The Week That Was

The Week that Was: All of Lawfare in One Post

By Gordon Ahl
Saturday, October 26, 2019, 8:19 AM

The House impeachment inquiry continued depositions of key witnesses this week, with Ambassador William Taylor’s testimony and the release of his opening statement providing more clarity as to the details of L’Affaire Ukrainienne. Scott R. Anderson analyzed Taylor’s account and explained the impact on the other major figures in the Ukraine scandal. This analysis was also made available in audio format as a Lawfare Podcast short:

Benjamin Wittes considered how Alexander Hamilton’s words in Federalist 65 held relevance for the impeachment of President Trump as Republicans have refused to abandon him. Meanwhile, Gabriel Schoenfeld countered arguments related to impeachment by Andrew McCarthy.

Philip Zelikow suggested that the conduct of Trump and his associates involving Ukraine could violate federal bribery statutes.

Jacques Singer-Emery, Margaret Taylor and Jack Goldsmith further commented on the role of OMB in withholding aid to Ukraine in the wake of Mick Mulvaney’s press conference last week.

David Priess explained that the proximity of a presidential election should not influence the impeachment decision.

Benjamin Schwartz explored the Trump administration's interpretation of the Recommendations Clause and how it has been used to resist congressional oversight.

Gordon Ahl posted a letter signed by several federal inspectors general that challenges the OLC to withdraw or modify its opinion on the whistleblower complaint.

Jen Patja Howell shared this week’s episode of Rational Security: The ‘Quid, Meet Quo’ Edition:

Gordon Ahl posted a livestream of a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the American "betrayal" of Kurdish allies.

Howell also shared an episode of The Lawfare Podcast, in which Benjamin Wittes spoke with a number of experts to capture a variety of perspectives on the complicated state of affairs in the region:

Daniel Gabriel, Jens Dakin and Ali Sada discussed the similarities between what they are hearing from local sources on the ground in Syria and their past work in Mosul, Iraq. For a deeper look into Mosul, Howell shared another episode of The Lawfare Podcast focusing on the pivotal role the city played in recent Iraqi history involving the Islamic State:

Andrew Mines and Amira Jadoon showed how an Islamic State affiliate is seeking to gain influence in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Carter Malkasian analyzed the logic of maintaining a U.S. presence in Afghanistan and the logic of a withdrawal.

Emma DiNapoli, Rachael Hanna, Patrick McDonnell, Masha Simonova and Jacques Singer-Emery contributed to an update on the military commission in the 9/11 trial. Jacob Schulz also posted court filings that indicated the D.C. Circuit Court would hear oral arguments in December in the Abdul Razak Ali case.

For cyber commentary, Jim Baker argued that governmental authorities should embrace encryption as a means to protect against cybersecurity threats. Nicholas Weaver proposed a solution to combating child pornography online that does not involve weakening encryption. Quinta Jurecic commented on the recent decision by a right-wing publication to release an explicit photograph of a congresswoman to warn of the future dangers if such practice goes unchallenged. Rebecca Crootof considered the need to develop norms for thoughtful transparency in the artificial intelligence research community.

Stewart Baker shared the latest episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast, featuring a news roundup of recent cyberattacks and an interview with Alex Joel, who previously worked for the ODNI:

Evelyn Douek discussed a recent U.N. report dealing with online hate speech through a human rights framework.

Rachel Westrate explained the damning conclusions from a recent IPCC report on the future of the oceans.

David Benger, Philip Chertoff, Erik Manukyan, Jacob Schulz and Chinmayi Sharma summarized the recently released FISC and FISCR rulings.

Amanda Sloat updated us on Brexit, with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson being forced to request an extension from the EU.

In the latest installment of Sinotech, Richard Altieri and Benjamin Della Roca commented on the uncertain verbal agreements reached between the United States and China on trade talks, as well as the NBA’s ongoing flap over a tweet in support of Hong Kong.

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared an episode of the National Security Law Podcast, in which they comment on the oral arguments this week in the case involving President Trump’s claim of immunity from criminal investigation to block the release of his tax returns to New York state prosecutors:

Mieke Eoyang, Ben Freeman, Ryan Pougliales and Benjamin Wittes posted their findings and analysis of public opinion on national security matters, which included relatively low confidence in Congress.

Fogel posted a livestream of a House Judiciary Committee hearing on securing America’s elections.

Finally, the Mueller Report re-entered the news on Friday with a D.C. District Court ruling that authorizes the House Judiciary Committee to receive the unredacted Mueller report and other related grand jury materials.

Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes shared episode 13 of The Report. This week's episode details the president’s reactions to the legal troubles of several of his close associates, such as Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone and Michael Flynn:

And that was the week that was.