Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Gordon Ahl
Tuesday, September 24, 2019, 6:38 PM

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into the activities of President Trump, reports the Washington Post. The announcement followed days of press reports that Trump and his personal lawyer pressured a foreign leader to investigate Demoractic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his family.

Trump said on Twitter that he would release on Wednesday the full transcript of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he reportedly brought up Biden and his son, adding: “You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo!” The New York Times reports that Trump claimed this morning that the withholding of aid was to pressure European countries to step up their support to Ukraine and that he did nothing wrong since the money was eventually released. Earlier reporting from the Post suggested Trump ordered Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff, to withhold nearly $400 million in aid for Ukraine prior to Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president. Senior administration officials alleged the president at the time had expressed “concerns” about corruption in Ukraine. The funds were released, says the Post, on Sept. 11.

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend the Parliament was unlawful, according to the BBC. In response, Johnson said he “strongly disagrees” with the ruling but intends to “respect” it. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn stepped up calls for Johnson to resign, while Commons Speaker John Bercow said that Parliament would meet again Wednesday with time for ministerial statements, urgent questions and emergency debates, reports the BBC.

Prosecutors under Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. released a new court filing which called on the federal court to reject Trump’s argument that the district attorney’s office could not investigate his tax returns, according to Politico. Within the filing, prosecutors argued that Trump is “seeking to invent and enforce a new presidential ‘tax return privilege,’” which does not exist. The Hill reports that the Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee also released a filing urging the federal judge to dismiss Trump’s argument as otherwise it would “drastically” hurt future Congressional efforts to obtain vital information.

President Trump addressed the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly, where he declared that the “future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots. The future belongs to sovereign and independent nations.” The New York Times reports that Trump’s speech was largely focused on China, Iran and Venezuela.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jacob Shulz shared a special edition of The Lawfare Podcast, in which Susan Hennessey, David Kris, Bob Litt, Margaret Taylor and Benjamin Wittes sought to make sense of Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine and the whistleblower complaint.

Margaret Taylor discussed the legal uncertainty of claims to executive privilege and testimonial immunity in the wake of Corey Lewandowski’s defiant appearance before the House Judiciary Committee.

Paul Rosenzweig considered whether prosecutors violated the law by potentially releasing the non-indictment grand jury decision to the press in the Andrew McCabe case.

Susan Landau commented on the National Security Agency general counsel’s essay in the New York Times that discussed a series of challenges the United States must be ready to face in the digital revolution.

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