Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Sarah Tate Chambers
Wednesday, August 29, 2018, 3:25 PM

President Trump tweeted early on Wednesday that China hacked Hillary Clinton’s private email server, according to the Washington Post. The tweet was part of a series that also called on the FBI or Justice Department to look into the matter. The tweets came the same night that Richard Pollock reported on the hack in the Daily Caller, citing anonymous sources including a “government staff official.” The FBI stated later on Wednesday that they had found no evidence that Clinton’s server had been compromised, reported the Post.

Complying with a federal court ruling in May, the president unblocked more Twitter accounts, said Reuters. A federal judge in Manhattan ruled in May that individuals' free speech rights are violated if the president blocks them on Twitter. Of the 41 users who reported being blocked to the Justice Department, 20 informed Reuters that they were unblocked yesterday.

The U.N. director of humanitarian operations warned that if Syrian government troops advance into the northern Idlib province, it could create a humanitarian emergency “on a scale not yet seen” in the seven-year Syrian civil war, reported the Post. Idlib province is the only remaining rebel stronghold in Syria.

Russia claimed for a second time, without citing evidence, that Syrian rebels are planning a chemical-weapon attack in Idlib province, according to the Associated Press. The attack would be used to support Western airstrikes in Syria, asserted Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. Russia further alleged that British special forces are helping plan the attack. The British U.N. ambassador denied the allegations. Defense Secretary James Mattis said that the State Department is communicating with Russia about how to avoid the use of chemical weapons in Syria, reported Reuters. Independent observers and Western intelligence agency have concluded that Syria used chemical weapons in multiple attacks against civilians during the conflict.

As talks with North Korea stall, the United States is not planning on suspending any further military exercises with South Korea, said Secretary Mattis, according to The Wall Street Journal. Several of the largest U.S.-South Korea joint exercises were suspended as a “good faith measure” following the Singapore Summit, said Mattis.

The United States and Canada entered their second day of NAFTA negotiations since the U.S. and Mexico announced a bilateral trade deal on Monday, reports Reuters. The United States hopes that Canada will sign onto that agreement, making it a trilateral deal.

Earlier this month, Trump, once again, considered firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, according to the Post. While sources claim that Trump’s aides and personal attorneys were able to discourage him, several Republican senators seem resigned to the fact that Trump may fire Sessions after the midterm elections.

The Trump administration has decided to stop funding the UN organization that assists Palestinian refugees, reported Foreign Policy. While the administration had previously decreased funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, it reportedly hopes that cutting all funding will make the Palestinians more willing to negotiate a peace agreement.

The White House claimed that the paperwork giving John Brennan notice of the revocation of his security clearance was “delayed,” said the Post. However, the White House insisted that the revocation was effective upon announcement of the president’s order.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

J. Dana Stuster rounded up recent news from the Middle East, including Iran’s plea to the International Court of Justice and European leaders to stop U.S. sanctions.

Jake Laperruque discussed potential items on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board’s agenda, which may now be taken up because Trump has nominated a quorum of members.

Matthew Waxman reviewed Craig Forcese’s Destroying the Caroline: The Frontier Raid that Reshaped the Right to War.

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