The Week That Was

The Week That Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

By Alex Potcovaru
Saturday, July 29, 2017, 9:27 AM

Bob Bauer examined President Trump’s public beratement of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his apparent misunderstanding of his relationship with the Justice Department. Jack Goldsmith discussed how those serving the American people should handle a President so openly hostile to his senior intelligence and law enforcement officials.

Carrie Cordero emphasized that Sessions was correct to recuse himself from the Department of Justice investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and urged that Sessions not resign despite escalating pressure from President Trump.

Benjamin Wittes defended his view, offered last Thursday, that Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should jointly resign, and he evaluated Goldsmith’s opposing position.

Helen Klein Murillo and Steve Vladeck explored whether there is a viable perjury case against Sessions.

Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck posted the National Security Law Podcast, where they discussed the extradition of Ali Damache and the issues surrounding the potential removal of Sessions.

Quinta Jurecic posted Jared Kushner’s statement on his various meetings with Russian individuals. Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes provided an excerpt of their [email protected] analysis of Kushner’s explanation.

Wittes posted the latest episode of Rational Security, The “Beleaguered” Edition, in which the gang covered Kushner’s statement, Trump’s attacks on Sessions, and some of the group’s travel reports. Plus a few bombshells, of sorts.

Presidential immunity has been a hot topic of debate in recent weeks. Andrew Crespo analyzed whether Special Counsel Robert Mueller is bound by the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel’s memos on the topic. Quinta Jurecic posted a memo prepared by the staff of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr that argues that prosecutors can in fact indict a sitting president. And on the political side, Keith Whittington explored the risks of not pursuing impeachment proceedings if Congress concludes that the President has committed impeachable offenses.

Alex Potcovaru and Wittes posted a Lawfare video comparing the opinion of top Trump and Obama administration intelligence and defense officials on Russian interference in the 2016 election with the response of Trump and White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. The officials’ comments came during the Aspen Security Forum convened July 19-22. 

Jurecic posted the full-length versions of the various panel discussions.

J. Dana Stuster posted the Middle East Ticker, covering tension on Temple Mount, the ending of clandestine U.S. assistance to Syrian rebels, the Gulf diplomatic crisis’ impacts on regional foreign policy, and the Iran nuclear deal.

Daniel Byman assessed the long-term dangers posed by the Islamic State to U.S. interests in the Middle East. Jurecic posted the livestream of the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on “Authorization for the Use of Military Force and Current Terrorist Threats.”

Chris Meserole discussed evidence-based keys to establishing a lasting peace in post-caliphate Iraq: win big, beware spoilers, and be inclusive.

In the Foreign Policy Essay, Jacqueline L. Hazelton evaluated how drone strikes impact U.S. foreign policy and argued that they face limitations in the context of various U.S. grand strategies.

Mary McCord argued that federal prosecution in Article III courts is a viable option for enemy combatants, responding to Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Tom Bossert’s speech at the Aspen Security Forum.

In cyber news, Bobby Chesney analyzed the past year’s legal and policy hurdles faced in the pending split between the NSA and CYBERCOM.

Responding to a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Philip Reitinger argued that creation of a new Department of Cybersecurity would harm rather than help U.S. preparedness in the event of a “cyber 9/11.”

Paul Rosenzweig described recent developments in digital currency markets and considered the utility of the term “Internet of Things” in the latest iteration of Bits and Bytes. In other digital currency news, Nicholas Weaver examined the indictment of Alexander Vinnik for running the BTC-e crypto-currency exchange.

Sarah Tate Chambers posted the Cybercrime Roundup, which covered the sentencing of Alexander Tverdokhlebov, a Russian-born U.S. citizen.

Rosenzweig highlighted a report that recently discovered security vulnerabilities in internet-connected drive-through car washes could be harnessed by rogue actors to remotely inflict damage on vehicles and their occupants. Nicholas Weaver had other advice about vulnerabilities: he argued that governments should prohibit the use of Kaspersky software on all governmental computers. Rosenzweig gathered recent cyber-related stories on Qatar, Georgia, Elon Musk, and China. And Trey Herr and Bruce Schneier flagged a revised version of their paper on estimating vulnerability rediscovery.

In cross-border data news, Andrew Keane Woods noted a new case filed by Google in the U.S. District Court of California challenging a Canadian Supreme Court ruling requiring Google to delist links to particular pages. Rosenzweig argued that Europe is unserious in its view of its and others’ privacy policies.

Stewart Baker posted the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast, which covered online censorship, congressional sanctions on Russia, Microsoft’s lawsuit against GRU, and much more.

Elsa Kania analyzed China’s new artificial intelligence plan that leverages foreign innovation resources and military-civilian fusion.

In this week's Water Wars, Jimmy Chalk and Sarah Grant discussed the roles of both China’s growing military presence and oil and gas in the South China Sea dispute.

Matthew Kahn posted the Lawfare Podcast, in which Jack Goldsmith interviews Graham Allison about his new book, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap?, at the Hoover Book Soiree.

In the Intelligence Studies Essay, Steve Slick explored what effects President Trump’s revised executive order on the structure of the National Security Council will have on policy deliberations.

Lawfare reposted Jack Goldsmith’s 2015 interview with Times executive editor Dean Baquet on publication decisions about intelligence secrets.

Following Trump’s tweet announcing a ban against transgender personnel in the military, Michel Paradis explained why transgender service members will win in court.

And that was the week that was.