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Morning news brief: Jan. 6 probe, Ukraine's civilian soldiers, Mexico's data leak

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

The vote to subpoena former President Trump was unanimous.

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UNIDENTIFIED CLERK: Mr. Chairman, on this vote, there are nine ayes and zero nos.

BENNIE THOMPSON: The resolution is agreed to.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Yeah. The House committee investigating the January 6 attack says they want Trump to answer for his actions. That vote was part of what may have been the final public hearing, in which it summed up its investigation to conclude that Trump was at the center of plans to overturn the election despite knowing he'd lost. And those plans led to the violence. It also released new video of congressional leaders in a bunker pleading for the National Guard to come help, to come stop the violence.

MARTINEZ: NPR congressional correspondent Deirdre Walsh joins us now. Deirdre, does anyone really expect the former president to actually cooperate and appear before the panel?

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: You know, it's safe to say that's highly unlikely. The former president posted a message on social media after the vote, calling the committee, quote, "a total bust." But shortly after the hearing, Chairman Bennie Thompson argued they did present evidence of Trump's central role. And he should have to come and put himself on the record. But even he signaled he didn't necessarily see that happening.

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THOMPSON: If we get his attention, fine. If not, we'll go with the evidence that we've collected.

WALSH: Taking this move to subpoena the president is unprecedented and raises separation of powers issues. Trump is likely to fight it in court, as he's done on other issues.

MARTINEZ: The committee made the case that Donald Trump was central to a calculated attempt to overthrow the election that led to the violence that day. Walk us through that.

WALSH: Right. Members of the panel used this final investigative hearing to tie all the evidence they've collected together. They walked through the timeline, beginning with Trump stoking anger among his supporters, even after being told by his own advisers repeatedly that he lost and should concede. But instead, he rallied his supporters, who he knew were armed, and then sat and watched the coverage on television for basically 3 hours. Here's ranking member Liz Cheney summing up Trump's central role.

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LIZ CHENEY: None of this would have happened without him. He was personally and substantially involved in all of it.

WALSH: We also saw new documents from the Secret Service. It had information well in advance that people were planning violence in Washington on January 6 and were threatening people like Vice President Pence.

MARTINEZ: We also learned and actually saw some eye-opening details about what was happening with congressional leaders as rioters were just roaming through the Capitol.

WALSH: This was really dramatic, behind-the-scenes footage of top leaders huddling, working the phones, trying to desperately get help from the National Guard, from local police. Here's House Speaker Pelosi learning from her staff about how the rioters had threatened the House chamber.

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NANCY PELOSI: Did we go back into session?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: We did go back into session. But now apparently everybody on the floor is putting on tear gas masks to prepare for a breach.

PELOSI: Putting on their tear gas masks?

WALSH: We also saw Pelosi turn to a colleague and say, can you believe it? She was also working the phone, talking to Vice President Pence, strategizing about how to reopen so they could come back and do their job to finish certifying the election results.

MARTINEZ: So Deirdre, will we see this committee gathered again?

WALSH: We will. I mean, they will finish their final report, potentially have another hearing when they release that by the end of the year. But we've already seen the action shift from Capitol Hill to the Justice Department, which is conducting its own broad investigation. The January 6 committee could decide to send a criminal referral for former President Trump or others to DOJ. But DOJ doesn't need it. If the panel did make a referral or multiple referrals, it would be for historical purposes and to make a point. Even Cheney acknowledged it's up to the Justice Department to prosecute. But the committee will be making recommendations about how to protect democracy and avoid another January 6.

MARTINEZ: NPR's Deirdre Walsh. Thanks a lot.

WALSH: Thank you.

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MARTINEZ: In its war against Russia, Ukraine says it needs more of just about everything - precision-guided rockets, tanks and training for its soldiers.

FADEL: Yeah. And the United Kingdom has provided more military instruction than nearly any other country, putting nearly 6,000 Ukrainian civilians through basic training in recent months.

MARTINEZ: NPR's Frank Langfitt visited a camp in England this week. Frank, what'd you see?

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Yeah, A, it was really interesting. We're sort of in the rolling fields of southern England, which doesn't quite look like Ukraine, which is sort of big sky country, big wheat fields. And there were a lot of these volunteers - they've just started, they have no experience at all - who were doing live fire exercises. They had on body armor. They would be rushing up to sandbags, firing at targets, that sort of thing. We didn't actually get to see this, but they're also being taught how to dig trenches, which is incredibly important in this fight in the east and the south of Ukraine.

And I got to say, A, this training is really important. It doesn't get a lot of publicity, but both sides, as we know - the Russians and Ukrainians have lost thousands and thousands of soldiers through - to death and injury. And so they rely very heavily on civilians. And when I was there, I was talking to a guy who's an engineer. The British have also trained a choreographer, a lawyer, people like this. And try to imagine that in February, this was your job. And now you're fighting this major war in Eastern Europe. And a lot of it is trench warfare, artillery duels. So it's a huge challenge to get enough people to continue to replenish the troops in the south for the Ukrainians.

