Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Emily Dai
Thursday, December 9, 2021, 3:50 PM

President Biden said Wednesday that sending U.S. troops to defend Ukraine in response to a Russian military buildup on the country’s borders “[i]s not on the table,” writes CNBC. Rather, in lieu of U.S. troop deployment to Ukraine, Biden said his administration would work to reinforce American military presence in NATO countries. According to Russian President Vladamir Putin, NATO is to blame for increasing tensions along Russia’s borders, accusing the 30-member alliance of building up troops in countries bordering Russia. Putin also warned Biden that Ukraine’s NATO membership application must be denied in exchange for guarantees that Russian troops would not strike.

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the members of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot on Wednesday, writes NPR. In the 43-page complaint, Meadows asked a judge to invalidate two subpoenas the committee issued to himself and Verizon, calling them “overly broad and unduly burdensome” and that the committee “lacks lawful authority “ to obtain that information. This lawsuit comes as the Jan. 6 committee moves to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the investigation. Although Meadows stated last week that he would provide documents and appear in an initial deposition to the committee, he abruptly changed his mind the day before his scheduled deposition. Even though President Biden waived executive privilege claims in Meadows’ case, his lawyer expressed that executive privilege should protect Meadows and other Trump aides from divulging confidential communications.

A Sudanese medical group said Wednesday that the death toll from weekend tribal clashes between Arabs and non-Arabs in Sudan’s western Darfur region has risen to at least 88 people, says AP News.  The fighting grew out of a dispute between two individuals in a displaced persons camp in the Kreinik district of West Darfur. The next day, Arab janjaweed militants attacked the camp and surrounding villages, causing thousands of civilians to escape their homes.

Biden invited more than 100 democratic governments to the first White House Summit for Democracy, but the list of invitees generated some controversy, reports the Wall Street Journal. Some countries with spotty human rights records, such as the Philippines and Pakistan, were invited to the summit. Other countries with similar issues, such as Turkey, were not invited. A State Department spokeswoman said that governments at the summit are expected to make commitments and support initiatives to “counter authoritarianism, combat corruption, and promote respect for human rights.”

An attorney for Trump ally Roger Stone revealed to the Hill that Stone will plead the Fifth Amendment, which protects against self-incrimination, as a means of avoiding cooperation with the Jan. 6 select committee. Stone was scheduled to speak at rallies on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 and reportedly received personal security from the far-right militia group the Oath Keepers. He is now the committee’s third witness to plead the Fifth after X and Y.

A lawsuit seeking $100 million in damages claims that the deadly school shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan could have been prevented if school officials had not dismissed multiple warnings and violent threats, according to NPR. Michigan Attorney Geoffrey Fieger, representing the family of a student who was shot in the neck during the shooting, said the high price of the suit filed against the school district is designed "to compel people to do something" to prevent school shootings.

ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Scott R. Anderson spoke with professors Michael Woldemariam and Hilary Matfess to talk through the origins of Ethiopia's ongoing civil war, what it's meant for civilians living there and how it might shape the country's future. 

Elena Chachko explained why understanding the new dynamic between government policy and private platforms is crucial to understanding the modern geopolitical environment.

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of ChinaTalk in which Dewey Murdick, director of CSET, discusses how the organization has brought a new level of rigor to topics ranging from chips to immigration and AI safety policy.

Jack Goldsmith issued the winter 2020 supplement for Bradley, Deeks, & Goldsmith, Foreign Relations Law: Cases and Materials (7th ed. 2020).

Howell also shared an episode of Rational Security, in which the hosts are joined by Jonathan Shaub to discuss the recent one-on-one meeting between Biden and Putin, Jan. 6 subpoenas and Apple’s lawsuit against NSO Group.

Benjamin Wittes gave a tribute to the Washington Post’s longtime editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, who died on Dec. 6, 2021.

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