Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ajay Sarma, Christiana Wayne
Tuesday, June 15, 2021, 3:04 PM

President Trump’s staff sent emails pressuring Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to have the Justice Department take up false election fraud claims, reports the New York Times. The then-president’s requests include a draft of a brief he wanted the department to file to the Supreme Court arguing that state officials had weakened election security and paved the way for widespread election fraud, echoing the claims of lawsuits in Michigan and Texas that both courts had thrown out. Around the same time, then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows emailed Rosen asking him to examine other unfounded election fraud conspiracies. The emails were turned over by the Justice Department to investigators on the House Oversight Committee then obtained by the New York Times.

The EU and the U.S. have announced a five-year pause in the 17-year-old transatlantic dispute over subsidies for aircraft manufacturers, reports the Washington Post. On Tuesday, President Biden and EU leaders decided to temporarily table the controversy over subsidies for Boeing and Airbus, paving the way for the suspension of tariffs imposed as part of the trade dispute. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai described the agreement as “revolutionary” and an opportunity for cooperation against the Chinese commercial aircraft industry. Though both EU and U.S. officials characterized the move as a significant step improvement in trade relations, U.S. tariffs on EU steel and travel restrictions on European travelers remain in place for the time being. 

A new study by the National Institutes of Health suggests that coronavirus infections could have appeared in the United States in December 2019, weeks before the first documented U.S. case, according to the Washington Post. A blood donor in Illinois tested positive for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 on Jan. 7, 2020. Antibodies take 14 days, on average, to develop, suggesting the virus may have been present in Illinois as early as Dec. 24, 2019. The report supports earlier findings that the coronavirus was spreading under the radar in the country during early 2020.

An internal Indian government report concluded that at least 100,000 coronavirus test results at a Hindu festival attracting millions to the state of Uttarakhand were falsified, reports the New York Times. Health experts questioned the safety of holding the festival, which took place in April, expressing concerns that Uttarakhand’s government had misrepresented the number of positive cases in the state. Despite these warnings, the state government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, promoted the festival in newspapers across the country, which many blame for a surge in cases throughout India when pilgrims returned to their homes.  

In an unannounced press conference, imprisoned Belarusian activist Roman Protasevich expressed support for Aleksandr Lukashenko, the authoritarian leader of Belarus, according to the New York Times. He sat calmly in civilian clothes at the press conference and said he was in good health and that his statements were not coerced. In the live broadcast, he said “I understand what kind of damage I have inflicted not only on the state but on the country. Today, I want to do everything to correct this situation.” Three weeks ago, Protasevich was dragged off a plane that had made an emergency landing in Minsk ordered by the Belarus government. Now he faces more than a decade in prison for his activities in opposition to the government.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Jonathan Rauch discusses his new book, “The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth.”

Nicol Turner Lee shared an episode of TechTank that covers opportunities and challenges for the tech sector after the announcement of Biden’s American Jobs Plan.

Devin DeBacker discussed the president’s authority to require reporting on foreign cyberattacks under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

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