Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio
Friday, May 13, 2022, 3:57 PM

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Federal prosecutors have launched an investigation into whether classified White House documents found at former President Trump’s Mar-a-lago home were mishandled, reports the New York Times. The Justice Department is reportedly looking into the potential involvement of Trump and other White House officials in improperly moving the sensitive materials. So far in the investigation, prosecutors have issued a subpoena to the National Archives and Records Administration for access to the boxes of classified documents. Investigators have also issued interview requests to individuals who worked at the White House during Trump’s final days in office. 

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol subpoenaed five Republican members of Congress, writes the New York Times. The panel issued subpoenas to Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Scott Perry, Jim Jordan, Mo Brooks and Andy Biggs. All five representatives have previously refused requests from the select committee for voluntary interviews about their alleged involvement in Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election. 

A Ukrainian court began hearings in the first war crimes trial brought against a Russian soldier, according to the Washington Post. Russian Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin faces a war crimes charge for allegedly shooting and killing a 62-year-old Ukrainian civilian in Sumy, Ukraine. According to Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Shishimarin is charged with violating “the laws and customs of war combined with premeditated murder.” 

The executive body of the European Union has proposed establishing trade corridors that would allow Ukraine to bypass Russia’s blockade of its Black Sea ports, reports the Washington Post. According to the European commissioner for transport, the EU must establish “solidarity lanes” so that Ukraine can resume exports of approximately 22 million tons of grain that are essential to the global food supply. In addition to challenges caused by Russian blockades, Ukrainian export convoys face long delays when attempting to cross borders into Europe because of different rail gauges used by Ukraine and the EU. To remedy this issue, the EU executive body urged EU “market players” to provide vehicles to move freight, and urged customs officials to “apply maximum flexibility.” 

The Russian foreign ministry warned that Moscow would be forced to take “retaliatory steps” against Finland if it becomes a member of NATO, writes BBC. According to a statement released by the Russian foreign ministry, Russia believes that Finland’s membership in NATO would damage bilateral relations and also threaten security and stability in northern Europe. Finland is expected to formally announce its decision about whether or not to pursue membership in the bloc on Sunday. 

The U.S. intelligence community launched a sweeping internal review following intelligence failures on crises in Ukraine and Afghanistan, according to CNN. The review will reportedly examine how the intelligence community assesses the fighting power of foreign militaries. The review comes at the encouragement of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which sent a classified letter to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Defense Department and the CIA highlighting the failure of all three agencies to assess how long the Ukrainian military would be able fend off Russian attacks and also how long Afghan fighters would be able to hold out against the Taliban following the withdrawal of U.S. troops. 

Costa Rica declared a state of emergency amid “crippling” ransomware attacks on government agencies, reports NBC News. Hackers reportedly infiltrated the servers of the Costa Rican Finance Ministry and from there were able to gain access to the networks of other agencies such as the Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications and the National Meteorological Institute. The “unprecedented” ransomware attack on the government agencies reportedly interrupted the country’s tax collection processes and exposed citizens’ personal information. After an investigation, the U.S. State Department determined that the hack was executed by the ransomware gang known as Conti, most infamous for hacking and disrupting Ireland’s national care system in 2021. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Peter Guest about government-sponsored internet blackouts. 

David Priess shared an episode of Chatter which features a conversation between Shane Harris and Trevor Paglen about his art that explores themes of surveillance, security and secrecy.

Phillip Zelikow outlined a legal approach to the transfer of Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine. 

Anastasia Bradatan explained how Mohammed al-Qahtani’s motion for a Mixed Medical Commission may have opened up a new avenue for Guantanamo detainees.

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