Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Alex Potcovaru
Monday, May 7, 2018, 3:23 PM

On Monday morning, President Donald Trump reiterated his support for Gina Haspel, his nominee to lead the CIA, the Washington Post reports. Worried about damage to the CIA’s reputation, Haspel reportedly considered stepping away from the nomination on Friday in order to avoid a contentious confirmation hearing in which she will likely face questions about her role in the CIA’s controversial enhanced-interrogation program. Haspel ran one of the agency’s so-called “black site” prisons in Thailand where two detainees were interrogated—one under her watch—and was involved in the destruction of almost 100 video recordings of the interrogations. However, after a push from White House officials, Haspel decided on Saturday to continue with the nomination process. In a tweet, Trump claimed that Democrats wanted Haspell to walk away from the nomination because she is “too tough on terror.”

In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Rudy Giuliani, a new addition to the Trump legal team and former New York City mayor and federal prosecutor, argued that Trump could defy a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller to provide information in the ongoing Russia investigation, the New York Times reports. In a long and at times self-contradictory interview, Giuliani also raised questions about whether Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen had made payments to women other than Stephanie Clifford. It capped a week fraught with confusion as Giuliani made a media blitz that some experts said only increased Trump’s legal worries.

As President Trump’s deadline to decide whether to back out of the Iran nuclear deal looms, Israel and Iran have bolstered their rhetoric, the Times reports. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has advocated for the deal to be “fully fixed or fully fixed,” arguing that it will not prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon after the deal expires. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the United States would regret leaving the deal. He also warned against international interference into Iran’s missile capability and regional influence.

An Israeli private intelligence firm called Black Cube was hired to gather damaging details on former Obama administration officials who supported the Iran deal in an apparent effort to discredit them, the New Yorker reports. Documents show that the firm collected detailed personal information on a number of officials, including Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl. The Observer reported that Trump administration aides hired Black Cube to conduct the operation, although the company denies this. One New Yorker source said that a private-sector firm with financial interest in the abandoning of the Iran deal was involved.

Turkey threatened to retaliate if the U.S. enacts a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that would suspend the sale of major defense equipment to Turkey until the Pentagon provides a report to Congress on the U.S.-Turkey relationship, Reuters reports. Relations with Ankara have been strained over recent months, as the Erdogan government has shown increasing willingness to engage with Russia, stoking U.S. fears about the commitment of its NATO ally. Turkey has said that the engagement with NATO and Russia are not mutually exclusive.

ICYMI: This weekend on Lawfare

Emily Whalen discussed Lebanon’s parliamentary elections, looking beyond the Iranian-Saudi rivalry.

Matthew Kahn posted the Lawfare Podcast featuring a conversation between Benjamin Wittes and North Korea experts Mira Rapp-Hooper and Steph Haggard on the upcoming summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.

Audrey Alexander and Helen Christy Powell called for a more holistic approach to combating extremist online content.

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