The Lawfare Podcast

It Friday, March 22, 2019. It’s been nearly two years since Robert Mueller was first appointed Special Counsel. Now, he’s ready to submit a final report to the Attorney General. He has uncovered a sprawling and systematic effort by Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. And he’s developed a mountain of evidence about the president’s efforts to obstruct his investigation, things like witness tampering, ordering the creation of false records, and trying to fire Mueller himself.

But Mueller’s got a problem: a Department of Justice memo says he can’t indict a sitting president. So what is he supposed to do with all this evidence? Mueller decides to just lay it all in the report, all 448 pages of it. It’ll be someone else’s problem to decide what to do about it: maybe a future prosecutor, maybe Congress, maybe the America electorate. That isn’t really Mueller’s concern. He’s done what he was asked to do. Now his report can speak for itself.

 

Direct download: The_Report_Ep_15_Muellers_Report.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

Over the past several weeks, popular protest movements have emerged in both Iraq and Lebanon, expressing widespread discontent with the status quo in both countries. The unrest has led to both the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and a public statement by Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi of his intent to resign as soon as a successor is selected. But protestors also have been the subject of increasingly violent repression, especially in Iraq, where Iranian forces are believed to be actively combatting the demonstrators. To discuss these developments, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Randa Slim of the Middle East Institute; Rasha Al Aqeedi, managing editor of Irfaa Sawtak; and Tamara Cofman Wittes of the Brookings Institution.

Direct download: Episode_470.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EST

In this episode of the Arbiters of Truth series—Lawfare's new podcast series on disinformation in the run-up to the 2020 election—Quinta Jurecic and Evelyn Douek spoke with Daphne Keller, the director of intermediary liability at Stanford's Center for Internet and Society, about the nuts and bolts of content moderation. People often have big ideas for how tech platforms should decide what content to take down and what to keep up, but what kind of moderation is actually possible at scale? And what happens when those decisions come into conflict with different norms of free speech—for example, between the U.S. and Europe? They talked about intermediary liability law in the United States, recent rulings by the Court of Justice of the European Union, and everything in-between.

Direct download: Episode_469.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:08pm EST

Impeachment has dominated the news for more than a month, but the flurry of headlines often leads to more confusion than clarity. Where exactly are we in the process? How does public opinion influence the shape and the ultimate outcome of that process? What will the role of the courts be in the coming months? On Monday, November 4, Darrell West, vice president and director of Governance Studies at Brookings, moderated a panel of Brookings experts discussing impeachment developments and giving helpful context. Joining West were Lawfare's editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes and three additional Brookings senior fellows: Molly Reynolds, Bill Galston, and Elaine Kamarck.

Thanks to Grammarly for supporting The Lawfare Podcast. For 20% off a Grammarly premium account, go to Grammarly.com/lawfare.

Direct download: Episode_468.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:48pm EST

We’re almost at the end of our story. This episode will cover the final set of activity that the Special Counsel examines for possible obstruction of justice: the president’s behavior towards his long time attorney Michael Cohen. Unlike the other possible acts of obstruction in Volume II, which mostly occur after Trump takes office, the relevant conduct towards Cohen spans the entire time period at issue in the Mueller investigation. It starts all the way back before the campaign. To Trump Tower Moscow.

Direct download: The_Report_Ep_14_FINAL_CUT_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:14pm EST

Last month at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, Stephanie Leutert, director of the Mexico Security Initiative at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas, joined Bobby Chesney and Sheriff Benny Martinez on stage to discuss an incredible new research project on Lawfare. She and Sheriff Martinez have teamed up to study the large number of migrants who have died hiking in the brush, trying to evade a border patrol checkpoint in Brooks County, TX. They talked about how Sheriff Martinez came to share a large quantity of data with Stephanie on the many people who have died in his county, the challenges of search and rescue and body recovery operations in a rural county, and how Washington policy is making it all worse.

Direct download: Episode_467.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EST

This is the first episode in a new special series—"Arbiters of Truth"—about disinformation and online speech in the lead up to the 2020 election.

From Russian election interference, to scandals over privacy and invasive ad targeting, to presidential tweets: it’s all happening in online spaces governed by private social media companies. And as the 2020 presidential election draws nearer, these conflicts are only going to grow in importance. In this series, Evelyn Douek, Kate Klonick, Alina Polyakova, and Quinta Jurecic will be talking to experts and practitioners about the major challenges our new information ecosystem poses for elections and democracy in general, and the dangers of finding cures that are worse than the disease.

“Arbiters of Truth” is a reference to something Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said right after the 2016 election, when Facebook was still reeling from accusations that it hadn’t done enough to clamp down on disinformation during the presidential campaign. Zuckerberg wrote that social media platforms “must be extremely cautious about becoming arbiters of truth ourselves.”

Well, if Facebook doesn’t want to be the arbiter of truth, we’re here to do it for them. In this episode, the group sat down to talk about their work on disinformation and the main questions that they hope to answer in this podcast over the coming months.

Direct download: Episode_466.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:44pm EST

Philip Mudd is currently a counterterrorism and national security analyst with CNN, but before that, Mudd spent 25 years working at the Central Intelligence Agency, on the NSC staff, and eventually at the FBI. His third book is "Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World." David Priess sat down with Phil to talk about his career at CIA, the book, his research into the advanced interrogations and the interrogation program at CIA after 9/11, and the ethics of it all.

Thanks to Grammarly for supporting The Lawfare Podcast. For 20% off a Grammarly premium account, go to Grammarly.com/lawfare.

Direct download: Episode_465.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:03pm EST

President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, died in a raid conducted by U.S. Special Operation Forces. The president used highly unusual language to describe the raid, including that al-Baghdadi “died like a dog.” He also stated that the U.S. would be “leaving soldiers to secure the oil.” Scott R. Anderson and Dan Byman join Benjamin Wittes to discuss the raid, what it means for the future of the Islamic State, Trump’s speech and what it all means for the broader region.

Direct download: Al-Baghdadi_mixdown_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:32pm EST

It’s January 2018. Paul Manafort and Rick Gates are in a whole lot of trouble. The past is catching up to them. Three months earlier, they’d both been indicted on multiple felony counts and now it looks like there might be even more charges coming. Gates is getting nervous--they’re facing many years in prison. Manafort tells Gates to relax. He’s talked to the president’s personal counsel. He says they’re going to “take care of us.” Manafort tells Gates he’d be stupid to plead guilty now, “just sit tight, we’ll be taken care of.” Gates wants to be crystal clear on what exactly Manafort’s getting at. So he asks: Is the president going to pardon them?

Direct download: Ep_13-_Pardons_on_the_Table.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:50pm EST

It's been a wild few weeks in British politics: possible new elections scheduled; Brexit impending and then delayed (we think); a possible Brexit deal signed, but not yet ratified; and the personality of Boris Johnson hovering over it all like a brooding omnipresence. A couple of weeks ago, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Helen Thompson, a professor of political economy at Cambridge and one of the two principal voices of the Talking Politics podcast. They had a conversation about the state of British constitutional government, but before we had a chance to run it, a whole lot happened. So, we decided to run the whole conversation despite it being a bit upended by events, and Ben sat down with Amanda Sloat to come in and give an update on what you need to know for this conversation.

Direct download: Episode_464.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EST

Amb. William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified on Tuesday in a close-door meeting with Congressional committees involved in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. Tuesday afternoon, the Washington Post published a copy of Taylor’s opening statement. Scott R. Anderson analyzed that statement in an article for Lawfare, explaining what it adds to what we know of L’Affaire Ukrainienne. In the latest edition of the Lawfare Podcast Shorts, you can listen to that article in-full, read by the author, Lawfare’s own Scott R. Anderson.

Direct download: Scott_Shorts_Podcast_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:56pm EST

In 2014, the precipitous fall of the ancient city of Mosul signaled the sudden rise to power of the Islamic State, a group that would soon declare a new caliphate from Mosul's Great Mosque. Two years later, Mosul served as one of the group's last major enclaves in Iraq and became the site of grinding, brutal urban warfare as Iraqi forces sought to reclaim control, block by block.

Last week, Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson sat down with two journalists who have produced new works documenting the battle for Mosul: veteran war correspondent James Verini, who is the author of the new book "They Will Have to Die Now," and former CIA official Dan Gabriel, who recently directed the documentary film entitled Mosul. They discussed the pivotal role the city has played in recent Iraqi history—and what the struggle over it may be able to tell us about the future of the country and region.

