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Early Edition: January 24, 2023

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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.

CALIFORNIA MASS SHOOTINGS 

Seven people have been killed in the second mass shooting in California in three days. The shooting took place at Half Moon Bay, about 30 miles south of San Francisco. The suspect, Zhao Chunli, 67, has been taken into custody “without incident,” the authorities said. Holly Second, April Rubin and Jesus Jiménez report for the New York Times

The death toll in the shooting at a dance hall in Monterey Park has risen to 11 after another victim succumbed to their injuries. The authorities revealed that the gunman tried to carry out a second attack in neighboring Alhambra late Saturday, but was disarmed by a dance hall employee. While the shooter’s motive remains elusive, a law enforcement official briefed on the matter said that the gunman may have specifically targeted some of those killed and that others were randomly shot. Tim Arango, Victoria Kim, Edgar Sandoval, Soumya Karlamangla and Jill Cowan report for the New York Times

JAN. 6 ATTACK

Four members of the far-right Oath Keepers militia were found guilty of seditious conspiracy yesterday for their roles in the Jan. 6 attack. The defendants – Robert Minuta, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel and Edward Vallejo – were originally charged alongside Oath Keeper leader Stewart Rhodes, who was convicted of the same offense in November. However, their trial was broken off into separate proceedings due to space constraints. Zach Montague reports for the New York Times.

A federal jury yesterday convicted Richard Barnett, the man who posed with his boots on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk during the Jan. 6 attack, of eight counts, including disorderly conduct in a capitol building. Barnett faces up to 47 years in prison when he is sentenced in May, according to a spokesperson from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Barnett’s lawyer said that his client planned to appeal the verdict, which he said was returned after only two hours of deliberation. Michael Levenson reports for the New York Times. 

OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS 

The White House didn’t commit yesterday to providing information to House Republicans investigating how classified material ended up in President Biden’s home and former private office. In a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY), White House counsel Stuart Delery said his office is reviewing Republicans’ requests for copies of documents that were found at Biden’s properties and internal communications about the issue. Delery said it was the White House’s goal to “accommodate legitimate oversight interests,” while also stressing the need to “protect the integrity and independence of law enforcement investigations.” He noted that the White House does not have possession of the documents, which have been handed over to the Justice Department and the National Archives. Andrew Restuccia reports for the Wall Street Journal

U.S. RELATIONS 

A former high-level FBI official has been charged with taking money from a former foreign intelligence service agent and conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions by taking secret payments from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The former official, Charles McGonigal, had been the special agent in charge of the FBI’s counterintelligence division in New York before retiring in 2018. Benjamin Weiser and William K. Rashbaum report for the New York Times

The White House has nominated a special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, a position that has remained vacant for six years. The administration has put forward Julie Turner, director of the Office of East Asia and the Pacific in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the State Department, according to the announcement. The Senate must confirm her nomination. Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports for the Washington Post. 

RUSSIA, UKRAINE – GLOBAL RESPONSE 

The Biden administration has recently raised concerns with China about evidence it has suggesting Chinese companies have sold non-lethal equipment to Russia for use in Ukraine. However, while the equipment transfers are “concerning,” it is not clear at this stage whether the Chinese government is aware of it, one U.S. official said. The transfers are expected to be a topic of discussion when Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits China in the coming weeks. Katie Bo Lillis, Natasha Bertrand, Alex Marquardt and Kylie Atwood report for CNN

Russia has said that any agreement by Germany to send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, would “not bode well” for future relations. The comments by Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov come after Poland’s defense minister said he had sought official consent from Germany to send the German-made weapons to the front line. The Washington Post reports.

Germany will decide “very soon” whether to allow the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said. If the decision is taken to send the tanks, Germany will be able to “act very soon,” he added. Pistorius’s comments were made during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Inke Kappeler and Claudia Otto report for CNN

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday threatened to block Sweden’s entrance to NATO. The threat came after the country permitted a far-right politician to publicly burn a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm over the weekend. In televised remarks, Erdogan said that unless Sweden showed “respect to the religious beliefs of Muslim and Turkish people” they would not find “any kind of support from us on NATO.” Jared Malsin and Sune Engel Rasmussen report for the Wall Street Journal.  

RUSSIA, UKRAINE – OTHER DEVELOPMENTS 

Several senior Ukrainian officials left their posts yesterday, as Ukraine renewed its anti-corruption effort. The departures included Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s deputy head of office, as well as four deputy ministers and five regional governors. Recently, authorities have seen bribery claims, as well as reports of officials buying food at inflated prices and living lavish lifestyles. Senior aide Mykhailo Podolyak said Zelenskyy was responding to a “key public demand” that justice should apply to everyone. James Waterhouse and Phelan Chatterjee report for BBC News

A Ukrainian intelligence report has revealed the battleground tactics of Russian paramilitary organization Wagner Group around the city of Bakhmut. The report, obtained by CNN, concludes that Wagner represents a unique threat, given the group’s indifference to casualties. “The deaths of thousands of Wagner soldiers do not matter to Russian society,” the report asserts. Wounded Wagner fighters are often left on the battlefield for hours, and unauthorized retreat is punishable by execution on the spot. Tim Lister, Frederik Pleitgen and Victoria Butenko report for CNN.

OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS

Germany yesterday charged five suspects in a plot to kidnap the country’s health minister and overthrow the government. Germany’s public prosecutor said the group had planned to blow up power infrastructure, “trigger civil-war-like conditions” and overthrow democracy. All five have been charged with being suspected members of a terrorist group and planning “highly treasonable” acts against the government, it said. The indictment is the latest development in Germany’s investigation into the extremist Reichsbürger movement. Loveday Morris and Vanessa Guinan-Bank report for the Washington Post

COVID-19

COVID-19 has infected over 102.034 million people and has now killed over 1.10 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 669.124 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.74 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.

A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. is available at the New York Times.

U.S. and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post

The post Early Edition: January 24, 2023 appeared first on Just Security.

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