Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Gordon Ahl
Tuesday, October 8, 2019, 12:50 PM

The Trump administration on Tuesday intervened to block a scheduled deposition by the House Intelligence Committee of Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union who has become a major figure in the impeachment inquiry over Ukraine, reports the Washington Post. In response, Committee Chairman Adam Schiff called the efforts “further acts of obstruction of a coequal branch of government” and added that they would issue a subpoena for Sondland’s testimony as well as emails and text messages.

The Turkish Defense Ministry said that all preparations were complete for a military operation in northeast Syria against Kurdish forces, reports Reuters. Yesterday, following Trump’s announcement to pull back U.S. troops to allow the Turkish operation, congressional Democrats and some Republicans rebuked the decision. In response, Trump tweeted a warning to Turkish President Erdoğan: “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!)”

The Kurdish authorities in Syria signaled the possibility of opening talks with Damascus and Russia for security support in the wake of U.S. withdrawal and impending operations against the Kurds by Turkish forces, reports Reuters. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces criticized the U.S. decision as a “stab in the back.”

Twenty-eight Chinese organizations have been added to the U.S. Commerce Department’s entity list for their alleged role in human rights violations, reports the New York Times. The Trump administration’s announcement specifically targets groups they allege to have some role in the Chinese campaign against the Uighur minority group. Being “blacklisted” effectively blocks these entities from buying American products.

The Iraqi prime minister ordered the withdrawal of army forces from Sadr City, a neighborhood of Baghdad, where dozens of protestors were killed or wounded this weekend by various Iraqi security services, reports the Times. The decision returns security control of Sadr City to the police.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said he would be open to having Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, appear for testimony about “corruption and other improprieties involving Ukraine,” according to the Post.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Robert Chesney discussed the potentially damaging effects on the detention of thousands of ISIS detainees currently held by Kurdish forces in Syria in the wake of President Trump’s decision to permit Turkish operations against the Kurds.

Peter Margulies analyzed the potential illegality of the Trump administration’s newly announced health insurance requirement for entry into the United States.

In the latest edition of Water Wars, Sean Quirk commented on the growing tension between China and Vietnam over oil drilling in the South China Sea.

Mikhaila Fogel posted the federal ruling dismissing Trump’s lawsuit in federal court that sought to block the Manhattan District Attorney’s attempt to obtain Trump’s tax returns.

Gordon Ahl shared the subpoenas to the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget for Ukraine related documents.

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