Direct download: Episode_463.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:16pm EST

It’s February 6, 2018. Don McGahn is back in the Oval Office with President Trump and the new White House chief of staff John Kelly. The New York Times has just published a story reporting that, back in June of 2017, Trump had directed McGahn to have Mueller fired and that McGahn had threatened to resign rather than carry out the order. The story doesn’t look good. Trump says: “You need to correct this. You’re the White House counsel.”

Trump wants McGahn to say it never happened. But McGahn knows that it did happen. The White House Counsel is sticking to his guns. He’s not going to lie. The president asks again. Is McGahn going to do a correction? McGahn feels Trump is testing his mettle, seeing how far he can be pushed. And so he answers: No. He’s not.

 

Direct download: Report_Ep_12_-_It_Will_Never_Get_Out.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

It’s February 6, 2018. Don McGahn is back in the Oval Office with President Trump and the new White House chief of staff John Kelly. The New York Times has just published a story reporting that, back in June of 2017, Trump had directed McGahn to have Mueller fired and that McGahn had threatened to resign rather than carry out the order. The story doesn’t look good. Trump says: “You need to correct this. You’re the White House counsel.”

Trump wants McGahn to say it never happened. But McGahn knows that it did happen. The White House Counsel is sticking to his guns. He’s not going to lie. The president asks again. Is McGahn going to do a correction? McGahn feels Trump is testing his mettle, seeing how far he can be pushed. And so he answers: No. He’s not.

 

Direct download: Report_Ep_12_-_It_Will_Never_Get_Out.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

It's been a horrible week in northeastern Syria. The U.S. abandoned its Kurdish allies after the president had a conversation by phone with Turkish President Erdogan and pulled the plug on the stabilizing U.S. presence in the region. The Turkish government began a major incursion over the border, which has produced significant casualties and major questions about ISIS detainees in Kurdish custody.

To talk through it all, we pulled together quite a group. In the first half of the podcast, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Scott R. Anderson and Dan Byman, both of Brookings and Lawfare. In the second half, Ben sat down with Oula A. Alrifai, a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Leah West, a Lecturer of International Affairs at Carleton University in Canada.

Direct download: Episode_462.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

A couple of weeks ago, Lawfare and the Strauss Center for International Security and Law sponsored a series of panels at the Texas Tribune Festival. For this episode, we bring you the audio of our Tribfest event on domestic terrorism—what it is, how we define it, how we outlaw it, and what more we can do about it.

David Priess sat down with Bobby Chesney, Lawfare co-founder and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, and former U.S. government officials Lisa Monaco, Mary McCord, and Nick Rasmussen.

Thanks to Grammarly for supporting The Lawfare Podcast. For 20% off a Grammarly premium account, go to Grammarly.com/lawfare.

Direct download: Episode_461.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04pm EST

It’s May 17, 2017. White House Counsel Don McGahn is in the Oval Office with the president. McGahn’s job is to represent the office of the presidency, which isn’t quite the same as representing the president personally. It’s a delicate line to walk, and Trump hasn’t made the job any easier. McGahn is supposed to act as the point of contact between the White House and the Department of Justice, to ensure all the rules are being followed. But the president has made clear, he’s not interested in following the rules. Trump has already fired his FBI director. That’s why McGahn is in the Oval that morning, they need to interview a new nominee for the position. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is there too.

Sessions interrupts the meeting. He has an urgent phone call from the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, so he steps outside to take it. Sessions returns a moment later and relays the message: Rosenstein has appointed a Special Counsel to oversee the Russia investigation. It’s the former FBI director, Robert Mueller.  

Trump slumps back in his chair. He says, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”

Direct download: Ep_11_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

At his rally in Minneapolis earlier this week, President Trump received voluntary security from an unexpected source: the Oathkeepers, a far-right militia associated with the white supremacy movement. This isn’t the first time that the Trump administration has crossed paths with such groups, which have become more active in recent years. 

To learn more about these groups, Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson recently spoke with journalist Leah Sottile, who is the host of the podcast Bundyville, which does a deep dive on America’s far-right militia movement. Together, they discussed these groups’ origins and ideologies—and what they can tell us about homegrown radicalization in modern-day America.

Leah Sottile’s podcast Bundyville is produced in cooperation with Oregon Public Broadcasting and Longreads.

Direct download: Episode_460.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:14am EST

Encryption and going dark splashed across the headlines in the wake of the 2015 San Bernardino attack, when the FBI and Apple went to court over access to an encrypted iPhone recovered from one of the perpetrators. Since then, little progress has actually been made on the encryption issue. Privacy advocates and technology companies are locked in a stalemate with law enforcement, with the former arguing that encryption is vital for cybersecurity, while latter has argued that law enforcement agencies need some way to lawfully access encrypted data in certain criminal or national security cases. A working group set up by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Princeton University is endeavoring to break this impasse—or at least crack it—with a new paper entitled “Moving the Encryption Policy Conversation Forward.”

Benjamin sat down with two members of the working group—Susan Landau of Tufts University and Jim Baker of the R Street Institute—to discuss the paper, the goals of the group, and how to reconcile seemingly incompatible views.

Direct download: Episode_459.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:31pm EST

It’s March 7, 2017. The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on the nomination of Rod Rosenstein to be the Deputy Attorney General. Rosenstein’s whole career has been leading up to this moment. He’s a non-partisan sort of guy. He’s served under both President Bush and Obama. Now he’s being elevated to the role of running the day to day at DOJ.

But this hearing is about more than just confirming a new deputy attorney general. On March 2, five days earlier, Attorney General Jeff Sessions had announced his recusal from all investigations involving the 2016 election, a recusal which included the Russia investigation. And so, the moment he becomes deputy, Rosenstein will also become the acting attorney general for the purposes of the Russia investigation.

Direct download: Report_Ep_10-_Youre_Fired.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

In 1975, labor union leader and American icon Jimmy Hoffa went missing. Forty-four years after Hoffa’s disappearance, the crime remains one of America's greatest unsolved mysteries. One of those frequently considered a suspect in Hoffa’s murder is Chuckie O’Brien, Hoffa’s longtime right-hand man. O’Brien also happens to be the step-father of Lawfare co-founder and Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith. In a new book, "In Hoffa’s Shadow," Goldsmith details his own rigorous investigation of Hoffa’s disappearance and explains why the long-held assumption of Chuckie’s role in Hoffa's death is misguided. Yet, the book is more than a murder mystery. Goldsmith also reflects on the evolution of his own relationship with his step-father.

At the Texas Tribune Festival, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Goldsmith to discuss his new book, how he came to write it, and his relationship with Chuckie.

Direct download: Episode_458.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

The first two years of the Trump presidency were tied up with the Russia scandal. Now, there’s another scandal involving Russia’s next-door neighbor: Ukraine. The revelation that President Trump and his envoys pressured the Ukrainian government for information about debunked claims of Biden family corruption in Ukraine have brought Ukrainian domestic politics onto the American stage. The Ukrainian side of this very American scandal is complicated yet vital to understanding the whistleblower complaint and the reality of what happened with the Ukrainian prosecutor and Joe Biden’s son. Quinta Jurecic sat down with Alina Polyakova, the Director of the Project on Global Democracy and Emerging Technology at the Brookings Institution to break it all down. They talked about recent Ukrainian political developments, what exactly Joe Biden did or didn’t do in Ukraine, and what this might mean for the U.S.-Ukraine relationship going forward.

Direct download: Episode_457.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:27pm EST

It’s January 26, 2017. Sally Yates is the acting Attorney General; she’s leading the Justice Department until Jeff Sessions is confirmed by the Senate. Yates has just learned some alarming news. The new National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has lied to FBI agents. He’s told them that he hadn’t discussed sanctions in a call with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. But he had. And it looks like Flynn has lied to the vice president about it as well. Yates calls White House Counsel Don McGahn. She says they have to meet right away. Yates knows that the FBI has the tape to prove Flynn lied, which is a crime, but right now there’s an even bigger problem: the Russians probably have the tape too.

