Annals of the Trump Administration

Latest in Annals of the Trump Administration

The Russia Connection

Is It A Crime?: Russian Election Meddling and Accomplice Liability Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

There’s been a lot of bad news for the Trump team this week. Shocking revelations regarding a meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort and someone they believed to be a representative of the Russian government currently dominate headlines.

Most of the speculation about possible crimes that might have been committed has centered on possible violations of campaign finance law. But another recent story highlights a different possible form of criminal liability: violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

The Russia Connection

Leaks Aren’t the Real Story, But They Shouldn’t Be Ignored

This morning, CNN reported that

Russian government officials discussed having potentially "derogatory" information about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and some of his top aides in conversations intercepted by US intelligence during the 2016 election, according to two former intelligence officials and a congressional source.

The Russia Connection

On the Back-Channel That Wasn’t and U.S. National Security Interests

During an October 2016 presidential debate, then-candidate Donald Trump rejected the joint Department of Homeland Security-Office of the Director of National Intelligence assessment that the Russian government conducted and encouraged activities intended to influence the 2016 election.

The Russia Connection

Washington Post Reports Jared Kushner Sought Secret Communications Channel with Kremlin

The Washington Post is now reporting that Russian ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak communicated to Moscow that Jared Kushner had approached him in hopes of establishing a secret communications channel with the Kremlin. The Post reports:

The Russia Connection

Initial Reactions on the Appointment of Robert Mueller As Special Counsel

There’s a lot of reason to be cheered this evening by the decision of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to name a special counsel to investigate L’Affaire Russe, and there’s even more reason to be cheered that the individual he selected is Robert Mueller.

Politics & National Security

A Foreign Intelligence Analyst Report on President Trump

In our previous jobs as CIA analysts, we wrote analyses on foreign countries, leaders, and other political figures for senior U.S. policymakers like the President and a small number of Cabinet-level officials. Current developments in the United States strike many as “through the looking glass,” and it might be a useful exercise to go all the way and consider American politics from the outside looking in.

Surveillance

Don’t Dismiss Concerns about Transition-Period Unmasking (At Least Not Yet)

The aftermath of the 2016 election has spun off yet another divisive issue: Whether White House officials inappropriately requested the identities of Trump transition aides whose names had been “masked” in classified intelligence reports. The kerfuffle over unmasking adds even more to the already heaping plates of congressional investigators currently probing Russian “active measures” and leaks of U.S.-person information collected under FISA.

Surveillance

What Intelligence Officials Really Mean When they Talk About ‘Unmasking’

This afternoon, we published an op-ed in the Washington Post explaining some of the basics of "unmasking" in an effort to offer a bit of context to the headlines. While it is written for a general interest audience, Lawfare readers may be interested in our explanation of the basic unmasking process:

International Law

International Law and the Trump Administration

The Trump administration has conspicuously—and surprisingly—complied with international law during its first months. For example, yesterday’s climate order notably does not announce a withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, despite campaign promises to do so. Perhaps the Trump administration realizes that international law supports its policy positions on the South China Sea, North Korea, Iran, and on other vitally important issues.

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