Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Clark, Mikhaila Fogel
Thursday, July 26, 2018, 4:04 PM

A group of 11 Republican lawmakers, led by Reps. Mark Meadows (R.-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R.-Ohio), filed articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday evening, reports NPR. The lawmakers assert that Rosenstein is withholding documents from Congress and has bungled the investigations related to the 2016 election campaign. The Justice Department has not commented on the situation. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R.-Wisc.) rejected this effort, stating that the deputy attorney general’s conduct did not warrant impeachment, added POLITICO. Meadows has stated that he will give the department “one last chance” to turn over the requested documents during the chamber’s August recess, after which time Rosenstein may be charged with contempt of Congress.

President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced that the EU and U.S. agreed to hold off on escalating the burgeoning trade war between the two parties, according to the New York Times. The two agreed to not impose further tariffs and work toward eliminating the existing steel and aluminum tariffs, while the the U.S. and EU negotiate an agreement to end tariffs, subsidies and other barriers on industrial products, including automobiles.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, where he faced questions about the administration’s unorthodox approach to foreign policy, says the Washington Post. Lawmakers were particularly concerned about the Helsinki summit, and what Chairman Bob Corker (R.-Tenn.), called Trump’s “submissive and deferential” treatment of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a seemingly unsuccessful effort to reassure lawmakers, Sec. Pompeo declared the U.S. would never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea and that the president accepts the intelligence community assessment that Russia worked to interfere with the 2016 election campaign. In the hearing, Sec. Pompeo also announced that North Korea is continuing to develop nuclear fissile material despite pledges to denuclearize, reported Reuters.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization by a vote of 359-45, said POLITICO. The bill, which is a compromise between the House and Senate version, contained $717 billion in spending, as well as measures prohibiting F-35 transfers to Turkey and government purchase of products by the Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei. The bill also measures to modernize the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which evaluates mergers and acquisitions with foreign companies that may involve matters of national security. Lawfare posted the full text and explanatory statement.

The ACLU is calling on Congress to legislate a moratorium on law enforcement use of facial recognition software, wrote the ACLU. The organization conducted a test Amazon’s Rekognition, in which the software falsely matched photos of 28 members of Congress with mugshots of different individuals who had been arrested. The mistakes, the ACLU said, disproportionately affected people of color. The ACLU is concerned that use of such software threatens to chill First Amendment activities such as protesting or practicing religion, and many, including the Congressional Black Caucus, have expressed concern that this could exacerbate bias against people of color.

The U.S. envoy for South Asia is scheduled to meet with Taliban officials this week in an attempt to coordinate peace talks, said the Wall Street Journal. Deputy assistant undersecretary for South and Central Asia, Amb. Alice Wells, is reportedly scheduled to meet with the Taliban’s political arm in Doha to begin laying the foundations for possible peace talks with the group.

The U.S. sanctioned five organizations and eight individuals linked to the Syrian chemical-weapons program, said Reuters. The U.S. Treasury announced that those sanctions were connected with electronics used to produce Syrian chemical weapons.

More than 220 people were killed in southern Syria in a string of suicide bombings and attacks, reported AFP news. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

David Kris supported the recommendations in Jennifer Daskal and Will Carter’s new CSIS report: “Low-Hanging Fruit: Evidence-Based Solutions to the Digital Evidence Challenge.”

Robert Loeb outlined Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s view on the court’s role in national security issues.

Scott Anderson explained the executive’s authority to withdraw the U.S. from NATO.

Sharon Bradford Franklin predicted the implications of Carpenter on bulk surveillance.

David Stanton and Qenquing Zhao recounted this week’s U.S.-China news.

Victoria Clark posted the livestream of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Scott Anderson flagged the conference text and explanatory statement for the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019.

Jen Patja Howell posted Rational Security in which Shane Harris, Susan Hennessey, Tamara Coffman Wittes, and Benjamin Wittes discussed President Trump’s difficult week in national security issues.

Quinta Jurecic highlighted the articles of impeachment that Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan introduced against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

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