Direct download: The_Report_Part_IX-_Honest_Loyalty.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

At the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, Texas, Benjamin Wittes sat down in front of a live audience with Judge John Bates, a senior district judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Bates has served on the court since 2001, and from 2009 to 2013, he served as the presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court. Wittes and Judge Bates talked about the role of the FISA Court, its procedures and caseload, its recent prominene in the news, and how the court might respond to cases that have an overtly political context.

Direct download: Episode_456.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire appeared before the House Intelligence Committee to discuss his handling of the whistleblower complaint that alleges inappropriate conduct by the President related to his interactions with the Ukrainian government. In the hours preceding Maguire’s testimony, an unclassified copy of the complaint was released to the public. The hearing saw Democrats scrutinize Maguire’s handling of the complaint and the administration’s role in withholding it. The hearing occasionally devolved into discussions of conspiracy theories about Democrat’s motivations to investigate Trump’s conduct and the party’s ties to Ukraine. But we cut out all the unnecessary repetition and theatrics to leave you with just the questions and answers that you need to hear.

Direct download: Maguire_vs_the_Committee.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:37pm EST

The White House has released a memorandum of a July 25 call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Donald Trump. The call is at the center of the new impeachment inquiry into the president, and is reportedly also the subject of a whistleblower complaint that the Department of Justice has prevented the Acting Director of National Intelligence from sharing with congressional intelligence committees. For the second time this week, Lawfare put together a special edition podcast. Scott Anderson, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic and Margaret Taylor joined Benjamin Wittes in the Jungle Studio, while Bob Bauer, David Kris and Bob Litt called in from afar to discuss the new revelations and what this all means for the president, Congress and the impeachment inquiry.

Direct download: Emergency_Podcast_mixdown_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:36pm EST

Jack Goldsmith sat down with John Fabian Witt, professor of law at Yale Law School to talk about Witt’s new book, "To Save the Country: A Lost Treatise on Martial Law," which features a previously undiscovered manuscript written by Francis Lieber, a legal adviser to Lincoln’s White House and key thinker in the development of American laws of war. Witt explained Lieber’s impact on the development of American war-time law and talked about what the manuscript has to say about Lieber’s views of martial law and his unorthodox understanding of military necessity. The two also discussed the famous Reconstruction-era military commissions precedent Ex parte Milligan, Lieber’s anxieties about congressional power, and more.

Direct download: Episode_455.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:45pm EST

There is an evolving a standoff between the House Intelligence Committee and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence over a whistleblower complaint reportedly involving President Trump. Meanwhile, reports have emerged that Trump urged the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son during a July telephone call between the two leaders—have captured national attention in the past week. In a series of public comments, both President Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have confirmed certain aspects of Ukraine reporting. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday and will likely face questions about the whistleblower, the president’s phone call and the potential links between the two. Benjamin Wittes talked with Susan Hennessey, David Kris, Bob Litt and Margaret Taylor to try to make sense of it all.

Direct download: Whistleblower_Podcast_mixdown_update.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:07pm EST

It’s May 12, 2017. The FBI is still reeling from the sudden firing of Director James Comey. Andrew McCabe has only been the acting Director for 3 days. He’s trying to talk to Rod Rosenstein about the issue weighing on his mind: how are they going to protect the Russia investigation? The FBI is already investigating whether the president has tried to interfere with that inquiry. But the Deputy Attorney General is distracted and upset; he can’t believe the White House is making it look as if firing Comey were his idea. He says “There’s no one I can talk to. There’s no one here I can trust.”

 

McCabe urges Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel. The credibility of the FBI and DOJ are on the line; without a special counsel a firestorm threatens to destroy the nation’s storied law enforcement institutions.

 

It’s five days later—Wednesday, May 17—when McCabe sits beside Rosenstein in the basement of the United States Capitol where they’ve assembled the Gang of Eight. Then Rosenstein announces that he’s made a decision. He’s appointed a special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation and the new inquiry into the president: Robert S. Mueller III.

Direct download: Report_Part_8.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:19am EST

Josh Campbell spent twelve years in the FBI, including work as a supervisory special agent and as special assistant to FBI Director James Comey. He is now a CNN law enforcement analyst and the author of “Crossfire Hurricane: Inside Donald Trump’s War on the FBI.” David Priess sat down with Josh to discuss the mission of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, his career there, what he calls President Trump's war on the FBI, and a unique perspective on the day of Director Comey's firing.

Direct download: Episode_454.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

Tensions in the Middle East are at a high point. Over the weekend, large Saudi oil facilities were attacked. The Yemeni Houthis jumped in to claim responsibility. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran. President Trump tweets that the U.S. is 'locked and loaded' and ready for potential response. But what has actually happened in the Arabian Peninsula? What does the future hold for conflict between the Saudis and the Iranians? And what role will the United States have?

To talk it all through, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Gregory Johnsen, a researcher on Yemen and Middle East conflict; Suzanne Maloney, a Brookings senior fellow whose research centers on Iran; Samantha Gross, a fellow in the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate; and Scott R. Anderson, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and senior editor at Lawfare. They talked about what we know about what happened over the weekend, the geopolitical context for the attack, potential American responses, and the legal authorities that could justify American military action.

Direct download: Episode_453.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:13pm EST

Amid all of the legislative disfunction from Congress, a consensus of sorts is emerging on the need for privacy legislation. Between European pressure, data breaches, and scandals associated with social media manipulation by foreign actors, the idea of some kind of comprehensive privacy legislation has gone mainstream over the last couple of years.

But while people agree over the idea of privacy legislation in theory, the substance of that legislation (that is, what a privacy bill would actually do) is fiercely contested. To explore these competing visions of what we're trying to do when we talk about comprehensive privacy legislation, Benjamin Wittes moderated a live panel discussion in the Falk Auditorium at the Brookings Institution, with David Hoffman, associate general counsel and global privacy officer at Intel Corporation; Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League; Cam Kerry, distinguished visiting fellow at Brookings and former general counsel and acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Obama administration; and Lydia Parnes, partner at Wilson Sonsini, where she chairs the privacy and cybersecurity practice, and former director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the FTC.

Direct download: Episode_452.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

The lengthy August recess has come to a close, and Congress is back. We have an impeachment investigation, we have an expanded scope of that investigation, we have confrontations between the executive branch and the legislature, and we have all of the other work Congress is supposed to do—like budget issues and a National Defense Authorization Act. Molly Reynolds and Margaret Taylor sat down with Benjamin Wittes to talk about it all. They talked about what we should call the impeachment "whatever-it-is" that the House Judiciary Committee is doing, who will be forced to testify, what courts are going to rule and when, and whether any normal congressional business will get done.

Direct download: Episode_451.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:55pm EST

This summer has been a tumultuous one inside the U.S. State Department. In August, the department’s Office of the Inspector General handed down a scathing report alleging political manipulation and abusive practices inside the department’s International Organization bureau—only one of a series of similar allegations. At the same time, a number of career State Department officials ranging from assistant secretaries to the rank-and-file have resigned due to alleged complaints and disagreements with Trump administration officials and policies.

To dig into these developments and consider what they might mean for the State Department’s present and future, Scott R. Anderson spoke with reporters Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer of Foreign Policy magazine, and Lawfare’s Margaret Taylor, who is a fellow alumnus of the State Department’s Office of the Legal Advisor and former Democratic Counsel for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Direct download: Episode_450-1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:23am EST

5G telecommunications networks are beginning to be rolled out in the United States and around the world. We've heard a lot about the national security concerns posed by Chinese companies like Huawei getting a foothold in 5G networks. We're told it is important to win the race to 5G, that China is aggressively deploying 5G technology, and that the United States and the West are lagging behind. But is this the right way to think about the security challenges posed by 5G? What would it really take to deploy 5G in ways that adequately address the cybersecurity concerns posed by this new technology?

Margaret Taylor sat down with former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and Brookings scholar Tom Wheeler, to discuss these issues and his new article on why 5G requires new approaches to cybersecurity.

Direct download: Episode_449.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

It’s April 18, 2019, Attorney General Bill Barr summons reporters to the Department of Justice in Washington DC. Robert Mueller’s report is about to be released. Before the press and the public finally see the document for themselves, Barr wants a chance to tell his own version of the story it contains. But is the bottom line according to Barr the same as the bottom line according to Robert Mueller? We’ll let you decide.

