What a year Mayorkas’ week has been

What a year Mayorkas’ week has been

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas is sworn in to testify.

On Wednesday, Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee accused Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of letting a crisis at the southern border metastasize, with some calling for his impeachment from office. | Mariam Zuhaib/AP Photo

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Somebody check Homeland Security Secretary ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS for signs of whiplash after the last 72 hours.

On Wednesday, Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee accused Mayorkas of letting a crisis at the southern border metastasize, with some calling for his impeachment from office. “You have not secured our borders, Mr. Secretary, and I believe you’ve done so intentionally,” said Rep. MARK GREEN (R-Tenn.), the panel’s chair.

Mayorkas has dealt with this hostility for months, consistently claiming he has done nothing to merit his removal. The hearing this week was just the latest manifestation of the anger directed at him and President JOE BIDEN for the crush of migrants seeking asylum along the U.S.-Mexico border.

But the secretary typically reminds lawmakers that they have a responsibility, too, namely to fund the department so it has the personnel, equipment and technology needed to more guard the border. Congress as a whole could also pass immigration reform and make a legal pathway to status in the U.S. easier, he insists, even though the political environment isn’t permissive for such an effort.

Then on Thursday, DHS released its third-ever Quadrennial Homeland Security Review. In it, the agency announced a sixth homeland security mission: combating crimes of exploitation and protecting victims. By elevating the issue, Mayorkas aims to secure more funding to go after traffickers and help people they prey upon.

And finally this morning, Mayorkas got to address a friendly audience at the Council on Foreign Relations to outline a new DHS task force on the use of AI for its mission. He then sat down for an interview with CBS News’ MARGARET BRENNAN. “I’m actually looking forward to the opportunity to answer a question,” he quipped, a clear dig at the GOP-led hearing two days earlier.

After a series of policy-related questions touching on China, immigration and border security, Mayorkas fielded an audience query about what goes through his mind when his character is impugned by elected officials in a public setting.

He smirked, took a breath, and then launched into a surprisingly personal reflection. “They are not easy to listen to,” Mayorkas said, mainly because attacking him harms his department’s work. But, he continued about the broadsides, “I am fundamentally impervious to them because I may make some mistakes, my decisions may be mistaken…but I have a 100 percent confidence in the integrity of my decision-making.”

Some in the audience applauded.

A message from Lockheed Martin:

Our mission is to prepare you for the future by engineering advanced capabilities today.

Many of today’s military systems and platforms were designed to operate independently. Through our 21st Century Security vision, Lockheed Martin is accelerating innovation, connecting defense and digital to enhance the performance of major platforms, to equip customers to stay ahead of emerging threats. Learn more.

The Inbox

SUDAN FIGHTING CONTINUES: Sudan’s army chief Gen. ABDEL FATTAH BURHAN publicly pledged to pursue a civilian-led government in his first speech since nationwide violence broke out over the weekend.

It’s an apparent attempt by the general to garner international support following the military’s clash with the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group led by MOHAMMED HAMDAN DAGALO, known as Hemedti, for control of the African country, the Associated Press reports. But Buhran’s remarks were a bit rich for many Sudanese, since the generals led a coup together to seize power two years ago.

The remarks coincided with the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday and as leaders, including Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN, called for a more permanent ceasefire which ultimately didn’t hold. Joint Chiefs chair Gen. MARK MILLEY is taking matters into his own hands, working to coordinate calls with the generals, three people familiar with the plan told Foreign Policy’s ROBBIE GRAMER and JACK DETSCH.

National Security Council spokesperson JOHN KIRBY told reporters Friday that no decision had yet been made to send the U.S. military to evacuate embassy personnel.

More than 400 people have been killed and some 3,500 injured in the six days of fighting, according to the World Health Organization. An American was confirmed to be among the dead on Thursday.

As the conflict developed, Wagner Group, the Russian paramilitary forces overseen by YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, have provided the RSF with missiles to help fight the Sudanese army, people connected to Sudan and regional diplomatic missions told CNN. The surface-to-air rockets have significantly bolstered the group’s forces, the people said.

Read: Sudan’s military leaders ‘never had the intention of relinquishing power’ by Ari

DANKE FOR TANKS: Thirty-one Abrams tanks that Ukrainians will use for training will arrive in Germany in the next few weeks, allowing soldiers to begin learning to use the much-anticipated armor, our own LARA SELIGMAN reports.

