Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ajay Sarma, Christiana Wayne
Monday, June 14, 2021, 2:49 PM

The inspector general of the Department of Justice opened an investigation into the department’s 2018 subpoena of Apple for data belonging to at least two members of the House Intelligence Committee and their families and staff, reports NPR. The subpoena, first reported last week, was part of the Trump administration’s attempt to discover the sources of leaks to the media, though there is no evidence that the data tied those with links to the committee to the leaks. Rep. Adam Schiff, one of the targets of the Apple subpoena, referred to the inspector general investigation as “an important first step” but called for the attorney general to conduct a broader investigation into the Justice Department’s conduct. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin have also urged a Congressional investigation, weighing the possibility of subpoenaing former attorney generals Jeff Sessions and William Barr if they do not testify before Congress voluntarily. In a statement released on Monday, Attorney General Merrick Garland promised the Justice Department would “evaluate and strengthen” its policies for subpoenaing legislators’ records in response to the controversy over actions taken by his predecessors, reports the Washington Post.

Israel’s parliament voted to approve a new government, unseating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 years, reports the Washington Post. The 60-59 vote gave power to an unlikely coalition, including parties from across Israel’s political spectrum and the first Arab party in a governing coalition. Naftali Bennett, the Orthodox leader of Israel’s religious-nationalist movement and a former Netanyahu ally, is the new prime minister. The coalition leader Yair Lapid, a centrist and former TV anchor, is set to replace Bennett as prime minister after two years.

Although the U.S. and Iran have made progress on a renewed nuclear deal, it is not clear when or whether an agreement will materialize, writes the Washington Post. Officials from European countries, acting as intermediaries for the U.S. and Iran during meetings in Vienna, expressed that many requirements for a deal have been met. However, Iran seeks to ensure American sanctions will not be reimposed by future administrations, and the U.S. desires longer, more inflexible constraints on Iran’s nuclear program alongside human rights improvements and an end to Iran’s alleged sponsorship of terrorist groups. Despite the U.S. lifting some sanctions on Iran, Iranian support for Houthi rebels in Yemen and its arms deal with Venezuela could complicate negotiations as well.

In a Tokyo court, an American father and son pleaded guilty to helping former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn flee Japan as he faced charges of financial wrongdoing, according to the New York Times. Michael and Maxwell Taylor helped orchestrate the 2019 escape, in which Ghosn snuck out of his Tokyo home just before the trial, fled to Osaka, then was smuggled in a speaker box onto a plane headed to Beirut. The two were arrested by U.S. authorities in 2020 then extradited to Japan in March. They face up to three years in prison.

The G-7 summit concluded with a joint statement summarizing where the countries agreed and disagreed on a range of global issues, reports the New York Times. Though the leaders of the G-7 countries could not agree on a timeline to phase out the use of coal in electricity generation, they were able to support a global minimum tax on corporations and infrastructure financing in developing countries. The statement also highlighted the need to address China’s human rights abuses in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang province. President Biden, speaking to reporters, separately emphasized that U.S.-Russia relations are at a “low point,” while expressing optimism over Russia’s proposal to extradite cybercriminals if the U.S. reciprocates.

The one-day NATO summit was held in Brussels on Monday, reports the New York Times. A joint statement released at the close of the summit recognizes “Russia’s aggressive actions” as a threat to transatlantic security. China’s growing influence, military power, nuclear arsenal and cooperation with Russia are also highlighted as concerns for the alliance. The leaders of NATO countries also committed to updating the alliance’s strategic concept to take into account new threats and to clarify that Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty, which establishes the principles of collective defense for the alliance, applies to threats in space and cyberattacks.

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