Previous episodes have told the story of the factual findings of the Mueller report—what did investigators figure out about what happened? And what were the questions they couldn’t fully answer? Conducting the investigation is one part of the Special Counsel’s job: collecting evidence and assembling a record. But the investigation actually supports Mueller’s larger responsibility: he must reach a set of legal conclusions about the evidence his team has found. The Special Counsel needs to decide which parts of the story laid out in Volume One of the Report amount to prosecutable crimes.

This episode covers those decisions. Where does Mueller decide to bring charges? And when he doesn’t, is that because he thinks nothing improper or possibly criminal occurred? Or is it because he finds that the evidence just isn’t sufficient to prove things beyond a reasonable doubt? Here’s what the Mueller Report says about how the Special Counsel’s office made these decisions.

Direct download: The_Report_Ep_VII_Charging_Decisions_Definitive_Final_Copy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

Janet Napolitano served as the secretary of homeland security from 2009–2013. Before that, she was attorney general of the State of Arizona and the governor of that state. Since 2013, she has served as the president of the University of California system. More recently, she is the author of "How Safe Are We? Homeland Security Since 9/11."

David Priess spoke with Secretary Napolitano by phone to talk about the whole range of issues that Homeland Security encompasses. They talked about some of the things that she tried to do that didn't work, some of the things she did that she thinks worked pretty well, and some of the things she thinks that this administration could be doing better.

Direct download: Episode_448.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

On August 5, the Indian government announced that it was revoking “special status” for the states of Jammu and Kashmir, enshrined in Article 370 of its constitution. Since then, the government has instituted a lockdown in the Kashmir valley, hundreds of people have been detained, there have been mass protests, and tens of thousands of Indian troops have been deployed to the region. Professor Christine Fair of Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program sat down with Benjamin Wittes to discuss Article 370, its history, and the current state-of-play in the region.

Direct download: Episode_447.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:02pm EST

It’s December 29, 2016. The Obama administration announces that it’s imposing sanctions on Russia, as punishment for election interference. Michael Flynn has been tapped to become Trump’s national security advisor when the new administration takes office in January, but it’s still the transition period. Flynn is taking a few days vacation at the beach, when he sees the news. He grabs his phone and texts the transition team at Mar a Lago. He writes “Tit for tat with Russia not good” and says that the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak is reaching out to him today. Flynn calls Kislyak and asks that Russia not escalate in response to the sanctions. Apparently, it works. The next day, in a surprise move, Putin says that Russia won’t retaliate. Trump tweets, “Great move on delay (by V. Putin). I always knew he was very smart.”

In the sixth episode, we tell the stories of Russian policy outreach to the Trump campaign, a story that begins during the campaign and accelerates after Trump unexpectedly wins the presidency in November 2016. The story of the Russian efforts to reset relations with the incoming administration begins with a policy speech Trump delivers at a hotel in Washington D.C.; it runs through a resort at a remote island in the Indian Ocean; it runs through the U.N. Security Council, Mar a Lago and the Dominican Republic, and it ends with the president’s national security adviser resigning in disgrace.

Direct download: Ep_6_The_report.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:33pm EST

In a recent white paper, the organization Protect Democracy makes the case that President Trump has used the powers of the presidency, federal resources, and intimidating rhetoric to manipulate election outcomes in the United States. The paper argues that the answer to this behavior is congressional action and offers recommendations for legislation on six issues ranging from preventing voter intimidation to requiring campaigns to disclose offers of financial assistance. Jessica Marsden, counsel for Protect Democracy, sat down to discuss it all with Benjamin Wittes.

Direct download: Episode_446.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:05am EST

David Priess sat down with Michael Desch, Professor of International Relations at the University of Notre Dame and the director of the Notre Dame International Security Center, to discuss Michael's new book, "Cult of the Irrelevant: The Waning Influence of Social Science on National Security." They discussed the different roles of social science in the policymaking process and the value of academic scholarship for policymakers. They also talked about the history of the relationship between the national security community and academia and about how to bridge the gap between these two worlds.

Direct download: Episode_445.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:11pm EST

It’s the morning of April 25, 2016. At a hotel in London, a Maltese professor meets with a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. The two have been in touch over the past few weeks; the professor has been helping the young man connect with Russian officials. Now, over breakfast, the professor lets him in on a secret. On a recent trip to Moscow, high-level government officials told him that the Russians have “dirt” on Trump’s opponent. What was the “dirt” in question? “Emails,” he says. They have “have thousands of emails.”

This is the fifth episode of our narrative audio documentary, The Report, which tells the story Robert S. Mueller lays out in his famous 448-page document. This is the story of three men associated with the Trump campaign: George Papadopoulos, Carter Page and Paul Manafort.

Direct download: 1565960982080-da633b8f2c537163d86a0cf9cacaf7d8.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:47pm EST

Andrew Beck Grace and Chip Brantley are the creators of the NPR podcast audio documentary White Lies, which deals with the murder of Rev. James Reeb in Selma, Alabama, during the Civil Rights Era. The podcast is an incredible historical investigation of an episode that many people had forgotten, and resonates remarkably in contemporary discussions of domestic terrorism, white supremacist violence, and many other things we're still talking about today.

Benjamin Wittes talked with Andrew and Chip about how to tell the story of a murder that happened a long time ago, the FBI's role in investigating the crime at the time (what they did badly, and what they did right), and what it all says about terrorism today.

Direct download: Episode_444.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

Sasha O'Connell is Executive in Residence in the School of Public Affairs at American University, as well as AU's director of the Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy Masters program. She also had a long career at the FBI where she served in a variety of strategic management positions. She was basically the FBI's Chief Strategy Officer.

She joined Ben Wittes in the Jungle Studio to talk about what it takes to turn a ship like the FBI when it comes to issues like IT, technology, and investigative focus—like changing an organization to focus on terrorism and then noticing that you also have to focus on cybersecurity. And they talked about how to make an organization like the FBI think about recruiting diversity.

Direct download: Episode_443.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:07pm EST

The fourth episode of Lawfare’s narrative audio documentary, The Report, which tells the story Robert S. Mueller lays out in his famous 448-page document. 

This is the story of two Trump Towers, one in Moscow and one in New York. While Donald Trump was assuring Americans that he had no business in Russia, Mueller describes how he was simultaneously endeavoring to build a skyscraper with his name on it in Russia’s capital. And he describes as well the now infamous Trump Tower meeting in Manhattan, where Russians offered to give the candidate “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

Episode 1 covers the Russian social media campaign and the activities of the Internet Research Agency. Episode 2 focuses on the Russian hacking operation; the stealing of documents and emails from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and figures associated with the Clinton campaign; and the leaks of the stolen materials timed to affect the U.S. election. The second episode tells the story of the GRU operations, the Russian attempts to cover their tracks, and the involvement of Wikileaks and Julian Assange. Episode 3 covers the Trump campaign’s involvement in the distribution of hacked materials. 

In the fourth episode, we take on two aspects of Volume I of the Mueller report that both involve Trump Towers. The first is the ill-starred effort to build a Trump Tower Moscow, which began long before the campaign and continued—notwithstanding repeated statements to the contrary by the candidate, his family, and hist campaign—through the spring of 2016. The second is the so-called Trump Tower meeting in July 2016, when a group of Russians met with Trump campaign officials offering “dirt” on Hillary Clinton—and the campaign welcomed them.

This episode features Anthony Cormier, Jason Leopold, Julia Ioffe and Quinta Jurecic.

We continue to be delighted by the reception to this podcast series. We hope people continue to engage at such a high level with the material we putting together. Please continue to subscribe, rate, and share it widely.

We are grateful to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Democracy Fund for their support for this project. If you want to support work of this type at Lawfare, please consider becoming a monthly donor by clicking here:

Support Lawfare

Direct download: 1565356476675-17510f4850040460f5124f27f9557e5c.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

The United Kingdom has a new Prime Minister. It also has a looming cliff it is careening toward and about to leap off of on Halloween of this year.

This week, Benjamin Wittes sat down with his Brookings colleague Amanda Sloat to talk about all things Brexit. They talked about the new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (and his hair), and his views on Brexit. They compared him to his American counterpart (and his hair). They talked about the deadlock between Britain and the European Union. And they talked about the way the Brexit debate plays out in American politics.

