Blinken Returns From Beijing Empty-Handed

Happy Tuesday! Short-lived British Prime Minister Liz Truss says the viral bet on whether her premiership or a head of lettuce would last longer—the lettuce won—was not funny.

Sorry, ma’am, but that’s not for you to decide.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories 

  • Multiple tornadoes killed at least 1 person and injured nearly two dozen in Mississippi Sunday night. The tornadoes, which cut off power for close to 50,000 Mississippians, were the latest in a string of extreme weather events across the South over the weekend that left six people dead and more than 100 injured.
  • Former President Donald Trump claimed Monday that he didn’t comply with requests from the National Archives to return classified material he’d kept after his presidency because “I was very busy.” Trump also denied that he’d shown a secret document on Iran war plans with visitors to his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course and once again made the false claim that he won the 2020 presidential election. Trump made the comments in the first half of an hour-long interview with Fox News anchor Bret Baier, the second half of which airs tonight.
  • U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart ordered Trump and his aide Walt Nauta not to release evidence in the federal case related to Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents. The order—requested by special counsel Jack Smith and intended to prevent leaks of highly classified material—also prohibits Trump from retaining evidence and requires a lawyer to be present when he views it.
  • Republican lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee proposed a new bill that would restrict the public’s access to military records. The Pentagon has for decades released general information about service members upon request, including their name, photo, rank, and awards. But if the new bill—which follows several unauthorized releases of information about GOP lawmakers who previously served in the armed forces—is passed, members of the public and journalists would have to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to obtain records. 
  • Russian cybercriminals breached several federal agencies last week in an ongoing global cyberattack that exploits a vulnerability in MOVEit, a widely used data transfer software. Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said Thursday that the ransomware group, known as Clop, is “taking data and looking to extort it.” The attack follows a similar hack by Clop using the same software two weeks ago that impacted British Airways, a British pharmacy, and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
  • The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted Friday to update its Catholic health care directives, beginning the process of blocking sex-change procedures—including surgeries and hormone treatments—at Catholic hospitals in the U.S. These treatments “are not morally justified either as attempts to repair a defect in the body or as attempts to sacrifice a part of the body for the sake of the whole,” the conference concluded in a doctrinal note. Catholic hospitals operate about 1 in 7 hospital beds in America and already tend not to offer cosmetic surgeries or birth control procedures.
  • At least five Palestinians were killed Monday in a nearly 10-hour clash between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops who were trying to make arrests at a Jenin refugee camp. The Palestinian fighters detonated roadside bombs, leaving five Israeli military vehicles stranded and forcing the deployment of helicopter gunships to help Israeli troops evacuate—reportedly the first such deployment of armed helicopters since the second Palestinian Intifada two decades ago. 
  • Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Monday the Ukrainian counteroffensive had recaptured an eighth village—Piatykhatky, in Zaporizhzhia—and freed about 70 miles of territory in southern Ukraine. Ukrainian troops have also been striking Russian ammunition depots behind the front lines, including what Ukrainian officials claimed was the successful destruction this weekend of a depot about 100 miles behind front lines in the Kherson region. Both Russian and Ukrainian forces are taking heavy losses in the fighting.
  • The New York Times reported yesterday that Russian officials surveilled a Russian defector in Florida in 2020, likely as part of a botched plan to assassinate the man. The target—former Russian intelligence officer Aleksandr Poteyev—had reportedly become a CIA informant and in 2010 helped the FBI catch 11 undercover Russian spies living in the United States. The Biden administration imposed sanctions and expelled 10 Russian diplomats when the plot was uncovered in 2021.

Blinken’s Whirlwind Beijing Tour

Secretary of State Antony Blinken shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 19, 2023. (Photo by LEAH MILLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Secretary of State Antony Blinken shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 19, 2023. (Photo by LEAH MILLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

When the bar is set low, it’s easy to impress. At least, that’s what senior State Department officials seemed to be hoping as they previewed Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to China over the weekend—the first by a secretary of state in five years.

“We’re not going to Beijing with the intent of having some sort of breakthrough or transformation in the way that we deal with one another,” Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink told reporters last Wednesday. Instead, Kritenbrink said, the general goals of the visit were threefold: to keep senior-level communication open, to signal the United States’ “values and interests,” and to “explore areas of potential cooperation where it’s in our interest to do so.”

This content is available exclusively to Dispatch members
Try a membership for full access to every newsletter and all of The Dispatch. Support quality, fact-based journalism.
Already a paid member? Sign In
Comments (245)
Join The Dispatch to participate in the comments.
Load More