Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Anna Salvatore
Wednesday, October 7, 2020, 3:18 PM

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled today that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance can enforce his subpoena for the president’s tax returns, writes the Washington Post. Vance is seeking eight years of the president’s tax returns and other related records as part of an investigation into Trump and his business practices. The subpoena has been stalled for the past year in court, and the Post notes that the president’s lawyers will likely appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

A draft inspector general report from the Justice Department reveals that family separation was always a key element of the Trump administration’s border control policy, despite the administration’s claims to the contrary. In a conference call with department officials in May 2018, the New York Times reports, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that family separations should continue regardless of children’s ages. “The department’s single-minded focus on increasing prosecutions came at the expense of careful and effective implementation of the policy, especially with regard to prosecution of family-unit adults and the resulting child separations,” said the draft report.

The House Judiciary Committee released a 449-page report today on how to hold big tech companies accountable, according to The Verge. “Our investigation revealed an alarming pattern of business practices that degrade competition and stifle innovation,” announced committee member Rep. Val Demings, pointing in particular to abuses by Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Google. Among other proposals, the report suggests more vigorous enforcement of antitrust laws and higher standards for mergers and acquisitions.

The Supreme Court heard arguments today in a dispute between Google and Oracle, writes the Washington Post. In a case which some commentators have called “the copyright lawsuit of the decade,” Google is accused of stealing Oracle’s computer code in order to write Android’s mobile operating system. The Supreme Court will determine whether Google’s use of Java Code was “fair use” under federal copyright law.

The Justice Department has charged two notorious Islamic State members with conspiracy to commit murder and to materially support terrorists, writes the New York Times. The two men—often referred to as "The Beatles" because of their British accents—were captured by a Kurdish militia after allegedly jailing, waterboarding and beheading more than two dozen hostages in Syria, some of whom were American. The detainees have been in military custody in Iraq since October 2019, and the government brought them to the U.S. today because the Justice Department argues it has requisite evidence to try them in court.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won a key vote of confidence from lawmakers today, according to BBC News. His speech outlining a plan for pandemic recovery was supported by a 177-152 vote, a number that surprised many as Trudeau fends off scandals relating to government ethics.

After abruptly abandoning negotiations over a stimulus package yesterday, President Trump has reversed course and advocated for sending $1,200 checks to the American people, writes Politico. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now holding talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about a broad stimulus bill that could provide relief to airlines and small businesses.

Thirty-nine countries, including the U.S., U.K. and Germany, denounced China yesterday at a United Nations’ human rights conference for China’s widespread surveillance, detention and reeducation of Uighur Muslims, according to Bloomberg News. “More reports are emerging of forced labor and forced birth control including sterilization,” said Germany’s ambassador to the U.N., Christoph Heusgen. His Tuesday statement on the group’s behalf also expressed “deep concern” about China’s extradition of Hong Kong protesters to the mainland.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Matthew Waxman compared President Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power to the contested election of 1916.

Stewart Baker shared an episode of The Cyberlaw Podcast entitled “Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don’t (Pay the Ransom).” Baker sat down with Jamil Jaffer and Bruce Schneier to discuss the latest developments in cybersecurity and ransomware.

Jen Patja Howell released an episode of The Lawfare Podcast entitled “John Brennan Remains Undaunted,” featuring David Priess’s interview of former CIA Director Brennan.

Nilanthi Samaranayake discussed the long-standing dispute between Mauritius and the United Kingdom over the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean.

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