Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Scott Harman
Thursday, January 3, 2019, 3:37 PM

Thursday is the first of the 116th Congress. Nancy Pelosi was elected to lead the House of Representatives as Speaker of the House, says the Washington Post. According to the Post, Pelosi has called for a bill to reopen the government, which is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

President Trump held a cabinet meeting yesterday and covered a wide variety of topics. The president admitted he had “essentially” fired former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, says the New York Times.

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced that it will hold hearings on Jan. 15 and 16 to consider the nomination of William Barr to be the attorney general.

A U.S. defense official told CNN that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan reminded Pentagon staff to focus on the threat posed by China during a meeting with military service secretaries and undersecretaries of defense.

U.S Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman met with Paul Whelan, the American citizen detained last week on espionage charges in Moscow, reports the Associated Press. Russian security services have stated that Whelan was captured “during an espionage operation” but offered no additional specifics. The Post reports that Whelan was formally charged early this morning and will remain in custody in Moscow until Feb. 28.

The alleged assassins of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi have attended their first court hearing in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, says the Wall Street Journal. The government prosecutor formally called for a death sentence for five of the 11 men facing trial for the killing, which the CIA assesses was performed at the direction of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

South Korea’s spy agency has announced that the North Korea’s ambassador to Italy, Jo Song-gil, vanished from Rome, along with his wife, in November, details BBC.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Chuck Rosenberg argued that acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker and New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ previous comments about investigations of President Trump raises questions about their impartiality.

Jake Dizard explained why Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s creation of a new security force comprised of military personnel is return to policies of previous administrations.

Sarah Grant compiled a timeline and certiorari-stage documents from the the three lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s ban on military service by transgender people.

Jen Patja Howell shared the first episode of Rational Security for 2019. The show covers how the new Congress might tackle national security issues, the detention of Paul Whelan and Elizabeth Warren’s foreign policy agenda.

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