Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Monday, June 22, 2020, 3:27 PM

On Saturday, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth rejected the Justice Department’s emergency request to block former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s book about his tenure in the Trump administration, according to the Wall Street Journal. Judge Lamberth reasoned that Bolton likely “jeopardized national security,” but that an injunction wouldn’t have an impact because the damage caused to the government by the book’s release was already done. President Trump applauded this decision as a “BIG COURT WIN against Bolton.”

Seoul’s Presidential Office said Monday that Bolton’s accounts of nuclear talks between the United States and the two Koreas are “inaccurate,” “distorting,” and “could undermine future negotiations,” reports the Washington Post. Tensions are mounting between Seoul and Pyongyang as North Korea prepares to scatter millions of propaganda leaflets and garbage over the southern border, writes the New York Times.

On Friday night, Attorney General William Barr announced that Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman would resign from his post, reports the Times. Berman, who has investigated many people in Trump’s inner circle, refused to step down until Barr reversed course on his effort to impose Berman’s successor. Barr had originally sought to install the administration’s favored pick, Jay Clayton, to Berman’s own chief deputy, Audrey Strauss. The president officially fired Berman on Saturday.

An American man, Joe Ritchie-Bennett, has been named as the second victim in a stabbing attack that occurred in the United Kingdom on Saturday, according to BBC. Police have arrested a suspect, Khairi Saadallah, under Britain’s Terrorism Act. Saadallah had come to the attention of the MI5 in 2019.

President Trump drew harsh criticism for his Saturday night campaign rally remark that officials should “slow the [coronavirus] testing down” to reduce rising numbers of cases reported in the country, according to the Post. Experts warn that the pandemic is far from over as the U.S.’s total death toll climbs past 118,000 and more than around 20,000 new U.S. cases are announced daily.

There has not been a single confirmed case of violence provoked by a self-identifying antifa member at any of the protests across the country, writes the Post. The White House has repeatedly claimed that antifa, which it recently talked about designating as a terrorist organization, is connected to the protests. Experts have noted that misinformation about antifa’s alleged involvement has spread rapidly over the internet.

In an interview, Trump revealed that he has not yet enacted sanctions against Chinese officials involved in the Xinjiang mass detention camps of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, according to Axios. When asked why, the president replied, "Well, we were in the middle of a major trade deal [with China]." The president signed a bill last week condemning the treatment of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang following the revelation of allegations in Bolton’s book that Trump had initially expressed support to Xi Jingping about the Chinese detention camps.

Trump tweeted Monday morning the baseless claim that the 2020 U.S. presidential election will be rigged by millions of mail-in ballots printed by foreign countries, writes the Hill. Earlier this year, Twitter appended a fact-check to two of the president’s erroneous claims that California would be sending ballots to every resident in the state. Shortly after the fact-check, Trump signed an executive order targeting tech company liability protections for content moderation on their sites.

Trump also tweeted today that the decision to remove a statue of former President Theodore Roosevelt from the front steps of the Museum of Natural History in New York City was “ridiculous,” reports the Hill. Museum officials said that the statue has long been controversial and many feel it is emblematic of systemic racism.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared on Saturday that Egypt has a legitimate right to intervene in a conflict in neighboring Libya and ordered the military to be prepared to engage outside of Egyptian borders as necessary, writes Reuters. This statement comes in the wake of tensions over Turkey’s backing of the Government of National Accord, an interim government in the country, in Tripoli.

Amnesty International’s Security Lab announced Sunday that it found NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware on the cellphone of Omar Radi, a prominent Moroccan journalist and human rights advocate, reports the Post. This comes three days after the Israeli firm that created the software announced a policy against such uses of its tools. NSO remains embroiled in a lawsuit from WhatsApp that alleges that NSO helped governments break into WhatsApp accounts of certain users across the globe.

Nuclear weapons talks between the United States and Russia started today in Austria, according to Reuters. There is speculation that these arms control negotiations will include talks about a finding a replacement of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which is set to expire in February.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Benjamin Wittes posed five questions that Congress should be considering in light of the president’s removal of Geoffrey S. Berman as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Bruce Hoffman and Jacob Ware analyzed the changing nature of terrorist attacks and addressed the resulting challenges for effective counterterrorism in the future.

Quinta Jurecic shared Judge Royce Lamberth’s decision denying the government’s motion for a temporary restraining order to block distribution of Bolton’s new book.

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