The Senate confirmed Mike Pompeo as secretary of state, according to the Washington Post. The vote was 57–42. Pompeo narrowly received a favorable recommendation from the Committee on Foreign Relations earlier this week when Sen. Rand Paul (R.-Ky.) decided at the last minute to vote in favor.
The White House withdrew Ronny Jackson’s nomination for Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the New York Times reports. Jackson had faced increasing scrutiny from senators on both sides of the aisle in the face of allegations of a hostile work environment, overprescribing drugs, and drinking on the job. In his withdrawal, Jackson maintained that the allegations were false but said that they had become a “distraction” for the president.
The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill to protect Robert Mueller from firing, according to the Post. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R.-Iowa), the chairman of the committee, acknowledged that the bill will not become law due to opposition from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) as well as President Trump and the House, but the committee moved it forward on a 14-7 vote nonetheless.
China’s first home-built aircraft carrier is about to begin sea trials, but its strategic value is already in doubt, argues Foreign Policy. The new carrier will make China’s the second most powerful Navy in the world, but U.S. and Chinese naval policy has already moved away from aircraft carriers due to the development of “carrier-killing” weaponry. As a result, the audience of the new carrier may be Southeast Asia and other smaller powers, rather than the U.S.
The U.S. military’s civilian casualty counts are almost certainly underreported due to a flaw in the counting, says the Times. The standard for counting civilian casualties is preponderance of the evidence, which is also the standard for determining whether or not to investigate civilian casualties at all. The result is that investigations are not even started in many cases in which civilian deaths would otherwise be found, leading to significant undercounting.
ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare
Matthew Kahn posted the Military Commissions Trial Judiciary at Guantanamo Bay’s motion to dismiss in the 9/11 case.
Josh Blackman shared his impressions of the oral argument in Trump v. Hawaii and the way forward—with a guest appearance from Lin-Manuel Miranda!
Robert Chesney examined whether the Corker-Kaine AUMF bill provides a blank check for war with North Korea and Iran. (Short answer: It doesn’t).
Kanzanira Thorington wrote about what Trump’s tariffs mean for our allies and the global trading order.
Chesney also previewed Friday’s Doe v. Mattis hearing in the D.C. Circuit.
Coleman Saunders summarized last week’s developments in the military commissions.
Susan Landau offered a correction to a misunderstanding of the National Academies Report on Encryption.
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