Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Clark
Monday, June 4, 2018, 5:12 PM

President Trump announced that he believes he has the “absolute right” to pardon himself, according to the Washington Post. The president tweeted Monday morning:

The tweet followed an interview on Sunday with Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who he announced that the President, “has no intention of pardoning himself,” which was “not to say he can’t.”

U.S. intelligence and international arms control officials agree that North Korea nuclear tunnel explosions last month were mostly a propaganda effort, CNN reports. On May 24, North Korean officials invited journalists to observe as they destroyed three of their underground nuclear-test tunnels at Punggye-ri. However, U.S. intelligence officials suspect the tunnels remain usable, and “the show was essentially a charade.” Satellite images show that technical equipment was removed from the tunnels before the explosions. Additionally, based on an analysis of seismic sensors, experts believe the explosions were too weak to cause the tunnels to collapse. No weapons experts were permitted to watch the incident.

Iran’s supreme leader announced preparations to escalate the nation’s uranium-enrichment capacity if the Iran nuclear deal falls apart following the U.S.’s withdrawal, according to Reuters. In a televised speech, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, “I have ordered Iran’s atomic energy agency to be prepared to upgrade our (uranium) enrichment capacity … Our enemies will never be able to halt our nuclear progress.” The EU, France, Germany, and the U.K. are struggling to save the deal after the U.S. instituted new sanctions against Tehran. Iran remains opposed to any restrictions on their ballistic missile program. Khamenei said “Limiting our missile work is a dream that will never come true.”

On Sunday, India successful test-fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile with a 3,000-mile range, the Economic Times reports. The missile was launched from Abdul Kalam Island; the test marked the sixth trial of the Agni-5 missile. Indian defense ministry sources say that the missile covered the full expected distance and that they consider the trial a “total success.”

The U.S. is considering an increase in its naval patrols in the South China Sea, reports Reuters. The Pentagon announcement comes in the wake of China’s growing militarization within the disputed maritime and island territories, including the Paracel and Spratly islands. U.S. officials are encouraging international partners to step up their own naval deployments. Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan said, “We will continue to work with our friends, partners, and allies to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

For the last decade, Facebook has given user’s data to cell phone and other device manufacturers like Apple and Samsung without obtaining explicit user consent, according to the New York Times. Facebook negotiated data-sharing partnerships with more than 60 companies, including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Samsung. The scope of the partnerships, as well as the data Facebook provided, was previously unreported. Through these partnerships, device makers were able to access user’s personal data, and “some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing.” Most of these partnerships still exist now, although Facebook began dismantling them in April.

ICYMI: Last weekend on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell posted the latest episode of the Lawfare Podcast, in which Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon official; Ivan Schlager, a partner with Skadden Arps’ national security practice; Nova Daly, a senior public policy adviser with Wiley Rein; and CSIS Vice President James Andrew Lewis discussed the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and how it might change under the new law.

Quinta Jurecic posted correspondence sent by President Trump’s attorneys to the special counsel in January.

Michael Neiberg analyzed the July Crisis and its lessons to leaders who question their assumptions.

David Kris discussed the questionable assertions made in the January 2018 letter from the president’s lawyers to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Bob Bauer commented on pardons, obstruction of justice, and rule of law in what Bauer calls “the demagogic presidency.”

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