MARTINEZ: But why go all the way to England? Why not just train somewhere in Ukraine?

LANGFITT: Yeah, that's a really good question. It's just not safe enough. I mean, as we saw this week with the missile strikes, Ukraine remains very vulnerable to Russian missiles. And I was at a training camp back in the spring. And there were only about maybe 20 soldiers there. And we were very careful. So they need - in order to do this in volume, they have to do it in other countries. And the British are offering to train about 19,000 Ukrainian soldiers. The EU is also about to get on board with this. They should maybe have an announcement early next week. They want to train thousands of troops at camps in Poland and Germany.

MARTINEZ: How long is this training in the U.K. going to last? And will it be enough?

LANGFITT: Yeah. So the training is only five weeks. And if you talk to people, particularly soldiers and veterans in Ukraine, they say that they do not think this is enough. The British normally would give sort of basic training in the neighborhood, I guess, of maybe 14 weeks. One soldier I was talking to in Ukraine yesterday was saying, we'd need at least 10. But the problem here is the pressure that the Ukrainian army is feeling to get people into the field. And when I talked to the British earlier this week, they said, you know, this isn't our decision. But it's up to the Ukrainians. And this is what they want. So there is a feeling of a lot of pressure to get soldiers out there and to continue the offensives in the east and down in the south.

MARTINEZ: So speaking of those offensives, the Russian-installed leader in Kherson yesterday just called for people to leave, to evacuate to Russia just for their safety. So how are people reading that?

LANGFITT: That's really striking. It's seen as a sign that the southern offensive, which took a really long time to actually launch - they talked about it for a long time - is continuing to gain some ground. I was in Kherson and Mykolaiv last month at the beginning of the offensive. And the commanders and soldiers I was talking to were very skeptical, actually, about how much success they were going to have. I was in touch with one soldier yesterday who said, you know, it's going well. And he said, maybe we'll have some vacation time soon. That said, I talked to another who said he had heavy casualties in his unit. So they're making progress, but it's costly. And that's why they need more well-trained soldiers.

MARTINEZ: NPR's Frank Langfitt. Frank, thanks.

LANGFITT: Good to talk, A.

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MARTINEZ: Mexico is trying to come to terms with a data leak of more than 4 million documents from inside the military that has exposed some of the country's closest kept secrets.

FADEL: NPR has obtained the documents, which includes everything from the health of the president to corruption among Mexico's military.

MARTINEZ: NPR's Eyder Peralta joins us now from Mexico City. Eyder, let's start with what was leaked. What have we learned about that so far?

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: We've learned a ton about the military. I mean, one of the big ones is that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had to be airlifted to a hospital with a heart problem. Another document alleges that a top law enforcement officer was taking $250,000 a month to protect the cartel. But above all, this has revealed a ton about Mexico's military. We've learned that despite being tasked with fighting the drug war, some of its soldiers sold weapons to the cartels. We've learned that the military suggests legislation, that the military keeps statistics on murders and that they run surveillance on airports. We found that they keep dossiers on politicians and environmental activists, anarchists and feminists.

In one email, we found what military officials call counterintelligence operation against the bricklayers at a government project. There are millions of documents, as you said. But I think what is clear and what we find is that Mexico's military is involved in every major aspect of this country.

MARTINEZ: So what do we know about the group that leaked it?

PERALTA: So they call themselves the Guacamaya - or the Macaws. And they're anonymous, but they say that they're anti-colonial, anti-capitalist environmentalists. And they've done similar things in other countries. But this hack is huge, six terabytes of data taken from the email servers of the Mexican Ministry of Defense. And it's one of the biggest leaks in history.

MARTINEZ: What has the government said about this? Because I've got to admit, Eyder, I'm not too shocked. What's been the reaction?

PERALTA: President Lopez Obrador has admitted that the documents were real, but he shrugged it off. The defense minister actually refused an invitation by parliament to testify about this. But what's important to note is that this is coming at a time when this president has given the military a lot more power. And it comes when, through other reports, we've learned that the military was also involved in the killing of 43 college students in 2014. Yet the president continues to tell the Mexican people that the only institution that can be trusted is the military. I spoke to political analyst Denise Dresser. And like you, she says that while none of this is a surprise to those who were paying attention, it's still about an institution that was supposed to fix things. And that's why these leaks are so hard to process. Let's listen.

DENISE DRESSER: There's still an element of false hope that if we continue to rely on the Mexican military, eventually some semblance of peace will emerge. What the leaks reveal is that, perhaps, there's already a level of collusion that can't be dismantled.

PERALTA: So the military, she says, the president and the Mexicans had put their faith in has turned almost all-powerful. And it may just be as corrupt as the rest of the Mexican state. And that's really hard to come to terms with, she says.

MARTINEZ: NPR's Eyder Peralta in Mexico City. Eyder, thanks.

PERALTA: Thank you, A. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.