Defense Secretary LLOYD AUSTIN announced the move at a Friday press conference after a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a gathering of nations dedicated to supporting Kyiv in the war.

The 31 tanks — a Ukrainian battalion’s worth — will arrive at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany by mid-to-late May, according to two DoD officials. The training will begin a week or two later, after the tanks go through a maintenance period.

Also on Friday, Ukrainian, German and Polish military leaders held a “tank coalition” meeting, during which they signed a letter of intent to build a maintenance and service center in Poland for Leopards in battle, Ukrainian DefMin OLEKSII REZNIKOV wrote in a tweet.

LEAK WON’T ‘FRACTURE OUR UNITY’: SecDef Austin sought to ease allies frustrations with the leak of secret Pentagon intelligence that has persisted for weeks, showing the U.S. has spied on its closest partners.

“I take this issue very seriously,” Austin said at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday. “And we will continue to work closely and respectfully with our deeply valued allies and partners … we will not let anything fracture our unity.”

Within the past day, however, new secrets have continued to spill into the public. Washington, for instance, has been warning Ukraine since as early as January that it won’t be able to hold Bakhmut against Russian mercenaries, the Washington Post’s SUSANNAH GEORGE and SERHII KOROLCHUK reported Thursday night. Kyiv would be smart to cut their losses and give up defending the city, documents suggest.

It was also revealed that Beijing is building cyber weapons intended to “seize control” of enemy satellites and block their data signals and surveillance abilities during wartime, the Financial Times reports, citing classified docs.

DRINKS WITH NATSEC DAILY: At the end of every long, hard week, we like to highlight how a prominent member of the global national security and foreign policy scene prefers to unwind with a drink.

Today, we’re featuring Sen. CHRIS COONS (D-Del.), Biden’s bridge between Capitol Hill, the White House and the world. Coons doesn’t drink often, but when he does he usually likes to wind down with one of Delaware’s beers. One of his favorites is Dogfish Head’s Namaste.

Just this week, we’re told, he met with colleagues who went on congressional delegations with him and brought Dogfish Head for the dinner, as well as chicken from Delaware. “They were both big hits,” Coons’ team said.

Cheers, senator!

IT’S FRIDAY. WELCOME TO THE WEEKEND: Thanks for tuning in to NatSec Daily. This space is reserved for the top U.S. and foreign officials, the lawmakers, the lobbyists, the experts and the people like you who care about how the natsec sausage gets made. Aim your tips and comments at [email protected] and [email protected], and follow us on Twitter at @alexbward and @mattberg33.

While you’re at it, follow the rest of POLITICO’s national security team: @nahaltoosi, @PhelimKine, @laraseligman, @connorobrienNH, @paulmcleary, @leehudson, @magmill95, @johnnysaks130, @ErinBanco, @Lawrence_Ukenye, @reporterjoe and @_AriHawkins.


DESANTIS’ DAYS AWAY: Florida Gov. RON DeSANTIS will make stops around the world this weekend as he prepares for a likely bid for the GOP presidential nomination.

Starting Saturday, DeSantis will visit Japan, South Korea, Israel and the United Kingdom in what’s officially a trade mission, though it’s seen as an attempt to burnish his foreign policy cred on the world stage before jumping into the presidential race, Reuters’ GRAM SLATTERY and JAMES OLIPHANT reported Thursday.

On the agenda: meetings with Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA FUMIO and Foreign Minister YOSHIMASA HAYASHI, South Korean Prime Minister HAN DUCK-SOO, and government and business leaders in Tel Aviv and London.


HIDING UYGHUR ABUSES: A leaked tape revealed that Chinese surveillance giant Hikvision used a U.S. official to help improve its public image after being accused of being complicit in the country’s Uyghur camps, the Intercept’s GEORGIA GEE reports.

After allegations that their technology was being used in Xinjiang, Hikvision, the world’s largest security camera manufacturer, commissioned a human rights review and hired PIERRE-RICHARD PROSPER, a former ambassador at-large for war crime issues in the Bush administration, to oversee it.

After completing the review, Hikvision claimed that it did not knowingly participate in human rights abuses. However, The Intercept obtained a recording that included Prosper downplaying Hikvision’s involvement and even attributing it to “cultural differences.”

The Chinese government owns roughly 40 percent of Hikvision and the Department of Commerce added some of the company’s subsidiaries to its trade blacklist last month.

