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Early Edition: March 10, 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.

RUSSIA, UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS

Ukrainian forces have repelled over 100 Russian attacks in the past 24 hours. Russia’s first missile blitz on Ukrainian cities in weeks was met with defiance and disgust over the targeting of civilians. Russia has confirmed using hypersonic missiles, which can evade air defenses. Reuters reports. 

The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency expressed astonishment yesterday about international complacency over safety at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. Rafael Mariano Grossi, head of the U.N. agency, urged immediate action to restore security at the plant where power was again cut after Russian missile strikes. “Each time, we are rolling a dice,” Grossi warned, “and if we allow this to continue time after time, then one day our luck will run out.” Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Marc Santora report for the New York Times.  

The attack on the Nord Stream pipelines last year may have involved a yacht crewed by six, according to a senior German official familiar the ongoing investigation. The boat, rented by individuals who presented Ukrainian passports, docked in areas close to the blast sites, according to the official who saw a report on the investigation. The report is based primarily on a continuing probe by the Federal Criminal Office, which is handling the investigation on behalf of German federal prosecutors. Bojan Pancevski and Sune Engel Rasmussen report for the New York Times

Turkey has acknowledged that Sweden and Finland have taken concrete steps to meet Ankara’s concerns over their bids to join NATO, Sweden’s chief negotiator said yesterday. The Turkish president’s spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said actions taken by Sweden and Finland to address Ankara’s security concerns were positive but not enough for Turkey’s ratification of their NATO bid. Reuters reports. 

DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS 

White supremacist organizations distributed racist, antisemitic, or otherwise hateful propaganda on more than 6,750 separate occasions last year, according to a report released by the Anti-Defamation League yesterday. According to the report, there has been a nearly 40 percent rise in similar incidents compared with 2021 and a more than fivefold increase since 2018. While around 50 organizations distributed white supremacist propaganda last year, three groups — Patriot Front, Goyim Defense League, and the White Lives Matter movement — were responsible for more than 90 percent of the incidents. Alan Feuer reports for the New York Times

Senate staff had their data stolen after the cyber security breach on Capitol Hill earlier this week, an email obtained by CNN revealed yesterday. The email, sent by the Senate sergeant-at-arms, said the compromised data includes Social Security numbers, home addresses, and information on Senate employees’ health insurance plans. The revelation that Senate staff also had their data stolen will only increase pressure from Capitol Hill on D.C. Health Link, the affected insurance service, to provide a full accounting of how the breach occurred. Sean Lyngaas reports for CNN

Representative Darin LaHood (R-IL) identified himself as the target of FBI surveillance searches that violated laws 3 years ago. LaHood is the leader of a bipartisan working group of Intelligence Committee members trying to persuade Congress to reauthorize the warrantless surveillance law in question, Section 702. Section 702 authorizes the government to collect the private messages of targeted foreigners abroad without a warrant, even when communicating with U.S. citizens. While LaHood said surveillance violations could be “seen as a threat to the separation of powers,” he still believes that Congress must reauthorize Section 702. Charlie Savage reports for the New York Times

A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that Florida can constitutionally ban adults under 21 from purchasing guns, upholding a state law enacted weeks after the 2018 school massacre in Parkland. In a unanimous three-judge opinion, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Supreme Court’s recent expansion of Second Amendment rights did not allow young adults to buy firearms unimpeded. The NRA, which sued to block the ban, said it was considering appeal options. State Republican lawmakers introduced legislation this month that would return the minimum purchase age to 18. Jacob Gershman reports for the New York Times

A former Republican Ohio House of Representatives speaker was found guilty by a federal jury yesterday of participating in a racketeering conspiracy involving nearly $61 million in bribes and a $1.3 billion bailout for a nuclear energy company. Larry Householder, once one of the state’s most powerful officials, and Matthew Borges, a former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, face up to 20 years imprisonment each. Householders’ lawyers are expected to appeal. April Rubin reports for the New York Times

Special counsel Jack Smith yesterday asked Chief Judge Beryl Howell to reject attorney-client privilege claims that Evan Corcoran, a lawyer for Donald Trump, raised on behalf of the former president during a January grand jury appearance. Prosecutors asked Howell to invoke the crime-fraud exception, which applies when there is reason to believe that legal advice has been used to further a crime. The exception would compel Corcoran to give further evidence. Corcoran is of interest to federal investigators because he handled Trump’s responses to government requests to return records from his presidency last year. C. Ryan Barber and Sadie Gurman report for the Wall Street Journal

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg invited Former President Trump to appear before a grand jury investigating his business affairs next week, three people with knowledge of the proceedings said yesterday. Bragg’s office convened the grand jury to evaluate business-related matters, including Trump’s role in hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels that were classified as a legal expense. It remains unclear whether Bragg will seek an indictment. Shayna Jacobs and Josh Dawsey report for the Washington Post

