Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Hayley Evans
Tuesday, May 22, 2018, 9:21 AM

At a meeting on Monday afternoon, the White House and the Justice Department appeared to avert a conflict connected to the FBI’s use of an informant in the early stages of the Russia investigation, reports the Washington Post. The House intelligence committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, is seeking information about the source. John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, will oversee a meeting between officials from the FBI, the Justice Department, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the congressional leadership to review sensitive documents about the informant. On Sunday night, the president tweeted that he intended to order the Justice Department to open an investigation into the use of the source. Later that night, the Justice Department announced that it would refer the investigation to its inspector general. The president on Monday convened a meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI director Christopher Wray, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to talk about the developments.

The Trump administration has placed new sanctions on Venezuela in order to block President Nicolás Maduro from selling off government debt for personal gain, the New York Times reports. On Monday, President Trump signed an executive order barring U.S. companies or citizens from buying debt or accounts receivable from the Venezuelan government. This news comes after President Maduro won a second term on Sunday in what the U.S. government called a “sham” election. The U.S. devised the sanctions to close off an “avenue for corruption” that senior administration officials said they had observed Maduro and government officials using to enrich themselves.

President Trump has glowingly endorsed new CIA director Gina Haspel, hailing her time at the CIA, CNN reports. Trump spoke of the universal respect for Haspel, the milestone of her becoming the first woman to lead the CIA, and her overcoming of “very negative politics” during the confirmation process.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has threatened Iran with the “strongest sanctions in history” if certain conditions are not met, Al Jazeera reports. Pompeo set out twelve demands for inclusion in a new nuclear treaty with Iran, including releasing all U.S. hostages, ending its proliferation of ballistic missiles, withdrawing all forces from Syria, ending its support for the Houthis in Yemen, ending its support for Middle East terrorist groups including Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, ending its support for terrorists in Afghanistan, and ending its “threatening behavior” in the region.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

In the first post of a two-part series on proxy war, Dan Byman examined why states might engage in a proxy war and the likely costs and problems of such an engagement.  

Grayson Clary summarized the Fourth Circuit decision in United States v. Kolsuz, which ruled that authorities may no longer conduct forensic searches of electronic devices at the border without some degree of individualized suspicion. 

Steve Vladeck explained why the latest dispute in the al-Nashiri case is a perfect microcosm of the state of the Guantanamo military commissions today.

Jennifer Daskal and Peter Swire described the key legal requirements under U.S. and EU law for law enforcement access to data, and explored a framework EU-U.S. agreement that appears to satisfy the legal requirements of both the Cloud Act and EU law.

Matthew Kahn posted a video of last week’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Corker-Kaine AUMF Bill.

Kahn shared the White House’s statement after the president’s meeting with Wray, Rosenstein, and Coats concerning the FBI’s use of an informant to aid an investigation into the Trump campaign.  

Scott Anderson and Benjamin Wittes provided an update on their Freedom of Information Act request for the results of the FBI’s most recent “climate survey.”

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