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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 – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, asked a judge to dismiss former President Trump’s efforts to disqualify her from leading an investigation into whether he and his allies interfered in the 2020 election. In a 24-page court document filed yesterday, Willis also asked the judge to reject Trump’s request to suppress the final report of a special grand jury that weighed evidence last year. Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim report for the New York Times.
The Supreme Court yesterday said it would decide whether members of Congress can sue to obtain records about former President Trump’s now-ended deal to operate a hotel owned by the federal government in Washington. After Trump declined to divest the hotel company upon taking office, Democrats questioned whether the payments Trump’s company received from foreign interests booking the hotel ran afoul of the constitutional ban on federal officials accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Jess Bravin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The FBI’s hunt for links between the campaign of former President Trump and Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election was “seriously deficient,” John Durham, a special counsel appointed by Attorney General William Barr, has reported after four years. Much of the FBI conduct described by the Durham report was previously known and was denounced in 2019. Two people charged with crimes as a result of Durham’s probe were found not guilty. A former FBI lawyer pleaded guilty to altering an email to help a colleague prepare a court application for surveillance of a Trump adviser. Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein report for the Washington Post.
The Supreme Court yesterday agreed to hear a bid by South Carolina officials to revive a Republican-crafted voting map that a lower court said had unconstitutionally split up Black neighborhoods in a “stark racial gerrymander.” A federal three-judge panel in January ruled that no elections could take place in the district until it had been redrawn, prompting South Carolina Republican officials to appeal to the Supreme Court. John Kruzel reports for Reuters.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will vote next week on whether to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress if the State Department does not give up a classified cable sent ahead of the U.S. withdrawal of Afghanistan, Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) said yesterday. McCaul issued a subpoena to Blinken in March for the documents written by at least 23 diplomats serving at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in July 2021. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.
Three people have been killed and six injured yesterday following a shooting in Farmington, New Mexico, Police Chief Steve Hebbe said. An 18-year-old man armed with at least three guns roamed through streets, firing randomly at cars, houses, and police before he was killed. Susan Montoya Bryan, Ken Ritter and Morgan Lee report for AP News.
Two staffers working for Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA) were injured yesterday after being attacked by a man wielding a baseball bat. Both staffers have been treated in the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. The attacker, Virginia resident Xuan Kha Tran Pham, 49, faces one count of aggravated malicious wounding and one count of malicious wounding. It has been reported that a man with the same name as the suspect last year filed a handwritten lawsuit against the CIA, seeking $29 million for “brutally torturing” him “from the fourth dimension.” Bernd Debusmann Jr reports for BBC News.
The Group of Seven (G7) is unified behind a common approach to dealing with China based on shared values, even while recognizing that each country will manage its own relationship with Beijing, a senior U.S. administration official said yesterday. President Biden will attend the G7 summit in Japan this week before making a historic stop in Papua New Guinea and then traveling to Australia for a meeting of the grouping known as the Quad countries. Steve Holland and David Brunnstrom report for Reuters.
The Biden administration is holding its first Iran-focused classified briefing session for all senators today, congressional staffers and U.S. officials said. The briefing comes at a time when relations with Tehran are spiraling, and nuclear constraints are weakening. Alexander Ward, Joe Gould, Matt Berg, and Ari Hawkins report for POLITICO.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – WESTERN RESPONSE
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday that Kyiv’s peace plan should be the starting point for any efforts to end Russia’s war in Ukraine. The comments appear timed to coincide with China’s “political settlement” tour of Europe. While von der Leyen said it was “very good” that Chinese President Xi Jinping had held a phone call with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy, she stressed Beijing should use its influence on Moscow to end the war. Gabriela Baczynska reports for Reuters.
The U.K. will be ready to train Ukrainian pilots to use Western fighter jets “relatively soon,” but supplying Ukraine with the jets is “not straightforward,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said yesterday. The training would go “hand in hand with U.K. efforts to work with other countries on providing F16 jets,” the U.K government said. Andrew McDonald reports for POLITICO.
