Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Elliot Setzer
Monday, May 18, 2020, 12:29 PM

President Trump removed State Department Inspector General Steve Linick on Friday night and replaced him with Stephen Akard, a trusted ally of Vice President Pence, reports Politico. The president said he “no longer” had the “fullest confidence” in Linick, a Justice Department veteran appointed to the role in 2013. The inspector general had reportedly begun an inquiry into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s possible misuse of a political State Department appointee to perform personal tasks for him and his wife—including walking his dog and picking up dry cleaning, according to the New York Times. Top Democrats overseeing foreign relations in both the House and Senate launched an investigation on Saturday into Linick’s ousting, alleging the dismissal was politically motivated, writes the Hill.

At the World Health Organization’s annual assembly today, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $2 billion to help fund the global public health body, one month after President Trump cut U.S. funding for the agency, reports the New York Times. Xi defended his country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in a video address to the assembly. He said he supports an international review led by the WHO—but only once the health emergency ends, according to the Washington Post.

More than a dozen states across the U.S. have faced lawsuits over their lockdown mandates, writes Politico.

A Taliban suicide bomber killed nine members of Afghanistan’s intelligence service early this morning, according to the Associated Press. The attack came a day after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah signed a power-sharing deal—a step that could smooth efforts to end the country’s long-running war against the insurgent group, reports Reuters. U.S. officials say the Department of Defense remains on track to meet their commitment to the Taliban to withdraw several thousand U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the summer, writes the Washington Post.

The Justice Department has signaled opposition to an intelligence reauthorization bill passed by the Senate last week, according to the Hill. The Senate voted last week to pass a bill that reauthorized three provisions of the U.S.A. Freedom Act. Attorney General Bill Barr had endorsed an earlier iteration of the bill, But the Senate made changes to version of the text when it agreed to add amendments that increased the role of outside legal experts in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Federal investigators found cellphone evidence that links Al Qaeda to last year’s shooting at a U.S. military base in Pensacola, Florida that killed three sailors and wounded eight people, reports the New York Times.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Andrew Mines and Amira Jadoon asked whether the Islamic State’s Afghan “province” can survive its leadership losses.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring an interview on free speech during the pandemic with David Kaye, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression and opinion.

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