Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Tia Sewell
Friday, February 5, 2021, 1:59 PM

Early this morning, the Senate voted to approve a budget resolution that will enable President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to pass without Republican support, reports the New York Times. The Senate adopted the budget measure—which is the first step towards triggering the budget reconciliation process—by a vote of 51 to 50. The vote was split along party lines, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie. The resolution will go to the House of Representatives next, where it is expected to pass given the House’s Democratic majority.

The Biden administration is considering executive action and targeted sanctions in response to the military takeover in Myanmar, writes Reuters. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that the White House believes it can work with Congress “on a package of sanctions to impose consequences in response to this coup,” specifically targeting “individuals and entities controlled by the military that enrich the military.” Myanmar’s military came under further international pressure yesterday as the U.N. Security Council urged the junta to immediately release the country’s ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and her fellow detainees.

The House voted to strip Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene—who campaigned as an open supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theories—from both of her committee positions yesterday in a 230-199 vote, with only 11 Republicans joining Democrats in support of the move. Contradicting her past social media posts, the congresswoman said that 9/11 and mass shootings at schools were real and claimed that she no longer believes QAnon conspiracies, according to the Associated Press. Per the vote, Greene will no longer serve on the Budget, nor Education and Labor committees in the House.

In court papers, federal prosecutors suggest that the Proud Boys extremist group helped to coordinate the Capitol riot, writes the New York Times. The Proud Boys have been a chief focus of the FBI’s inquiry into the Jan. 6 riots, and have recently come under increased pressure as the Canadian government officially designated the group as a terrorist organization on Feb. 3.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, the new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that the committee will examine the influence of foreign powers on anti-government extremist groups such as those involved in the Capitol riots, according to the Times.

Former President Trump’s legal team rejected a request from House Democrats to appear for testimony during his impeachment trial before the Senate. Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, responded that Trump’s “immediate refusal to testify speaks volumes and plainly establishes an adverse inference supporting his guilt.”

Clubhouse, a new social media app, has become increasingly popular in mainland China as it offers a rare space where users can speak freely outside of Beijing’s internet firewall, reports Nikkei Asia. The audio-based app allows mainland users to connect with others in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and remains free from government crackdowns on conversations about political systems and human rights in China.

Politicians and activists around the world are seeking to use the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics as leverage to confront the Chinese government on allegations of genocide against Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region, writes the Washignton Post. “If you’re going to accuse a government of genocide, you can’t then have an Olympics in that country as if it’s a normal place,” said Rep. Tom Malinowski, who was assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor in the Obama administration. “There has to be some implication. Some consequence.”

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Charlotte Butash, Bryce Klehm and Benjamin Wittes proposed building a kind of investigative truth commission out of the existing inspectors general system in order to have a centralized approach to complaints regarding misconduct during Trump’s presidency.

Rohini Kurup shared a letter from lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin asking that former President Trump testify before or during the Senate impeachment trial.

Stewart Baker argued that undoing the Trump administration’s travel ban will come with a hidden cost.

Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared this week’s episode of the National Security Law Podcast, entitled, “Tis Better to Have Impeached and Lost …” covering topics such as impeachment, confirmation hearings and Canada’s terrorist designation of the Proud Boys, among other things.

Louis E. Caldera, Adham Sahloul and Caroline Chang explained how the U.S. government would benefit from the knowledge and experiences of diaspora Americans in national security.

Jen Patja Howell shared this week’s edition of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth mini-series on content moderation issues concerning Substack, a popular newsletter service.

John Bellinger and Matthew Waxman discussed an essay that they recently contributed to the 2020 “Strategic Survey” that outlines gaps in international law and suggests how states can work to fill them.

Gary Corn explored the legal aspects of banning Chinese drone technology from use by U.S. police departments and first responders.

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