Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Garrett Hinck
Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 12:50 PM

The Supreme Court permitted the administration to fully enforce the Sept. 24 revised travel ban order pending litigation in federal appellate courts, the Washington Post reported. In orders issued Monday, the justices lifted injunctions from the Fourth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals that exempted individuals with “bona fide” relationships with family members or organizations in the U.S. from the ban. Challenges to the ban—which restricts travel from eight countries, including six Muslim-majority nations—will proceed in the coming weeks in the Fourth and Ninth circuit courts.

The U.N. dispatched its top diplomat to North Korea for talks about its nuclear program, the Wall Street Journal reported. Jeffrey Feltman, the U.N. undersecretary general for political affairs, will meet North Korea’s foreign minister and other senior officials in a three-day trip to Pyongyang.

The chief U.N. human rights official said Myanmar’s security forces may have committed genocide against Rohingya Muslims, Reuters reported. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said that the burning of villages, murders of civilians, widespread rape and indiscriminate shootings of Rohingya people by Myanmar’s military forces could amount to genocide. Zeid called for the establishment of an international inquiry into crimes committed in Myanmar. Myanmar denies that its forces carried out atrocities against the Rohingya, a group whose very existence it contests.

Prosecutors from the special counsel investigation withdrew their support for a bail deal with Paul Manafort, saying Manafort was writing an editorial defending his political activities in Ukraine to be published under the name of a third party, the Post reported. In a court filing, the prosecutors said Manafort violated a court order to limit his public statements by ghostwriting an editorial about his activities in Ukraine as recently as Nov. 30. They also said Manafort was working with a partner “assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service.”

The special counsel subpoenaed President Donald Trump’s financial records from Deutsche Bank, the Journal reported. The subpoena requested records related to Trump’s business dealings with the bank, which the Journal described as “Trump’s primary lender in recent years.”. Deutsche Bank has provided over $300 million in financing to Trump and entities affiliated with him.

Emails between KT McFarland, the former deputy national security adviser, and transition officials raised questions about the accuracy of McFarland’s testimony to senators this summer about her knowledge of Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials, the New York Times reported. Emails showed McFarland knew at the time about a phone call between Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. In July, McFarland testified that she was not aware of contacts between Flynn and Kislyak. On Friday, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the nature of his discussions with Kislyak.

The U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that Middle Eastern leaders have strongly condemned, the Times reported. President Trump informed Palestinian and Israeli leaders of the decision in phone calls on Tuesday. Trump told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas he plans to eventually move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, a decision Abbas told him could undermine the Israel-Palestine peace process. However, Trump is expected to sign a waiver on Wednesday that would keep the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv for the next six months.

The son of the recently killed Yemeni ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh said he would fight against Houthi rebels to avenge his father’s death, the Times reported. Ahmed Ali Saleh, speaking from his exile in the United Arab Emirates, vowed to push the Houthi rebels that killed his father out of Yemen. Saleh was a top military commander under his father’s government. Fighting between rival rebel factions in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, has ceased, leaving more than a hundred people dead, according to Reuters. Airstrikes from the Saudi-led coalition hit the city in retaliation for Saleh’s death.

Protesters freed former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili after Ukrainian police took him into custody, the Post reported. It is was unclear why police attempted to detain him. Saakashvili called for protests against Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, a former ally. Saakashvili has gained popularity in Ukraine for his strong anti-Russia stance, but the Ukrainian government has taken steps to constrain his political rise, including revoking his passport.

The Kremlin denied that information from Michael Flynn influenced Vladimir Putin to modulate the Russian response to U.S. sanctions enacted last year, NBC News reported. A Kremlin spokesperson said Flynn’s request for Russia to hold off responding to sanctions designed to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 election played no role in Putin’s decision to not retaliate.

The Times published an interactive feature examining whether Saudi missile defense systems actually intercepted a missile from Yemen aimed at the Riyadh airport.

Politico’s Ali Watkins detailed how a top terrorist interrogation team has struggled to find bureaucratic backing in the national security establishment.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Robert Chesney argued that the government's arguments in ACLU v. Mattis raise troubling questions about the government’s ability to block the exercise of the writ of habeas corpus.

Bob Bauer discussed how the lies from Trump associates will affect the special counsel investigation’s focus on collusion.

Eliot Kim updated Water Wars, covering the ASEAN summit and Japan-China maritime talks.

Stewart Baker defended expanding protections against “unmasking” and the leaking of intelligence information.

Vanessa Sauter posted the criminal information and plea agreement from the case against an NSA employee who took classified documents to his home.

Benjamin Wittes listed five questions for Alan Dershowitz to answer about his argument that the Russia investigation is the “criminalization of political differences.”

Matthew Kahn posted the Supreme Court orders staying the partial injunctions against the revised travel ban.

Peter Margulies detailed the context for the Supreme Court’s travel ban orders.

Josh Blackman argued that the Supreme Court order suggests the government will prevail against the challenges to the travel ban.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.