Direct download: Episode_442.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

Over the years, presidents have used different language to describe the withholding of information from Congress. To discuss the concept of "executive privilege," Margaret Taylor sat down with Mark Rozell, the Dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, and the author of "Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy and Accountability," which chronicles the history of the executive privilege in its many forms since the founding of the United States. They talked about what executive privilege is, what is new in the Trump administration's handling of congressional demands for information, and what it all means for the separation of powers in our constitutional democracy.

Direct download: Episode_441.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:17pm EST

While Trump campaign officials engaged with the Russian social media manipulation operation as unwitting dupes, the story of the Trump campaign’s involvement with the GRU email hacking operation is more complicated.

Episode three is entitled "The Campaign and the Leaks." It covers the Trump campaign involvement in the distribution of hacked materials. No American took part in the actual Russian hacking of Democratic emails, but when it came to actually releasing the stolen emails, the story is more complicated. First, the Trump campaign and associates had a number of direct and indirect interactions with Wikileaks about releases of stolen materials. And second, in what may be the most bizarre escapade of the entire Mueller report, the Trump campaign, including Trump himself, set out on a wild goose chase to get probably-fake Clinton emails from probably fake Russian hackers—even as real Russian hackers were busily releasing real Clinton campaign emails.

In this episode we also tackle a section of Mueller’s report that is largely redacted in order o prevent harm to the ongoing prosecution of Roger Stone. As listeners will see, a great deal of what is behind those redactions can be gleaned from court filings in the Stone case, as well as from the special counsel’s draft plea agreement which Jerome Corsi declined to agree to and instead publicly leaked. 

This episode features Shane Harris, Julia Ioffe, Quinta Jurecic, Mark Mazetti and Matt Tait.

We are grateful to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Democracy Fund for their support for this project. If you want to support work of this type at Lawfare, please consider becoming a monthly donor by clicking here:

Support Lawfare

Direct download: The_Report_Ep_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

Mary Ann Glendon is the chair of the Commission on Unalienable Rights, announced by Secretary Pompeo on July 8, 2019, to great controversy. The commission was charged with examining the bases of human rights claims and the extent to which they are or are not rooted in the American rights tradition. The response of the human rights community was swift and fierce, with a lot of skepticism, a lot of anger, and a lot of criticism.

Mary Ann Glendon, the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, sat down with Jack Goldsmith to discuss the commission, what it is and isn't looking at, and why examining the root bases of human rights claims is a worthwhile endeavor for a State Department commission.

Direct download: Episode_440.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

Few nations have a history with the United States that is as complicated as that of the Republic of Iraq. Today, several factors, including the Trump administration's campaign of maximum pressure against Iraq's neighbor Iran, are putting entirely new pressures on this relationship, one that many believe remains essential to maintaining regional security.

To help examine these dynamics and what they might mean, Scott R. Anderson spoke with Ambassador Douglas A. Silliman, the new president of The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, who from 2016 to early 2019 served as the United States ambassador in Baghdad.

Direct download: Episode_439.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:37pm EST

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Central Intelligence Agency had a major problem. The streets of Moscow were a virtually impossible operating environment due to heavy KGB surveillance and other operational difficulties. Through a series of trial and error, and a whole lot of ingenuity, along came the "Moscow rules," a series of technical advancements in the area of disguise and communications technology, and some different operating tradecraft that allowed CIA case officers to get the information they needed from Soviet sources to help the Cold War stay cold.

Jonna Mendez is a former CIA Chief of Disguise, who is also a specialist in clandestine photography. Her 27-year career, for which she earned the CIA's Intelligence Commendation Medal, included operational disguise responsibilities in the most hostile theaters of the Cold War, including Moscow, and also took her into the Oval Office. She is the co-author, with her late husband Tony Mendez, of "The Moscow Rules: The Secret CIA Tactics that Helped America Win the Cold War." David Priess spoke with Jonna about the experiences that she and her husband had at CIA, evolving the Moscow Rules, and applying these new disguises and technologies in the service of national security.

Direct download: Episode_438.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

Last week, we released the first episode of this narrative audio documentary, which tells the story Robert S. Mueller lays out in his famous 448 page document. This week, Mueller testified before the House of Representatives in what many people hoped would be hearings that brought the document to life. Whatever role Mueller’s testimony may or may not have played in that regard, we are pleased to bring you the second episode of our effort to bring the Mueller Report into narrative form.

Episode 2 focuses on the Russian hacking operation, the stealing of documents and emails from the DNC, DCCC and figures associated with the Clinton campaign, and the leaks of the stolen materials timed to impact the US election. The episode tells the story of the GRU operations, the Russian attempts to cover their tracks, and the involvement of Wikileaks and Julian Assange.

It features Thomas Rid, Ben Buchanan, and Laura Rosenberger.

We are grateful to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Democracy Fund for their support for this project. 

Direct download: The_Report_Ep_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:20am EST

On Wednesday, former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. There was plenty of repetition and plenty of pontification. So we cut all that out to just bring you the testimony that you need to hear. Not only that, but—in both committees—the Democratic and Republican members advanced very different narratives about the Mueller report and investigation. Listening to the questions alternate between the two sides almost gave the audience a sense of whiplash. So we’ve done something a little different for this “No Bull” Podcast, we’ve combined all of the Democratic no-bull questions into one segment and the Republican no-bull questions into another. 

So here are the Democratic members of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees questioning Robert Mueller. 

Direct download: Mueller_Democrats_mixdown_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:40pm EST

On Wednesday, former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. There was plenty of repetition and plenty of pontification. So we cut all that out to just bring you the testimony that you need to hear. Not only that, but—in both committees—the Democratic and Republican members advanced very different narratives about the Mueller report and investigation. Listening to the questions alternate between the two sides almost gave the audience a sense of whiplash. So we’ve done something a little different for this “No Bull” Podcast, we’ve combined all of the Democratic no-bull questions into one segment and the Republican no-bull questions into another. 

So here are the Republican members of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees questioning Robert Mueller. 

Editor’s Note: During Rep. Martha Roby’s questioning, there are four seconds of audio missing due to a technical error in the House of Representatives recording. 

Direct download: Mueller_Republicans_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:32pm EST

Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III testified on Wednesday before the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. Following the hearing, Lawfare brought together Jim Baker, Bob Bauer, Susan Hennessey and Margaret Taylor for a conversation hosted by Benjamin Wittes. They talked about the testimony, what it means for Congress, and President Trump, and they talked about Mueller’s legacy as he leaves the scene.

Direct download: MuellerTestimony_Cast_mixdown_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:49pm EST

Finally, this week, former FBI director Robert Swan Mueller III will testify in front of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees about the findings from his work as Special Counsel investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election as well as any coordination or links between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. To preview this testimony, David Priess spoke with Molly Reynolds, Margaret Taylor, and Benjamin Wittes.

Direct download: Episode_437.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:53pm EST

Jack Goldsmith sat down in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to have a conversation with former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. They talked about Carter's time as head of the Pentagon, the challenges of conveying national security threats to the American public, the Obama administration's response to the rise of the Islamic State, offensive cyber operations, and the role of lawyers in defense policy. They also discussed Carter's new book, "Inside the Five-Sided Box: Lessons from a Lifetime of Leadership in the Pentagon."

Direct download: Episode_436.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

For the past several weeks, a group of us has been working on a project to tell the story of the Mueller Report in an accessible form. The Mueller Report tells a heck of a story, a bunch of incredible stories, actually. But it does so in a form that’s hard for a lot of people to take in. It’s very long. It’s legally dense in spots. It’s marred with redactions. It’s also, shall we say, not optimized for your reading pleasure.

Various folks have made efforts to make the document easier to consume: the report is now an audiobook; it’s been staged as a play; there have been live readings. We took a different approach: a serialized narrative podcast.

The extended network of writers, experts, lawyers, and journalists around Lawfare represents a unique body of expertise in the public conversation of the issues discussed in the report. So we teamed up with Goat Rodeo, a podcast production group in Washington, to use that group of people as a lens through which to tell the story contained in the report. The first episode, entitled “Active Measures,” is now out and covers the Russian social media campaign and the activities of the Internet Research Agency.

It features Alina Polyakova, Clint Watts, John Sipher, and Thomas Rid.

