Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Stephanie Zable
Thursday, May 3, 2018, 3:24 PM

President Trump’s lawyers are once again making waves. Bloomberg noted that Trump’s legal team members lack the requisite security clearances to negotiate with Robert Mueller. Former attorney John Dowd had been the only member of Trump’s personal legal team with a high-level security clearance, and since his departure no team members fit the bill. The topics Mueller is expected to ask about include some that could require clearance to discuss, including the meeting Trump held with Russian officials the day after firing James Comey.

President Trump acknowledged that he had repaid Michael Cohen the $130,000 payoff to Stormy Daniels, but insisted that it was not a campaign contribution, the New York Times reported. The admission came after new legal team member Rudy Giuliani revealed as much in an interview with Fox News.

The Washington Post noted that Giuliani’s interview may have uncovered another damaging admission: that Trump did in fact fire James Comey because Comey failed to confirm that Trump was not under investigation. Giuliani’s statement is another in a list of contradictory justifications for Comey’s termination, and Mueller may be able to use it to support an obstruction of justice charge.

China’s foreign minister met with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, reported Politico. The meeting is an indication of the increasingly warm ties between the two regimes since Kim met with Xi Jinping in March, and it shows that China will remain an important player leading up to potential Kim-Trump talks in the next few months.

China has installed missile systems on three contested islands in the South China Sea, said CNBC. According to intelligence, China has deployed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on three reefs, including the hotly contested Mischief Reef, that would allow it to strike surface vessels within 295 nautical miles of the reefs and aircraft, drones and cruise missiles within 160 nautical miles. The missiles accompany China’s recent deployment of military jamming equipment in the South China Sea.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Evelyn Douek analyzed the European Commission’s latest policy document on disinformation.

Matthew Kahn explained how the GDPR threatens the WHOIS database of internet domain owners.

Ryan Budish announced his essay on the international implications of encryption for the Hoover Institution’s Aegis Paper Series.

Benjamin Wittes gamed out what will come of the special counsel’s reported threat to subpoena the president.

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck posted this week’s National Security Law Podcast.

In SinoTech, Wenqing Zhao and David Stanton explained the challenges facing ZTE and Xi Jinping’s cyber goals.

Steve Vladeck and Benjamin Wittes opined on whether the president’s executive powers could overcome a special counsel subpoena.

Scott Anderson wrote about Ahmed al-Darbi, the first detainee from Guantanamo Bay transferred out under Trump.

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