Daily SA: White House Says “No Way” on Hunter Pardon (Fri, 28 July 23) – Forward Observer

Daily SA: White House Says “No Way” on Hunter Pardon (Fri, 28 July 23)

Good morning. Here’s your Daily Situational Awareness for Friday, 28 July 2023.


  • READ TIME: 7 Minutes, 9 Seconds
  • Inside the Beltway
    • (1) GOP Revolt Brewing Over Spending Amid Shutdown Threat
    • (2) White House Says “No Way” on Hunter Pardon
    • (3) Chemical Industry Sounding Alarm on Anti-Terrorism Standards
    • (4) Senate Goes Nuclear
  • Domestic INTSUM
    • (5) Auto Giants Promise Charging Network Across North America
    • (6) Sullivan: Arctic Defense a Work In Progress
  • Russia-NATO SITREP
    • (7) Putin: Russia Will Gift Tons of Grain to African Countries
    • (8) Ukraine Claims Measured Progress in Counteroffensive
  • China & Indo-Pacific SITREP
    • (9) China Making a Play for Indonesia


  • (1) GOP REVOLT BREWING OVER SPENDING AMID SHUTDOWN THREAT: House Appropriations subcommittee chairs – known as “the cardinals” who write the spending bills –  are putting pressure on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) after reports that McCarthy discussed $115 billion in spending cuts with Freedom Caucus members.
    • House Interior-Environment subcommittee chair Mike Simpson (R-ID) said the spending cuts would not pass the House, and he would not vote for an appropriations bill with strong cuts.
    • Freedom Caucus member Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) said the caucus would need an “ironclad” agreement on the $115 billion in spending cuts to vote yes on appropriations bills when the House returns from its August recess.
    • Why It Matters: The House left for its August recess yesterday while the Republican party is fighting over spending cuts. When they return on 12 September, they will have two weeks to pass the bills and get them through the Senate, unlikely in their current form without a fight, which is setting up a possible government shutdown by the end of September. Historically, Republicans have lost the shutdown fight, so McCarthy is on the clock to convince Freedom Caucus Republicans to budge on spending. – R.C.
  • (2) WHITE HOUSE SAYS “NO WAY” ON HUNTER PARDON: White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said there was no chance of a pardon by President Biden for his son Hunter after a plea deal with the Justice Department fell apart Wednesday.
    • Why It Matters: Hunter Biden’s plea bargain blowout has put President Biden between a rock and a hard place. Biden said he would not pardon his son, but there is the chance damning evidence could come out through the Delaware trial and advance the House Republican impeachment effort. Depending on the severity of the evidence, it could even cause Democrats to defect and vote to impeach or convict President Biden. – R.C.
  • (3) CHEMICAL INDUSTRY SOUNDING ALARM ON ANTI-TERRORISM STANDARDS: Chemical industry groups and lawmakers warned that a lapse of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards, and the Senate failing to strike a deal on renewal before the August recess, will increase security risks.
    • American Chemistry Council spokesman Scott Jensen said chemical facilities would no longer be able to use a federal terror watch list to vet employees and contractors at sites with dangerous chemicals.
    • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said companies have had 20 years to harden their facilities, and “nobody will notice” the law’s expiration after he blocked fast-track consideration of the renewal. 
    • Why It Matters: The Senate will not return from its August recess until 05 September, leaving at least a month-long security oversight and enforcement gap by DHS at more than 3,000 facilities that handle dangerous chemicals. A low-likelihood but high-impact scenario could see a state or non-state threat actor acquiring dangerous chemicals by gaining employment, while DHS cannot enforce security standards at chemical sites. – R.C.
  • (4) SENATE GOES NUCLEAR: Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed the Nuclear Security Act, an amendment to the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act introduced by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY).
    • The Nuclear Security Act directs the Department of Energy (DOE) to support increased domestic uranium production for existing and new, advanced nuclear reactors.
    • TerraPower plans to build its first next-generation Natrium reactor in Kemmerer, Wyoming.
    • Why It Matters: As we’ve previously noted, America’s reliance on imported Russian uranium is a U.S. national security concern. American companies are paying Rostom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear monopoly, more than $1 billion a year for uranium. Increased tensions with Russia finally pushed U.S. policymakers to boost national security and better secure America’s energy future with a proven, clean energy solution. – H.B.


  • (5) AUTO GIANTS PROMISE CHARGING NETWORK ACROSS NORTH AMERICA: General Motors, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Stellantis, Mercedes, and BMW announced a $1 billion joint venture to build 30,000 EV fast-charging stations that will support both Tesla’s North American Charging Standard and its competitor the Combined Charging System.
    • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the major investment is a win for American consumers “and another big step toward our electric future.”
    • Why It Matters: If this charging station project doesn’t fall through, it will eliminate one of the obstacles to mass EV adoption. However, the lack of power generation, and even possible decline in power generation with new EPA rules expected to take effect by the end of the year, will make 30,000 charging stations useless at best and a possible threat to the U.S. grid at worst. – R.C.
  • (6) SULLIVAN: ARCTIC DEFENSE A WORK IN PROGRESS: The Pentagon is finally coming around to prioritizing Arctic defense, according to Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), speaking at the Aspen Security Forum this week.
    • “The forces based in Alaska are closer to Korea, closer to Japan, closer to the Taiwan Strait than our forces based in Hawaii, than forces based in Australia… [W]e have made enormous progress on a whole host of issues. We’re building icebreakers, finally… We are building, finally, a deep-water port in Nome. We have a build-up of the military that’s going on in Alaska that is very, very significant. So we are making progress on a whole host of areas in the Arctic,” Sullivan said.
    • Why It Matters: Russian efforts to militarize the Arctic started nearly a decade ago. By 2015, the Russians had completed ten new airfields, six new military bases, and added dozens of icebreakers to its Northern Fleet. By 2016, Russia had added four new brigade combat teams permanently deployed to the region. To put that into perspective, the Pentagon ordered the first Arctic defense review around 2016 – just to begin studying how to defend Alaska and the Arctic. This is another region where the U.S. is playing catch up. – M.S.



