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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites): Just Security: Early Edition: September 28, 2020


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A curated guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.

TRUMP TAXES

President Trump avoided paying taxes for many years, paying only $750 in 2016 and then 2017, because he reported losing significantly more than he had made, according to a report released yesterday by the New York Times, who has reportedly obtained Trump’s highly sought-after tax returns. The report: accuses Trump of paying no income taxes at all in 11 of the 18 years it examined; details a damning financial record of debt and financial loss; reveals a long audit battle between the president and the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) over a $72.9 million tax return Trump filed, which if he loses could cost him over $100 million; states he has more than $300 million in loans to pay off in the next few years; and makes clear that it found no previously unknown connections to Russia. Trump’s “reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes,” the Times’ authors said, adding, “the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.” Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire report for the New York Times.

Trump yesterday said the Times’ report is “totally fake news,” speaking to news reporters at a conference in the White House briefing room. Nolan D. McCaskill reports for POLITICO.

Democrats have denounced Trump for the report’s findings. Brooke Seipel reports for The Hill.

A detailed timeline of Trump’s financial history is provided by Russ Buettner, Gabriel J.X. Dance, Keith Collins, Mike McIntire and Susanne Craig for the New York Times.

18 key takeaways from the Times’ report are set out by David Leonhardt for the New York Times.

SUPREME COURT NOMINATION

President Trump on Saturday nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, with the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled to start its confirmation hearing on Oct 12, which will last for three to four days. Jordain Carney reports for The Hill.

Although Senate Democrats are unable to indefinitely halt Barrett’s confirmation, they are planning to “disrupt and obstruct” the process and make is as difficult as possible for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to confirm the new Supreme Court justice, interviews with many Democrats have revealed. “What Senate Democrats have in their toolkit,” is explained by Andrew Desiderio for POLITICO, who sets out at least eight ways Democrats will attempt to thwart the process.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and fellow Democrats are set to focus their opposition of Barrett’s confirmation on the devastating influence she could have on Obamacare which is set to be challenged by the Trump administration on Nov. 10 before the Supreme Court, a week after the election result. Democrats have expressed particular concern for how Barrett, if sitting as the new Supreme Court justice when the case is heard, could sway the court’s decision on whether to strike down the Affordable Care Act, which provides a host of protections for Americans. Concerns have intensified after a number of scholarly papers by Barrett reveal her opposition to past legal decisions that upheld the Act. Ann Gearan and Felicia Sonmez report for the Washington Post.

US DEVELOPMENTS             

President Trump is assembling a huge legal team of lawyers and volunteer attorneys tasked with overseeing the election process in key states and exacting any legal challenges Trump plans if he loses the November presidential election. Trump’s strategy is overseen by a 20-person legal team and will focus on the election process in the 17 major states the Trump campaign is targeting, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. Thousands of volunteers, including attorneys and poll watchers, have been recruited and trained on local election laws and will be on standby during the Election Day and its aftermath. Republicans have already started drafting legal challenges in preparation for hurrying any challenges through the courts. Anita Kumar reports for POLITICO.

Attorney General William Barr intervened directly in US Attorney for DC Michael Sherwin’s handling of protesters accused of rioting, several people who are familiar with the matter have reported. After Sherwin expressed that local police officers had unlawfully arrested protesters, without probable cause, Barr stepped in and called a meeting with Sherwin and other top law enforcement officials, which ultimately led to Sherwin backtracking on his original warnings, with prosecutors now working with Washington police to gather evidence to support the arrests. Katie Benner reports for the New York Times.

A federal judge yesterday blocked the Trump administration’s executive order that sought to ban downloads of video sharing app TikTok from US mobile-app stores, hours before the ban was to take effect. Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued the temporary injunction yesterday; however, the judgement was sealed and so no reason for his decision has yet been released. Katy Stech Ferek and Georgia Wells report for the Wall Street Journal.

CORONAVIRUS

The novel coronavirus has infected over 7.11 million and has now killed close to 205,000 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there is over 33.13 million confirmed coronavirus cases and close to 999,000 deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield Friday accused the White House coronavirus task force member Scott Atlas of adding to President Trump’s spreading of Covid-19 misinformation. Redfield said Atlas was responsible for misleading data on the efficacy of masks, young people and their risk of catching the virus, and the potential benefits of herd immunity. “Everything he says is false,” Redfield said during a phone call he made on a commercial flight and overheard by NBC News. Monica Alba reports for NBC News.

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

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

A state-by-state guide to lockdown measures and reopenings is provided by the New York Times.

Latest updates on the pandemic at The Guardian.

IRAN-IRAQ RELATIONS

The US has warned Iraq that it will close down the US embassy in Baghdad if Iraq does not take appropriate action against attacks by Shiite militia groups on personnel linked to American troops,Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa ­al-Kadhimi Saturday. An Iraqi official has said that the United States has made clear that it would reconsider shutting down the embassy if Iraq takes the necessary and appropriate steps to stop attacks. Any plan to close the embassy will take 90 days, a diplomatic official familiar with the plan said. Ahmed Mulla Talal, a spokesperson for Kadhimi, said yesterday he hopes the United States “will reconsider,” adding, “There are outlaw groups that try to shake this relationship and closing the embassy would send a negative message to them.” Louisa Loveluck, Missy Ryan and John Hudson report for the Washington Post.

Pompeo’s warning that Iraq must take action against Iranian-backed militias leaves Kadhimi between a rock and a hard place if Iraq does attack, Kadhimi’s “fragile regime” may “implode”, writes David Ignatius in an op-ed for the Washington Post. “The danger of Pompeo’s ultimatum is the same one that has plagued the United States since it invaded Iraq in 2003. Iran is near and plays a long game; America is far away and demands quick results. Iraq has shown us repeatedly that American military power is overwhelming but can’t dictate political outcomes. Direct threats that become public, like Pompeo’s, rarely work out as intended,” Igantius argues.

Iran and Iraq pledged Saturday to improve border cooperation and boost trade between the two nations. “We remain committed to increasing political, economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said to Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, according to a government website. Reuters reporting.

ARMENIA-AZERBAIJAN CLASHES

Clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia have inflamed this weekend over a disputed region, with large numbers of military members on each side killed and hundreds more wounded. Tensions center on a dispute over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region. Michael Safi reports for The Guardian.

President Trump said the US will try to quell the violence that has erupted between the two countries over the weekend. Reuters reporting.

An explainer of the long-history of tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan is provided by Al Jazeera.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Russia and China blocked the release of a Libya-focused report by UN experts which accused the countries’ warring sides and their international supporters, including Russia, of violating a UN arms embargo on the country, U.N. diplomats said Friday. Germany’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Günter Sautter, who heads the committee that monitors sanctions on Libya, said he raised the issue with the U.N. Security Council after the two superpowers stopped the report from being released. The report, which has been seen by The Associated Press, states that the arms embargo is “totally ineffective.” AP reporting.

The Yemeni government and the Houthi rebel group have agreed to exchange around 1,000 detainees and prisoners, including 15 Saudi Arabians, as part positive steps to reviving a peace process that has slowed significantly, U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths confirmed yesterday. AP reporting.

The G-20 summit will be held virtually on Nov. 21-22, Saudi Arabia, who is this year presiding over the group’s member countries, confirmed today. AP reporting.

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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)