Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Matthew Kahn
Friday, June 2, 2017, 4:27 PM

Current and former heads of state and business executives spoke out against President Trump’s decision yesterday to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Former President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, and executives from Goldman Sachs, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft were among the critics. The Guardian reports that Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Disney CEO Robert Iger are withdrawing from the president’s business advisory panel, while the New York Times reports that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is organizing a group of businesses, universities, and politicians that will voluntarily uphold the terms of the accord.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller will investigate former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s relationship with the Turkish government as part of the FBI’s probe into Russian election interference, reports Reuters. Flynn received $530,000 for lobbying work on behalf of the Turkish government and was under investigation by federal prosecutors in Virginia.

President Trump is considering whether to invoke executive privilege to in an effort to prevent former FBI Director James Comey from testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee next Thursday, Reuters writes. A White House decision to invoke executive privilege would likely provoke political backlash and litigation, and it is unlikely that it would block Comey’s testimony. Bloomberg has more.

Upon entering office, the Trump administration pushed State Department officials to begin efforts to relax sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration, Yahoo! News reports. Dan Fried, who coordinated State Department sanctions policy until February, says he reached out to members of Congress in an attempt to codify sanctions after receiving concerned messages from U.S. government officials who were asked to develop sanctions-lifting policies. Yesterday, the Post wrote that the White House has taken steps to unconditionally return two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland that had been seized by the Obama administration in December in response to Russian election interference.

The CIA has named Michael D’Andrea as its new head of Iran operations, writes the Times. The appointment of D’Andrea, who earned a reputation as an aggressive operations officer as the overseer in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other counterterrorism operations, signals the agency and the administration are taking steps to bolster its operations against Iran, which President Trump has called “the number one terror state.” The Wall Street Journal gives more details on D’Andrea’s appointment and the CIA’s new Iran Mission Center.

The Trump administration is returning copies of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee report on CIA detention and interrogation to the committee, acceding to the request of Committee Chairman Senator Richard Burr, the Times writes. Previously, the committee had sent copies of the report to at least eight federal agencies, but its being returned to the Senate lowers the chances that the complete document will eventually become public. At least one copy of the report remains within the government outside the legislative branch, under seal with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

A group of retired admirals and generals have filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to hear the case of Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, a Guantanamo detainee currently on trial before a military commission for his role in the USS Cole bombing. The group, which includes the first commander of Guantanamo’s Camp X-Ray, argues that the Court should take the opportunity to “clearly demonstrat[e] the legality of military commission trials” in considering whether Nashiri’s case is properly before the commission. The Miami Herald has more.

The Justice Department has filed for Supreme Court review of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s decision in International Refugee Assistance Project  v. Trump last week, asking the Court to overturn the Fourth Circuit’s ruling against the administration’s travel ban, the Washington Post reports. The government also filed for stays of the nationwide injunctions issued against the travel ban in IRAP and Hawaii v. Trump.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly signalled a desire to change the “temporary protected status” protection that gives refuge to victims of natural disasters, according to the AP. The 435,000 people currently eligible for the program must seek renewed status every 18 months from DHS. Three months ago, the protection ended for immigrants from West African countries affected by Ebola. Kelly said that though he has not discussed ending the status with the leaders of the ten Central American countries from which immigrants are eligible, the program’s privileges were “intended to be temporary, even though they have not been administered that way.”

In a Manila casino, a lone gunman opened fire and burned casino tables killing at least 36 people last night, reports the BBC. Though the Islamic State has claimed credit for the attack—and despite President Trump mislabeling the attack as an act of terrorism, as CNN reportslocal officials insist that the incident was a robbery attempt gone wrong. Most fatalities were due to suffocation from toxic smoke rather than gunfire, which was aimed toward the air rather than toward patrons, and the gunman filled a backpack with $2.3 million worth of gambling chips before killing himself at the scene. Elsewhere in the Philippines, the general leading the battle against a militant Islamist group aligned with ISIS in the city of Marawi has been relieved of his command. Yesterday, the Philippine military mistakenly killed ten of its own soldiers in an air raid.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Ben posted this week’s episode of Rational Security: The “Covfefe” Edition.

Nora Ellingsen wrote about the reactions among rank-and-file FBI officials to James Comey’s firing.

Samm Sacks described what we should expect from China’s new cybersecurity law.

Chris Mirasola laid out how China’s Cyberspace Administration is taking steps to mollify business leaders concerned about the cybersecurity law.

Stephanie Leutert detailed the mounting difficulties faced by Central American migrants.

Aditya Bamzai explained how the Justice Department leadership delegates authority to a Special Counsel in a counterintelligence investigation.

Alice Hill cautioned the risks wrought on the world by abandoning the Paris Agreement.

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