Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Hadley Baker, Matt Gluck, Katherine Pompilio, Tia Sewell
Monday, August 29, 2022, 3:04 PM

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On Saturday, a federal judge expressed her “preliminary intent” to approve Donald Trump’s request for a special master to review the handling of items seized during the FBI’s search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. In her Saturday order, U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon also directed the Department of Justice to generate before Tuesday a “more detailed” account of what the FBI took from Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8 and provide an update on the government’s assessment of that evidence. 

On Monday, the Justice Department responded to Cannon’s request. In its filing, the department stated that its Privilege Review Team finished its review of the seized materials and “identified a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information ... and is in the process of following the procedures” set forth by the search warrant to manage privilege disputes. The Justice Department also agreed to file under seal the search log and status of its review. 

The head of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, said Monday that a team of inspectors is on its way to the Zaporizhzia nuclear power plant to assess damage to the plant, the functionality of its systems, examine the working conditions at the plant, and make any pressing changes needed to improve its safety. Fighting near the plant last week disconnected it from Ukraine’s power grid temporarily, and Ukrainian authorities on Friday began to give iodine tablets to those living near the plant over concerns of a future radiation leak. Dmitry Peskov, a Russian spokesman, pledged that Russia would protect IAEA inspectors on its territory, but noted the country’s opposition to establishing a demilitarized zone surrounding the plant. 

Ukraine initiated offensive operations in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, which could signal the beginning of a Ukrainian counteroffensive along the war’s front line to reclaim territory seized by Russia. The capital of the Kherson region was the first major city to be occupied by Russian forces following the Kremlin’s invasion in February.

Hundreds of Iraqi protestors stormed the country’s government palace in response to the resignation of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Monday, marking a new escalation in the worst political crisis that Iraq has seen in years. Earlier this summer, al-Sadr’s supporters staged a demonstration outside of Iraq’s parliament building in order to prevent the Coordination Framework, a political alliance mainly composed of Iran-aligned Shiite parties, from forming a government. The U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq issued a statement calling for de-escalation and urging maximum restraint, asserting that “The very survival of the State is at stake.”

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) postponed the launch of a new moon rocket due to fuel leaks. The no-crew launch was set to send a capsule into orbit around the moon. NASA has said that it aims to send four astronauts into moon orbit around the moon in 2024 and land astronauts on the moon in 2025. 

Facebook agreed in-principle on Friday to settle a lawsuit alleging that it illegally shared users’ personal data with third parties including the British consulting agency Cambridge Analytica. In Facebook’s filing, it requested that the judge pause the class action for 60 days to allow Facebook and the plaintiffs to finalize the settlement. 

On Sunday, two U.S. Navy warships—the USS Antietam and the USS Chancellorsville—sailed through the Taiwan Strait. This was the first passage through the region since China began conducting military exercises in the strait following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan earlier in August.

The fifth round of talks at the United Nations to protect marine life on the high seas ended in an impasse on Saturday, marking another failure in the decades-long effort to cement the Treaty of the High Seas into international law. The last time the U.N. signed an agreement for ocean protection was in 1982.

Tensions ran high in the first election debate between Brazil’s presidential front-runners, incumbent far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and his leftist rival former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Bolsonaro accused Lula of running “the most corrupt [government] in Brazilian history,” and Lula fired back that Bolsonaro had destroyed the country by reversing his own administration’s legacy of economic growth and anti-poverty initiatives.

The Biden administration will stop distributing free at-home coronavirus tests to Americans via its “giveaway” program established earlier this year. According to a senior Biden administration official, the program has ended due to a lack of congressional funding for a sufficient stockpile of at-home tests. The United States’s current supply of tests is reportedly dwindling, and health officials want to reserve enough tests for the coming fall and winter, when an uptick in coronavirus cases is expected. 

ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Tia Sewell spoke with Sean Ekins and Filippa Lentzos about their recent article discussing the potentially dangerous dual use of a drug discovery company’s AI-powered molecule generator.

Cameron Kerry argued that the Federal Trade Commission’s rulemaking should not replace federal privacy legislation, following the Commission’s release of its advance notice of proposed rulemaking.

Bobby Chesney called for nominations in the 2022 Mike Lewis Prize for National Security Law Scholarship.

Matt Gluck and Hyemin Han shared the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida’s recently unsealed—and redacted—warrant affidavit related to the recent search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.  

Scott Anderson, Gluck, Han, and Tyler McBrien analyzed the substance and implications of the unsealed search warrant affidavit.  

Jessica Davis and Elena Martynova analyzed the various ways in which the Jan. 6 insurrectionists financed the attack, as well as their legal defenses following it, and how this information might be useful in preventing their access to this funding going forward.

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