Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Vanessa Sauter
Thursday, December 7, 2017, 2:52 PM

Palestinian protesters have surfaced in the West Bank and Gaza following President Donald Trump’s statement Wednesday recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the Washington Post reports. Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have urged protests in response to the Trump administration’s decision. Hamas has called for an uprising against Israel, citing Wednesday’s decision as a “war declaration against Palestinians.” The declaration follows last Friday’s call for a day of rage from the group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stated that the Trump administration’s decision removes the U.S. as an impartial negotiator in the peace process between the Palestinian territories and Israel. The U.N. Security Council has scheduled an emergency meeting for this Friday to address the crisis, according to Reuters. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres responded to Trump’s decision, emphasizing that a only two-state solution would work and that Jerusalem represents the capital of both Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Trump issued a statement Wednesday asking Saudi Arabia to end its blockade on Yemen and allow humanitarian supplies, including food and water, into the war-ravaged country, according to the Post. The United States has been providing military and intelligence support to the kingdom as it intervenes in Yemen’s devastating civil war. Trump’s statement followed the second night of Saudi-led airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, as the kingdom attempts to prevent the Houthis from gaining ground.

Amid the ongoing joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, a North Korean official stated that the drills and the United States’ “confrontational warmongering” now makes war impossible to avoid, Reuters reports. Chinese officials have urged North Korea to “maintain calm and restraint.” China and Russia had previously recommended that the United States and South Korea halt their planned military exercises to mitigate the escalating tension with Pyongyang.

FBI Director Christopher Wray is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday in an oversight hearing, the Washington Post reports. Members have asked Wray about the FBI’s management of high-profile investigations into both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, as well as the recent dismissal of a senior official working with special counsel Robert Mueller. Peter Strzok, the official removed from the FBI’s investigation into the possible connection between Trump associates and Russia, was dismissed in late July following discovery of anti-Trump text messages between Strozk and FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, Donald Trump Jr. refused to disclose the details of a conversation with his father concerning how to handle news of Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer, according to the Wall Street Journal. Trump Jr. invoked attorney-client privilege, stating that his and the president’s lawyers were on the call, which occurred after the New York Times broke news of the Trump Tower meeting on July 8. Rep. Adam Schiff challenged the invoked privilege, asserting “there is no attorney-client privilege that protects a discussion between father and son.”

Wildfires are ravaging Southern California, forcing nearly 200,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area to evacuate, according to the Los Angeles Times. Officials sent out an emergency alert late on Wednesday night for “extreme fire danger,” and the major highway between Ventura and Santa Barbara has been closed. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorized federal funds on Wednesday to support California’s efforts to contain the fires, says the Los Angeles Daily News.

On Thursday, Senator Al Franken announced he will resign following accusations of sexual misconduct, the New York Times reports.

ICYMI, Yesterday on Lawfare

Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck posted this week’s National Security Law podcast on the Logan Act.

Jack Goldsmith argued that Wray and Rod Rosenstein should defend their workforce from Trump’s attacks without compromising Mueller’s investigation.

Dan Byman suggests the split between al-Qaida and Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra was more of an acrimonious divorce than an amicable parting.

Shreve Arail discussed the consequences of public misunderstanding surrounding Section 702.

Vanessa Sauter posted the livestream of Trump’s statement on Jerusalem.

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