The Lawfare Podcast (general)

Saudi Arabia continues to be a mainstay of newspaper headlines, whether it be for its oil price war with Russia or for news about Turkish indictments in connection with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But making sense of Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Mohammed Bin Salman, known widely as MBS, can be a difficult proposition. He has made social reforms—lifting the ban on women driving and taking power away from Saudi Arabia’s infamous religious police—but he has no interest in political reform and has a propensity to take impulsive and remarkably violent action, both in the foreign policy space and toward perceived enemies within Saudi Arabia and beyond. Ben Hubbard, Beirut bureau chief for the New York Times, provides an account of the young prince’s rise and his early years in power in Saudi Arabia. Jacob Schulz talked with Hubbard about MBS's rise to power, his influence on domestic life in Saudi Arabia, his relationship to Jared Kushner and the Trump administration, and about the White House response to Khashoggi’s murder. 

Direct download: Episode_528.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:45pm EDT

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the globe, it can be difficult to keep track of how the virus has spread and how different countries have responded. So, this week we are doing something a little bit different. We are bringing you dispatches about how nine different countries are handling the COVID-19 outbreak. Jacob Schulz spoke with experts about the situations in Poland, Spain, South Korea, Italy, Russia, South Africa, Iran, China, and Great Britain. You will hear from journalists, Brookings experts, a former CIA officer, and a Member of European Parliament, among others.

What are the restrictions different governments have put in place? What legal authorities have they relied on? How has COVID-19 and the corresponding government response affected life in each of the countries?

Guests this week were Amanda Sloat, Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; Radek Sikorski, Member of European Parliament and former Polish Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs; Alex Finley, satirist and former CIA officer; Brian Kim, Lawfare contributor and law student at Yale Law School; Giovanna De Maio, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution; Joshua Yaffa, the Moscow correspondent for The New Yorker; Erin Bates, law student and freelance broadcast journalist in South Africa; Suzanne Maloney, Interim Vice President of Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution; and Sophia Yan, China correspondent for the Telegraph.

Direct download: Episode_527.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:07am EDT

On this bonus edition of the Lawfare Podcast, we have combined two conversations about about how the Department of State and the Department of Defense are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, including the impact on the workforce of these agencies, their efforts to assist and protect Americans abroad and domestically, and the broader national security and foreign policy consequences for the United States. Margaret Taylor sat down virtually with Robbie Gramer, the diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy magazine covering the State Department. And Scott Anderson sat down remotely with Katie Bo Williams, the senior national security correspondent for the Defense One news outlet.

Direct download: DoD_and_State_Bonus_Edition.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:31pm EDT

On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Baybars Örsek, the Director of the International Fact-Checking Network at the Poynter Institute. Fact-checking has become newly prominent in recent years, as fact-checkers work to counter surges of online disinformation and misinformation. And it’s more important than ever right now in the middle of a pandemic, when incorrect information circulating online has immediate consequences for people’s health. Baybars has been on the front lines of fact-checking in recent years. Quinta and Evelyn spoke with him about the IFCN’s “Fact-Checkers’ Code of Principles,” Facebook’s partnership with fact-checkers for content shared on their platforms, and why fact-checking is important right now.

Direct download: Episode_526.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:29pm EDT

Like a marriage, a healthy relationship between an intelligence officer and an asset usually features ample attention and extensive energy. And of course, a lot of time spent with one another. But how do intelligence officers have the necessary face-to face-meetings when going outside is all but forbidden? What about conducting surveillance detection or servicing dead drops on empty streets in the coronavirus era?

Three former CIA officers—Alex Finley, Jonna Mendez, and David Priess—explored this tricky topic in a recent article on Lawfare, which David reads in full for this edition of the Lawfare Podcast Shorts.

Direct download: Shorts_-_How_Do_You_Spy_When_the_World_is_Shut_Down.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:52pm EDT

Since 1974, Freedom House has compiled the “Freedom in the World” report, a comparative assessment of global rights and civil liberties that ranks each country’s level of freedom and identifies regional and global trends. And the results for 2019 do not look good.

David Priess spoke with Michael Abramowitz and Sarah Repucci of Freedom House about the threat to civil rights in India and Kashmir; the ethnic cleansing of muslims in China; the decline of democracy even in traditional strongholds like the United States; the era of peaceful, non-violent protests across the globe; and recommendations for supporting burgeoning democracies overseas.

