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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
Former President Trump has been charged over his handling of classified documents after he left the White House. Trump faces seven charges, including the unauthorized retention of classified files. The charges are not yet public. It is the second indictment Trump faces and the first federal indictment of a former president. George Bowden reports for BBC News.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – VOTING RIGHTS
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Alabama Republicans violated Black voters’ rights in drawing up congressional districts. Alabama’s population is 27%, yet the Republican congressional map redefined majority-Black areas so that only one of the state’s seven districts had a majority of Black residents. Michael Wines reports for the New York Times.
The Supreme Court ruling yesterday will likely add a Democratic seat in Alabama and could add more in Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas. Stef W. Kight and Andrew Solender report for Axios.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Texas plans to install floating barriers in the middle of the Rio Grande in a bid to block migrants from crossing the river into the United States, Governor Greg Abbott announced yesterday. Nick Miroff reports for the Washington Post.
Homicides are down in six of the 10 largest U.S. cities, including 27% in Los Angeles, 22% in Houston, and 16% in Philadelphia, according to local government data. The decline comes as pandemic-era conditions recede. These included rising domestic disputes, a pause in gang violence prevention programs, and a pullback in police enforcement after racial-justice protests. Zusha Elinson reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), chair of the Homeland Security committee, introduced a bill yesterday along with Mike Braun (R-IN) and James Lankford (R-OK), which would require U.S. government agencies to tell people when an agency is using artificial Intelligence (A.I.) to interact with them. The bill also requires agencies to create a way for people to appeal any decisions made by A.I. Reuters reports.
House Democrats are asking Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate whether Garret O’Boyle, whom Republicans presented as an FBI whistleblower, lied to Congress. The move follows revelations that O’Boyle was suspended by the FBI because internal investigators concluded that he leaked sensitive information to the right-wing group Project Veritas. Ryan Nobles reports for NBC News.
U.S. RELATIONS – CHINA
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is planning to travel to Beijing as soon as next week, two people familiar with his schedule have said. The trip would be the highest-level visit of a U.S. official to China since that of then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2018. The Biden administration has been working to renew high-level diplomatic relations following a near breakdown over the Chinese spy balloon incident in February. Phelim Kine and Doug Palmer report for POLITICO.
China and Cuba have reached a secret agreement for China to establish an electronic eavesdropping facility in Cuba, according to U.S. officials familiar with highly classified intelligence. The facility would allow Chinese intelligence services to intercept electronic communications throughout the southeastern U.S., where many military bases are located. Warren P. Strobel and Gordon Lubold report for the Wall Street Journal.
The Pentagon yesterday dismissed the China-Cuba eavesdropping report as “inaccurate.” The Pentagon has said it was not aware of any eavesdropping efforts. “I can tell you, based on the information that we have, that that is not accurate, that we are not aware of China and Cuba developing a new type of spy station,” said Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder. Reuters reports.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
The U.K. and the United States yesterday agreed to a new “Atlantic Declaration” for greater cooperation on pressing economic challenges in areas like clean energy, critical minerals, and artificial intelligence. Reuters reports.
U.S. Agency for International Aid is suspending food aid to Ethiopia because donations are being diverted from those in need. According to a leaked memo, Ethiopian government agencies and the military are behind the diversion scheme. Some 20 million Ethiopians facing severe food shortages because of war and drought will be affected. BBC News reports.
Sweden will allow NATO to base troops on its territory even before it formally joins the alliance, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Defense Minister Pal Jonson said yesterday. Reuters reports.
In a letter to President Biden yesterday, nine Republican and Democratic lawmakers urged the administration to greenlight the sending of controversial long-range munitions to Ukraine quickly. Biden recently signaled he might be open to sending these munitions. However, national security adviser Jake Sullivan last year suggested that sending long-range munitions could cause World War III because the weapons could strike deep inside Russia. Lara Seligman and Joe Gould report for POLITICO.
The Ukrainian military’s long-anticipated counteroffensive against occupying Russian forces has begun. Ukraine’s troops intensified their attacks on the front line in the country’s southeast. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Ukrainian forces tried to break through the lines of the Russian army in the Zaporizhzhia region, using up to 1,500 troops and 150 armored vehicles. Shoigu’s claim could not be immediately verified. Samantha Schmidt, Adela Suliman, Leo Sands, Rachel Pannett, Claire Parker, Sarah Dadouch, Isobel Koshiw, and Ben Brasch report for the Washington Post.
Russian forces shelled the flooded city of Kherson yesterday, striking close to an evacuation point where rescue efforts are underway. Witnesses said that Hundreds of people gathered near an evacuation point at Ship Square, in the heart of the city, scrambled for cover when explosions rang out. The shelling occurred only hours after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the city to witness the destruction of a dam on the Dnipro River. Marc Santora and Maria Varenikova report for the New York Times.
A large rebel force mobilized in Sudan’s South Kordofan State residents reported. The rebel force, the SPLM-N, is led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu and is estimated to contain tens of thousands of men and heavy weaponry. The mobilization raises fears that internal conflict could spread in the country’s southern regions. Reuters reports.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s today approved a revision to the Development Cooperation Charter, its development aid policy, to focus on maritime and economic security and its national interests. The charter, usually updated every 10 years, is being revised two years early, indicating the growing concern over China and other global challenges. Under the revision, Japan will focus on combating climate change, food and energy crises triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, strengthening maritime security, supply chain resiliency, and digital transformation. Mari Yamaguchi reports for AP News.
E.U. interior ministers yesterday agreed to radical “historical” reforms of its migration and asylum laws, including charging member states that refuse to host refugees €20,000 per person. Lisa O’Carroll reports for the Guardian.
A man stabbed four children and two adults at a park and a playground in southeastern France yesterday. Most of the wounded were hospitalized with critical injuries. A Syrian asylum seeker who arrived in France last fall was arrested in the attack. The incident was not being treated as a terrorist incident so far, the authorities said. Aurelien Breeden report for the New York Times.