Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Matt Gluck
Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 2:36 PM

The Justice Department on Monday night released part of an internal document from 2019 that was used to defend the decision not to charge former President Donald Trump with obstruction of justice, writes the Washington Post. The primary document at issue is a memo from March 2019 penned by two senior Justice Department officials arguing that evidence from the Mueller investigation did not reach the level of a prosecutable case. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued an opinion earlier this month in which she said that she had reviewed the memo and that it demonstrated that former Attorney General William Barr deceitfully cited the document as showing that Trump had acted lawfully.

European Union leaders ordered EU-based airlines to halt travel over Belarus and began banning Belarusian airlines from flying in the bloc’s airspace or landing in EU airports, reports the New York Times. This comes after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Sunday ordered the landing of a plane flying over Belarus and the detention of a prominent opposition figure, Roman Protasevich, and his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, who were on board.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will issue a security order this week that will require pipeline companies to report cyber breaches to federal authorities, reports the Washington Post. In the coming weeks, the department will add more mandatory regulations concerning safeguards that pipeline companies will be required to employ to protect against and respond to cyberattacks, with financial penalties for companies that do not comply with the rules. These penalties represent a significant shift for TSA, which had not imposed mandatory regulations on pipeline companies in the past.

A U.S. citizen and managing editor of a Myanmar-based news outlet was detained by law enforcement authorities on Monday at a Myanmar airport before he was able to board his flight out of the country, writes France24. Protests against the military have swept across the country since the junta took control of the government in a coup on Feb. 1. As part of its effort to control the spread of information, the junta has cracked down on the press—including revoking local outlets’ media licenses and limiting internet access.

President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet face-to-face for the first time next month in Geneva, Switzerland, reports the Associated Press. Biden first proposed a meeting during a call with Putin in April, as the U.S. prepared to impose sanctions on Russian officials for the second time in the first three months of Biden’s presidency. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “The leaders will discuss the full range of pressing issues, as we seek to restore predictability and stability to the U.S.-Russia relationship.”

A former Minnesota police officer, Brett Palkowitsch, received a six-year prison sentence on Friday for a 2016 incident in which Palkowitsch kicked a Black man, Frank Baker, who was on the ground being bitten by a police dog after officers had mistaken the man for an armed street-fight suspect, reports the New York Times. A Justice Department statement said the officer’s actions left Baker with seven broken ribs and caused his lungs to collapse.

The pharmaceutical company Moderna said a new study showed its vaccine produced immune responses among children aged 12 to 17 that were comparable to the responses in adults who had received the vaccine, according to the Wall Street Journal. Moderna said it plans to request in early June that regulators in the U.S. and abroad authorize its vaccine for use in children aged 12 to 17.

The U.S. and other countries opposed to the current drafting of an international pandemic treaty have successfully delayed discussion of this agreement, reports Politico.

Former Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who testified in the first impeachment trial of former President Trump that there was a quid pro quo between the Trump administration and the Ukrainian government, is bringing a $1.8 million lawsuit against former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the U.S. government, writes NPR. Sondland’s lawsuit alleges that Pompeo reversed “a legally binding promise, both individually and on behalf of the Government,” to reimburse the ambassador for his legal fees related to the first impeachment investigation.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Cameron Miles analyzed the relevant international law surrounding the Belarusian government’s landing of a plane flying over its airspace and the subsequent detention of two individuals on board.

Bob Bauer discussed how Donald Trump and Republican state legislatures are seeking to politicize electoral processes and what can be done to counter these institutional assaults.

Seamus Hughes and Rohini Kurup examined the recent report on domestic terrorism jointly produced by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring discussion of Biden’s new executive order on cybersecurity. Bobby Chesney, Lawfare co-founder and a professor at the University of Texas Law School, and Trey Herr of the Atlantic Council, joined Lawfare Editor in Chief Benjamin Wittes on Lawfare Live to discuss the new directive and field questions from the Lawfare community.

Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared the newest edition of the National Security Law Podcast, in which they interviewed Eric Goldstein, the executive assistant director for cybersecurity at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Scott Anderson announced that Lawfare is accepting applications for the position of a Lawfare senior editor and Brookings cybersecurity fellow.

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