Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Gordon Ahl
Friday, October 4, 2019, 2:09 PM

The Democratic chairmen of three House committees released dozens of text messages provided by Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, reports NPR. The messages appear to show a plan to tie aid to Ukraine with Ukrainian officials investigating the Biden family in a way that could benefit Trump’s 2020 reelection bid.

Ukraine’s top prosecutor announced that he would begin a review of several cases from before his tenure, including a criminal case into the owner of the natural gas company that employed Hunter Biden, the son of the former U.S. Vice President, according to the New York Times.

The Wall Street Journal reports that President Trump ordered the removal of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch following repeated complaints from his allies outside the administration, including Rudy Giuliani. The Journal says Giuliani and others claimed Yovanovitch was undermining Trump abroad by obstructing attempts to convince Ukrainian officials to further investigate the Biden family.

Following public comments from President Trump yesterday urging China to investigate the Biden family, CNN reports that Trump had raised concerns about the political prospects of both Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren in a June 18 call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The record of the call was subsequently stored in the same highly secured electronic system as the Ukraine call at the center of the impeachment inquiry. CNN also reports that Trump promised the U.S. would remain quiet on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong during the same phone call.

The chief executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, banned the wearing of masks through the invocation of a rarely-used emergency powers law, reports the New York Times. The decision comes as the government is under increasing pressure from Beijing to reduce the intensity of ongoing protests in the semi-autonomous region.

A hacking campaign allegedly tied to the Iranian government was discovered seeking to breach email addresses of U.S. presidential campaigns, government officials and journalists. The Post reports that Microsoft revealed the attempt, which it dubbed Phosphorus.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry intends to resign from his post by the end of the year, according to four individuals familiar with his plans, reports the Post.

A new agreement between the U.K. and the U.S. will create an expedited process to share electronic communications concerning terrorism, computer crimes and child exploitation, reports NBC News. It is the first-ever bilateral data access deal of its kind and will compel tech companies to hand over relevant content to police and intelligence agencies in both countries.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Michel Paradis provided three takeaways from the impeachment of King Charles I of England for current members of Congress to consider when weighing a possible impeachment of Trump.

Ben Berwick, Justin Florence and John Langford argued that the Founders had a broad conception of impeachable bribery, which embodies Trump’s conduct regarding Ukraine.

Mikhaila Fogel shared text messages provided by Kurt Volker to Congress as part of the impeachment inquiry.

Gordon Ahl posted a filing from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York suggesting that the suit for Trump’s tax returns be moved from state to federal court.

Robert Chesney announced a request for nominations of the 2019 Mike Lewis Prize for National Security Law Scholarship.

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.