Direct download: Episode_525.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:52pm EDT

Democracies around the world are under assault, with their norms and institutions undermined by authoritarian actors. From Hungary to India and beyond, illiberal or populist governments are weakening the rule of law, the separation of powers, and the integrity of elections.

As part of a two-episode Lawfare podcast series on the state of global democracy, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Alina Polyakova and Torrey Taussig about democracy promotion. They discussed “The Democracy Playbook,” a report by Alina and Torrey—along with Brookings experts Norman Eisen, Andrew Kenealy, and Susan Corke—outlining strategies that supporters of liberal democracy can implement to prevent and reverse democratic backsliding. They talked about Central and Eastern Europe, the drivers of democratic discontent, and how all of this compares to the situation in the United States.

Direct download: Episode_524.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

What can the president do in a national emergency? What limits what the president can do? What authorizes the president to do all those things he can do in a national emergency? Is the president abusing, misusing, using appropriately, or under-using emergency powers during the coronavirus crisis? And what are the logical end points for how far this could go? For this bonus edition of the Lawfare Podcast, Benjamin Wittes got on the phone with Steve Vladeck to work through these questions and talk about all things presidential emergency powers.

Direct download: Steve_Vladeck_on_Emergency_Powers_and_Coronavirus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:03pm EDT

Dr. Rebecca Katz is the director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center. She also teaches courses on global health diplomacy, global health security, and emerging infectious disease in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown. From 2004 to 2019, she was a consultant to the Department of State, working on issues related to the biological weapons convention, pandemic influenza, and disease surveillance. On Sunday, Margaret Taylor spoke with Rebecca about the international legal architecture and institutions for pandemic preparedness response, how some Asian and European countries have approached the problem, and the United States's response.

Direct download: Episode_523.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:25pm EDT

On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Kate Starbird, an Associate Professor of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington. She’s long done fascinating research about online disinformation and misinformation—and she's an expert in what’s called crisis informatics, or the study of how information flows during crisis events. For this conversation, they focused on one crisis in particular: Covid-19. They talked about the possibilities and dangers of social media and the internet in times of crisis, how communities make sense of disaster, and the anxiety of living in the world right now.

Direct download: Episode_522.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:21pm EDT

Josh Sharfstein is the vice dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He also served as the secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He was the principal deputy commissioner and at some point, the acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and he was the Commissioner of Health for the city of Baltimore. He is remarkably well qualified to talk about coronavirus crisis response at the federal, state, and local levels. He's even written a book about managing public health crises, and he's hosting a daily podcast of his own on the coronavirus crisis. He joined Benjamin Wittes in the virtual Jungle Studio to talk about the role of coercion in managing these crises, how the U.S. government has performed (and not performed), and what we should be doing differently to get the corona crisis under control.

Direct download: Episode_521.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

This week on Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Joshua R. Fattal about a fascinating law review article he’s written: “FARA on Facebook: Modernizing the Foreign Agents Registration Act to Address Propagandists on Social Media.” The Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA, is an American law that requires lobbyists for foreign entities to register with the Justice Department. It made the headlines when Special Counsel Robert Mueller claimed that Russians spreading social media disinformation around the 2016 election failed to register under the law. Josh argues that Mueller’s indictments represent an innovative new use of FARA—and he suggests that the law could offer a mechanism for the U.S. government to address disinformation campaigns.

Direct download: Episode_520.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:23pm EDT

Since we are recording remotely due to coronavirus concerns, it is a good day to discuss the congressional response to coronavirus. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Margaret Taylor, Lawfare's congressional guru, about what legislation Congress has passed, what legislation Congress and the Trump administration are considering in relation to the virus, and how Congress has responded institutionally.

Direct download: Episode_519.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:05pm EDT

We ask a lot of questions about foreign policy on this podcast. Why do certain countries make certain decisions? What are the interests of the players in question? What are the consequences and, of course, the legality of foreign policy choices. In a new book, Joseph Nye, professor emeritus and former dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, asks another question about foreign policy. Do morals matter? Jack Goldsmith sat down with Nye to discuss his new book "Do Morals Matter?: Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump." They discussed the ethical and theoretical factors by which Nye judged each president before going through many of the cases he focuses on in the book.

Direct download: Episode_518.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

This week on Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Lisa Kaplan and Sophie Lawton of Alethea Group, an organization that works to detect and mitigate disinformation on social media. Lisa recently published a piece on Lawfare about a massive network of companies run by TheSoul Publishing—founded in Russia by a company called AdMe. The companies publish bizarre craft videos on Youtube and Facebook, along with a handful of videos about history and politics with an overtly pro-Russian slant. So what is actually going on here? They talked about what red flags Lisa and Sophie look for in hunting down disinformation, their experiences tackling disinformation while working for Senator Angus King’s reelection campaign in 2018, and how political campaigns need to tackle online influence efforts in 2020.

