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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 – JAN. 6 ATTACK
Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, was sentenced yesterday to 18 years in prison for orchestrating a weekslong plot that culminated in his followers attacking the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Rhodes, 58, is the first person convicted of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 attack to receive his punishment. His sentence is the longest in the hundreds of Jan. 6 attack cases. Michael Kunzelman, Lindsay Whitehurst, and Alanna Durkin Richer report for AP News.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
A Mar-a-Lago maintenance worker helped a former President Trump aid move boxes to a storage unit shortly before a Justice Department official came seeking the return of classified materials, the worker has told federal prosecutors. The worker’s account is potentially significant to prosecutors as it may reveal whether Trump obstructed efforts by the Justice Department and the National Archives to retrieve classified documents. Alan Feuer and
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Funding for the military has emerged as a key sticking point in reaching an agreement to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. Republicans have refused to raise the limit unless President Biden agrees to cuts in federal spending outside of the military. President Biden has resisted Republicans’ push to spare the Defense Department from spending caps. Jim Tankersley reports for the New York Times.
Texas state lawmakers are considering impeachment proceedings against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton after yesterday’s recommendation from a House investigation committee. There are 20 articles of impeachment, including conspiracy, dereliction of duty, misapplication of public resources, unfitness for office, bribery, obstruction of justice, false statement, and conspiracy. Elizabeth Findell reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The Biden administration yesterday published a strategy to combat antisemitism. The strategy introduces new initiatives aimed at improving public awareness in places such as schools and college campuses and offering more community training to encourage the reporting of hate crimes. It also calls on social media companies to aggressively prevent the spread of hate speech and anti-Jewish content online. It asks Congress to hold accountable those platforms that do not provide transparency on how this content is disseminated. The Anti-Defamation League reported 3,697 antisemitic incidents in 2022. David Nakamura reports for the Washington Post.
Former President Trump adviser, Steve Bannon, will go on trial on May 27, 2024, on criminal charges of defrauding donors who contributed more than $15 million to the “We Build the Wall” fundraising drive. According to the indictment, Bannon concealed his role in diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars to the drive’s chief executive. Bannon, 69, has pleaded not guilty to money laundering, conspiracy, and scheming to defraud. Luc Cohen reports for Reuters.
“A near perfect storm” of problems at the Navy SEAL selection course injured many students and left one dead, a Navy report released yesterday reveals. Instructors pushed their classes to exhaustion, and unprepared medical personnel often failed to step in when needed. A Navy spokesperson said several Navy personnel had been referred to Navy legal authorities for possible punishment. Dave Philipps reports for the New York Times.
The confirmation of Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr. as chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff may prove difficult, despite extensive praise for the nominee yesterday. Brown’s confirmation may be the latest in over 200 senior military appointments currently being held up in the Senate due to Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) block on confirmations. Tuberville objects to the Pentagon’s policy on abortion that facilitates travel for troops and their dependents who seek to terminate pregnancies due to rape, incest, or danger to the life and health of the mother. Brown is also likely to face pointed questions from Republican Senators who decry “woke” policies within the Pentagon. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.
Pressure mounts on the Biden administration to respond to Beijing’s ban on U.S. semiconductor maker Micron Technology, even as Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and her Chinese counterpart, Wang Wentao, held a pivotal meeting on U.S.-China ties yesterday. Any retaliation by the United States over Micron risks setting back a fragile rapprochement after months of rising tensions. However, the Micron ban is fueling already-hawkish sentiment in Congress toward China, with lawmakers demanding that the Biden administration take Beijing to task. Lingling Wei and Charles Hutzler report for the Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. State Department yesterday warned that China could launch cyber attacks against critical infrastructure, including oil and gas pipelines and rail systems after researchers discovered a Chinese hacking group, Volt Typhoon, was spying on such networks. Raphael Satter, Zeba Siddiqui, and James Pearson report for Reuters.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Japan approved additional sanctions against Russia, including freezing the assets of dozens of individuals and groups and banning exports to Russian military-related organizations, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno announced today. The move demonstrates Japan’s coordination with the Group of Seven countries that agreed last week to maintain and strengthen sanctions against Russia. Matsuno also criticized yesterday’s Russia-Belarus deal on deploying Moscow’s tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. Mari Yamaguchi reports for AP News.
The United States plans to announce up to $300 million worth of military aid for Ukraine comprised mainly of ammunition, two official sources said yesterday. The U.S. has pledged over $35 billion of security assistance to Ukraine since Russian forces invaded. Mike Stone reports for Reuters.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Russian paramilitary organization Wagner group said it began relinquishing control of Bakhmut to regular Russian troops yesterday. Wagner forces are expected to have pulled out by the beginning of June. With Bakhmut under Russian control, Moscow’s forces inside Ukraine are now expected to prepare for a long-awaited offensive by Ukrainian forces. Alan Cullison and Ian Lovett report for the Wall Street Journal.
Warmer weather and drying mud signal the start of a new fighting season as conditions for the much-anticipated counterattack improve. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has said that the counter-offensive will not be a “‘single event’ that will begin at a specific hour of a specific day” but instead described it as “dozens of different actions to destroy the Russian occupation forces in different directions.” Podolyak added that these actions were already underway. Adam Taylor and Anastacia Galouchka report for the Washington Post.
Ukraine struck the city of Krasnodar and the Rostov region in southern Russia with a rocket and a drone, according to Russian officials. A blast damaged a residential and office building in Krasnodar. Air defenses shot down the Ukrainian missile over Rostov. Reuters reports.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – U.K.
A man was arrested yesterday after a car collided with the front gates of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office and residence, in an incident police said was not being treated as “terror-related.” Police said armed officers had arrested a man at the scene on suspicion of criminal damage and dangerous driving. The current terrorism threat level in Britain is “substantial,” meaning an attack is considered likely. Reuters reports.
“Net migration” into the U.K. reached a record 606,000, according to the Office for National Statistics, despite post-Brexit governments’ promises to slash immigration. Brexit has had an impact, with a net loss of 51,000 E.U. citizens. However, there was a jump in people coming from the rest of the world, notably to work in health and social care. Britain also accepted more than 110,000 Ukrainians and 50,000 Hong Kongers on special visas. The “numbers are too high, it’s as simple as that,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said in response to the publication of the figures. Karla Adam reports for the Washington Post.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Turkish incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan will likely win reelection on Sunday based on polling results and an endorsement from the ultra-nationalist candidate, Sinan Ogan. Erdogan’s rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu took a step to the right in a bid to gain support in the run-off election by announcing that we would “send all refugees back home once I am elected President.” Orla Guerin reports for BBC News.
Pegasus spyware has been found on the cellphone of Alejandro Encinas, the undersecretary for human rights in Mexico’s Government Ministry, investigating alleged abuses by the military. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador downplayed the spyware attack on Tuesday at his daily news conference and said he did not believe the army was at fault. In a report last August, Encinas blamed the police, the armed forces, and civilian officials, as well as drug traffickers, for the disappearances of 43 students in 2014 and what he called a subsequent coverup. Encinas’s office has also led a probe into the disappearances of hundreds of people in the 1960s and 1970s during the military’s “Dirty War” against a left-wing insurgency. Oscar Lopez and Mary Beth Sheridan report for the Washington Post.
Masanori Aoki, 31, a son of a Nagano prefecture politician, has been arrested after four people were killed in a rare shooting and stabbing attack in Japan. The alleged assailant stabbed a woman and shot two police officers with a hunting rifle in Nagano prefecture. A fourth death was later confirmed. Aoki’s motive is not clear. Shaimaa Khalil and James FitzGerald report for BBC News.