Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Elliot Setzer
Thursday, May 14, 2020, 1:14 PM

Three Republican senators yesterday made public a declassified list of U.S. officials—including former vice president Joe Biden and former FBI director James Comey—who made requests that would ultimately “unmask” Trump adviser Michael Flynn in intelligence documents in 2016 and 2017, reports the Washington Post. Unmasking is a routine practice used to identify U.S. individuals referred to anonymously in an intelligence document, but President Trump and his allies have seized on it to imply wrongdoing.

The federal judge overseeing the case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn appointed a former federal prosecutor and judge, John Gleeson, on Wednesday to explore a perjury charge against Flynn and oppose the Justice Department’s effort to drop the case, writes the New York Times.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee will vote next week on a request to subpoena Blue Star Strategies, a Democratic public-relations firm, as part of the panel’s probe of corruption allegations against Joe Biden’s son Hunter, according to Politico.

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court has overturned the state’s stay-at-home order and mandated that all future statewide COVID-19 restrictions must be approved by the legislature’s rule-making committee prior to being implemented, reports NPR.

The FBI seized a cellphone belonging for Republican Sen. Richard Burr last night as part of the Justice Department’s investigation into stock trades he made just before the novel coronavirus sent stock prices plunging, writes the L.A Times. The seizure represents an escalation in the investigation into whether Burr violated a law preventing members of Congress from trading on insider information gleaned from their legislative work.

In an alert Wednesday, the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned that Chinese hackers are targeting American universities and healthcare firms in an attempt to steal intellectual property related to COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, according to the Wall Street Journal. The officials claimed the intrusions may have jeopardized progress on medical research in some cases.

The Trump administration plans to indefinitely extend pandemic-motivated border restrictions, allowing orders that have effectively sealed the U.S. to migrants seeking asylum to remain in place until officials declare the virus is no longer a threat, reports the New York Times.

A truck bomb blew up in the eastern Afghan city of Gardez on Thursday, killing at least five people in an attack claimed by the Taliban, writes Reuters.

The Senate yesterday approved a proposal from Sens. Mike Lee and Patrick Leahy to increase the role of outside legal experts in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court hearings, according to the Hill.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared a special live episode of Rational Security taking listeners’ questions.

Patja Howell also shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring an interview with Elizabeth Shackelford, a former foreign service officer, on her new book “The Dissent Channel.”

Barbara McQuade argued that the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn wrongly insists that the investigation of Flynn was not properly “predicated.”

Charlotte Butash and Hilary Hurd summarized oral arguments in three cases the Supreme Court heard involving the validity of subpoenas issued to third parties for the president’s financial information.

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