Overnight Defense

Defense & National Security — US condemns Myanmar military executions  

Stefani Reynolds/AP via pool
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the media before boarding his airplane at Yokota Air Base in Fussa on the outskirts of Tokyo Monday, July 11, 2022. Blinken arrived Monday on a previously unscheduled stop to Tokyo to offer condolences in person over the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The U.S. on Monday condemned Myanmar’s military regime for executing four pro-democracy activists. 

We’ll talk about the executions. Plus: the lines former President Trump cut from a Jan. 7, 2021, speech condemning the rioters who stormed the Capitol a day prior.  

This is Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Jordan Williams. A friend forward this newsletter to you? Subscribe here.

Blinken: Myanmar military executions ‘reprehensible’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday denounced as “reprehensible” the Myanmar military junta’s recent executions of pro-democracy activists and elected leaders. 

  • In a statement, Blinken said the U.S. condemns “in the strongest terms” the executions of Ko Jimmy, Phyo Zeya Thaw, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw over their “exercise of their fundamental freedoms.” 
  • “These reprehensible acts of violence further exemplify the regime’s complete disregard for human rights and the rule of law,” Blinken said.   

Who was executed? Phyo Zeya Thaw was a former lawmaker who was convicted in January for offenses involving possession of explosives and terrorism, The Associated Press reported

Ko Jimmy was a former pro-democracy activist who was convicted of violating counterterrorism laws, according to the outlet. Meanwhile Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw had been convicted of killing of woman in March 2021. 

Attempts to ‘extinguish democracy’:“The regime’s sham trials and these executions are blatant attempts to extinguish democracy; these actions will never suppress the spirit of the brave people of Burma,” Blinken said. 

“The United States joins the people of Burma in their pursuit of freedom and democracy and calls on the regime to respect the democratic aspirations of the people who have shown they do not want to live one more day under the tyranny of military rule,” he added. 

Read more here.  

Trump cut lines from speech condemning rioters

Former President Trump cut lines from a Jan. 7, 2021, address condemning the rioters who entered the Capitol the day prior as not representing him or “our movement.” 

A draft of the speech marked up by Trump, shared by Jan. 6 committee member Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), includes additional evidence not shown by the panel during its Thursday hearing, its final one expected this summer. 

  • What got cut? The draft shows Trump used a marker to cross out a line saying, “I want to be very clear. You do not represent me. You do not represent our movement.” 
  • Trump also cut other lines dealing with the consequences rioters should face. 
  • The prepared draft said he would encourage the Justice Department to prosecute rioters “to the fullest extent of the law. We must send a clear message. Not with mercy, but with justice. Legal consequences must be swift and firm.” 

How did aides respond? A number of top White House aides say they were unsure why Trump made the changes he did, but they did oppose them. 

“That needed to be stated forcefully,” Pat Cipollone, Trump’s White House counsel, said in an interview with the committee. 

Why Trump gave the speech: Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, said the primary motivation for the address was to get out a stronger message condemning the riot than the administration had given had the day before. But there was also concern that the Cabinet might seek to remove Trump from office. 

“The secondary reason for that was think about what might happen in the final 15 days of your presidency if we don’t do this. There’s already talks about invoking the 25th Amendment. You need this as cover,” she said in video shared by the committee. 

Read more here.  


A bipartisan House delegation met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv on Saturday as the country’s war with Russia hits the five-month mark. 

  • Who went to Ukraine? Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said in a statement along with the four other members of the delegation that they saw firsthand during their visit how Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war has failed to achieve its goals. The other members of the delegation are Reps. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) and Mike Quigley (D-Ill.). 

Briefing with Zelensky: Zelensky briefed the members of the delegation on the missile strikes that Russia launched against Ukraine in the past day, specifically targeting the port of Odessa. The city announced that four missiles were launched toward the port, but two were shot down before impact.  

  • Zelensky also told the delegation about the planned reconstruction of Ukraine after the war ends, according to the statement. He said the first step is implementing the Fast Recovery Plan, which would focus on quickly restoring destroyed residential, educational and medical infrastructure.  
  • “We appeal to our partners, in particular the United States, with a proposal to take an active part in the implementation of this ambitious but extremely important project,” he said. 

Their takeaways: The delegation members said the war has “violently disrupted” the lives of Ukrainian civilians and that they saw evidence of Russian atrocities in Irpin and Bucha, two cities in the province surrounding Kyiv.  

“Four months since Vladimir Putin’s unlawful further invasion began, President Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine continue to inspire the world with their courageous fight for their freedom, sovereignty, and democracy,” the delegation said. 

The lawmakers said they will continue to seek ways to help Zelensky and the Ukrainian people as effectively as they can as they “continue their brave stand.” 

Read more here.  


  • The Potomac Officers’ Club will host the 2022 Air Force Summit at 7 a.m. 
  • The Center for Strategic and International Studies will host the Twelfth Annual South China Sea Conference at 9 a.m. 
  • The Department of Defense will host RDER Industry Engagement Day” at 9 a.m. 
  • The Business Council for International Understanding will host a roundtable discussion with Roundtable Discussion with Mr. Michael Laychak, Director, Defense Technology Security Administration, at 10:30 a.m. 
  • The American Security Project will host a discussion on “NATO’s Next Act – A Conversation with Ambassador Doug Lute” at 12 p.m. 
  • The Atlantic Council will host “A conversation about Taiwan with the 27th US Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper” at 12 p.m. 


That’s it for today! Check out The Hill’s Defense and National Security pages for the latest coverage. See you tomorrow!


Tags Antony Blinken Elaine Luria Volodymyr Zelensky
See all Hill.TV See all Video