The Complex

INTO ORBIT: By 2025 to 2026, the Space Force aims to field a tactically responsive space capacity to “rapidly respond to on-orbit needs on operationally relevant timelines,” according to Lt. Col. MacKenzie Birchenough, who spoke during a panel at the Space Symposium. In simple terms, the Space Force hopes to get access into orbit in under 24 hours, a previously unimaginable speed, reports Breaking Defense’s MICHAEL MARROW.

The goal is part of a larger effort to achieve a tactically responsive space capacity, an initiative that would demonstrate the capabilities of commercial vehicles to deploy satellites, and comes after the agency submitted a request for $60 million over the next two years for the program last month.

On the Hill

HOUSE PROBE OF CIA: The House Intelligence Committee is investigating whether the CIA has mishandled sexual assault and harassment cases, our own DANIEL LIPPMAN reports.

At least three female CIA employees have approached the committee since January to tell them that the agency is discouraging women from making sexual misconduct complaints, according to attorney KEVIN CARROLL, who represents the first employee who talked to the committee. He also said the CIA is making it difficult for alleged victims to speak to law enforcement.

The allegations led committee chair Rep. MIKE TURNER (R-Ohio) and ranking member Rep. JIM HIMES (D-Conn.) to send a letter last week to CIA Director BILL BURNS to ask for the agency’s help looking into the issues, according to a person familiar with the matter who was granted anonymity to discuss the private letter. Burns responded within 24 hours and pledged full cooperation, according to a senior CIA official.


PRESSURE ON TAIWAN: Chinese Foreign Minister QIN GANG stepped up Beijing’s rhetoric against Taiwan on Friday, warning that countries that support the self-governed island are “playing with fire,”according to the AP’s ALISHA RAHAMAN SARKAR.

The remarks came near the end of a rousing speech in Shanghai during which Gang repeatedly praised the communist party’s leader XI JINPING and his Global Security Initiative, which aims to present Beijing’s one-party political system as a viable alternative to the West.

China has typically delegated threatening statements to lower-level diplomats or spokespeople. The remarks from Qin, who answers directly to the Politburo Standing Committee of the ruling regime, reflects a harsher tone over the possibility of a military clash.

ORBÁN’S OBJECTION: Hungarian Prime Minister VIKTOR ORBÁN used one word to make two things clear: He reads POLITICO, and he still has strong feelings about Ukraine’s NATO dreams.

“What?!” the prime minister wrote in a tweet in which he linked to our own LILI BAYER’s article about NATO chief JENS STOLTENBERG declaring that Ukraine’s “rightful place” is in the military bloc during a trip to Kyiv.

Hungary has opposed Ukraine’s accession to NATO for years, and Orbán himself has vocally supported Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, directly conflicting with his Western allies.

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— British Deputy Prime Minister DOMINIC RAAB resigned Friday following accusations of bullying his staff and civil servants.

What to Read

— STEVEN SIMON and JONATHAN STEVENSON, POLITICO: How to think about political violence in America ahead of 2024

— FAREED ZAKARIA, The Washington Post: Biden’s course correction on China is smart and important

— ANA PALACIO, Project Syndicate: Xi of Arabia

Tomorrow Today

The Middle East Institute, 10 a.m.: Scaling Up Solar Energy Investment in Yemen

The Hudson Institute, noon: Winning in Ukraine Is Critically Important for Deterring a War in Taiwan

The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs, noon.: “The Feminist Antiwar Resistance,” a network of Russian speakers opposing Russia’s war on Ukraine

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2 p.m.: Digital Authoritarianism: A Growing Threat with Director of National Intelligence AVRIL HAINES

The Atlantic Council, 3 p.m.: Reimagining a Way Forward: Iraq’s Economy and Energy Sector in the Post-Invasion Era

The Wilson Center’s Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, 4 p.m.: Ploughshares and Swords: India’s Nuclear Program in the Global Cold War

Thanks to our editor, Heidi Vogt, who we believe is tanking her edits “intentionally.”

We also thank our producer, Gregory Svirnovskiy, who is “fundamentally impervious” to our shenanigans.

A message from Lockheed Martin:

Our mission is to prepare you for the future by engineering advanced capabilities today.

Many of today’s military systems and platforms were designed to operate independently. Through our 21st Century Security vision, Lockheed Martin is accelerating innovation, connecting defense and digital to enhance the performance of major platforms, to equip customers to stay ahead of emerging threats. Learn more.

( Information from politico.com was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

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