A U.S. District Court Judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, ordered former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro to turn over hundreds of emails he sent or received during his nearly four years as a White House aide. Kollar-Kotelly said the privately held emails were subject to the Presidential Records Act, which requires work-related messages created or sent on a personal messaging account to be forwarded to an official account within 20 business days. Navarro is also facing a trial in the coming months on two criminal, misdemeanor charges of contempt of Congress for defying subpoenas from the special House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack. Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney report for POLITICO

JAN. 6 ATTACK

House Republicans yesterday began investigating whether people charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack have been mistreated in jail. The investigation, part of a broader effort by Republicans to rewrite the history of the attack by portraying participants as the actual victims, has been a top priority of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). In a report of her visits to jail in November, Greene said inmates reported mistreatment, being beaten by other detainees, and not being provided care. Luke Broadwater reports for the New York Times

Federal prosecutors accidentally turned over potentially classified FBI information to Proud Boys members on trial for seditious conspiracy. The issue came to light during the cross-examination of FBI agent Nicole Miller on Wednesday, when attorney Nicholas Smith, who is representing Proud Boys member Ethan Nordean, revealed messages between FBI agents discussing the investigation into the group and their actions during the attack. Defense attorneys have been instructed not to review or share the over 1000 messages while the FBI examine the information. Holmes Lybrand and Casey Gannon report for CNN

U.S. RELATIONS

Chinese leader Xi Jinping begins his third term as president today, focusing on rivalry with the U.S.. Xi has signaled that he is prepared to push back against the U.S. over its sanctions and restrictions on Chinese firms and its expanding military deployments around Asia. The National People’s Congress is set to approve an increase of 7.2 percent to China’s military spending this year. Chris Buckley and Keith Bradsher report for the New York Times

The Biden administration yesterday imposed new sanctions against a group of Chinese companies it said were supplying parts for Iranian drones used by Russia in Ukraine. The Treasury said five Chinese companies and one individual were “responsible for the sale and shipment of thousands of aerospace components,” including parts that could be used to manufacture drones, to Tehran. A separate tranche of U.S. sanctions announced yesterday target 39 entities operating in Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates. Lauren Fedor and John Paul Rathbone report for the Financial Times.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un ordered the military to intensify drills to deter and respond to a “real war” if necessary, state media said today. The order comes after North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile off its west coast yesterday. The U.S. and South Korea are preparing to begin large-scale military exercises known as the Freedom Shield drills next week. Soo-Hyang Choi reports for Reuters.  

Five men were found by the Mexican authorities yesterday along with a letter purportedly from a powerful criminal cartel, blaming the men for the recent deadly kidnapping, according to two people familiar with the investigation. The note apologized for the attack and claimed that the cartel was offering up the men who had carried it out. The five men will be questioned. Natalie Kitroeff and Maria Abi-Habib for the New York Times

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS

Saudi Arabia requires U.S. security guarantees, a civilian nuclear program, and fewer restrictions on U.S. arms sales in exchange for normalizing relations with Israel, people familiar with the exchanges said. The exchange offers President Biden the chance to broker an agreement that would reshape Israel’s relationship with the most powerful Arab state. The agreement would be in the U.S.’s interest, particularly to counter Iranian influence. Officials and experts in the U.S. and the Middle East were divided on how seriously to take the proposal, given the frosty relations between Biden and crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and the rising tensions in the West Bank. Michael Crowley, Vivian Nereim, and Patrick Kingsley report for the New York Times

Protesters in Israel yesterday blocked roads and attempted to stop the prime minister from flying out of the country amid nationwide demonstrations against controversial judicial reforms. Reservists and students also joined the protests that have continued for 10 weeks. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stressed the importance of an “independent judiciary” during a news conference alongside Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Israel yesterday. Tom Bateman and Raffi Berg report for BBC News

An Islamist Hamas militant from the West Bank opened fire in Tel Aviv yesterday, wounding three people before being killed by police. The shooting followed a spate of Palestinian attacks around Jerusalem and in the West Bank, killing 13 Israelis and a Ukrainian woman since late January. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who landed in Israel yesterday, expressed concern about escalating violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where three Palestinian militants have recently been killed. Rami Amichay reports for Reuters

Australia and India have agreed to broaden their economic partnership and boost their defense ties, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in New Delhi today. The agreement may expedite negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), which has not made a breakthrough since 2011. The CECA would build on the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement of 2018. India and Australia are security partners through the Quad group, which includes the U.S. and Japan. Krishn Kaushik reports for Reuters.

Seven people were killed yesterday and several injured in a shooting at a Jehovah’s Witness meeting hall in Hamburg, German, police say. The lone gunman, a former member of the religious community, aged between 30 and 40, is believed dead. His motives are unknown. Jenny Hill and Emily McGarvey report for BBC News

The U.N. has purchased a ship containing more than a million barrels of crude oil to prevent an environmental catastrophe off the coast of Yemen. The stranded ship was left abandoned off the port of Hodeida after Yemen’s civil war broke out in 2015. It has not been serviced since, and there are fears the vessel could soon break apart or explode. The ship will head to Yemen, where the oil will be removed. Gareth Evans reports for BBC News

COVID-19

COVID-19 has infected over 103.802 million people and has now killed over 1.12 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 676.598 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.88 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

 

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