Direct download: Episode_517.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:27pm EDT

On Friday afternoon, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision concerning the House of Representatives' efforts to compel Don McGahn, Donald Trump's former White House counsel, to testify about his conduct with respect to the president, the Mueller investigation, presidential obstruction of justice, and other matters. At the president's direction, McGahn has refused show up, citing absolute immunity from congressional subpoenas. In a surprise ruling for a lot of people, the DC Circuit determined that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case because the House lacks standing to bring it. To discuss it all, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Jonathan David Shaub, Lawfare contributor and incoming faculty at the University of Kentucky Law School, and Lawfare senior editors Margaret Taylor and Scott R. Anderson.

Direct download: Bonus_Edition_-_The_Don_McGahn_Decision.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:24pm EDT

The population of Africa is projected to double by 2050, giving the continent one quarter of the world's people by then. Nigeria alone will have a larger population than the United States. To the extent they aren't so already, the world's problems and opportunities will be Africa's, too, and African problems and opportunities will also be the world's. David Priess spoke about developments in African politics and international engagement with two experts from the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies—its director Judd Devermont, and one of its senior associates, Emilia Columbo.

Direct download: Episode_516.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:51am EDT

Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig are reporters at The Washington Post and the authors of the new book, 'A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America.' This week, Susan Hennessey sat down with Rucker and Leonnig to talk about the new book, the president's interactions with his cabinet, his attitude toward the law, and the efficacy of his public attacks.

Direct download: Episode_515.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

This week on Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Bridget Barrett and Daniel Kreiss of the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media and UNC’s Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life. In all the controversy around social media platforms at the moment, perhaps nothing is taking up as much oxygen as their policies around political ads. But it’s difficult to discuss this topic without a detailed understanding of what the platforms are actually doing. That’s where Bridget and Daniel come in. They’ve worked to provide a comprehensive account of the different policies in this space, how those policies interact, and how they’re changing—or not—the way we interact with politics.

Direct download: Episode_514.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:27pm EDT

Ben Buchanan is a professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and a scholar on cybersecurity and statecraft. He has a new book out this week: “The Hacker and the State: Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics." Jack Goldsmith sat down with Buchanan to talk about Ben’s new book, about the so-called name-and-shame of Justice Department indictments, and about the various reasons why states engage in offensive cyber operations.

Direct download: Bonus_Edition_with_Ben_Buchanan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:10pm EDT

Every year for a quarter of a century, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, or both, have hosted the worldwide threat briefing featuring open unclassified testimony from leaders of the intelligence community about the biggest threats facing the United States. That is, at least until this year, when it is still unclear when the worldwide threat testimony will take place, if at all. To shed some light on the history, the norms, and the value of this open intelligence testimony, we gathered an extraordinary group of intelligence leaders who have done it, in some cases many times. David Priess spoke with Jim Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and former director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency; Michael Hayden, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, former principal deputy DNI, and former director of the National Security Agency; and Andrew McCabe, the former Acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Direct download: Episode_513.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:50pm EDT

Lisa Monaco was Barack Obama's counterterrorism and Homeland Security advisor in the White House, and headed the Justice Department's national security division. Sophia Yan is a Beijing-based correspondent for the British newspaper The Telegraph. Lisa and Sophia may not seem to have a lot in common, but these days, they are both spending a lot of time thinking about coronavirus. Monaco managed epidemic and pandemic disease events for the Obama administration, and Yan is in the middle of covering the ongoing epidemic in China. Benjamin Wittes joined Lisa (in the Jungle Studio) and Sophia (remotely from Beijing) on Thursday to talk about how the Chinese government has responded, how the Trump administration has responded, and how much worse this is likely to get before it ebbs.

Direct download: Episode_512.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

This week on Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Brendan Nyhan, a professor of political science at Dartmouth University. We talk a lot about the crisis of falsehoods circulating online, but Nyhan’s work focuses on empirical research on what the effects of disinformation and misinformation actually are. And he’s found that those effects might play less of a role in political discourse than you’d think—or at least not quite in the way you might think. They talked about the fake news about fake news and the echo chamber about echo chambers.

