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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.
WAGNER ARMED ACTION
The paramilitary organization Wagner group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin remains under Russian investigation for his armed action, despite the Kremlin saying criminal charges had been dropped. In his first message since Saturday, Prigozhin said his group had merely aimed to “avoid the destruction of Wagner.” Laurence Peter reports for BBC News.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called regular Wagner troops “patriots” who would be allowed to join the army, go to Belarus, or return home while accusing the leaders of the armed action of wanting “to see Russia choked in bloody strife.” James Gregory and Sarah Rainsford report for BBC News.
WAGNER ARMED ACTION – WESTERN RESPONSE
The United States and its allies had “nothing to do with” the armed action in Russia, President Biden said yesterday. Biden also said he had convened a conference call to coordinate with some of the United States’ key allies over the weekend, who agreed to give Russian President Vladimir Putin “no excuse to blame this on the West or to blame this on NATO.” Biden cautioned that it was “still too early to reach a definitive conclusion about where this is going.” Anushka Patil and Michael Crowley report for the New York Times.
U.S. intelligence officials gathered an extraordinarily detailed and accurate picture of paramilitary organization Wagner group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s plans leading up to his short-lived armed action, including where and how Wagner was planning to advance, sources familiar with the matter have said. That intelligence was so closely held that it was shared only with select allies, including senior British officials, and not at the broader NATO level. Sharing the information more broadly would have risked compromising especially sensitive sources and methods, sources explained. Natasha Bertrand, Alex Marquardt, Kylie Atwood, and Kevin Liptak report for CNN.
The United States and its allies are struggling to make sense of the armed action in Russia over the weekend. Officials are trying to understand the implications of the armed action for Ukraine’s counter-offensive and the stability of the political system in Russia. Some have called into question the longevity of the truce that paramilitary organization Wagner group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to strike over the weekend. Shane Harris, Michael Birnbaum, Greg Miller, John Hudson, and Amy B Wang report for the Washington Post.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry yesterday said its forces had taken the village of Rivnopil in the western Donetsk region as Kyiv looks to take advantage of the confusion in Russia in the wake of paramilitary organization Wagner group’s armed action over the weekend. Matthew Luxmoore reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The Pentagon is set to announce up to $500 million in military aid for Ukraine today, including more than 50 heavily armored vehicles and an infusion of missiles for air defense systems, U.S. officials said yesterday. Lolita C. Baldor and Matthew Lee report for AP News.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Judge Aileen Cannon has set Jul. 14 as the first hearing date to determine how classified documents will be handled in the Mar-a-Lago documents case. Trump and his co-defendant Walt Nauta are not required to attend the hearing. Cannon yesterday granted special counsel Jack Smith’s request to hold the hearing under the Classified Information Procedures Act. Tierney Sneed and Katelyn Polantz report for CNN.
Judge Aileen Cannon, overseeing the Mar-a-Lago documents case, yesterday denied the government’s request to keep secret the identities of some or all of the Justice Department’s 84 potential witnesses. Alan Feuer reports for the New York Times.
The Justice Department’s investigation into former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results is progressing on multiple tracks, with prosecutors focused on ads and fundraising pitches claiming election fraud and plans for “fake electors.” Josh Dawsey and Devlin Barrett report for the Washington Post.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – HUNTER BIDEN
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has threatened an impeachment investigation of Attorney General Merrick Garland over the Justice Department’s criminal probe of Hunter Biden. If U.S. Attorney David Weiss, the federal prosecutor overseeing the investigation into Hunter Biden, confirms the IRS whistleblower’s accusations, then this “will be a significant part of a larger impeachment inquiry into Merrick Garland’s weaponization of DOJ,” McCarthy said. David Morgan reports for Reuters.
FBI Director Christopher Wray is expected to testify before the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee on Jul. 12, two sources familiar with the matter confirmed yesterday. One of the sources said, “Everything is on the table” for discussion at the hearing. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has criticized Wray on numerous topics, including the federal investigation into Hunter Biden. Rebecca Kaplan and Rebecca Shabad report for NBC News.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
The Supreme Court yesterday returned the Louisiana congressional map case to the federal appeals court in New Orleans, raising the chances that the state will soon be required to create a second district that empowers Black voters to select a representative. The justices ruled that the lower court should review the case before the 2024 congressional elections in the state. Yesterday’s announcement came after the court issued a surprise ruling this month in the Alabama case, finding that lawmakers there had undercut the voting power of Black constituents. Emily Cochrane reports for the New York Times.
The detainees at Guantánamo Bay are being held under circumstances that constitute “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under international law,” the U.N. special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, Fionnuala Ni Aolain, said yesterday. The conclusions were made following the Special Rapporteur’s visit to the facility in February. Carol Rosenberg reports for the New York Times.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis yesterday provided his detailed hard-line plan for securing the U.S. southern border in a bid to outflank former President Trump in the Republican presidential nomination. Under the plan, DeSantis would end so-called “catch and release” and would detain migrants crossing the border until their hearing dates; deny entry to any migrant at the border claiming political asylum; and tax remittances from migrants living in the country illegally to pay for the construction of a border wall. James Oliphant reports for Reuters.
In last week’s meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese officials, Blinken was asked if the United States has a vested interest in the outcome of the Taiwan election, scheduled for January, as China tried to address the potential election of a “pro-independence” candidate. The question was raised even though Taiwan’s Vice President Lai Ching-te has moderated his position and, as a candidate, has promised to take a practical approach to China. Blinken responded that the U.S. would be even-handed in the election and does not support meddling. Lingling Wei, Charles Hutzler, and William Mauldin report for the Wall Street Journal.
Chinese Premier Li Qiang today accused Western nations of “sowing division and confrontation” in thinly veiled criticisms of the United States. Li claimed that “some people in the West” have politicized economic issues at a time when the global economy most needs exchange and cooperation. Li’s remarks come after the Group of Seven pledged to “de-risk” and diversify away from China. Lily Kuo reports for the Washington Post.
The Biden administration yesterday denounced online harassment against Sabrina Siddiqui, a Wall Street Journal reporter, who asked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about his government’s human rights record at the White House last week. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the White House is aware of the harassment and called it “unacceptable.” Axios reports.
New evidence of China’s spy balloon program has been uncovered using artificial intelligence to sift through vast amounts of satellite data. Japan has confirmed balloons have flown over its territory and said it is prepared to shoot them down in the future. China has not directly addressed the evidence. Gordon Corera reports for BBC News.
Germany is ready to permanently send 4,000 troops to Lithuania in coordination with NATO defense planning following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the German defense minister said yesterday. Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda said he was aiming for the necessary infrastructure for hosting the troops to be in place by 2026. Reuters reports.