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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the weekend. Here’s today’s news.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – NIGER
A planned meeting by the West African regional bloc, Ecowas’ chiefs of defense staff to discuss the Niger coup was postponed. No reason was given for the delay. Grant Ferrett reports for BBC News.
The West African regional bloc, Ecowas’ standby force intended “to restore constitutional order” in Niger, could take months to begin operations. Despite the force being deployed on Thursday, Ecowas’ chairperson, Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, referred to the use of force as a “last resort.” The mixed messages left U.S. officials wondering whether Ecowas was bluffing with its threat of force. Michael M. Phillips and Benoit Faucon report for the Wall Street Journal.
Military intervention in Niger would lead to a “protracted confrontation,” Russia has warned. Russia does not formally back the coup. Sean Seddon reports for BBC News.
The coup leaders in Niger yesterday said they will prosecute ousted President Mohamed Bazoum for “high treason” and undermining state security. The military has “gathered the necessary evidence to prosecute before competent national and international authorities the ousted president and his local and foreign accomplices for high treason and for undermining the internal and external security of Niger,” spokesperson Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane said. AP News reports.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
U.N. experts have successfully siphoned over a million barrels of oil from a decaying tanker moored off Yemen, which “could have been a monumental environmental and humanitarian catastrophe,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said. Sune Engel Rasmussen reports for the Wall Street Journal.
At least seven people have been killed, including a 23-day-old baby, and 13 injured after Russian strikes hit the Kherson region of southern Ukraine yesterday morning. Kherson has been continuously shelled since November, when Russian forces retreated from Kherson across the Dnipro River. Cassandra Vinograd reports for the New York Times.
A Russian warship fired warning shots at a Ukraine-bound cargo vessel in the Black Sea yesterday, drawing condemnation from Ukrainian officials, with one calling it a “clear violation of international law.” The shots were fired after the cargo vessel failed to respond to a call for inspection by Russian forces. Lyric Li reports for the Washington Post.
Two Ukrainian missiles targeted the Kerch bridge linking Russia to the occupied Crimean peninsula, Russia’s defense ministry said. The missiles were shot down, causing no damage. Antoinette Radford and Graeme Baker report for BBC News.
Ukrainian forces are making “tactically significant” advances along two fronts, forcing Russia to divert forces from other parts of the front line. The gains of no more than 10 to 12 miles will weaken the Russian defenses, creating “opportunities for any Ukrainian breakthrough to be potentially decisive,” the Institute for the Study of War said. Marc Santora reports for the New York Times.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismissed all regional military recruitment chiefs on Friday following reports of “illicit enrichment,” laundering “illegally obtained funds,” and the “illegal transportation of persons liable for military service across the border.” David L. Stern reports for the Washington Post.
There is a realistic possibility that Russia no longer funds the paramilitary organization Wagner Group, the U.K.’s defense ministry said yesterday.
Taiwan’s vice president and election frontrunner, William Lai, visited New York on his way to Paraguay over the weekend. China accused the United States yesterday of engaging Taiwan in political activities under the guise of a stopover and branded Lai a “troublemaker.” Derek Cai and Rupert Wingfield-Hayes report for BBC News.
President Biden last week described China as a “ticking time bomb” at the heart of the world economy and a potential threat to other nations. The comments come amid deteriorating U.S.-China relations and signal Biden’s willingness to criticize China. Michael D. Shear reports for the New York Times.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan has permitted former President Trump to discuss evidence gathered in the Jan. 6 case but blocked the sharing of sensitive discovery such as witnesses’ testimony. “Mr. Trump, like every American, has a First Amendment right to free speech, but that right is not absolute. In a criminal case such as this one, a defendant’s free speech is subject to release conditions […] and must yield to the orderly administration of justice,” Chutkan said. Rebecca Beitsch and Zach Schonfeld report for The Hill.
Georgia prosecutors investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election results have text messages and emails directly linking former President Trump’s legal team members to the January 2021 voting system breach in Coffee County. Trump allies attempted to access voting systems as part of the broader effort to produce evidence that could strengthen Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud. Zachary Cohen and Sara Murray report for CNN.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – HUNTER BIDEN
Attorney General Merrick Garland gave David Weiss, the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney for Delaware leading the investigation into Hunter Biden, special counsel status. The move merely formalizes Weiss’ powers, as he could previously act independently. The move comes amid continued accusations from the Republican party that Hunter Biden was offered a sweetheart plea bargain because of political manipulations by Garland or the White House. Charlie Savage reports for the New York Times.
Lawyers for Hunter Biden said in a court filing yesterday that prosecutors reneged on a plea deal that would have resolved tax and firearms charges. Hunter Biden may now be headed for a criminal trial. Jack Queen reports for Reuters.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Ninety-three people have been confirmed dead, and hundreds remain unaccounted for in the Maui fire, the most deadly in the United States in a century. It remains unclear if early warning systems malfunctioned, with many people reporting they were not forewarned about the fires. Max Matza, Holly Honderich, and Kathryn Armstrong report for BBC News.
James W. Clark of Massachusetts, who searched online for an Arizona election official’s address and name along with the words “how to kill,” pleaded guilty on Friday to sending the official a bomb threat, the U.S. Justice Department said.