Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Emily Dai
Friday, November 5, 2021, 3:06 PM

A federal judge on Thursday expressed skepticism of former president Trump’s efforts to block the release of documents sought by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to the New York Times. Judge Tanya Chutkan of the District Court for the District of Columbia asked pointed questions on Trump’s claims of executive privilege, but suggested the House committee may have overreached in its demand for a wide range of documents. Douglas Letter, the general counsel of the House, justified the committee’s wide-ranging request for documents because it was investigating Trump’s claims of election fraud and attempts to cling to power. Trump’s lawyer, Justin Clark, claimed Trump maintains a “[c]onstitutionally based privilege” to keep the information private. The outcome of the case will determine the amount of information the committee will be able to uncover on Trump’s role in the Capitol attack.

CNN obtained tapes on Friday of Trump’s allies testifying under oath that they had done little to verify debunked claims of fraud in the 2020 election before publicizing them in the national media. The videos show Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell responding to questions from a lawyer representing Dominion Voting Systems.  Dominion sued the Trump campaign late last year for making claims that their vote-counting services allowed for fraud. Giuliani testified that it was not his job to “[i]nvestigate every piece of evidence” given to him, while Powell admitted that getting the truth was not one of her objectives.

In an attack on the town of Banibangou in southwest Niger, gunmen killed 69 people, including the town’s mayor,, writes Reuters. The attack occurred in an area overrun with militants associated with a local affiliate of the Islamic State. In recent years, armed groups, some linked with al-Qaeda, have sought to establish control over communities in West Africa. Islamist groups have already killed more than 530 people in southwest Niger this year—over five times more than in all of 2020.

Emergent BioSolutions disclosed Thursday that the federal government decided to cancel its contract worth $628 million after the coronavirus vaccine manufacturer was found to have produced millions of contaminated doses this spring, writes the Washington Post. The company played a role in the Trump administration’s effort to speed up vaccine production and distribution, causing 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be discarded. The Food and Drug Administration decided in June to discard an additional 60 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, testified before the Jan. 6 committee on Friday, writes the Hill. The former acting Civil Division assistant attorney general was subpoenaed by the committee in October for engaging “[i]n unauthorized investigation of allegations of voter fraud” and for failing “[t]o abide by the department’s policy on contacts with the White House.”

The Jan. 6 committee interviewed a Capitol riot defendant who claimed to have knowledge of contacts between state-level Republican officials who worked with Trump to try and overturn the 2020 election, reports Politico. The unnamed rioter’s interviews are part of more than 150 the committee has conducted in recent days. 

Pfizer announced Friday that its experimental antiviral pill for the coronavirus cut the risk of hospitalization and death by nearly 90 percent in a study of 775 high-risk adults, according to AP News. Study participants were unvaccinated, with mild-to-moderate coronavirus cases and were considered high risk for hospitalization due to health problems.

The United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday condemned the actions by military leaders in Sudan following a coup and will appoint an expert to monitor the alleged rights violations, according to Reuters. The United Nations plans to end the political crisis through negotiations with deposed Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and the leaders of the military coup.

All 24 female senators sent a letter to Biden Thursday urging his administration to develop an “interagency plan” that preserves the human rights of Afghan women and girls, according to CNBC. The letter stated that U.S. disengagement from Afghanistan risks “hard-won gains” for Afghan women and girls’ participation in public life, such as in school, business and public office. The senators added that Taliban leaders are not upholding their promises to ensure the safety of women under their government.


ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic sat down with Sahar Massachi and Jeff Allen, who recently unveiled the Integrity Institute, to discuss the proposals around transparency and algorithms that the Institute has set out and how to regulate big social media platforms.

Roger Parloff analyzed how the criminal prosecutions of the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters reveal who the defendants are, what their goals were, how evidence is being gathered and how prosecutors and judges are coping with the largest federal criminal investigation in history.

Emily Dai shared the indictment of Igor Danchenko, a key analyst who contributed research to the Steele dossier.

Jane Bambauer argues that the flaws with facial recognition technology can be mitigated through sensible limits and how the risks of facial recognition are less bad than the options police have without its use.
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