Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By William Ford
Wednesday, January 9, 2019, 12:54 PM

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expected to resign from the Justice Department if William Barr, the president’s nominee for attorney general, is confirmed, the New York Times reports.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unexpected visit to Iraq on Wednesday to meet with the country’s leadership, according to the Wall Street Journal. The move, which follows Pompeo’s meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Tuesday and precedes his coming trip to Egypt, seems aimed at reassuring U.S. partners in the region that Washington remains committed to supporting them despite President Trump’s unexpected announcement that the U.S. will withdraw all ground forces from Syria, says the Journal.

Anthony Zinni, the U.S. special envoy for resolving disputes in the Persian Gulf and building strategic alliances with Arab governments, has resigned, becoming the latest senior defense official to depart the Trump administration, says the Washington Post.

Abdullah Abdullah, the chief executive officer of the Afghan government, said Wednesday that an end to the 17-year war in Afghanistan remains a “dream” as long as the Taliban refuses to involve the Afghan government in peace talks, Reuters reports. Abdullah’s remarks come just one day after the Taliban decided to cancel a fourth round of negotiations due to disputes with U.S. officials about the involvement of Afghan government officials in the ongoing peace process.

Defense lawyers for former NSA contractor Harold Martin Jr., who stands accused of illegally storing significant amounts of classified information at his Maryland home, seek a closer look at the materials he allegedly stole, says Politico. Federal prosecutors have balked at the defense’s request, citing concerns about the volume and sensitivity of the material requested.

President Trump delivered a prime-time address on Tuesday evening, in which he discussed the partial government shutdown, border security and his proposed border wall; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered a televised response following the president’s address, according to the Post. The Post also provided a fact-checked and annotated transcript of the president’s remarks. 

David O’Sullivan, the EU ambassador to the U.S., will depart his post next month, Politico reports. He will be replaced by Stavros Lambrinidis, the former Greek foreign minister.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Emma Broches and Julia Solomon-Strauss provided an update on federal prosecutions of international terrorism crimes in 2018.

Chinmayi Sharma examined the increasing role of artificial intelligence in immigration enforcement.

Daniel Hemel and Eric Posner responded to Jack Goldsmith’s qualified defense of William Barr’s unsolicited memorandum to the Justice Department criticizing the Mueller investigation.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast, a conversation between David Priess and John Sipher on the history of spy swaps and the current case of Paul Whelan, an American whom the Russian government arrested on charges of espionage.

Nicholas Norberg assessed what a total withdrawal of U.S. ground forces from Syria would mean for Washington’s Kurdish partners in the country.

Matthew Kahn shared the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s decision to uphold a contempt citation against the unnamed defendant in In re: Grand Jury Subpoena, the mystery case of the subpoena Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed against a foreign bank.

Kahn posted the indictment against Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer from the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, who was charged with obstruction of justice in a civil asset forfeiture proceeding seemingly unrelated to the Mueller investigation.

Benjamin Wittes posted a special edition of the Lawfare Podcast, a conversation with former federal prosecutor Jaimie Nawaday about the indictment of Veselnitskaya.

Mikhaila Fogel, Kahn and Wittes argued that the Veselnitskaya indictment tells an extraordinary story about Russia’s abuse of the U.S. judicial system.

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