With the new long-range missiles, attack drones, tanks, and other armored vehicles, Ukraine has much of what it needs for a counteroffensive, Military analysts say. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has recently secured more weapons systems during his tour of Western Europe. The new weapons signal that Western officials now believe Ukraine could retake significant swaths of territory in a counteroffensive, said Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a former Danish army intelligence officer. Lara Jakes reports for the New York Times.
Despite far-reaching sanctions, tens of millions of dollars of aircraft parts were successfully sent into Russia last year, according to a trove of Russian customs data. These illicit shipments were made possible by networks that bypass the restrictions by shuffling goods through a series of intermediaries, often in the Middle East and Asia. Ana Swanson and Niraj Chokshi report for the New York Times.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Russian forces are no longer capable of large-scale offensive action and are mainly on the defensive, Defense Intelligence spokesperson Andriy Yusov said yesterday. Nevertheless, despite a shortage of some types of missiles, the Russians are “capable of sustaining the intensity of attacks,” Yusov said. Tim Lister and Kostan Nechyporenko report for CNN.
Kyiv has been targeted by further Russian air attacks, described by one official as “exceptional in density.” Ukraine said all 18 missiles were shot down, six of which were hypersonic Kinzhal missiles which Moscow had previously touted as all but unstoppable. At least three people were injured during the barrage. Gleb Garanich and Sergiy Karazy report for Reuters.
Robert Shonov, a former employee of the U.S. Embassy in Russia, has been detained in Moscow for “conspiracy,” according to Russian state-owned news agency TASS. Shonov was charged with “collaboration on a confidential basis with a foreign state or international or foreign organization.” He faces up to eight years in prison. BBC News reports.
Ukraine has “lured the enemy into a Bakhmut trap,” said Col. Serhiy Cherevatiy, a spokesperson for Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine’s ability to regain several square miles of land on the western outskirts of Bakhmut has vindicated Ukraine’s strategy of bogging down Russian forces as it prepares for a counteroffensive elsewhere, Ukrainian commanders say. Ian Lovett and Stephen Kalin report for the Wall Street Journal.
The Sudanese army carried out air strikes in the north of Khartoum yesterday, attacking its paramilitary rivals around a hospital that witnesses said was damaged in the strike. At least 676 people have been killed and 5,576 injured. About 200,000 fled to nearby countries, and over 700,000 have been displaced inside Sudan, triggering a humanitarian crisis that threatens to destabilize the region. Khalid Abdelaziz and Nafisa Eltahir report for Reuters.
The commander of South Africa’s land forces, Lieutenant General Lawrence Mbatha, and his Russian counterpart, Oleg Salyukov, agreed to boost cooperation in talks in Moscow yesterday, Russia’s defense ministry said. “The sides discussed … the implementation of projects geared to enhance the combat readiness of the two countries’ armies,” the ministry has said. BBC News reports.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko yesterday denounced comments by French President Emmanuel Macron that Moscow was becoming subservient to China. Reuters reports.
The German security authorities “continue to assume that there are two so-called overseas police stations in Germany,” the German foreign and interior ministries said yesterday. A German interior ministry spokesperson clarified that the police stations are “not fixed-location offices, but mobile facilities” from which “official duties” are conducted on behalf of Beijing. Reuters reports.
4.5 million excess deaths are attributable to the ripple effects of the Global War on Terrorism, such as ensuing waves of violence, hunger, the devastation of public services, and the spread of disease, Brown University researchers published in a report yesterday. The research draws on U.N. data and expert analyses to calculate the minimum number of excess deaths in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. Determining whether deaths were intentional and who bears direct responsibility is outside the scope of the study, said Stephanie Savell, the report’s author and co-director of the Costs of War project. Miriam Berger reports for the Washington Post.