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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
Lawyers for former President Trump met with Justice Department officials yesterday to argue against any indictment over Trump’s handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort. The meeting indicates that special counsel Jack Smith is wrapping up his investigation. Sadie Gurman, Aruna Viswanatha, and C. Ryan Barber report for the Wall Street Journal.
Two firms commissioned by then-President Trump to research whether electoral fraud occurred in 2020 have become the focus of federal and state investigators. According to three people familiar with the matter, the research will likely be used as the prosecutors try to build a broader case alleging racketeering. The district attorney in Georgia’s Fulton County has asked both firms to provide research and data as investigators intensify their probe into Trump’s attempt to overturn the result of the 2020 election in Georgia. On the federal level, special counsel Jack Smith is questioning witnesses about the companies’ work and has obtained hundreds of pages of emails and research. Josh Dawsey and Amy Gardner report for the Washington Post.
At least one witness has been asked by prosecutors about a Mar-a-Lago pool incident that flooded the room storing surveillance video logs as part of the federal investigation into former President Trump’s handling of classified documents. It is unclear if the room was intentionally flooded. According to one source, prosecutors have heard testimony that the technical equipment in the room was not damaged in the flood. Katelyn Polantz, Jeremy Herb, and Kaitlan Collins report for CNN.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
A second flight, carrying about 20 migrants, landed in Sacramento, California, yesterday. The migrants carried documents that indicated their transportation from Texas involved the state of Florida, the California attorney general’s office said. Ted Hesson and Kristina Cooke report for Reuters.
A criminal case has been filed with the Texas county’s district attorney over flights Florida Governor Ron DeSantis arranged to transport 49 undocumented migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard last September. “The charge filed is Unlawful Restraint, and several accounts were filed, both misdemeanor and felony,” said Adelina Simpson, a Bexar County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson. Rebecca Falconer reports for Axios.
Robert Hanssen, 79, the FBI agent-turned-Russian mole notorious as one of U.S. history’s most damaging spies, was found dead at a maximum-security prison yesterday morning. Hanssen was sentenced in 2002 to life in prison for espionage. A cause of death has yet to be confirmed. Chloe Kim reports for BBC News.
The House Oversight Committee will vote on Thursday on holding FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt over the FBI’s decision not to give lawmakers a copy of a document Republicans say ties then-Vice President Biden to a “bribery scheme,” Chair James Comer (R-KY) said yesterday. FBI officials have briefed Comer and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) about the document. Both lawmakers also reviewed the document in a reading room at the U.S. Capitol. Comer yesterday said that the document “has not been disproven.” However, few new specifics on the details of the allegations in the Biden document have emerged. Jordain Carney reports for POLITICO.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said yesterday that he would talk to Saudi leaders and other Gulf state officials this week about the possibility of normalizing ties with Israel. “The United States has a real national security interest in promoting normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” Blinken said at a conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. However, tensions remain high between the countries. Israel’s far-right coalition has supported actions that critics say have fueled violence between Palestinians and Israelis, making it more difficult for Saudis to support normalization. Edward Wong reports for the New York Times.
A former executive at ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, has alleged that a committee of China’s Communist Party members accessed the data of TikTok users in Hong Kong in 2018, a lawsuit filed in early May in San Francisco Superior Court revealed. The former executive alleges that civil rights activists and protesters were targeted and that their network information, SIM card identifications, and IP addresses were accessed to identify and locate the users. Georgia Wells reports for the Wall Street Journal.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – WESTERN RESPONSE
President Biden is hosting allies in the White House this week in a bid to boost support for Ukraine as fighting intensifies. Biden hosted Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark yesterday and discussed the possibility of transferring Danish-owned F-16 jets to Ukraine. On Thursday, Biden will meet with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain, who in February said that “nothing was off the table” when considering military aid for Ukraine. Katie Rogers reports for the New York Times.
Ukraine has received enough weapons to begin its counter-offensive against Russia, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said yesterday. Kuleba added that the operation would give Ukraine the necessary victory to join NATO. Max Hunder reports for Reuters.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Nova Kakhovka dam and hydroelectric power plant on the Dnipro River near the front line in Ukraine have been destroyed today, according to Ukrainian officials. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy blamed Russia and called for an emergency meeting of the National Security Council. The governor of nearby Kherson, Oleksandr Prokudin, said the water would reach “critical levels” within hours and urged residents in Ukrainian-controlled parts of the region to evacuate immediately. Rachel Pannett, Ellen Francis, and Adela Suliman report for the Washington Post.
Ukrainian forces have advanced around Bakhmut, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar has said, describing the eastern city as the “epicenter of hostilities.” Jaroslav Lukiv and James Waterhouse report for BBC News.
Ukraine has cultivated a network of saboteurs inside Russia and has begun providing them with drones to stage attacks, multiple people familiar with U.S. intelligence on the matter have said. Two U.S. officials told CNN there is no evidence that any drone strikes have been conducted using U.S.-provided drones. Natasha Bertrand, Zachary Cohen, and Kylie Atwood report for CNN.
Paramilitary organization Wagner group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin has posted a video he says proves his claim that Russia’s defense ministry is targeting his troops. The video showed Lt. Col. Roman Venevitin, a captured commander of a mechanized infantry brigade, confessing to firing on Wagner forces and apologizing for his actions. Matthew Luxmoore reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The Nazi iconography increasingly worn by Ukrainian troops at the frontline threatens to reinforce Russian President Vladimir Putin’s propaganda and fuel his false claims that Ukraine must be “de-Nazified.” While the Nazi symbols have not reduced Western support for Ukraine, it has put diplomats, journalists, and advocacy groups in a difficult position: Calling attention to the iconography risks playing into Russian propaganda while saying nothing could allow it to spread. Thomas Gibbons-Neff reports for the New York Times.
China and Russia conducted a joint air patrol today over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea for the sixth time since 2019. China’s defense ministry said the patrol was part of the two militaries’ annual cooperation plan. South Korea scrambled fighter jets after four Russian and four Chinese military aircraft entered its air defense zone. Reuters reports.
More than 80 Afghan students and teachers were seemingly poisoned over the past two days, local officials said yesterday. Most of the victims were girls in an attack that mirrored recent attacks on schoolgirls in Iran. Authorities did not provide details on the suspected motive, adding that an investigation is underway. Rick Noack reports for the Washington Post.
Iran presented what officials described as its first domestically-made hypersonic ballistic missile today, the official IRNA news agency reported. Parisa Hafezi reports for Reuters.
Shelling and heavy clashes hit areas of Sudan’s capital yesterday, with reports of spreading lawlessness in Khartoum and the western region of Darfur. Fighting is entering its eighth week. Khalid Abdelaziz and Mohamed Nureldin report for Reuters.