Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Gordon Ahl
Thursday, September 26, 2019, 2:26 PM

The House Intelligence Committee released a declassified copy of the whistleblower complaint. The New York Times explains that the complaint contains evidence suggesting the White House attempted to “lock down” records of the July 25 call between President Trump and President Zelensky of Ukraine. The complaint alleges that the memo of the call was moved into a system reserved for classified, sensitive national security information.

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified at a public hearing before the House Intelligence Committee Thursday. According to CNN, Maguire said that he believed the “whistleblower did the right thing” and “followed the law every step of the way.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that President Trump said at a private breakfast, “I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information? Because that’s close to a spy.” The report alleges that he added, “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was given a mandate by Israel’s President to attempt to form a new government, reports CNN. The decision comes in the wake of elections last week that failed to provide a clear path to a coalition government for either Netanyahu or his rival, Benny Gantz. After the elections Gantz and Netanyahu failed to form a unity government together.

The Trump administration finalized a migration deal to send asylum seekers to Honduras, writes the Washington Post. The accord was reached with President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras who is himself facing allegations of corruption.

The United Nations suspended Sri Lankan army personnel from deploying in UN peacekeeping operations in the wake of Sri Lanka’s appointment of Shavendra Silva as army chief, reports Reuters. Silva has been accused of serious human rights violations.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Mikhaila Fogel shared an emergency special edition of The Lawfare Podcast in which Benjamin Wittes speaks with rotating guests about the release of the memo detailing the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky that is at the center of impeachment talks.

The Lawfare team collectively analyzed the Trump-Zelensky conversation and how it fits into ongoing calls for impeachment.

Alan Z. Rozenshtein argued that talks of impeachment should primarily focus on whether the president failed to uphold his constitutional duties instead of looking into specific violations of legal statutes.

Jen Patja Howell posted this week’s edition of Rational Security, in which Benjamin Wittes, Susan Hennessey, and Shane Harris further discussed the whistleblower complaint, talks of impeachment and the release of the memo detailing the Trump-Zelensky call.

Evelyn Douek discussed the relative power that Facebook’s new independent Oversight Board might have.

The Lawfare team also shared a number of documents over the course of the day:

Mikhaila Fogel shared the memo of the Ukraine call.

Jacob Schulz shared a press statement from acting DNI Maguire.

Schulz also shared an OLC opinion which argues that the whistleblower complaint was not an “urgent concern.”

Gordon Ahl shared a letter from House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff to Bill Barr inquiring about the Department of Justice’s involvement in the non-release of the whistleblower complaint to Congress.

Ahl also shared correspondence between the whistleblower’s counsel and the DNI regarding the whistleblower’s plans to contact Congress directly.

Unrelated to the whistleblower controversy, Schulz posted the ruling that overturned the conviction of Bijan Rafiekian, a former business associate of Michael Flynn.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job opening on our Job Board.