Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio
Thursday, April 21, 2022, 2:24 PM

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The Justice Department appealed a federal judge’s ruling that struck down the Biden administration’s national mask mandate on public transportation, reports CBS News. The appeal came at the request of officials of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who asserted that the mandate “remains necessary for the public health.” According to a statement by the CDC, “[the] CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in all indoor public transportation settings ….CDC's number one priority is protecting the public health of our nation.” 

Alex Jones—Trump ally and host of Infowars—offered to provide the Justice Department with information about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in exchange for immunity from prosecution, writes the New York Times. Jones reportedly is willing to disclose information about his role in the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol building. Jones’s lawyer reported that he gave the federal government a letter about “his desire to speak to federal prosecutors about Jan. 6.”

A man suspected of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol reportedly bragged to his Uber driver about his involvement in the riot, according to the Hill. According to unsealed court documents, on the evening of Jan. 6, 2021 Jerry Daniel Braun told his Uber driver details about his participation in the attack. When the driver asked Braun if it had been violent “all day” near the Capitol, Braun allegedly responded “Well, it started around, right when I got there. I tore down the barricades.” When asked why he tore down the barricades, Braun said “Well, because, so we could get to the Capitol.” A recording of the conversation between Braun and the Uber driver was reportedly captured on the driver’s dashboard video. Braun faces charges of obstruction during civil disorder, entering and remaining in a building and violent entry or disorderly conduct.

President Biden announced that the United States will supply another $800 million security package and $500 million in economic assistance to Ukraine, reports CNBC. “This is money the government can help use to stabilize their economy, to support communities that have been devastated by the Russian onslaught and pay the brave workers that continue to provide essential services to the people of Ukraine,” Biden said. The president added that he has nearly exhausted the budget approved by Congress last month, and that he would request additional funding from Congress for Ukraine in the coming weeks. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Biden for the additional aid in a tweet.

President Biden also announced that the United States will prohibit Russian affiliated ships from entering American ports, according to the Washington Post. Biden specified that any ship that “sails under the Russian flag” or is owned or operated by Russian interests will be barred access from U.S. ports and shores. “This is yet another critical step we’re taking in concert with our partners in the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and further, to deny Russia the benefits of international economic system that they so enjoyed in the past,” Biden said

Russia successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile with the ability to carry a large nuclear payload, writes the Washington Post. In a speech about the launch, Russian President Vladimir Putin implied that the launch was intended to be a warning to western countries that oppose the invasion of Ukraine. The missile—named “Satan 2”—is a RS-28 Sarmat and is reportedly Russia’s most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile. United States defense officials report that the successful test launch of the missile does not pose a significant national security threat. 

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a bombing in Nigeria that killed or injured at least 30 people, according to Reuters. The target of the explosion was a market that sold alcohol in a rural town in Taraba State, Nigeria. In a Telegram channel used by the Islamic State to post propaganda, the group wrote that those who executed the attack were “soldiers of the caliphate in central Nigeria” who targeted a “gathering of infidel Christians.”

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Roger Parloff and Benjamin Wittes sat down to discuss the Marjorie Taylor Greene disqualification case and other  Section 3 of the 14th Amendment disqualification litigations. 

Raquel Leslie and Brian Liu explained the implications of the indictment of former top Chinese Communist Party official Zhou Jiangyong. 

Gabriel Schoenfeld argued that there is a growing chorus of voices in the United States who continue to draw a moral equivalence between victim and aggressor, and worse, in the Ukraine-Russia war. 

Howell also shared an episode of Rational Security in which Alan Rozenshtein, Quinta Jurecic and Scott R. Anderson discussed the week’s top national security news including the use of the word “genocide” in the Ukraine-Russia war and a federal judge’s ruling to strike down the Biden administration’s mask mandate on public transportation.

Alvaro Marañon posted a joint cybersecurity advisory warning organizations of the possible malicious cyber threats stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Katherine Pompilio announced next week’s Lawfare Live, which will feature a discussion between Anderson, Thomas Berry and Genevieve Nadeau about potential reforms to the Electoral Count Act. 

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