Direct download: Episode_511.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:55pm EDT

Jessica Stern, who served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, has a remarkable skill: she interviews really bad people, and she writes about them in really interesting ways. She spent quite a bit of time interviewing Bosnian-Serb war criminal Radovan Karadzic, who is serving a life sentence at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague for genocide in connection with the Bosnian conflict in the 1990s. Their conversations led to the publication of the book, "My War Criminal: Personal Encounters with an Architect of Genocide," which triggered a remarkable outpouring of rage at Jessica Stern. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Jessica recently about the book, the controversy, and her general approach to talking to evil men.

Direct download: Episode_510.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

In what ways did American foreign policy fail to capitalize on victory in the Cold War? Andrew Bacevich, professor emeritus at Boston University and co-founder and president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, tackles that question and more in "The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory." Jack Goldsmith sat down with Professor Bacevich to talk about his new book. The pair discussed the establishment consensus on American foreign policy, the state of civil-military relations, and the mission of the newly founded Quincy Institute.

Direct download: Episode_509.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:26pm EDT

In 2013, Patrick Radden Keefe, a staff writer for the New Yorker, came across the obituary of a woman named Dolours Price, a former member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Keefe's interest in Price led to sprawling research about an appalling crime that took place over the course of the three-decade Troubles in Northern Ireland: The disappearance of Jean McConville, a widowed young mother of ten children. His research led to his 2019 book, “Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland.”

Mikhaila Fogel sat down with Keefe to discuss his book, the shocking history of McConville’s disappearance, the broader context of the terrorism and counterterrorism campaigns in Northern Ireland over the course of the Troubles, and what happened to the perpetrators and the victims of this crime.

Direct download: Episode_508.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Lawfare founder Bobby Chesney and Lawfare contributing editor Steve Vladeck host the weekly National Security Law Podcast from the University of Texas Law School, a discussion of current national security law developments. In this episode, the third edition of a Lawfare edited National Security Law Podcast, Bobby and Steve discuss a range of topics that we thought would be of interest to listeners. So we are bringing you a distilled version of their conversation. Bobby and Steve talk about the legal side of accusations that President Trump pressured the Justice Department to amend a sentencing recommendation in the case of Roger Stone and his retaliation against Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. They give context about the federal quarantine law, as the coronavirus continues to spread globally. And, they go over recent war powers developments and a special listener request about the case of Omar Ameen.

 A quick logistical note: Bobby and Steve recorded this conversation on Wednesday, so news about the Flynn case and about the Senate passing War Powers legislation are not mentioned in their discussion.

Direct download: NSL202.1420intro_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:24pm EDT

In this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Kate Klonick spoke with Alex Stamos, the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory. Prior to joining Stanford, Alex served as the chief security officer at Facebook, and before that, as the chief information security officer at Yahoo. They talked about Alex's experience at Facebook handling 2016 election interference, as well as his work on cybersecurity, disinformation, and end-to-end encryption.

Direct download: Episode_507.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:59pm EDT

Afshon Ostovar is the associate chair for research and an assistant professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School. He is also the author of "Vanguard of the Imam: Religion, Politics, and Iran's Revolutionary Guards." The IRGC has been in the news of late because of the killing of the head of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qassem Soleimani. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Ostovar about the fallout from the Soleimani killing, how it is all playing in Iran, and why things are so quiet. They talked about whether people made a mountain out of a molehill at the time the killing happened, or whether the blowback just hasn't happened yet.

Direct download: Episode_506.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:10pm EDT

Russia continues to sporadically poke its head into American media headlines, whether it be for its role in Syria or for anxieties about fresh election interference in 2020. But these news stories seldom provide a window into life in Putin’s Russia. Jacob Schulz sat down with Joshua Yaffa, the Moscow correspondent for the New Yorker, to talk about his new book, "Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin’s Russia." The book gives a series of portraits of prominent figures within Putin’s Russia and details the compromises they make to maintain their status and goodwill with the Kremlin. They talked about this framework as a way to understand Russia, what Putin’s rule looks like on the peripheries of the country, and about a couple of the fascinating characters that animate the book.

Direct download: Episode_505.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

The 2020 election cycle opened up with a dramatic failure, as the Iowa caucus was marred by a delayed announcement of the caucus results and an abundance of misinformation about its cause. It was a painful demonstration of the importance of election security and election infrastructure. We put together a special edition podcast to discuss what went wrong in Iowa and the factors that have increased mistrust in American elections. Benjamin Wittes interviewed Richard Hasen, an election-law expert and the author of “Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy.” The two talked about Hasen’s new book, about the flaws that can plague elections and about how to think about electoral legitimacy. 

