Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Matt Gluck
Thursday, August 6, 2020, 3:40 PM

In the latest development in the Trump v. Vance case, President Trump’s primary lender, Deutsche Bank, complied with a subpoena seeking President Trump’s financial records from the Manhattan district attorney’s office, according to the New York Times. In a court filing, the state prosecutors alleged that the Trump organization has committed “extensive and protracted criminal conduct,” evidence of which they seek in the Deutsche Bank records. This comes after the Supreme Court ruled last month that district attorney Cyrus Vance could gain access to the president’s tax returns for a criminal investigation, but analysts note that it is unlikely that Vance will obtain them before the November election.

In a Senate hearing Thursday, Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf defended the department’s conduct in Portland, Oregon, according to the Post. Wolf claimed DHS officers did not intervene in peaceful protest activities. Wolf also said he does not interpret the Supreme Court’s decision last month regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as ordering the department to accept new DACA applications.

Facebook on Wednesday removed a post from President Trump’s account that the platform said spread false information about the coronavirus pandemic, writes the Washington Post. The post featured a video of President Trump saying that children are practically immune from the COVID-19 virus. Twitter also removed a tweet with the same video from a Trump campaign account.

Elliot Abrams, the U.S. special envoy to Venezuela, will replace Brian Hook as the special envoy to Iran, according to Axios. Abrams will also maintain his current post as envoy to Venezuela. President Trump directed Hook to place significant pressure on Iran to compel Iranian leaders to negotiate with the U.S., but the strategy has been unsuccessful. Abrams has taken an aggressive stance against Iran in the past and pleaded guilty to participating in the Iran-Contra affair.

India’s defense ministry removed a statement from its website that warned of a prolonged military standoff with China, according to Reuters. In May, Chinese and Indian forces fought at the border between the two countries in the Himalayas. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has faced criticism from domestic political opponents for what they decry as his passive stance toward China after Modi said in June that Chinese forces did not invade the Indian border.

China threatened to “take strong countermeasures” against the United States over an upcoming visit to Taiwan by Alex Azar, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, according to Reuters. China says that maintaining Taiwan as part of China is the most critical issue in its relationship with the United States. While Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen claims that Taiwan is an independent country, the mainland government asserts that Taiwan remains a Chinese province.

Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, reports NPR. DeWine was tested as standard practice before he was supposed to meet with President Trump on Thursday. The governor has instituted strict public health measures in Ohio to slow the spread of the virus.

U.S. intelligence agencies distributed a classified analysis revealing a joint effort between the Chinese and Saudi Arabian governments to produce nuclear fuel, writes the Times. The initiative is in an early stage, but American intelligence officers identified a newly built structure near the Saudi capital that they believe could be a nuclear facility.

Senate Republicans led by Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin are reviving the investigation of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, for his involvement in a Ukrainian gas company, according to the Post. Johnson says he plans to publish the results of the investigation by the middle of September.

Senate Democrats and Republicans plan to introduce legislation Thursday that would prevent the Trump administration from selling armed drones to countries that are not close allies of the U.S., according to the Times.

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Thursday against the National Rifle Association (NRA) alleging that high-profile leaders within the organization used millions of dollars of business funds for personal activities and other corrupt expenditures, reports the Associated Press.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Chelsey Davidson, Miye D’Oench and Axel Hufford discussed the coronavirus-related difficulties in the New Hampshire for the upcoming presidential election; the post is part of the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project.

Elliot Setzer shared a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Preston Lim discussed a recent Canadian Federal Court ruling that determined Canada’s national intelligence service had not disclosed information that it obtained illegally, among other national security developments across Canada.

Ben Berwick and Rachel Homer proposed questions for the Senate to ask Chad Wolf during a Thursday hearing regarding Wolf’s appointment status.

Jen Patja Howell shared a conversation on the Lawfare Podcast about the Department of Homeland Security intelligence report on Lawfare’s editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes and New York Times journalist Mike Baker. Quinta Jurecic spoke about the recent DHS reports with Wittes and David Kris, the former assistant attorney general for national security.

Bobby Chesney analyzed war powers questions implicated by the Defense Department’s new offensive cyber strategy.

Jordan Schneider shared a discussion on ChinaTalk about the evolving U.S.-China trade relationship.

Howell also shared an episode of Rational Security covering DHS’s intelligence reports and the large-scale explosions in Beirut, among other topics.

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.