Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Anna Salvatore
Thursday, September 24, 2020, 2:19 PM

President Trump refused last night to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the November election, according to CNN. “We’re going to have to see what happens,” he told reporters, insinuating that he may not accept the election results if they show Biden winning. "(G)et rid of the [mail-in] ballots and you'll have a very ... there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation," he added, referring to his own baseless claims that mail-ballots will lead to widespread voter fraud. 

A New York judge has ordered Eric Trump to meet with the state attorney general’s office by Oct. 7, reports The Washington Post. The office began investigating the Trump Organization last year for tax evasion and abuse of certain properties’ conservative site status. Eric Trump had said he was too busy to meet with investigators until after the November election, but New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron found his excuse unpersuasive. 

A grand jury has returned no charges against Louisville policemen for killing Breonna Taylor, writes The Associated Press, though one of the officers was charged for shooting into the house next door. Two officers were shot during demonstrations last night, and both are expected to recover. 

TikTok has filed a preliminary injunction to prevent the Commerce Department from banning it, writes TechCrunch. The ban on U.S. downloads of TikTok was originally going to begin last week, but was delayed until this Sunday after the American technology company Oracle agreed to purchase the app. TikTok’s request for an injunction comes after WeChat, another Chinese social media app, successfully argued for one last weekend in federal court. 

Johnson & Johnson has begun the last stage of clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine, writes The New York Times. The newspaper notes that although other vaccines are further along in trials, Johnson & Johnson’s is “by far the largest, enrolling 60,000 participants,” and has the important advantage of only requiring one shot instead of two. The company says it may know by the year’s end whether the vaccine works, a pace of testing that’s unprecedented. 

A study released yesterday by Houston scientists suggests that a mutation of the COVID-19 virus may have made it more contagious, according to the Washington Post. “As the virus gets more contagious, said a senior adviser to Anthony Fauci, “it statistically is better” at circumventing barriers like masks and gloves. 

A Hong Kong pro-democracy activist was arrested today on unlawful assembly charges from 2019, reports Deutsche Welle. Joshua Wong, famous for leading protests against the Chinese government, was released on bail three hours after his arrest, and on Twitter he labeled the incident “a notorious abuse to the criminal justice system” to which he “choose[s] not to surrender.” 

Australian researchers have proof that China is expanding its detention of Uighur Muslims, according to The New York Times. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has obtained satellite images of new and enlarged indoctrination sites and prisons. According to the Times, the images reveal “hulking buildings surrounded by high walls, watchtowers and barbed-wire internal fencing.”

U.S. spy planes are disguising themselves as Phillippine aircrafts when flying over the South China Sea, writes the South China Morning Post. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the U.S. has changed its aircraft identification code more than 100 times this year to enable surveillance of Chinese island-building. Analysts say that the tactic may further stoke tensions between the U.S. and China. 

The European Union declined today to recognize the results of Belarus’s Aug. 4 presidential election, according to Deutsche Welle. Yesterday’s “so-called inauguration” of dictator Alexander Lukashenko was the result of falsified election returns, said EU Minister for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell.  An official statement by the EU expressed its support for the thousands of Belarussians who are protesting for free and fair democratic elections.  

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell released the latest episode of Rational Security. Benjamin Wittes sat down with a group of experts to discuss a memoir from a top member of the Mueller team. 

Tia Sewell shared yesterday’s widely-decried reportby Senators Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley on the connections between Hunter Biden and Ukraine, as well as a rebuttal from Congressional Democrats. 

Stewart Baker released a new episode of The Cyberlaw Podcast featuring a conversation about banning TikTok. 

Anna Salvatore posted a letter by the attorney for an ex-National-Security-Council employee alleging that the Trump administration took extraordinary steps to block publication of John Bolton’s memoir. 

Tia Sewell shared the livestream of the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s hearings to nominate Chad Wolf as the secretary of Homeland Security. 

Sewell also shared a public service announcement by the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warning of likely interference in the 2020 election. 

Blair Read discussed what North Carolina’s March primary reveals about voting by mail in the November election. 

Sean Quirk wrote about rising tensions in the South Pacific relating to China and Taiwan. 

Jen Patja Howell released an episode of The Lawfare Podcast entitled “Portland, DHS, and the Rule of Law.” Bobby Chesney sat down with former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Texas Congressman Chip Roy as part of the 2020 Texas Tribune Festival. 

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