The Russian Connection continued to generate attention on the Trump administration this week when it emerged that Attorney General Jeff Sessions neglected to tell Congress that he had met with Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak, a familiar figure from the Flynn imbroglio, twice during the campaign. The Rational Security gang discussed the mysterious Kislyak and the Sessions saga, among other things, on “The Kislyak of Death” Edition of the podcast, which Benjamin Wittes posted:
As the Trump administration tried to deflect questions about Russia connections, and as Sessions recused himself from any executive branch investigations into those connections, Susan Hennessey and Helen Murillo described the rules of congressional investigations and President Trump’s growing Russia problem. Also, Susan and Ben explained the need for a select committee on the Russia Connection.
Jane Chong analyzed reports that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and FBI Director James Comey to refute the New York Times’s reporting of links between senior members of the Trump campaign and Russian agents publicly, while Andrew Kent analyzed how we will know whether the Russia-Trump investigations by Congress and the FBI are credible.
As the investigations continue, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to see if FISA Section 702, which is set to sunset at the end of this year, should be renewed. Jordan Brunner flagged papers relating to the Committee’s hearing and the testimony from the open panel of the hearing. Quinta Jurecic posted the video of the hearing. And Caroline Lynch examined the virtue of sunsets in relation to Section 702 reauthorization.
Mieke Eoyang and Gary Ashcroft posted an excerpt from their paper, “Why Electronic Surveillance Reform is Necessary.”
Matthew Waxman provided a adapted version of the testimony he gave before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the international law dimensions of U.S. cyber strategy and policy.
Stewart Baker posted the latest edition of the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast:
Ben posted the video of the Lawfare-Intel Security-Hoover event, “Cybersecurity in the Trump Administration: What Should We Expect?”
In the Foreign Policy Essay, Jacques Berlinbauer warned that Trump’s foreign policy may signal a return of religion into U.S. foreign policymaking calculus.
Nora Ellingsen explained that a leaked DHS report contradicts claims by the White House that individuals from the seven Muslim majority countries in the refugee executive order pose a terrorist threat.
Peter Margulies described how the revised refugee order shows a clear turn towards legal compliance.
Zachary Burdette analyzed how America’s counterterrorism partners could act as a check on President Trump, while Nora focused on the second material support arrest of this year in her examination international terrorism prosecutions.
J. Dana Stuster provided the “Middle East Ticker.”
Ben told the story of Israeli General Dov “Fufi” Sedaka in his efforts to negotiate with West Bank Bedouin tribes.
Bruce Riedel examined what’s behind Saudi Arabia’s new diplomatic offensives.
Daniel Byman evaluated Trump’s options in Syria.
Ammar Abdulhamid examined Russian President Vladimir Putin’s past and potential future course in Syria.
Ed Stein summarized the Russia Sanctions Review Act.
Ryan Scoville offered a closer look at congressional foreign travel.
Jared Dummitt and Eliot Kim chronicled Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi’s visit to Washington as the White House announces military spending increase in this week's Water Wars.
Dustin Lewis, Naz Modirzadeh, and Gabriella Blum highlighted their new report, which argues that international law provides insufficient guidance to ascertain the end of many armed conflicts as a factual, normative, and legal matter.
Peter Swire and Deven Desai presented a “qualified Single Point of Contact” approach for India and Mutual Legal Assistance.
John Bellinger argued that Defense Secretary James Mattis should say “No Thank You” to increased defense spending that is financed by cuts to diplomacy and foreign aid.
Steve Vladeck considered the implications of H.R. McMaster’s appointment as national security adviser for civilian control of the military through the lens of a number of Supreme Court cases. And Quinta posted the latest episode of the Lawfare Podcast, in which Ben interviewed Paul Lewis, President Barack Obama’s special envoy at the Defense Department for closing down the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay:
Ben and Quinta examined what happens when we don’t believe the president’s oath.
David Gioe argued that intelligence officers won’t exit en masse during the Trump administration.
And Ben called on recent college graduates to come work for Lawfare as our new associate editor.
And that was the week that was.