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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 – HUNTER BIDEN LEGAL MATTERS
Hunter Biden is expected to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax crimes and admit to illegally owning a gun while being a drug user. The terms of the agreement will likely keep Biden out of jail. The final plea deal must be approved by the judge in the case, who will also determine Biden’s sentence. Bernd Debusmann Jr reports for BBC News.
Read the Hunter Biden charging documents published by POLITICO.
Rep. James Comer (R-KY), chair of the House Oversight Committee, has requested clarification from the Attorney for Delaware, David Weiss, about the “ongoing” Hunter Biden investigation. Comer said the plea deal has “no impact” on his panel’s investigation into the Biden family. Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) has said, “If there’s a plea entered and it’s done, and then the investigation is over, then certainly we’re going to want to talk to [Weiss].” Weiss sent Jordan a letter earlier this month refusing to turn over documents Jordan requested related to the Hunter Biden tax investigation, citing his “ultimate authority” over the investigation. Andrew Solender reports for Axios.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Judge Aileen Cannon, overseeing the prosecution of former President Trump over his handling of classified documents, yesterday ordered a trial to begin as soon as Aug. 14. Cannon’s timeline is expected to be delayed by months of pretrial litigation, including over how to handle classified material in court. These delays may push to trial to late 2024. Sadie Gurman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Support for former President Trump has declined following his indictment and arrest on federal charges, according to a new poll. However, Trump continues to enjoy a wide margin as the frontrunner in the race for the Republican nomination for president. Most Americans support Trump’s indictment, even as 71% say politics played a role in that charging decision. Read CNN’s poll conducted by SSRS.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – JAN. 6 ATTACK
John Eastman, former lawyer to former President Trump, who wrote a memo arguing that then-Vice President Pence could overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 election win, is set to face disbarment proceedings in California. Counsel for the State Bar alleged that Eastman made false and misleading statements with his baseless claims of widespread election fraud, including his remarks at the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6. Summer Concepcion reports for NBC News.
District Judge Amit P. Mehta on Friday found Kellye SoRelle, a lawyer for the Oath Keepers and partner of the group’s leader, mentally incompetent to stand trial next month on charges related to the Jan. 6 attack. SoRelle’s trial was postponed indefinitely following the defense and government medical experts’ reports that she suffered from a mental disease or defect, rendering her unfit to understand the proceedings against her. Both sides are searching for an inpatient hospital facility where SoRelle can be held to determine whether competence could be restored. Spencer S. Hsu reports for the Washington Post.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The Georgia State Election Board dismissed the investigation into alleged misconduct by Fulton County election workers during the 2020 election after finding no evidence of conspiracy. Jason Morris reports for CNN.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) introduced a privileged resolution to impeach President Biden, citing a “dereliction of duty” and “abuse of power” over his handling of the U.S.-Mexico border. Boebert’s privileged resolution would force lawmakers to vote on the measure in the next two days by bypassing the usual process for bringing legislation to a full House vote. However, House Democrats yesterday announced they intend to table the resolution, preventing the House from considering a vote. Several Republican lawmakers and aides privately complained that Boebert’s actions were a distraction. Marianna Sotomayor reports for the Washington Post.
Michael McMahon, a former New York City police sergeant, was convicted by a jury yesterday of acting as an illegal Chinese agent by intimidating Xu Jin, a New Jersey-based fugitive. Federal prosecutors said McMahon was hired to surveil Xu, whom China accused of corruption, as part of a global repatriation campaign by Chinese law enforcement called “Operation Fox Hunt.” Jurors also convicted McMahon on a stalking charge but found him not guilty of conspiring to act as a foreign agent. No sentencing date has been set. Luc Cohen reports for Reuters.
Justice Samuel Alito has responded to a ProPublica request for answers concerning his conduct on the Supreme Court in an op-ed, in which Alito says ProPublica’s portrayal of ethics issues “is misleading.” ProPublica has raised two accusations against Alito. Firstly, ProPublica said Alito failed to recuse himself in a matter concerning an individual whom Alito knew. ProPublica also says Alito failed to list items as gifts in his 2008 Financial Disclose Report. Read Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) yesterday introduced the Retired Officers Conflict of Interest Act, which would rewrite some of the ethics and lobbying rules that affect former military officials who work as consultants and contractors for foreign governments. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.
President Biden called Chinese President Xi Jinping a dictator yesterday. Biden made the comment when speaking about the spy balloon incident, “The reason why Xi Jinping got very upset in terms of when I shot that balloon down … is he didn’t know it was there … That was the great embarrassment for dictators, when they didn’t know what happened.” Andrew Zhang reports for POLITICO.
75 Democratic lawmakers urged President Biden yesterday to raise human rights issues with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Washington. The lawmakers cited religious intolerance, press freedoms, internet access, and the targeting of civil society groups as human rights issues in India. Patricia Zengerle reports for Reuters.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – WESTERN ASSISTANCE
The Pentagon has revised upwards its previously overestimated value of the weapons it has sent to Ukraine to $6.2 billion. As a result, the department has additional money to use to support Ukraine. Based on previous estimates announced on Jun. 13, the U.S. had committed over $40 billion in security assistance to Ukraine. However, the new data shows that the U.S. has provided less than $34 billion in aid. The Guardian reports.
Diplomats and business leaders from dozens of countries met at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London today in a bid to gather funds to rebuild Ukraine. The World Bank estimates rebuilding costs will be more than $400 billion. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will announce a new U.S. assistance package at the conference. Jill Lawless reports for AP News.
The E.U. has proposed an economic support package worth over $54 billion for Ukraine between 2024 and 2027. The proposal will need backing from EU member states, many of whom face tight budget conditions amid the economic slowdown and high inflation unleashed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Laurence Norman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Ukrainian air defense systems shot down 32 of 35 Iranian-made drones launched by Russia yesterday, the Ukrainian military’s general staff said. Kelsey Ables, Ellen Francis, David L. Stern, Miriam Berger, and Sammy Westfall report for the Washington Post.
Russian air defense systems shot down three drones in the Moscow region today, the Defense Ministry said. Russia has blamed Ukraine for the attempted attack. Reuters reports.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – EUROPE
Foreign intelligence services are increasingly targeting Germany, its domestic intelligence agency said yesterday. The agency warned that espionage, cyberattacks, and disinformation campaigns, particularly from China and Russia, “pose a serious threat” to Germany. Erika Solomon reports for the New York Times.
The E.U. Commission yesterday unveiled a new trade strategy to curb China’s ability to squeeze Europe’s economy and prevent European companies from exporting sensitive, military-linked technology. Matina Stevis-Gridneff reports for the New York Times.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Four Israelis have been killed and four others wounded in an attack near a settlement in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian militant group Hamas said the two gunmen who committed the attack were its members. Armed civilians and the Israel Defense Forces have killed both gunmen. The attack comes after seven Palestinians were killed and more than 90 wounded during a raid into the Jenin refugee camp by Israeli forces this week. David Gritten reports for BBC News.
Taiwan’s government says China will try to interfere in key elections in January by illicitly funding China-friendly candidates, according to three internal security reports. Yimou Lee reports for Reuters.