Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Elliot Setzer
Friday, May 8, 2020, 11:49 AM

The Justice Department on Thursday said it is dropping the criminal case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, reports the Associated Press. The reversal of one of the signature cases brought by special counsel Robert Mueller comes despite prosecutors for the past three years maintaining that Flynn materially lied to the FBI in a January 2017 interview about his conversations with the Russian ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration. Flynn pleaded guilty to this charge before later asking to withdraw the plea.

A range of criminal law specialists said yesterday that the decision to drop the criminal case against Michael Flynn even though he had twice pleaded guilty to lying to investigators was unprecedented, according to the New York Times.

The decision was greeted as a triumph by President Trump and his allies, who cheered Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House, writes the Washington Post.

The House Intelligence Committee yesterday released 57 transcript interviews related to the GOP-led investigation by the panel into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, reports the Hill. While the committee has already released a report on its findings, the transcripts were until now delayed by a classification review.

The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court yesterday to stop Congress from obtaining grand jury materials gathered in the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team, claiming the executive branch would suffer irreparable harm if lawmakers see the evidence, writes the Times. A federal appeals court had imposed a May 11 deadline on the Justice Department to turn over the evidence to the House Judiciary Committee, but the solicitor general argued that the order should be halted until the Justice Department can fully litigate an appeal before the Supreme Court.

A 57-year-old Salvadoran man held in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in California died from COVID-19 on Wednesday, the first confirmed death from coronavirus in ICE detention, according to NPR.

The Senate yesterday failed to override President Trump’s veto of a resolution seeking to limit his authority to take military action against Iran absent Congressional authorization, reports the Hill.

The U.S. will remove Patriot antimissile systems from Saudi Arabia and is considering reduction to other military capabilities, scaling back its military buildup to counter Iran, writes the Wall Street Journal. The reductions are based on assessments by some officials that Tehran no longer poses an immediate threat to American interests as it battles its coronavirus outbreak.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes argued that the Justice Department makes an unfathomably bad argument in dismissing the case against former national security advisor Michael Flynn.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring an interview with Aric Toler of Bellingcat on how not to report on disinformation.

Mikhaila Fogel shared the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the criminal information against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Henning Lahmann argued that International Court of Justice precedent will probably thwart any efforts to make China pay compensation for damages caused by the coronavirus.

Alex Zaheer and Tom Westphal argued COVID-19 will exacerbate concerns about the security of digital election systems.

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