Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ajay Sarma, Christiana Wayne
Tuesday, July 20, 2021, 3:38 PM

Thomas Barrack, an ally of former President Trump, was indicted on foregin lobbying charges, according to the Washington Post. He and two other defendants were charged with acting as agents of the United Arab Emirates between April 2016 and April 2018. The indictment, filed in a federal court in Brooklyn, also alleges that Barrack lied to FBI agents in 2019 about his dealings with the UAE. Barrack is a billionaire businessman who chaired Trump’s inaugural committee and often met with the former president and foreign leaders.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy nominated five Republicans to serve on the House’s select committee to investigate the events of Jan. 6. Rep. Jim Banks was nominated as the ranking Republican to the committee, writes NPR. The other House Republicans nominated are Reps. Rodney Davis, Jim Jordan, Kelly Armstrong and Troy Nehls. Banks, Jordan and Nehls all voted against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi retains the power to block the admission of representatives nominated to the select committee.

The Israeli military reported that two rockets were fired from Lebanon at Israel early Tuesday morning, reports the New York Times. The Lebanese army claimed it forestalled an attempt by militants to fire a third rocket into Israel. Israel’s Iron Dome defense system successfully intercepted one rocket and the other landed in an open area, with no damage reported. Israeli forces briefly fired artillery into Lebanon in response to the attack. An Israeli official speaking anonymously suggested Palestinian militants in Lebanon had launched the rockets toward northern Israel, though no organization has claimed responsibility.

The Department of Justice wants a rule change that would impose a 50-year delay on when courts can consider releasing federal grand jury materials, according to the Washington Post. The recommendations were made during the Trump administration, but the current Justice Department is still pushing for changes that would strengthen the secrecy of grand juries and allow gag orders to be applied more broadly to witnesses. Senior Justice Department lawyer Jonathan Wroblewski made the recommendations to the advisory committee of criminal rules. Critics say the rule change would be an unnecessary expansion of secrecy around federal courts and investigations.

Turkey is offering to deploy troops to the Kabul airport contingent on U.S. financial, diplomatic and logistical support, according to Al Jazeera. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the plan on the sidelines of the NATO summit in June and Erdogan again emphasized the importance of American administrative support for the Turkish management of the Kabul airport on Tuesday. The Taliban referred to the plan as “reprehensible.”

The Mali government said Prime Minister Assimi Goita survived a knife attack, reports Deutsche Welle. The assassination attempt occured at the great mosque in the capital Bamako during prayers for Eid. Goita’s official Twitter account announced the suspect was immediately apprehended and investigations are ongoing. The attack comes after months of political turmoil in the country following Goita’s rise to power through an internationally condemned coup in June.

China denied allegations from the United States and other countries that it carried out a massive cyberattack on Microsoft, according to the BBC. China's foreign ministry spokesman said the accusations were “fabricated” and that the U.S. forced its allies to make “unreasonable criticism” against the nation, adding that China opposes all forms of cybercrime. The denial comes after the largest number of countries ever condemned the Chinese government for what they called “reckless” cyber behavior that threatens global security.

Pedro Castillo was declared the winner of the Peruvian presidential election on Monday, reports the BBC. The former schoolteacher and union leader beat out Keiko Fujimori, daughter of former president Albert Fujimori, by 44,000 votes. Fujimori, who indicated on Monday that she would accept the results, had alleged election fraud, which caused a delay in the official announcement of election results. Castillo is seeking to nationalize Peru’s mining and hydrocarbon sectors, as well as reinstate capital punishment to deter crime.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Peter Margulies explained the recent federal court ruling on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Alvaro Marañon shared the Justice Department’s indictment of four Chinese nationals engaged in a global hacking campaign, a joint cybersecurity advisory from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the FBI and the White House’s statement on Chinese cyber aggression.

Bryce Klehm posted Attorney General Merrick Garland’s memorandum providing new guidance “obtaining information, or records of, members of the news media” by the Justice Department.

Scott Anderson shared the Justice Department’s redacted copy of a March 2020 Office of Legal Counsel memorandum providing the legal rationale behind the controversial Jan. 2, 2020, drone strike that killed Major General Qassem Soleimani.

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of ChinaTalk in which he and Chris Miller, assistant professor at Tufts University, discuss their new report, “Labs over Fabs.”

Quinta Jurecic explained the importance of the House of Representatives’ Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Lawfare Editor in Chief Benjamin Wittes talks to Anderson about the current U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and past withdrawal from Iraq.

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