The Week That Was

The Week That Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

By William Ford
Saturday, April 7, 2018, 10:30 AM

On Tuesday evening, the Washington Post reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller informed the White House that he considers President Trump a subject, but not a criminal target, of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Matthew Kahn posted a special edition of the Lawfare Podcast, in which Benjamin Wittes, Quinta Jurecic, Orin Kerr, and Paul Rosenzweig discuss the Post’s story:

Bob Bauer argued that the Post’s story indicates that Mueller believes he is bound by Office of Legal Counsel opinions stating that a special counsel cannot indict the president.

Wittes shared the Rational Security Podcast: The “Return of Susan” Edition. The podcast examined, among other things, Mueller’s characterization of Trump as a subject of the Russia investigation:

Earlier on Tuesday, the special counsel investigation secured its first sentencing when Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Alex van der Zwaan to 30 days in jail and a $20,000 fine. Jurecic argued that the leniency of the sentencing and the absence of any mention that van der Zwaan continues to cooperate with Mueller indicates that the sentencing marks simply an odd tangent for the special counsel, not a major piece of the larger L’Affaire Russe puzzle.

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared the National Security Law Podcast, in which the pair discuss the attorney general, the decision not to appoint a second special counsel, and, among other things, new revelations regarding the formal scope of the Mueller investigation:

Kerr reiterated his argument that the special counsel did not have to secure a plea deal on the most serious charge levied against Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign aide, because Gates’ timely cooperation appeared necessary to the public interest.

Carrie Cordero argued that in light of WikiLeaks’ role in the 2016 presidential election, the intelligence community should explain what WikiLeaks is, who finances it, who controls it, and how it obtains information—provided that public disclosure of such information is possible.

Mieke Eoyang, Ben Freeman, and Wittes shared the most recent polling data on public confidence in government on national security matters.

Rosenzweig expressed his support for the creation of a legislative commission tasked with enhancing congressional oversight of the department of homeland security.

David Kris responded to Thomas Baker’s Wall Street Journal op-ed “What Went Wrong at the FBI,” challenging Baker’s assertion that the bureau’s embrace of counterintelligence was a mistake and refuting Baker’s characterizations of the Foreign Intelligence Service Act.

In this week’s Middle East Ticker, J. Dana Stuster examined the president’s desire to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, the killing of 15 Palestinians during a protest at the Gaza border, and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s reelection.

Elena Chachko observed that Israel’s successful airstrike against Syria’s Al-Kibar nuclear reactor provides the international community with a data point on states’ use of preemptive self-defense to eliminate nascent nuclear threats.

Ernesto Sanchez reviewed Ronen Bergman’s new book, “Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations.”

Yuval Shany contended that the delays described in a report published by Israel’s State Comptroller on the Israel Defense Forces’ conduct in Operation Protective Edge could undercut the legitimacy of the IDF’s investigative procedures.

Scott Harman summarized the proceedings in Doe v. Mattis prior to oral argument and Jurecic summarized the oral argument.

Russell Spivak summarized the latest filings submitted by 11 Guantanamo Bay detainees as part of their ongoing habeas petitions.

Suzanne Maloney argued that the president’s new national security team will likely upend the Iran nuclear deal.

Kris and Nate Jones suggested that the combination of President Trump and John Bolton, the president’s nominee for national security adviser, will make for a volatile mix of ideology, ability, and temperament.

Kahn shared the Lawfare Podcast, featuring a conversation between Scott Anderson and Chimène Keitner on the State Department before and after the firing of Rex Tillerson:

Margaret Peters and Michael Miller argued that accepting greater numbers of migrants from dictatorships is an excellent way to spread democracy.

Stephanie Leutert examined drug trafficking and migrant smuggling across the U.S.-Mexico border in an interview with Natalia Mendoza, an assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at Fordham University.

In response to the ransomware attack that struck Atlanta on Mar. 22, Megan Reiss and Paul Rosenzweig offered three cybersecurity lessons.

Rosenzweig added that an annual report from FireEye provides at least two reasons to believe that cybersecurity is improving overall.

Stewart Baker shared the Cyberlaw Podcast, featuring a news roundup:

Kahn posted the Lawfare Podcast, a conversation on war, law, and cyberspace with Chesney, Vladeck, and Matt Tait:

Evelyn Douek examined Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s proposal to create an independent tribunal to determine the bounds of acceptable speech on Facebook.

Charles Duan and Megan Reiss proposed a series of questions that members of Congress should ask Zuckerberg when he testifies before the body next week.

Daniel Weitzner argued that Congress and the European Union could have prevented the Cambridge Analytica data breach and other breaches of user privacy by passing the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

In this week’s SinoTech, Wenqing Zhao and David Stanton explored U.S. tariffs on China, China’s response, the role of the World Trade Organization in the unfolding dispute, and the Federal Communications Commission’s campaign against Huawei.

Todd Tucker examined the first American lawsuit launched against President Trump’s steel tariffs.

On the one year anniversary of Brexit, Shannon Togawa Mercer reviewed the U.K.’s progress toward leaving the European Union.

To celebrate Easter, Kenneth Anderson posted Joan of Arc’s formal summons to the English in response to the siege of Orleans.

And that was the week that was.