Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Thursday, June 18, 2020, 4:15 PM

On Wednesday night, the Justice Department sought an emergency order to block former White House national security adviser John Bolton from releasing a memoir on his time in the Trump administration, reports the Washington Post. This comes after a busy Tuesday where the Justice Department filed a civil suit against Bolton and various news sources published damaging excerpts and details from the book. Some experts say the Justice Department’s legal strategy is unlikely to succeed in blocking the release of the book but could potentially force Bolton to turn over proceeds from the book to the government.

In the memoir, Bolton claims that President Trump consistently made foreign policy decisions guided by re-election interests, according to the Wall Street Journal. The former national security adviser alleges that Trump pleaded with Chinese President Xi Jinping to buy more agricultural products from the United States in order to strengthen his 2020 campaign and claims that the President had a tendency to “give personal favors to dictators he liked.”

Details also emerged from Bolton’s book accusing Trump of supporting camps targeting Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang province of China, writes the Hill. Shortly after those allegations surfaced, the White House announced that the President signed legislation condemning the Chinese Communist Party for its treatment of Muslim minorities. The bill calls for the closure of forced labor camps and directs the imposition of sanctions on individuals responsible for human rights abuses in Xinjiang. On Thursday, Beijing threatened retaliation against the United States over the new act, reports Reuters.

In a 5 to 4 decision written by Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the current Trump administration attempt to dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program violates the Administrative Procedure Act and is unlawful, according to the Post. This ruling protects about 650,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children and marks the Trump administration’s second major defeat this week in the Supreme Court after a landmark decision protecting LGBTQ workers from discrimination based on sex.

On Wednesday, prosecutors in Atlanta charged two officers in the killing of Rayshard Brooks, writes the New York Times. Brooks was shot twice in the back by police last Friday. Following this announcement, an unusually high number of Atlanta police officers stayed home and did not show up for work.

The Justice Department urged Congress to adopt legislation targeting Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency act, a law that provides social media companies with liability protection from user-created content uploaded to their sites, reports the Post. The move seeks to mandate increased transparency on content moderation decisions by tech giants such as Twitter and Facebook and to subject platforms to wider liability for third-party content.

Facebook removed Trump campaign ads that violated its policy against organized hate, according to the Post. The ads, which began running on Wednesday, included a symbol that the Nazis historically used to identify political enemies.

The Pentagon’s top official overseeing international security affairs, Kathryn Wheelbarger, resigned today after her nomination for a permanent senior role was abruptly slashed by the White House, reports Politico. People familiar with the move claim the White House decision to nix her nomination was driven by concerns over her loyalty to the President and her association with former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who recently spoke out against the President.

Some officials worry that Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman’s promotion to Colonel may be jeopardized by his testimony in last year’s House impeachment inquiry, writes the Post.

States are struggling to navigate rising coronavirus infections as the federal government continues to urge reopening and insists that concerns over a second wave of the virus are “overblown,” according to the Times.

Democrats have accused the Small Business Administration (SBA) of illegally blocking a Congressional watchdog review of its handling of the Paycheck Protection Program, writes Politico. The Government Accountability Office was tasked with broad oversight of the $2 trillion CARES Act for coronavirus relief and has allegedly been denied interviews and key documents from SBA officials.

Over one million Americans filed unemployment claims for the thirteenth straight week, reports the Times. Stocks wavered as investors considered these unemployment filings and new reports on COVID-19 outbreaks.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jack Goldsmith and Marty Lederman assessed the U.S. government’s civil suit against former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Quinta Jurecic shared the Trump administration’s lawsuit against John Bolton over the publication of his upcoming book, “The Room Where it Happened.”

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of Rational Security discussing Bolton’s new book, a CIA cybersecurity investigation on the biggest leak in the agency’s history and how to prepare for the next pandemic.

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast featuring an interview with Chris Bing, cybersecurity reporter with Reuters, and John Scott-Railton, senior researcher at Citizen Lab and PhD student at UCLA.

Justin Sherman discussed a Senate report on executive branch oversight of Chinese state-owned telecommunications firms.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring an interview with Norm Ornstein and John Fortier on the Continuity of Government Commission.

Elliot Setzer shared briefs filed by Michael Flynn and the Department of Justice in response to a court-appointed amicus arguing against the government’s motion to drop charges against Flynn.

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 openings on our Job Board.