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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
Nevada Republican Chair Michael McDonald, and Vice Chair Jim DeGraffenreid, appeared before the grand jury investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Both McDonald and DeGraffenreid were so-called fake electors, individuals who, in most cases, signed certification documents purporting that then-President Trump had won in their states. Natasha Korecki, Ryan J. Reilly, Victoria Ebner, and Katherine Doyle report for NBC News.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Former President Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges of mishandling classified documents at a federal court in Miami, Florida. Kayla Epstein, Madeline Halpert, and Holly Honderich report for BBC News.
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Federal District Court yesterday granted E. Jean Carroll’s request to revise a defamation lawsuit she has filed against former President Trump to include comments Trump made recently. Trump called Carroll a “wack job” and said that her claim of a decades-old assault was “fake” and a “made-up story” and that her civil trial was “a rigged deal.” Benjamin Weiser reports for the New York Times.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) is exploring ways to force Jack Smith to testify or provide information about the special counsel probe of former President Trump’s handling of classified documents. The effort is part of a broader Republican campaign to attack the special counsel’s investigation into Trump using subpoenas and threatening to cut funding. Annie Grayer and Melanie Zanona report for CNN.
Curren Price, 72, a Los Angeles City Council member, was charged yesterday with embezzlement, perjury, and conflict of interest. Jill Cowan reports for the New York Times.
U.S. RELATIONS – CHINA
China’s foreign minister Qin Gang urged the United States to stop meddling and harming its security in a phone call with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The tense call comes just days before Blinken is expected to travel to China. Reuters reports.
Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen yesterday said that decoupling from China would be “disastrous” and called for deepening economic ties between the world’s two largest economies. Yellen said that existing and proposed trade restrictions with China are only intended to “de-risk” the relationship and that the United States had no intention of inflicting economic harm on China. Alan Rappeport reports for the New York Times.
U.S. RELATIONS – WEAPONS SALES
The Pentagon plans to improve training for its officers who conduct foreign weapons sales, said senior Defense Department officials. The effort to speed up sales by cutting red tape comes after complaints by allies and partners that the Pentagon is slow and ineffective. Expediting sales is a U.S. interest in its global competition with Russia and China, as it achieves influence by selling arms to countries. Gordon Lubold reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Senator James Risch (R-ID), the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, is halting a $735 million arms sale to Hungary in response to the country’s refusal to approve Sweden’s NATO membership. John Hudson and Loveday Morris report for the Washington Post.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – U.S. RESPONSE
The Biden administration announced a $325 million drawdown of U.S. military stocks yesterday as it scrambles to replace armored vehicles lost in the early thrusts of Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia. Paul McLeary Reports for POLITICO.
The latest $325 million in security assistance for Ukraine brings the total value of the pledged assistance to $40 billion since the full-scale invasion began. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.
The Biden administration is expected to send Ukraine depleted-uranium rounds after weeks of internal debate about how to equip the Abrams tanks the United States is giving to Kyiv, U.S. officials said on Monday. The rounds are highly effective as they can penetrate the frontal armor of a Russian tank from a distance. Some have argued that sending the rounds may open the U.S. to criticism that it is providing a weapon that may carry health and environmental risks. Michael R. Gordon and Gordon Lubold report for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Dutch military intelligence last year warned the CIA of an alleged Ukrainian plan to blow up the Nord Stream pipelines three months before they were hit, a Dutch public broadcaster reported yesterday. It has been reported that the CIA warned Ukraine last year not to attack the pipelines after receiving information about the alleged plan. Ukraine denied any responsibility at the time. Mick Krever, Alex Marquardt, Sarah Dean, and Sugam Pokharel report for CNN.
The number of people displaced by war, persecution, violence, human rights abuses, and other events has reached a record 110 million, the U.N. refugee agency reported yesterday.
Two Japanese soldiers were killed and one injured after a recruit opened fire at a military training facility in Japan, officials say. An 18-year-old trainee was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, police said. Derek Cai and Shaimaa Khalil report for BBC News.
Germany is set to unveil its first National Security Strategy today, which aims to provide an overview of its foreign policy and ensure a cohesive cross-ministry approach to security. The Russian invasion of Ukraine provided new impetus for the endeavor, which also saw Germany increase its defense spending to 2% of economic output, up from 1.5%. While the strategy is expected to harden language around China, it is not likely to outline Germany’s long-term China policy as the government is due to publish a separate China strategy later this year. Reuters reports.
Afghans fleeing the Taliban are being kidnapped and tortured by gangs who aim to extract a ransom as they try to cross the border between Iran and Turkey on their way to Europe. Videos of the abuse, obtained by the BBC, are sent to the families of migrants being held hostage. These disturbing videos are evidence of a growing criminal enterprise exploiting migrants. Soran Qurbani reports for BBC News.
War crimes may have been committed during last month’s fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, according to a report by Amnesty International yesterday. The report concludes that Israeli forces conducted disproportionate air strikes which killed Palestinian civilians. Indiscriminate Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket fire killed both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. Amnesty has called on the International Criminal Court to investigate. Amnesty International reported.
The Israeli Knesset will convene today to elect two representatives to Israel’s judicial selection committee. Two of the panel’s nine members that appoint judges are political appointments. Historically, one has been chosen by the government and one by the opposition. However, several hardliners in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition have demanded that both positions be filled with their representatives. Today’s decision is seen as an indication of Netanyahu’s appetite for pursuing the broader bitterly contested judicial reforms. Bethan McKernan reports for the Guardian.
The cases of neo-Nazism in Brazil have increased as far-right politics flourished during former President Jair Bolsonaro’s 2019-2023 term. Brazil’s Federal Police said the number of investigations opened into alleged incitement of neo-Nazism had jumped since 2019, with a “significant increase” this year. The police said 21 probes concerning Nazi paraphernalia had been opened so far this year, up from just one in 2018. Some experts say those numbers fail to capture the nationwide scale of the problem. Steven Grattan reports for Reuters.