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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
A years-long criminal investigation into the Trump Organization’s valuations of a golf club in Westchester County, New York, has been closed, the county’s district attorney, Miriam Rocah, confirmed yesterday. The Trump Organization and the town of Ossining were at odds over the Organization’s annual tax bill. The club claimed its property was worth as much as 90% less than the town’s valuation. The closing of the case helps “make sure that people understand that we have independent prosecutors, we have a justice system that operates independent of politics,” Rocah, a Democrat, said. Graham Kates reports for CBS News.
Federal Judge Aileen M. Cannon, overseeing former President Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents, issued an order yesterday instructing any lawyer who wants to take part in the case to start obtaining a security clearance by Tuesday. Neither of the lawyers who appeared with Trump at his arraignment has active security clearances. The order suggests a coming legal battle over how to handle the classified documents without causing unnecessary damage to national security. Alan Feuer, William K. Rashbaum, and Maggie Haberman report for the New York Times.
District Judge Lewis Kaplan said E. Jean Carroll’s second defamation trial against former President Trump will begin on Jan. 15, 2024. Trump might have to defend himself in three trials early next year as he seeks the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Jonathan Stempel reports for Reuters.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
A federal grand jury indicted Jack Teixeira, the alleged Discord leaker of classified documents, on six counts related to his retention and transmission of those documents, acting U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Levy said in a statement yesterday.
The Justice Department is expected to publish the results of an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department today. The department drew international attention following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. While the report’s contents are still unknown, people familiar with the investigation said the inquiry uncovered significant systemic problems. Mitch Smith, Glenn Thrush, and Ernesto Londoño report for the New York Times.
Customs and Border Protection stopped scheduling appointments for asylum seekers looking to enter the United States at Laredo, Texas, due to security concerns in the neighboring Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo. Recently, Nuevo Laredo has been troubled by frequent shootouts between drug cartels and Mexican security forces. The customs agency said there is a relatively low demand for appointments at that port of entry. Alicia A. Caldwell and Juan Montes report for the Wall Street Journal.
Several federal government agencies have been hit in a global cyberattack by Russian criminals that exploited a vulnerability in widely used software, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. CLOP, the ransomware gang allegedly responsible, has demanded ransom from its victims. However, the hackers have said online, “If you are a government, city or police service do not worry, we erased all your data. You do not need to contact us. We have no interest to expose such information.” Sean Lyngaas reports for CNN.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met with Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel yesterday and agreed to seek opportunities to work together in electricity generation, biotechnology, and mining, among other areas. The visit brings Raisi’s Latin America tour to an end. He met with several leaders who confronted “Yankee imperialism.” Nelson Acosta reports for Reuters.
The USS Michigan, a nuclear-powered submarine, made port in South Korea today. The arrival comes a day after North Korea resumed missile tests in protest of the U.S.-South Korean live-fire drills. Hyung-Jin Kim and Kim Tong-Hyung report for AP News.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has downplayed the chances of a diplomatic breakthrough with China. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Beijing on Jun. 18 and 19. Sullivan said “the most significant” upcoming diplomatic event will be Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to Washington, pegged as a “transformational moment.” Yukiko Toyoda and Tim Kelly report for Reuters.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – GLOBAL RESPONSE
Amid growing NATO division regarding Ukraine’s accession, the United States is backing a plan to remove barriers to Ukraine’s entry without setting a specific timeline. A senior U.S. official said the Biden administration is “comfortable” with a recommendation from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg permitting Ukraine to forgo a formal candidacy process, circumventing the alliance’s Membership Action Plan. Missy Ryan reports for the Washington Post.
Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, yesterday said that ensuring water for cooling was a priority of his visit to the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, adding that the station could operate safely for “some time.” Grossi’s plant inspection follows last week’s breach in the Kakhovka dam downstream on the Dnipro River. Reuters reports.
Australia has blocked Russia from building a new embassy near its parliament, citing spying concerns. Laws specifically drafted to halt the construction of the embassy were rapidly passed yesterday after legal attempts to block the development failed. The Kremlin said it would take this “Russophobic hysteria” into account in the future. Nicholas Yong reports for BBC News.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Russian forces have stepped up aerial strikes, targeting the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa and shelling the eastern Donetsk region early Wednesday, killing at least six people and damaging dozens of homes. Jamey Keaton reports for AP News.
While it is too early to give any verdict, Ukraine’s grueling and bloody counteroffensive has made some gains, Ukrainian and American officials said yesterday. Ukraine retook small settlements and villages last week. Independent analysts say that in recent days, Kyiv’s advances in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions have advanced by a few hundred feet. Marc Santora reports for the New York Times.
The International Criminal Court says it will examine allegations of war crimes by M23 rebels in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Congolese government previously made a formal referral to the ICC over violence involving the rebels that displaced about a million people. President Félix Tshisekedi and U.N. investigators have accused Rwanda of backing M23. Will Ross reports for BBC News.
A report has condemned former prime minister Boris Johnson for misleading Parliament over COVID-19 rule-breaking. Lawmakers will vote on the report’s recommendation on Monday. Because Johnson stood down as an MP, the main punishment available to the committee is to strip him of the parliamentary pass former MPs are entitled to hold. If Johnson were still in Parliament, MPs would vote on whether to suspend him for 90 days. Damian Grammaticas, Ione Wells, and Kate Whannel report for BBC News.
In a step back from decades of pacifism, Japan is preparing military aid for the Philippines to help secure sea approaches and safeguard Taiwan’s western flank, officials say. In a bid to ensure a Chinese attack on Taiwan does not spark a broader conflict, Tokyo said it would offer like-minded countries military aid. While the United States is advising on the military aid package for the Philippines, one Japanese official affirmed that the aid effort was a Japanese initiative and not anything the United States had sought. Tim Kelly, Sakura Murakami, and Yukiko Toyoda report for Reuters.
Beijing is planning significant measures to revitalize China’s flagging economy, including the possibility of billions of dollars in new infrastructure spending and looser rules to encourage property investors to buy more homes. The measures would follow a series of interest rate cuts by China’s central bank this week. The economic woes are compounded by the rising tensions with the United States and businesses’ eyeing new supply chains outside of China. Keith Zhai, Jason Douglas, and Stella Yifan Xie report for the Wall Street Journal.
North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast yesterday, its first missile test in two months. The launch comes after the United States and South Korean militaries conducted a joint live-fire exercise near the inter-Korean border. Choe Sang-Hun reports for the New York Times.