Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Stephanie Zable
Thursday, August 23, 2018, 5:30 PM

President Trump went on a media offensive in response to the barrage of stories this week about his former lawyer Michael Cohen and former campaign manager Paul Manafort), writes Politico. See Lawfare’s analysis of the Cohen’s guilty plea and Manafort’s conviction here.

Michael Cohen’s guilty plea came in the face of overwhelming pressure, explains the Wall Street Journal. Prosecutors had evidence against him relating to tax fraud in his taxi medallion business as well as information from the publisher of National Enquirer, and the Trumps had stopped paying his mounting legal bills.

On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted about alleged persecution of white farmers in South Africa. The tweet was inspired by a Tucker Carlson segment, but the claims are false, according to the New York Times. Allegations of widespread killing of white farmers are a white nationalist talking point, but they come as killings of farmers are at a 20-year low. The tweet was Trump’s first to use the word “Africa.”

Reality Winner, a former government contractor who pleaded guilty to leaking classified information, was sentenced to five years in prison, reports CBS. Prosecutors claim the sentence is the longest ever imposed for a federal crime involving leaks to the media.

In the face of criticism from Trump and prominent Senate Republicans, Attorney General Jeff Sessions argued forcefully for Justice Department independence, according to the Washington Post. In his statement, Sessions refuted allegations that he was given the post of attorney general due to loyalty during the campaign and asserted that the department would not be “improperly influenced by political considerations.”

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell posted this week’s edition of the Rational Security podcast, in which the gang dissected the implications of Tuesday’s Mueller investigation news.

Alex Stamos, former chief security officer of Facebook, warned that it’s too late to protect the 2018 elections, but that there are still steps states, Congress, and individual citizens can take to protect the 2020 elections against foreign interference.

Benjamin Wittes revealed a new benefit to donating to Lawfare (in addition to good karma): the Lawfare Challenge Coin.

In this week’s Sinotech, David Stanton and Wenqing Zhao discussed tentative progress in the U.S.-China trade war, as well as a roundup of other recent U.S.-China tech policy news.

Travis Moore announced that TechCongress opened its fellowship application for 2019. Technologists who want to bring more technological literacy to Congress are encouraged to apply.

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