Direct download: Part_I.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:48am EST

Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, has spent the last forty years studying democracy. Over the last few years, he’s observed democratic values begin to crumble to political pressure, while authoritarianism is on the rise. Diamond sat down with Benjamin Wittes to discuss his latest book “Ill Winds: Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency,” in which he charts the rise of illiberal leaders across six continents, including our own; the growing influence of China and Russia; and how the election of Donald Trump has affected all of this. Diamond argues that, to curb rising despotism, the United States must reclaim its role as an ardent defender of global democracy. To lighten the conversation a bit, they also discussed places where democratic values have seen a resurgence.

Direct download: Episode_435_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:15pm EST

Our friends from the National Security Institute at George Mason University stopped by earlier this week for their 3rd edition of Faultlines, to discuss a slew of U.S. foreign policy challenges. Lester Munson, Jodi Herman, and Dana Stroul, all former Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffers, as well as Matthew Heiman, an NSI senior fellow and experienced international and national security attorney, talked about Iran, the G20, North Korea, and what other U.S. foreign policy issues they are watching.

Direct download: Episode_434.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

President Trump has declared that he will fight “all the subpoenas” coming from Congress and has claimed “absolute immunity” for White House advisors. In doing so, he has brought the issue of congressional oversight of the executive branch to the front pages.

To talk about that very issue, Margaret Taylor sat down with Austin Evers, the executive director of American Oversight, a non-profit government accountability watchdog; and Michael Stern, who served for many years as the Senior Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives. Stern is the founder of the Point of Order blog, which covers legal issues affecting Congress. They talked about pending oversight litigation, the House of Representatives’ strategy, how the Trump administration is responding, and if any of this is normal.

Direct download: Episode_433.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:16pm EST

Benjamin Wittes sat down with Dan Byman, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center for Middle East Studies and Lawfare's foreign policy editor, to discuss his new book, "Road Warriors: Foreign Fighters in the Armies of Jihad." Recent terrorist attacks perpetrated by foreign fighters of the Islamic State have highlighted the urgent need to address this phenomenon. In his book, Byman traces the history of the jihadist foreign fighter movement, beginning with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, through the wars in Chechnya and Bosnia, its role in terrorism throughout the 1990s, 9/11, and the wars since. The book also discusses how the United States and European nations have worked to counter the effects of this movement, and how states might combat the problem of foreign fighters moving forward.

Direct download: Episode_432.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

Early this week, about 200 protestors broke into and occupied the seat of Hong Kong's legislative assembly. The protests began with a controversial law about extradition to mainland China. That law was withdrawn but the protestors remain. There are hundreds of thousands of them—a small number of them violent.

Today we ask: WTF, Hong Kong? To answer that question, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Alvin Cheung, an expert on Hong Kong's legal system based at New York University, and Sophia Yan, the China correspondent for The Telegraph in London who has been covering the Hong Kong protests (Lawfare Podcast listeners also know her for her musical prowess). They talked about where Hong Kong is now, what's really behind the demonstrations, where the anger is coming from, and where it's all going.

Direct download: Episode_431.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:32pm EST

We don't usually do humor on The Lawfare Podcast, but this week, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Mike Chase, whom you probably know better on Twitter as @CrimeADay, the long-time anonymous Twitter feed that tweets out one fact pattern a day that violates some combination of the criminal law and the code of federal regulations.

Mike has now outed himself, and he has a new book: "How to Become a Federal Criminal: An Illustrated Handbook for the Aspiring Offender." Ben and Mike chatted about the super wacky laws and wacky fact patterns in the book, the Twitter feed, and all those national security crimes you never knew you were violating.

Direct download: Episode_430.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

Benjamin Wittes sat down with Mike O'Hanlon who writes on military affairs and foreign policy, and has been a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution for a long time. His latest book is "The Senkaku Paradox: Risking Great Power War Over Small Stakes." The title says it all. It's about the places in the world that are the potentially most explosive flashpoints over the least important U.S. interests. It's about the places in the world where we are treaty-bound to go to war to protect trivia. And, it's about thinking creatively about how to handle low-stakes questions in a high-stakes world.

Direct download: Episode_429.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:17pm EST

Errol Morris is a celebrated documentarian whose films have covered an array of topics in law and national security. They include "The Fog of War," which won an Oscar for its account of Robert McNamara's role in and lessons from the Vietnam War, and "The Unknown Known," which told the story of the political career of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Morris most recently directed "American Dharma," a documentary profile of former Trump strategist Steve Bannon. Earlier this year, Morris sat down with Jack Goldsmith for a conversation about those three films.

They talked about what interested Morris about McNamara, Rumsfeld, and Bannon; why Morris believed each of them agreed to be interviewed by him; and much more.

Direct download: Episode_428.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

It's getting ugly in the Persian Gulf: Iran allegedly attacks two oil tankers. It announces that it's going to violate the JCPOA, the so-called Iran nuclear agreement. There's talk of military strikes. Europe is edgy, and the Secretary of State is on Sunday talk shows being edgier still.

Benjamin Wittes sat down with Suzanne Maloney and Scott R. Anderson to talk it all through. They talked about whether the AUMF covers Iran, why Iran is doing this stuff, whether the Trump administration brought this all on itself, and where it's all going from here.

Direct download: Episode_427.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:45pm EST

Russian and Chinese leaders understand that they’re unlikely to win a shooting war with the United States, but they have other ways to challenge Western interests, turning our greatest strengths—open societies, dominance of technology on Earth and in space, and military innovation—into weaknesses.

CNN anchor and chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto calls it “the shadow war,” and it’s the subject of his new book of the same name. David Priess sat down with Jim to talk about these asymmetric threats to national security, and what the United States and its allies can do to fight back.

Direct download: Episode_426.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

More than two years after the 2016 presidential election, new information continues to seep into the public about the extent of Russia's sweeping and systematic efforts to interfere in the U.S. democratic process. With the 2020 presidential election on the horizon, last week, Stanford's Cyber Policy Center published a report on securing American elections, including recommendations on how the U.S. can protect elections and election infrastructure from foreign actors.

On Monday, Susan Hennessey spoke with two of the report's authors: Alex Stamos, director of the Stanford Cyber Policy Center's Internet Observatory and former Chief Security Officer of Facebook, and Nate Persily, Stanford law professor and expert on election administration. They talked about what happened in 2016, and the enormously complex landscape of defending not just election infrastructure but also preserving the integrity of the information ecosystems in which Americans make their decisions about how to vote, including the possible consequences of regulating foreign media.

Direct download: Episode_425.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:16pm EST

In this episode of the special Culper Partners Rule of Law Series, David Kris and Nate Jones speak with John Bellinger.

John is one of the country's foremost experts in international law. His career has included the private practice of law and more than a decade in the federal government, as both a career official and a political appointee. From 2001–2005, John served in the White House under George W. Bush as legal advisor to the National Security Council and as senior associate counsel to the president. From 2005–2009, he served as a legal advisor to the Department of State, and in 2009, he returned to private practice at Arnold & Porter, where he heads the firm's public international law practice.

In his remarks, John expresses a profound anguish over assaults on the rules-based international order. We in the United States largely built this system, and we have benefitted enormously from it—some critics would say we've benefitted too much. And now we are tearing it down, to the delight of Russian President Putin and authoritarian leaders worldwide. It's a sobering conversation with one of America's foremost international lawyers.

Direct download: Episode_424.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

In movies and TV shows like Zero Dark Thirty and Homeland, Hollywood has fictionalized the roles of intelligence officers in tracking down terrorists. But the truth is often filled with personal and political challenges beyond those that screenwriters imagine. Nada Bakos worked in several jobs at the CIA, including as a targeting officer focusing on the founder of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In her new book, 'The Targeter,' she describes the experiences and challenges she faced along the way.

Last week, David Priess got on the phone with Nada to talk about what a CIA targeting officer does, what it was like interrogating detainees in Iraq, and the difficulties she encountered in getting her book to print.

Direct download: Episode_423.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:05pm EST

The U.S. intelligence community is, by design, shrouded in secret, but it is ultimately responsible to the public. So how do intelligence agencies balance competing interests in protecting privacy and civil liberties, ensuring transparency and accountability, and safeguarding the country’s most sensitive secrets? To shed light on the subject, on Friday, Brookings hosted a conversation between Ben Huebner, Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer at the CIA, and Brookings Federal Executive Fellow Ryan Trapani, who previously served as a spokesman for the agency, who discussed how the CIA handles that dynamic. They talked about the job of the CIA’s privacy and civil liberties officers; the legal and regulatory regime that governs how the agency collects, handles, and uses data; and the privacy and security considerations that agency employees manage every day.

