Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Clark
Tuesday, July 17, 2018, 4:26 PM

A federal judge ordered the government to temporarily pause deportations of reunified families, reports CNN. On Monday, Judge Dana Sabraw of the southern district of California granted a motion filed by the ACLU on behalf of a group of parents separated from their children at the border. Sabraw’s order will allow the attorneys additional time to argue the case before the court decides whether to permanently halt the deportations. Discussions between Sabraw and defense counsel became heated last week after a representative from Health and Human Services suggested that the court’s July 26 deadline to reunify families was requiring HHS to rush its process and place children in potentially dangerous situations. Chris Meekins, speaking on behalf of the defendants, argued that the deadline was requiring the government to abandon DNA tests and place children in the custody of individuals who may not be their parents. Sabraw vehemently rejected the arguments, saying “HHS appears to be operating in a vacuum, entirely divorced from the undisputed circumstances of the case.” He chose not to extend the reunification deadline.

After President Trump refused to stand behind U.S. intelligence agencies at Monday’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, many of his traditional supporters are voicing their disapproval, reports the Wall Street Journal. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats released a statement defending the integrity of the intelligence community. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich called Trump’s comments “the most serious mistake of his presidency.” And current speaker Paul Ryan released a statement saying ”There is no question that Russia interfered in our election.” The Times compiled a full list of all responses by GOP lawmakers. This afternoon, the President walked back Monday’s statements and said that he accepts the “intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” according to the Washington Post. He claimed he misspoke during Monday’s press conference and intended to say “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.” Inconsistencies remain between the President’s statements and the statements of the intelligence community. While the former has definitively concluded that Russia was behind the 2016 electoral interference, President Trump concluded his statements this afternoon by saying that the interference “could be other people also.”

NATO Resolute Support, the United States’ mission in Afghanistan, refuted a New York Times report that said it is willing to engage in direct talks with the Taliban. On July 16, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the U.S. is ready to “support, facilitate, and participate” in peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The Times reported that U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson, who currently serves as Resolute Support commander, supports the talks. Nicholson, however, said that his statements were “mischaracterized.”

The European Court of Human Rights accused Russia of violating Europe’s human rights convention in its handling of two separate cases, according to BBC. In the first case, Russia arrested and convicted three women who participated in the Pussy Riot protest in a Moscow cathedral in 2012. In the second case, Russia allegedly mishandled an investigation into the murder of a journalist named Anna Politkovskaya in 2006. The judgement is likely to have little impact: Russia passed a law in 2015 that allows the Russian constitutional court to overrule any decision from the ECHR.

As the U.S. continues to heighten tensions with its largest trade partners, the European Union and Japan agreed to a deal on Monday that will create one of the largest liberalized trade zones in the world, says the Journal. The deal will eliminate $1.17 billion worth of tariffs for the European Union and more than $2 billion worth of tariffs for Japan. The president of the European Council said the agreement was meant to send “a clear message that we stand together against protectionism.” The deal is expected to go into effect next year.

Multiple candidates running in Pakistan’s July 25 elections are currently listed on the Pakistani terrorism watch list, says the New York Times. While the government limits travel and the use of bank accounts by individuals on the list, Pakistani courts have ruled that they are not specifically prevented from running for office. The candidates include leaders of the banned radical group Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and the Tehreek-e-Labbaik political party, the latter of which endorses violence against Pakistan’s minorities. The already contentious elections have been marked with rising violence over the last week. On Friday, 149 people were killed in a suicide-bomb attack at a political rally in the Mastung district, according to Reuters. The candidate for the district, Siraj Raisani, was killed in the explosion. Another suicide bomber attacked a rally in Peshawar on July 10, killing 20 people.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Daniel Byman criticized Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ strategy in Yemen.

Molly Reynolds worried about Congress’s ability to engage in meaningful oversight in light of the procedural chaos during Peter Strzok’s July 12 testimony before two House committees.

Matthew Kahn posted the communique that NATO released on behalf of all NATO member-countries after its July 11 summit.

Kahn also posted the unsealed criminal complaint and supporting affidavit accusing Maria Butina, a Russian national, of conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent of Russia.

Jack Goldsmith highlighted several questions that should be addressed in light of Friday’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers involved in the hacking of the DNC and the Helsinki press conference.

Victoria Clark, Mikhaila Fogel, Matthew Kahn, Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes offered some initial thoughts on the indictment against Maria Butina.

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