  • (7) PUTIN: RUSSIA WILL GIFT TONS OF GRAIN TO AFRICAN COUNTRIES: At the Russia-Africa summit yesterday, President Vladimir Putin told African leaders that free Russian grains, which will also be shipped free, are coming to their countries.
    • Putin said the world’s poorest countries were “screwed over” by low Ukrainian food exports when the Black Sea Grain Deal was active.
    • In the next 3-4 months, Russia will ship 25-50,000 tonnes of grain each to Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Eritrea, Mali, Somalia, and Zimbabwe – about 10% of these countries’ annual grain imports.  
    • Why It Matters: Russia continues to expand its influence in Africa. African Union chair Azali Assoumani said Putin’s actions would save the lives of individuals in developing countries. African countries will reward Putin’s generosity and continue to establish closer economic ties with Russia and other BRICS countries. – H.B.
  • (8) UKRAINE CLAIMS MEASURED PROGRESS IN COUNTEROFFENSIVE: Ukrainian forces allegedly recaptured the village of Staromaiorske in their drive southward through the Mokri Yaly Valley.
    • While Ukraine claims the village is a strategic gain against the Russians, it is little more than 1 kilometer south of their advanced positions a month ago and still north of the Russian first line of defensive fortifications.
    • Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Ukrainian assaults had been beaten back and Russian forces had inflicted heavy damage on Ukrainian mechanized forces.
    • Why It Matters: On Tuesday, Ukraine officials said they had committed their reserves to break through Russian defensive positions in a drive to the Sea of Azov. Thursday afternoon, Ukrainian officials said they had committed two brigades to the attack on Russian positions but had decided to hold back additional reserves. This is not an indication of success on Ukraine’s part. This brings into question the validity of Ukrainian claims of significant progress in its counter-offensive. – M.M.

China & Indo-Pacific SITREP

  • (9) CHINA MAKING A PLAY FOR INDONESIA: China’s President Xi Jinping met with Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu on Thursday to discuss deepening relations between the two countries.
    • During the meeting, Xi stressed the importance of completing a Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) high-speed rail project between Jakarta-Bandung which has fallen behind schedule.
    • Xi also told Widodo China would be willing to expand imports of Indonesian bulk commodities and agriculture products.
    • Why It Matters: China is collecting Indo-Pacific allies, particularly those bordering key terrain like the Malacca Straits. While most Pacific nations have said they would like to avoid choosing between the U.S. and China, they still need foreign investment and infrastructure – and China is currently providing the lion’s share. The U.S. and China are close to being neck-and-neck in the race for regional allies. China must work around the excess baggage of numerous failed BRI projects and an ugly Hong Kong/Macau acquisition. The U.S. merely has to re-engage with an economic plan and an air of apparent sincerity to beat China. Indonesia likely remains up for grabs. – M.M.

Low Intensity Conflict SITREP (Next 48 hours)

  • New York, NY – Far-left activists are planning a counter-protest of Drag Queen Story Hour at the Jackson Heights Library. Right-wing activists are expected to protest the event on Friday, 28 July at 1400 EDT at 35-51 81st St, Flushing, NY.
  • Atlanta, GA – Far-left activists are planning “Day of Action” training against Cop City. The training is scheduled for Saturday, 29 July, at 1100 EDT at 711 Catherin St, Atlanta, GA.
  • Erie, PA – Erie Democratic Socialists of America is coordinating a protest against former President Trump’s rally. The protest will occur on Saturday, 29 July, at 1600 EDT, in Perry Square, 571-601 State St, Erie, PA.
  • Brandon, MS – Mississippi Rising Coalition, a far-left organization, is planning a protest against the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department at the Confederate Monument. Activists claim Rankin County Sheriff’s Department is guilty of police brutality and has white supremacist tendencies. The protest is scheduled for Saturday, 29 July, at 1600 EDT at 211 Government St, Brandon, MS.
  • Prescott, AZ – Far-left activists are planning a protest against Nick Fuentes at a College Republicans United Event. Nick Fuentes has claimed he is withdrawing from the event due to security concerns but has previously used this tactic to reduce culpability and pressure of the event and then show up at the last moment. The College Republicans United event is planned for Sunday, 30 July, at 1300 MDT at Prescott Vibes Event Center, 6200 N AZ-89, Prescott, AZ.


M.S. indicates analyst commentary from Mike Shelby

M.M. indicates analyst commentary from Max Morton

J.V.  indicates analyst commentary from Jared Vaughn

R.C. indicates analyst commentary from Robert Cook

H.B. indicates analyst commentary from Harrison Burge

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