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Early Edition: March 31, 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.

INDICTMENT OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP

Former President Trump faces more than 30 counts related to business fraud in an indictment from a Manhattan grand jury, according to two sources familiar with the case. Grand jury proceedings are secret, and the indictment sought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office is not public. Bragg’s office has been investigating the former president’s alleged role in a hush money payment scheme and cover-up involving adult actor Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election. Kara Scannell, John Miller, Jeremy Herb and Devan Cole report for CNN

Former President Trump is expected to voluntarily surrender on Tuesday, according to one of his lawyers, Susan R. Necheles. Trump’s lawyers rebuffed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s request that Trump surrender today. Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina said that the Secret Service, which provides security detail for the former president, needed more time to prepare. Erica Orden reports for POLITICO

The indictment of former President Trump is unlikely to have any legal bearing on Trump’s 2024 presidential candidacy, even if he is ultimately convicted. The U.S. Constitution does not require candidates for the highest office to have a clean record. The indictment marks the first time a former president has faced criminal charges. The Wall Street Journal Reports. 

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, widely expected to challenge former President Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, called Trump’s indictment “un-American” and said that Florida “will not assist in an extradition request.” Trump’s Republican allies and his 2024 Republican rivals have condemned the Manhattan district attorney’s office over the looming indictment. Shane Goldmacher reports for the New York Times

DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS

The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature yesterday voted to let gun owners in the nation’s third most populous state carry guns without a state permit. Texas, Virginia, Ohio, and several other states have all sought to loosen gun restrictions. More than two dozen states have enacted laws similar to the one Florida approved. Gary Fineout reports for POLITICO

President Biden would veto a Republican-backed bill to overturn police reforms in Washington, D.C. if it passes in Congress, a White House official said yesterday. The local law, passed by the District of Columbia council over the objections of the city’s police union, includes provisions that match some police reform measures that Democrats have unsuccessfully tried to pass nationwide in Congress since the killing of George Floyd, the Black man who died under the knee of a Minneapolis officer in May 2020. The law is set to go into effect this May. Trevor Hunnicutt reports for Reuters

Nine US service members were killed after two helicopters with the 101st Airborne Division crashed late Wednesday in southwestern Kentucky, officials said. There were no survivors. A military investigative team from Fort Rucker in Alabama will travel to the crash site and look into the cause, said Brig. Gen. John Lubas, deputy commander of the 101st Airborne Division. Alisha Ebrahimji, Tina Burnside, Chloe Liu, Haley Britzky, and Dave Alsup report for CNN

RUSSIA, UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS

The Vulkan Files’ 5,000 pages of confidential corporate documents reveal insights into a Moscow-based software and cybersecurity company, NTC Vulkan, that builds tools for Russia’s cyber war. Among other things, the Files show how Russian disinformation campaigns or hacking efforts are robust, state-sponsored efforts using the full power of the Russian security state. Craig Timberg, Ellen Nakashima, Hannes Munzinger, and Hakan Tanriverdi report for the Washington Post

Russia is seeking to acquire more munitions from North Korea to bolster its war on Ukraine, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said yesterday. The development comes as Moscow has sought help from other countries, such as Iran, as it continues to expend equipment and ammunition on the battlefield. Russian President Vladimir Putin would likely send food to Pyongyang in exchange for the munitions. Alexander Ward reports for POLITICO

The U.S. imposed sanctions on a Slovakian national accused of trying to broker a weapons deal between Russia and North Korea, the Biden administration said yesterday. Ashot Mkrtychev worked with the support of Russian officials to broker a secret agreement with Pyongyang, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said and added that doing so violated several U.N. Security Council resolutions. Katie Rogers reports for the New York Times

Russia has “exhausted all its reserves” in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, the Ukrainian commander, Col. Yevhen Mezhevikin, said yesterday. Mezhevikin’s description aligned with those of Ukraine’s most senior military commander, Gen. Valery Zaluzhnyi, and his commander of ground forces in the east, Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky. Both have said recently that the situation of Bakhmut was stabilizing, even with heavy fighting for some Ukrainian units. Carlotta Gall reports for the New York Times