Direct download: Episode_422.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

Susan Hennessey hosts Quinta Jurecic, David Kris, Paul Rosenzweig and Benjamin Wittes to discuss (now former) Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Wednesday press conference and what comes next.

Direct download: mueller_statement_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:57pm EST

From the Washington Post’s February report that U.S. Cyber Command took a Russian disinformation operation offline on the day of the 2018 midterms to fight election interference, to the Pentagon’s announcement last year that it would take more active measures to challenge adversaries in cyberspace, recent news about cyber operations suggests they are playing an increasingly important role in geopolitics. So how should the public understand how the United States deploys its cyber tools to achieve its goals? To help answer that question, last month at the 2019 Verify Conference, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation hosted a panel discussion featuring former CIA Deputy Director Avril Haines, former Pentagon chief of staff Eric Rosenbach, and New York Times national security correspondent David Sanger. They talked about how the U.S. projects power in cyberspace, the difficulties of developing norms to govern state behavior in that domain, and more.

Direct download: Episode_421.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:17pm EST

Our friends from the National Security Institute at George Mason University stopped by earlier this week to discuss U.S.-China relations. Lester Munson, Jodi Herman, Jameel Jaffer, and Dana Stroul, former Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffers who collaborated and sometimes competed with one another on the Committee, had a lively discussion about Huawei, cyber and tech security, the South China sea, and Uighur internment.

Direct download: Episode_420.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

Chuck Rosenberg is a former U.S. Attorney, former senior FBI official, and the former acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. He is now an analyst with NBC News and MSNBC. He also has a podcast with MSNBC called The Oath with Chuck Rosenberg. The podcast draws its name from the Oath of Office, which many public servants take upon their entry into government service.

In the podcast, Chuck speaks with other former government officials about their careers, pivotal moments they witnessed in history, and what drew them to public service. He sat down with Benjamin Wittes this week to discuss his podcast, his career in government service, and his thoughts on the Oath of Office.

Direct download: Episode_419.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:08pm EST

Christine Fair is an expert on South Asian politics and extremist groups, and it's been a bad few weeks in Sri Lanka. A major terrorist attack, the largest since 9/11, hit multiple locations targeting Christians on Easter morning. The violence was different from the usual terrorism that rocks Sri Lanka from time to time, and Benjamin Wittes asked Christine to come in and talk us through it.

What's going on in the island nation? How does it map onto the history of ethnic tensions between Tamils and Sinhalese? And what does it mean for the future of Muslim extremism in South Asia?

Direct download: Episode_418.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

Jared Cohen is the founder and CEO of Jigsaw and Alphabet Inc., who previously ran Google Ideas and served as a member of the Secretary of State's policy planning staff and as an advisor to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. He is also the author of a new book on the presidency called, "Accidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America." It describes the times in American history when a president has died in office, forcing eight other men, who are neither the voters' nor their party's choice, to confront unparalleled challenges. David Priess spoke with Jared recently about their stories and the lessons we can learn from their experiences.

Direct download: Episode_417.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:21pm EST

The Mueller report is out, all 448 pages of it, and its first volume tells a detailed story of Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The report recounts the Internet Research Agency’s trolling and disinformation campaign. It explains the GRU’s hacking and email dissemination operation. And it details 100 pages of interactions between Trump campaign affiliates and Russian nationals. To better understand whether and to what extent the public should understand those interactions as part of a deliberate Russian operation to make contact with the Trump campaign, earlier this week, Benjamin Wittes spoke to John Sipher, who ran Russia operations for the CIA in Moscow. They talked about how Sipher read the Mueller report, the respective roles of the CIA and the FBI in counterintelligence investigations and operations, and whether an investigation like Mueller’s really had a chance of understanding the full scope of Russia’s intentions and activities in the 2016 election.

Direct download: Episode_416.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EST

On May 10, the Brookings Institution hosted a public conversation between former FBI General Counsel Jim Baker, who is now the Director of National Security and Cybersecurity at the R Street Institute, and Brookings Senior Fellow Benjamin Wittes. The conversation was recorded live as a Bonus Edition of the Lawfare Podcast. The conversation covered how the FBI thought about the Russia investigation in those fateful months both before and after the president fired FBI Director James Comey. How did the president’s conduct toward the bureau impact the institution? How does it affect career public servants like Baker? And how does Baker feel now about the president and his conduct after reading the Mueller report?

Direct download: Jim_Baker_Podcast_4_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:07pm EST

In this sixth episode of the special Culper Partners Rule of Law Series, David Kris and Nate Jones speak with former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick.

Jamie has had a career spanning the legal, policy, and corporate worlds, in and out of government. Currently a partner at WilmerHale, she has represented corporations and individuals in a wide array of matters, particularly in the regulatory and enforcement arenas. In government, she was one of the longest serving Deputy Attorneys General of the United States. Prior to that, she was the General Counsel at the Department of Defense. She serves and has served on numerous government boards and commissions, including the Defense Policy Board, and she was a member of the 9/11 Commission.

Jamie speaks with David and Nate about her years of experience as a lawyer in government and the private sector. She talks about the shame of current attacks on the rule of law and prosecutorial independence, her self-described "hawkish" views on when it's appropriate for the news media to publish classified information, and she describes a time when she was involved in a major dispute involving whether and to what extent the FBI should brief the White House on efforts by a foreign government to influence U.S. elections.

Direct download: Episode_415.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:04pm EST

On April 23, the Hoover Institution hosted the latest iteration of the Security by the Book series, where Jack Goldsmith interviewed Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman about their new book, “Of Privacy and Power, The Transatlantic Struggle Over Freedom and Security.” They talked about how the relationship between Europe and U.S. has changed in response to regulations and other government action in the security and privacy spheres on both sides of the Atlantic.

Direct download: sbtb_privacy_and_power_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:11pm EST

Bill Galston, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and domestic policy advisor in the Clinton White House, wrote his column this week in the Wall Street Journal arguing against impeachment in a fashion that sharply diverges from arguments made by others on Lawfare. He argues that polling data shows that an impeachment inquiry would be an irresponsible direction for anyone hoping to remove Trump from office. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Bill to discuss his column, as well as his recent book, "Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy." 

They talked about populism as an international and domestic phenomenon, the role of economics and identity in driving populism internationally, and whether populisms of the left and right are symmetric issues or whether they present different ones.

Direct download: Episode_414.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:24am EST

Attorney General Bill Barr appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to discuss the Mueller report and the Justice Department’s wider efforts to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. The evening before the testimony, multiple outlets reported that Mueller had sent Barr a letter expressing concerns that the attorney general’s summary of the report’s conclusions “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the special counsel’s work. The hearing became contentious, and covered a wide array of topics ranging from Barr’s conduct to the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But we cut out all the unnecessary repetition and theatrics to leave you with just the questions and answers that you need to hear.
 
It's the Lawfare Podcast, Bonus Edition: Barr vs. the Committee with No Bull.
Direct download: Bill20Barr202_01volumemodified.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:39am EST

On January 17, 2019, BuzzFeed News reported a blockbuster. The headline reads, President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project. It was a remarkable story, and within 24 hours of its publication, the Special Counsel's office had issued an unprecedented statement taking issue with it and describing unspecified components of it as "inaccurate." It wasn't clear at the time what parts of the story were inaccurate and how much of it was true, but in light of the actual Mueller report, we can now identify the parts of the story that had problems and the parts that did not.

The two reporters who wrote the story, Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold, joined Benjamin Wittes by phone to do a kind of after-action report on the story. They discussed how they came to report what they reported, what parts of the story they stand by, what parts they think they messed up on, how the story was sourced, and what the discrepancy between the story and the Mueller report tells us about the conduct of Donald Trump.

Direct download: Episode_413.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:31pm EST

The action has shifted to Congress, the Mueller report is filed, and a blizzard of subpoena fights between the White House and various congressional committees is already underway. The president has sued a committee chairman, there's a question about whether Don McGahn will testify or whether the White House will exert executive privilege over it, and looming over it all is the question of how congressional Democrats and Republicans are thinking about impeachment.

