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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
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg yesterday moved to block former President Trump’s attempt to persuade a federal court to take over the hush money case. Bragg argued that Trump is not entitled to the change in venue because he is not a federal officer. Bragg also argued that Trump was not a federal officer at the time of the accused crimes, that is, before he was elected president in November 2016. Tyler Clifford reports for Reuters.
The actions of the Mar-a-Lago employee, after they helped move documents last June, have caught the attention of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigators, according to people familiar with the matter. In mid-July, the employee allegedly talked with an IT worker about how long images remained stored in the security camera system. That incident coincides with a subpoena that sought footage from security cameras on the property. Spencer S. Hsu, Josh Dawsey, and Devlin Barrett report for the Washington Post.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Vivek Ramaswamy has fired Gitcho Goodwin from his presidential campaign after it was revealed that the consulting firm had simultaneously been doing public relations work for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf League. An April memo by Ramaswamy’s campaign CEO described the chiefs of Gitcho Goodwin as “senior advisors” to the candidate. Caitlin Oprysko and Hailey Fuchs report for POLITICO.
There will be “significant costs for U.S. diplomacy” if Congress fails to renew the controversial intelligence Section 702 program that is set to expire this year, a senior State Department official said yesterday. Section 702 allows authorized U.S. officials to search a vast database that gathers phone calls and text messages of foreign targets overseas from U.S. telecommunications providers. U.S. diplomats have used the program to monitor Russian atrocities in Ukraine and to warn allies about North Korea’s funding for its nuclear program. Sean Lyngaas reports for CNN.
Tara Reade, the former Senate aide who accused President Biden of sexual assault, said yesterday that she had moved to Russia and was seeking citizenship. Reade said in a news conference that she might stay in Russia because that is where she feels “surrounded by protection and safety.” No former Biden staff members could corroborate any details of Reade’s allegation or recall any similar behavior by Biden toward her or any women. Eduardo Medina reports for the New York Times.
Eric Charles Welton, a U.S. migrant living in Thailand, was arrested last week on a charge of threatening U.S. senators and political groups over the number of unsolicited political emails he was receiving, the Justice Department announced yesterday. On Thursday, Welton, 51, was arrested at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. He faces one count of threatening a federal official and up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Hannah Rabinowitz and Holmes Lybrand reports for CNN.
U.S. RELATIONS – CHINA
Last year, the U.S. government denied or took no action on a quarter of requests for export to China in a bid to stop sales that would advance Beijing’s militarization, a senior official said in testimony released yesterday. Nearly 700 Chinese parties are subject to the government’s export controls on what is known as the “Entity List,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement Matthew Axelrod said in written testimony. The goal is to counter China’s “military modernization, human rights abuses, and other activities contrary to our national security and foreign policy interests,” Axelrod said. David Shepardson reports for Reuters.
A Chinese fighter jet conducted an “unnecessarily aggressive maneuver” near a U.S. surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea last week, a video released by U.S. military officials yesterday reveals. Dan Lamothe reports for the Washington Post.
U.S. manufacturers are searching for non-China-based supply chains as fears of military conflict and increasing security worries grow. John Keilman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
The U.A.E. has pressed the U.S. to bolster its deterrence of Iran after Iran’s military seized two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in recent weeks, U.S. and Gulf officials said. Gulf officials say the U.S. has failed to do enough to deter attacks in recent years from Iranian proxies, undermining their faith in Washington’s commitment to the region. Meanwhile, the U.S. has been increasingly concerned by the U.A.E.’s growing ties with China. U.S. officials have also warned the U.A.E. repeatedly against helping Moscow evade sanctions as Russians flock to Dubai. Benoit Faucon and Dion Nissenbaum report for the Wall Street Journal.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said yesterday that the “time is now” for Turkey to drop its objections to Sweden joining NATO but said the Biden administration also believed that Turkey should be provided with upgraded F-16 fighters “as soon as possible.” “I spoke to Erdogan, and he still wants to work on something on the F-16s. I told him we wanted a deal with Sweden. So let’s get that done,” President Biden said of his phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday. However, Blinken yesterday insisted the two issues were distinct. Matthew Lee reports for AP News.
