Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Vanessa Sauter
Thursday, September 14, 2017, 2:51 PM

Late Wednesday, Democratic leaders announced they had cut a deal with President Trump to pursue legislation protecting young undocumented immigrants from deportation, the Washington Post reported. The deal, led by Senator Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), follows Trump’s announcement two weeks ago that he was dismantling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The deal is the second between Trump and Democrats in recent weeks, as President Trump announced last week that he had successfully worked with Democratic congressional leaders to increase the debt limit and finance the government until mid-December. Naturally, Trump confounded reports by tweeting this morning at 3:11 AM that “no deal was made last night on DACA” and that “massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent.”

A training exercise in Camp Pendleton, California turned dangerous on Wednesday when an amphibious assault vehicle with 15 Marines inside burst into flames, according to Business Insider. At least five Marines are in critical condition after the incident, although no deaths have been reported. Those involved in the incident are members of 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, an infantry unit, and 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion. Sources report they were carrying out a Combat Readiness Evaluation. The cause of the fire remains unclear, and military officials stated they are investigating the matter, according to the Post.

Risk of Russian cyberespionage has prompted the U.S. government to ban Kaspersky software in federal agencies, the Post reported. Mounting concerns that the Russian brand of security software may be tied to state-sponsored cyberespionage activities led Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke to order that federal civilian agencies must identify and remove the software on their networks. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a statement yesterday asserting, “The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates U.S. national security.” The DHS is giving Karspersky 90 days to prove its products are not a security risk.

In a disturbing update on Tuesday, the State Department reported the number of incidents involving American diplomats harmed in Cuba is growing, according to the Post. There are now 21 reported cases, two more since September 1, although the cause remains unknown. The union representing Foreign Service officers said victims suffer from mild traumatic brain injuries and hearing loss, among other neurological and physical ailments. Cuba has denied any wrongdoing in what the union described as “sonic harassment attacks,” and the Trump administration has not blamed the Cuban government.

President Donald Trump prohibited a Chinese venture capital fund from purchasing a U.S.-based semiconductor company on nationals security grounds, according to Politico. The president’s order blocked the acquisition of Lattice Semiconductor Corporation by China Venture Capital Fund Corporation (CVCF) based on the recommendation of the Treasury-based Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Concerns about the potential transfer of intellectual property to CVCF and Beijing’s supportive role in the transaction influenced the White House’s decision amid growing tensions in U.S.-China trade relations.

On Wednesday, the Kremlin affirmed it had unsuccessfully attempted to restore ties between Moscow and Washington earlier this year, reports the Wall Street Journal. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov asserted, “Moscow has consistently advocated for a renewal of dialogue, for an exchange of opinions and an attempt to look for joint resolutions.” Moscow says its gestures weren’t reciprocated, while the National Security Council wouldn’t confirm or deny reports. Diplomatic relations between Russia and the U.S. have been strained amid deteriorating diplomatic contacts between the two countries and a series of sanctions and counter-sanctions. President Vladimir Putin of Russian reiterated earlier this month that Trump is “not my bride, and I am not his groom,” according to the New York Times.

The son of former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, Michael G. Flynn, is now a subject of the Russia investigation, NBC News reports. Officials say the inquiry is at least partially associated with Flynn’s involvement with his father’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group. The younger Flynn reportedly played a major role in the day-to-day operations of the firm, serving as his father’s chief of staff. Mike Flynn Jr. responded to the breaking news that he was now a subject of the investigation by tweeting it was a “#nothingburger” and “#fakenewsmedia.”

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice revealed she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials in relation to the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirate’s (UAE) visit to New York late last year, according to CNN. The crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, met with several top Trump officials last December, including Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner, and Steve Bannon. The meeting preceded UAE efforts to facilitate back-channel communication between Russia and Trump’s incoming administration. The UAE allegedly did not notify the U.S. government about the Crown Prince’s travel to New York, although such notice is considered customary for foreign dignitaries.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes criticized White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ false accusation against James Comey.

James Davis suggested the endowment effect may help understand the international impasse with North Korea.

Peter Marguiles discussed the Supreme Court’s stay of part of the Ninth Circuit’s order from last week regarding President Trump’s revised order related to refugees.

Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck posted this week’s National Security Law Podcast, exploring the possibility that this year’s Supreme Court may be packed with cases relating to military courts.

Vanessa Sauter summarized the Senate vote to table Paul’s amendment to the 2018 NDAA.

Sarah Grant summarized Judge Cooper’s opinion on motion in limine in United States v. Abu Khatallah.

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