More than 20 far-right Austrian MPs walked out of parliament during a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The Freedom Party politicians argued that Zelenskyy’s speech violated Austria’s neutrality. The president of Austria’s lower house of parliament, Wolfgang Sobotka, has pledged more financial and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. Antoinette Radford reports for BBC News

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS

Finland will become the 31st member of NATO after Turkey’s parliament voted to approve its application yesterday night. Turkey had delayed Finland’s bid to join the West’s defensive alliance for months – complaining the Nordic nation was supporting “terrorists.” Finland will now be formally admitted into NATO at its next summit in July in Lithuania. Frank Gardner and Adam Durbin report for BBC News

Japan’s government plans to restrict some computer chip-making exports, following similar moves by the U.S. and the Netherlands. The measures will apply to manufacturing equipment for semiconductors, which power everything from mobile phones to military hardware and are at the center of a bitter dispute between the U.S. and China. Japanese trade minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters that the move was not coordinated with U.S. restrictions and was made just before Japanese foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi was due to visit Beijing at the weekend. Annabelle Liang reports for BBC News.

Five people have been arrested for their role in the fire in a Ciudad Juárez migrant detention center that killed at least 39 people, Mexican officials said yesterday. The authorities said arrest warrants had been obtained for three government migration officials, two private security workers, and a migrant accused of starting the blaze. The sixth person charged had not yet been taken into custody. A video that emerged this week appeared to show that when the blaze started, uniformed people at the detention center walked away and left several men behind bars. Natalie Kitroeff and Emiliano Rodríguez Mega report for the New York Times

A 3,000-page report released yesterday on Canada’s worst mass shooting found “significant and extensive systemic inadequacies and failures,” particularly in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (R.C.M.P.) response. The report came nearly three years after Gabriel Wortman went on a 13-hour rampage across rural Nova Scotia in April 2020, killing 22 people. The report offered recommendations such as reworking the system to alert the public to emergencies, taking steps to prevent intimate partner violence, tightening gun laws, and potentially restructuring the R.C.M.P. in what could entail a “reconfiguration of policing in Canada.” Amanda Coletta reports for the Washington Post

Israeli prosecutors indicted two Jewish settlers yesterday for what the indictment described as a terrorist assault on Palestinians in Huwara village in the occupied West Bank. The suspects were among a group who attacked cars and their occupants during the Jewish festival of Purim on Mar. 6, Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service said. The two settlers, both men in their 20s, were indicted in Central District Court for grievous bodily harm – to which prosecutors added a terrorism designation – and vandalism. Maytaal Angel reports for Reuters

U.S. RELATIONS

The Biden administration condemned yesterday’s detention of a Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in Russia for what Moscow described as espionage. “In the strongest possible terms, we condemn the Kremlin’s continued attempts to intimidate, repress, and punish journalists and civil society voices,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. Gershkovich appeared in court with a state-appointed defense attorney and was ordered to remain in custody until May 29, said the court’s press service, according to state news agency TASS. Daniel Michaels, Vivian Salama, and Jared Malsin report for the Wall Street Journal. 

Wealth funds in the U.A.E and Qatar have invested hundreds of millions of dollars with Jared Kushner’s private equity firm, according to people with knowledge of the transactions. This follows Saudi Arabia’s investment of $2 billion into Kushner’s private equity firm. The investment reflects the continued efforts by former President Trump and his allies to profit from the close ties they built to the Arab world during his presidency and the desire of leaders in the region to remain on good terms with Kushner as his father-in-law seeks the presidency in 2024. Jonathan Swan, Kate Kelly, Maggie Haberman, and Mark Mazzetti report for the New York Times. 

Six American service members suffered traumatic brain injuries in separate attacks by Iranian-backed militants in Syria last week, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesperson, said yesterday. The diagnoses followed two attacks. The Pentagon initially said that seven Americans were injured in the attacks and that a U.S. contractor was killed. The additional brain injuries were diagnosed during routine screenings in recent days. Helene Cooper reports for the New York Times

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