The Zimbabwean government summoned the acting U.S. ambassador yesterday over election-related social media posts, which it said amounted to activism and meddling in the country’s internal affairs. A tweet encouraging Zimbabweans to vote peacefully was described as unacceptable and a deviation from diplomatic norms by Zimbabwe’s acting permanent secretary in the ministry of foreign affairs, Rofina Chikava. A spokesperson for the U.S. embassy said there was no problem with the social media posts. Shingai Nyoka reports for BBC News.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Ukraine and its allies are planning a summit of global leaders that would exclude Russia, aimed at garnering support for Kyiv’s terms for ending the war, according to a senior Ukrainian presidential adviser and European diplomats. European officials say they are working with Kyiv to rework Ukraine’s 10-point peace plan to make it more acceptable to global powers such as India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and China. No clear list of attendees has been established. Bojan Pancevski, Laurence Norman, and James Marson report for the Wall Street Journal.
In a nod to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, South Africa will change its law so that it has the power to decide whether or not to arrest a leader wanted by the International Criminal Court, deputy minister Obed Bapela has said. Basillioh Rukanga and Wycliffe Muia report for BBC News.
Mariano Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.), is expected to take the case for securing Ukraine’s embattled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to the U.N. Security Council next week. The meeting aims to “encourage the parties involved to comply with the I.A.E.A.’s nuclear safety principles,” the Foreign Ministry of Switzerland, which currently holds the council’s presidency, said in a statement on Monday. Anushka Patil reports for the New York Times.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Drone attacks were thwarted over Moscow yesterday, the first time civilian areas of the Russian capital have experienced the conflict. The physical damage was minimal. However, “If the goal was to stress the population, then the very fact that drones have appeared in the skies over Moscow has contributed to that,” Mikhail Zvinchuk, a pro-war Russian blogger, wrote. Anatoly Kurmanaev, Ivan Nechepurenko, and Eric Nagourney report for the New York Times.
Ukrainian shelling killed five people in a village in the Luhansk region, Moscow-installed officials said today. Separately, a drone attack caused a fire at an oil refinery in southern Russia. Ukrainian artillery also hit a Russian town close to the border for the third time in a week, damaging buildings and vehicles and injuring four people, Russian officials said. Reuters reports.
Russia’s Interior Ministry has put Ukrainian Commander in Chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi and Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, on a “wanted list.” Reuters reports.
North Korea failed today to put the country’s first spy satellite into space. North Korea vowed to conduct a second launch. South Korea and Japan briefly urged residents to take shelter during the launch. The South Korean military said it was salvaging a white metal cylinder described as a suspected rocket part. Hyung-Jin Kim and Kim Tong-Hyung report for AP News.
India and China have ejected each other’s journalists in recent weeks, virtually wiping out mutual media access. The reciprocal moves will likely add to the hostility between the two neighbors, whose relationship has deteriorated since a deadly confrontation on the contested Sino-Indian border in June 2020. Since then, India has shifted toward more active participation in the U.S.-led grouping known as the Quad, including Australia and Japan. Keith Zhai reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Sudan’s army suspended ceasefire negotiations with the rival paramilitary force today, a Sudanese diplomatic source said. Khalid Abdelaziz reports for Reuters.
The Qatari prime minister held secret talks with the supreme leader of the Taliban on May 12 about resolving tension with the international community, a source briefed on the meeting said. The meeting suggests a new willingness by Afghanistan’s rulers to discuss ways to end their isolation. President Biden’s administration was briefed on the talks and is “coordinating on all issues discussed,” including furthering dialogue with the Taliban. The issues raised included ending bans on girls’ education and women’s employment. Jonathan Landay reports for Reuters.