Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ajay Sarma, Christiana Wayne
Thursday, July 29, 2021, 1:19 PM

The Senate voted to take up a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill aimed at far-reaching investments in the nation’s public works system, according to the New York Times. The 67-32 vote included Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 16 other Republicans in favor of moving forward. The bill, which includes $550 billion for roads, transit, water and other infrastructure programs, still faces some obstacles to becoming law.

Two people familiar with the conversations say former President Trump called acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen nearly every day to raise various voter fraud allegations after the 2020 elections, reports the Washington Post. Rosen told few people about the conversations, but notes of some of the calls exist and could be turned over to Congress in days if Trump does not file papers in court blocking the handover. These revelations come after the Justice Department told Rosen and others that the department would not invoke executive privilege if the individuals are asked about their conversations with the president in the weeks after the election.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made remarks raising doubts about Iran nuclear deal talks, according to the New York Times. Khamenei called the United States deceitful and accused the outgoing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, architect of the original 2015 deal, of naïvety. Rouhani will leave office in one week, and the negotiations will fall to his arch-consevative successor and Khamenei disciple, Ebrahim Raisi. In remarks that made clear the leader’s guidance to Raisi, he said, “In this government, it became clear that trust in the West does not work and they do not help, and they strike a blow wherever they can, and if they do not strike somewhere, it is because they cannot.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said negotiations over a return to the Iran nuclear deal “cannot go on indefinitely,” reports Al Jazeera. The U.S. has been involved in indirect talks with Iran, conducted in Vienna through the other parties to the 2015 agreement as intermediaries, since April. Blinken said the U.S. is “committed to diplomacy,” but progress on the deal seems increasingly unlikely as Rouhani leaves office and Raisi takes over in August.

Political turmoil in Tunisia continues as President Kais Saied ordered the dismissal of several more top government officials, according to Al Jazeera. These firings come after Saied dismissed the prime minister and defense and justice ministers and suspended parliament last week. The president said his actions are permitted under Tunisia’s constitution, which allows the head of state to take unspecified exceptional action in the case of an “imminent threat.”

An independent inquiry into the assassination of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has laid the blame on the Maltese government, according to the BBC. Caruana Galizia, who had investigated corruption in Malta and abroad and linked former Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to the Panama Papers scandal, was killed in a car bomb attack in 2017. A few months before his 2019 resignation in relation to her death, Muscat permitted the independent investigation into Caruana Galizia’s death, which released a report accusing the government of not sufficiently protecting the journalist, despite the clear threats to her life. So far, three people have been charged with Caruana Galizia’s murder and another has been accused of being complicit in her death. 

Vice President Kamala Harris revealed a comprehensive plan to combat the causes of migration from Northern Triangle countries, reports the Associated Press. Harris announced the support of Mexico, Japan, South Korea and the United Nations for the plan, without clarifying the terms of their involvement. The plan seeks to combat enduring causes of migration such as poverty, corruption and violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, while also providing assistance in light of short-term drivers of migration, like natural disasters. Alongside the plan for the Northern Triangle, the White House also released a strategy to cooperate with other countries to stem migration. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Molly Reynolds and Quinta Jurecic discuss the House select committee’s first hearing investigating the events of Jan. 6.

Nick Frisch considered the future of United States policy toward Taiwan as tensions rise over the island.

Christiana Wayne announced this week’s Lawfare Live, during which Brookings senior fellow Molly Reynolds and Lawfare Senior Editor Alan Rozenshtein will join Lawfare Executive Editor Scott Anderson to discuss the House select committee’s first hearing regarding the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and civil litigation relating to the attack. 

Howell shared an episode of Rational Security in which Lawfare Editor in Chief Ben Wittes considers the future of the Rational Security feed and discusses the first hearing of the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack. 

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