New York Times.
Changes by the FBI appear to have improved compliance with rules limiting when agents may access communications intercepted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, according to an audit published on Wednesday. Charlie Savage reports for the New York Times.
The CIA hired psychologist Taleeta Jackson to lead its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office to address allegations of mishandling sexual assault and misconduct in its workforce. The CIA is also creating an internal task force to look for ways to improve its organizational structure and processes for how employees report sexual assault or workplace harassment, according to a senior CIA official. Several female CIA employees have said in recent years that their cases of being sexually assaulted while working at the agency were mishandled. Daniel Lippman reports for POLITICO.
Army General Paul Nakasone, the National Security Agency (NSA) director, has said he expects to step down from the NSA and the military’s Cyber Command in the coming months. The timing of Nakasone’s departure could be hampered by Senator Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) blockade on promotions of senior military officers due to the Defense Department’s support for military personnel’s travel to states that allow abortion services. Dustin Volz reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Representative George Santos (R-NY) signed a deal with Brazilian prosecutors yesterday in which he confessed to stealing clothing and shoes and agreed to pay $2,800 in restitution and $2,000 in fines if prosecutors agreed to drop the criminal case against him. Terrence McCoy, Marina Dias, and Isaac Stanley-Becker report for the Washington Post.
The corruption investigation into Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) expanded this week as another round of federal grand jury subpoenas were issued. Menendez has been under investigation into whether he and his wife improperly took cash and gifts from the owners of a meat business in the state. Jonathan Dienst and Courtney Copenhagen report for NBC News.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, this week as both sides recognized the need to move beyond the spy balloon incident, a senior U.S. official said yesterday. China’s Washington embassy said the two had “candid, in-depth, substantive and constructive discussions … on removing obstacles in China-U.S. relations and stabilizing the relationship from deterioration.” Steve Holland, Michael Martina, and David Brunnstrom report for Reuters.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill yesterday aimed at barring the U.S. government from recognizing Bashar al-Assad as Syria’s president and enhancing Washington’s ability to impose sanctions. The legislation warns Turkey and Arab countries that they could face severe consequences if they engage with Assad’s government. Daphne Psaledakis and Maya Gebeily report for Reuters.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – U.S. RESPONSE
The U.S. ambassador to South Africa, Reuben E. Brigety II, has accused the country’s government of providing weapons and ammunition to Russia. Brigety told reporters yesterday that Washington has reason to believe that a Russian ship that docked near a South African naval base last December “uploaded weapons and ammunition.” John Eligon reports for the New York Times.
The U.S. Justice Department has transferred millions of dollars seized from Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev and sent the funds to rebuild Ukraine. The funds were seized from a U.S. bank account traceable to sanctions violations by Malofeyev. While this is the first transfer to Ukraine, Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “It will not be the last.” Niha Masih, Siobhán O’Grady, Kamila Hrabchuk, Victoria Bisset, David L. Stern, Natalia Abbakumova, Brittany Shammas, and Lesley Wroughton report for the Washington Post.
The Biden administration is undertaking an international search for high-value Russians that it hopes to leverage to release two wrongfully detained Americans, Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, according to sources familiar with the matter. Current and former U.S. officials say the United States does not have any high-level Russian spies in its custody, driving the need to turn to allies for help. Kylie Atwood and Matthew Chance report for CNN.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – EUROPEAN RESPONSE
The U.K. has confirmed it is supplying Ukraine with Storm Shadow cruise missiles with a range of over 155 miles, the U.K. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said. By contrast, the U.S.-supplied Himars missiles used by Ukraine only have a range of around 50 miles. James Gregory reports for BBC News.
A Swiss parliamentary committee yesterday recommended easing export controls for Swiss-made war materiel to help boost the domestic defense industry as Western neighbors urge the country to help Ukraine. The war in Ukraine has prompted Swiss government officials to grapple with their country’s longtime neutrality, which prohibits Switzerland or other countries from exporting Swiss-made weaponry to active war zones. Jamey Keaten reports for AP News.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the Russian paramilitary organization Wagner group, has flooded his social media with ever-more outrageous and provocative statements targetting Russia’s military command. Prigozhin revealed a humiliating battlefield setback for Russia as a Russian brigade had “fled” Bakhmut. Nathan Hodge reports for CNN.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – CHINA
The E.U.’s diplomatic service has set out plans to recalibrate its China policy, aiming to reduce the risks of economic dependency on Beijing while continuing to cooperate on global issues. While the plans recognize that coordination with the United States will “remain essential,” it warns that the E.U. “should not subscribe to an idea of a zero-sum game whereby there can only be one winner, in a binary contest between the U.S. and China.” Andrew Gray reports for Reuters.
A Chinese naval flotilla has been on a 12-day circumnavigation of Japan’s main islands in a display of military power as tensions rise over Taiwan and as Japan prepares to host Group of Seven leaders next week. On Wednesday, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said Tokyo had sent a message of protest to Beijing over comments by China’s ambassador that Japan would be “dragged into the fire” if Tokyo linked Taiwan to its own security. Brad Lendon and Junko Ogura report for CNN.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Sudan’s warring factions today agreed to protect civilians and the movement of humanitarian aid, but they did not agree to a ceasefire, U.S. officials said. Reuters reports.
The Israeli military has killed two Palestinian Islamic Jihad commanders in air strikes in Gaza during a third day of fighting. One man was killed in Israel when a rocket launched from Gaza hit a building in the city of Rehovot. Raffi Berg and Rushdi Abu Alouf report for BBC News.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan was unlawful, but it stopped short of ordering his release. Saeed Shah and Waqar Gillani report for the Wall Street Journal.