Molly Reynolds and Margaret Taylor joined Benjamin Wittes in the jungle studio to focus on all things Congress. They talked about subpoenas, lawsuits, impeachment, and even the much-forgotten 'inherent contempt' power of Congress.

Direct download: Episode_412.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EST

On April 23, Benjamin Wittes hosted a panel discussion at the Brookings Institution unpacking what we learned from the redacted version of the Mueller report. The panel featured Susan Hennessey, Chuck Rosenberg and Margaret Taylor. They discussed the factual record Mueller established on Russian interference and collusion, whether the president's conduct constitutes obstruction of justice and how Congress and the American people might react to the report. The full audio of the event is available here. 

Direct download: Brookings_Mueller_Event_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:05pm EST

Michael Anton, former Trump administration national security official and a research fellow at Hillsdale College, has published an essay in Foreign Policy explaining what he calls the 'Trump Doctrine' on foreign policy. Recently Anton sat down with Jack Goldsmith to discuss the new article and the philosophy behind Trump's foreign policy, particularly with respect to liberal internationalism and international institutions.

They discussed the administration's foreign policy successes and failures, how it's similar to and different from prior administrations in substance and in rhetoric, and whether the president's style and aversion to diplomatic norms inhibits the substance of his foreign policy.

Direct download: Episode_411.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:12pm EST

In this fifth episode of the special Culper Partners Rule of Law Series, David Kris and Nate Jones speak with former senior White House and DOJ official Ron Klain.

Ron has served his country repeatedly, including in senior positions at the highest levels of all three branches of government. He has served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Byron White, Chief Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chief of Staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, and in that role, also served as a senior advisor to Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. He has worked on seven presidential campaigns, including the 2000 election between George W. Bush and then-Vice President Al Gore. Today, among other things, he is an adjunct professor at both Georgetown University and Harvard Law School.

Ron takes us on a trip down memory lane to discuss the hotly contested 2000 election, and in doing so, he shares his perspective on why he thinks the Supreme Court's decision departed from the rule of law. Ron also worries that our democracy is caught in a symbiotic downward spiral together with the rule of law. From active measures being deployed by foreign adversaries, to partisan political efforts to rig the system, Ron is concerned about the future.

Direct download: Episode_410.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:25am EST

A redacted version of the 448-page Mueller report dropped yesterday, and there’s a lot to say about it. In this Special Edition of the Lawfare Podcast, Bob Bauer, Susan Hennessey, Mary McCord, Paul Rosenzweig, Charlie Savage and Benjamin Wittes discuss what the report says about obstruction and collusion, Mueller’s legal theories and what this all means for the president and the presidency.

Direct download: update_Special_Edition_Mueller_Report_20190419T174332.381451_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:43pm EST

The Justice Department released on Thursday morning a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. The Mueller team divided the report into two volumes: one on Russian interference and potential coordination with the Trump campaign, and the other exploring the president’s conduct in relation to the investigation. Each volume features its own executive summary, chronicling the investigation’s central findings and conclusions. On this special edition episode of the Lawfare Podcast Benjamin Wittes reads those executive summaries in full. It’s a Mueller Report instant audio-book.

Direct download: Mueller_Report_Summary_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:36pm EST

Since November, Lawfare Contributor Michelle Melton has run a series on our website about Climate Change and National Security, examining the implication of the threat as well as U.S. and international responses to climate change. Melton is a student a Harvard Law school. Prior to that she was an associate fellow in the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where she focused on climate policy.

She and Benjamin Wittes sat down last week to discuss the series. They talked about why we should think about climate change as a national security threat, the challenges of viewing climate change through this paradigm, the long-standing relationship between climate change and the U.S. national security apparatus, and how climate change may affect global migration.

Direct download: Episode_409.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:38pm EST

Julian Mortenson, Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, is the author of a remarkable new article entitled "Article II Vests Executive Power, Not the Royal Prerogative," forthcoming in the Columbia Law Review, and available on SSRN. 

Recently, Benjamin Wittes spoke with the professor about the article, which Mortenson has been working on for years—as long as the two have known each other. The article explores the history of exactly three words of the U.S. Constitution—the first three words of Article II, to be precise: "the executive power."

Huge claims about presidential power have rested on a conventional understanding of these three words. Julian argues that this conventional understanding is not just partially wrong, or mostly wrong, but completely wrong, as a matter of history. And, he tries to supplant it with a new understanding that he argues is actually a very old understanding of what those words mean.

Thanks to our sponsor Blinkist. Get your 7-day free trial at blinkist.com/lawfare.

Direct download: Episode_408.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01am EST

On Thursday morning, Susan Hennessey spoke to former FBI director James Comey about encryption, China, Attorney General Bill Barr's comments to the Senate about the opening of the Russia investigation, and more.

Direct download: comey_verify_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:05pm EST

Attorney General Bill Barr announced on Wednesday, April 10, that the Mueller report will be released next week. While we wait for the release, Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes have written a "Memo to the Press: How Not to Screw Up on the Mueller Report." Jurecic and Wittes argue that the press got lost in the confusion of Barr's letter to Congress announcing the special counsel's top-line conclusions, and they offer nine principles for how to "[do] better the second time." You can listen to Quinta Jurecic read that article in the latest edition of the Lawfare Podcast Shorts

Direct download: Memo_to_the_Press_Podcast_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:16pm EST

Our friends at the National Security Institute at George Mason University came over last week to have a discussion in our podcast studio about Yemen and the U.S.-Saudi alliance. Four former Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffers who worked with and sometimes at odds with each other participated. The conversation was moderated by Lester Munson, former Staff Director of the Committee under Chairman Bob Corker, and it included Jodi Herman, former Staff Director of the Committee under Ranking Member Ben Cardin; Jamil Jaffer, Founder and Executive Director of the National Security Institute and former Chief Counsel and Senior Advisor with the Committee under Chairman Bob Corker; and Dana Stroul, former Democratic senior staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the Middle East.

Direct download: Episode_407.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:11pm EST

In this fourth episode of the special Culper Partners Rule of Law series, David Kris and Nate Jones speak with former White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler.

Prior to her White House service, Kathy served as the Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, DC, and on the Enron task force. Earlier in her career, Kathy was an Associate Counsel to President Bill Clinton, where she defended the White House and the Office of the President in independent counsel and congressional investigations.

Kathy spoke with David and Nate about her service as President Obama's White House Counsel and how her experience at the Department of Justice instilled in her a deep respect for the rule of law, including limits on interactions between the White House and DOJ concerning particular investigations and other matters. She has grave concerns about the inherent conflict facing President Trump's subordinates, who must remain faithful to the rule of law while trying to carry out the legitimate policy goals of the elected president. She is not optimistic that this can be done, and she raises the question of whether those who remain have compromised to the point of enabling the president's misconduct.

Direct download: Episode_406.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:31pm EST

Back in February, we hosted Bill Harlow and Marie Harf, two former public affairs officers at the Central Intelligence Agency, to discuss how the CIA interacts with reporters on sensitive national security topics. For this episode, we thought it only fair to turn that around and also talk about how it's seen on the other side.

Mary Louise Kelly is a voice familiar to many as an anchor of All Things Considered on NPR. She previously spent a decade as national security and intelligence correspondent for NPR News after working for CNN and the BBC. Shane Harris, in addition to co-hosting the Rational Security podcast, now covers intelligence and national security for The Washington Post, after writing about the same for outlets like The Wall Street Journal, Daily Beast, and National Journal.

David Priess recently sat down with Mary Louise and Shane to discuss the challenges of covering national security, to address myths about the intelligence beat, and, unsuccessfully, to uncover their sources.

Direct download: Episode_405.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:49pm EST

There's a special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, but with Brexit and the erratic presidency of Donald Trump, it hasn't exactly been business as usual between the two countries. Or has it?

British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch, sat down with Benjamin Wittes last week to talk about the alliance, particularly in moments of uncertainty for both countries. They talked briefly about Brexit, but they mostly discussed other key areas of mutual cooperation, like counterterrorism in the Middle East, countering Russian aggression, and what to do about a rising China.

Thanks to our sponsor Blinkist. Get your 7-day free trial at blinkist.com/lawfare

Direct download: Episode_404.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:29pm EST