Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Garrett Hinck
Tuesday, November 14, 2017, 4:19 PM

Attorney General Jeff Sessions told lawmakers that he did not perjure himself in previous congressional testimony about Trump campaign interactions with Russians, the New York Times reported. Sessions testified before the House Judiciary Committee that when he last appeared before Congress in October, Sessions forgot a meeting at which campaign aide George Papadopoulos discussed the latter’s Russian connections. When asked about the impending reauthorization of components of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), including the Section 702 program, Sessions pushed back against a provision in the judiciary committee’s reauthorization bill that requires the FBI to obtain a warrant to use Americans’ information included in intelligence data for criminal investigations.

Julian Assange, the creator of Wikileaks, attempted to convince Donald Trump Jr. to coordinate the Trump campaign’s activities with his organization’s information leaks, the Atlantic reported. Congressional investigators have examined Twitter direct messages from Wikileaks to Trump Jr. exhorting the campaign to share leaked information that Wikileaks had released. Trump Jr. appears to have engaged with Wikileaks repeatedly before the election. In April 2017, CIA Director Mike Pompeo labeled Wikileaks a “hostile intelligence service.”

The FBI is investigating Russian money transfers labeled “to finance election campaign of 2016” to more than 60 different embassies around the world, BuzzFeed News reported. Russian banks sent more than $380,000 to dozens of Russian embassies in fall 2016. Citibank became aware of the transfers and notified the FBI about them more than two months ago.

A tank convoy appeared outside Zimbabwe’s capital after the military said it was prepared to intervene in a political crisis, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. Residents of Harare saw lines of tanks on the outskirts of the city one day after the head of Zimbabwe’s military threatened to “step in” to stop President Robert Mugabe’s push to oust senior political leaders, including his vice president. . In a statement, the ruling party accused the military commander of disrupting Zimbabwe’s stability, according to Reuters.

U.S.-backed forces in Syria approved a secret deal to allow hundreds of Islamic State fighters to escape the fall of the city of Raqqa, the BBC reported. The Syrian Democratic Forces concluded an agreement with local Islamic State officials to let over 250 fighters, their families and weapons caches leave the besieged city before it fell.

Saad Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister who resigned on Nov. 4, said he would return to Lebanon from Saudi Arabia within two days, Reuters reported. Hariri has denied that he is being held captive in Saudi Arabia, where he announced his resignation ten days earlier. Hariri said he resigned because of overwhelming Iranian influence in his country. On Tuesday, a senior Iranian government official said Iran would like Hariri to stay on as Lebanon’s prime minister, according to Reuters.

The International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) said Iran had not violated the 2015 nuclear deal, The Associated Press reported. The IAEA—the U.N. agency charged with monitoring Iran’s compliance with the agreement—found in a confidential report that there were no instances where Iran had breached the terms of the acord.

Airstrikes from the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen hit the airport in the capital of Sanaa, jeopardizing relief shipments during a food and health crisis, Reuters reported. The strikes made it impossible for U.N. humanitarian flights to land at the rebel-controlled airport. Additionally, on Tuesday, the U.N. rebuffed a demand from the Saudi coalition that U.N. relief supplies to a rebel-held port undergo strict inspections, according to AFP. Separately, the House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution stating that U.S. military assistance to the Saudi-led coalition does not fall under the scope of the 2001 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF), Politico reported.

Three U.S. aircraft carriers are participating in military exercises with South Korean forces near the Korean peninsula, Fox News reported. The U.S. Pacific Fleet said it was the first time since 2007 that more than two U.S. carriers had come together for joint drills. South Korea rejected Japanese participation in the exercises, possibly to avoid angering China, Nikkei reported.

Russian lawmakers are preparing to target foreign media organizations operating in Russia, the AP reported. The legislation would require all groups that receive funding from abroad and participate in politics to register with the Russian government. The move came after the Department of Justice required the Russian-funded RT network to register as a foreign agent. Press watchdogs said the Russia is using the U.S. action as a pretext to crackdown on civil society groups.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Robert Williams described how fear of Chinese corporate influence’s threat to U.S. national security motivates a bipartisan bill to reform the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

Harleen Gambhir surveyed the growing list of groups affiliated with the Islamic State that may come under the scope of the 2001 AUMF.

Sarah Grant summarized Monday’s developments from the military commission trying Rahim al-Nashiri in connection with the USS Cole bombing.

Shannon Togawa Mercer posted the abstract of Philip Heymann’s “The Art of the Cover Up: Watergate,” the latest entry in the Lawfare Research Paper Series.

Vanessa Sauter posted the conference report for the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

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