Direct download: Rick_Hasen_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:35pm EDT

On Wednesday, the Senate voted to acquit President Donald J. Trump of abuse of power, by a vote of 48-52, and obstruction of Congress, by a vote of 47-53. Over the course of the trial, Lawfare and Goat Rodeo have been compiling the most essential parts of each day’s proceeding into manageable podcast episodes. Here is the final episode of that series. It includes some remarks made by senators including Mitt Romney of Utah, who became the first person in history to vote to remove a president of his own party, followed by the vote. The episode ends with a conversation with Lawfare’s Quinta Jurecic, David Priess and Margaret Taylor, hosted by Benjamin Wittes.

Direct download: Lawfare_Podcast_Special_Edition_The_Impeachment_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:19am EDT

Leon Neyfakh is the co-creator and former host of Slow Burn, which won the iHeartRadio podcast award for Podcast of the Year last year. Now, he's the co-creator and host of Fiasco, entering its second season on Luminary. This second season deals with the Iran–Contra scandal, including some of the stories and people that you know—like Iran and Nicaragua, Bud McFarlane, John Poindexter, and Oliver North—but also some things you might not remember that make the story a very rich scandal indeed.

David Priess spoke with Leon about Slow Burn, Fiasco, and especially about the Iran–Contra scandal.

Direct download: Episode_504.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:50pm EDT

Lawfare founder Bobby Chesney and Lawfare contributing editor Steve Vladeck, both of the University of Texas Law School, host the National Security Law Podcast, a weekly deep dive on national security law topics. In this second edition of a Lawfare-edited National Security Law Podcast, Bobby and Steve had a particularly useful conversation about the legal issues surrounding John Bolton’s role in the impeachment trial and about important developments in the military commissions that have been overshadowed by events in Washington.

Two logistical points: We have edited this podcast down to the most substantive exchanges between Bobby and Steve. Also, this podcast was recorded on Wednesday, January 29, and thus the conversation occurred before the Senate's vote on Friday to block witnesses in the impeachment trial. 

Direct download: Episode_503.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

For the past several months, Australia has been struck by massive bushfires like nothing seen before in recent memory. As the country has grappled with the spread of these unprecedented blazes, it’s also grappled with the spread of falsehoods about what caused them.


This week on our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Elise Thomas, a journalist and researcher at the Australia Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Center. Elise has been tracking misinformation and disinformation around the blazes—from the suggestion by the right-wing Australian press that arson, not climate change, is to blame for the fires, to online conspiracy theories imported in from the United States. They talked not only about the fires, but also about the global nature of the fight against mis- and disinformation online and why we need to be cautious about focusing too much on bots in waging that fight.

Elise was calling in from Canberra, and unfortunately we had some audio glitches, but it's too great a conversation to miss.

Direct download: Episode_502.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:46pm EDT

We have an impeachment trial going on. We've had hours and hours of presentation by the House managers, and hours of presentation by the president's defense team, and there are likely hours to go. To bring us up to speed with where we are, where we are after the big John Bolton bombshell over the weekend, and the coming fight over witnesses, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Margaret Taylor, Quinta Jurecic, and Jonathan David Shaub.

Direct download: Episode_501.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:09pm EDT

The past few years have seen an uptick in Russian covert actions across Europe, including assassinations and attempted killings of people in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Just this week, Bulgaria charged three Russian agents with the poisoning of a prominent Bulgarian arms manufacturer. Michael Schwirtz has been an investigative reporter with the New York Times for almost 15 years, and he's been tracking this Russian skulduggery carefully in many of those countries for much of that time. Recently, he's reported on how quite a bit of that activity is linked to one particular unit within the Russian GRU. David Priess sat down with Michael to work through this increasingly aggressive Russian action and what it all means going forward.

Direct download: Episode_500.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:03am EDT

For this episode of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Renee DiResta, the technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory. Renee has done fascinating work on how technology platforms and algorithms interact with false and misleading narratives, ranging from misleading information on health issues to propaganda pushed by the Islamic State and the Russian government.

Direct download: Episode_499.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:39pm EDT

"Unmaking the Presidency: Donald Trump's War on the World's Most Powerful Office," by Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes, was published today. The Brookings Institution hosted a launch event, moderated by Fred Hiatt, in which Susan and Ben discussed the book. "Unmaking the Presidency" is an attempt to explore the Trump presidency through the lens of the norms of the traditional presidency that he has violated. It's a look at his vision of the presidency, a look at the range of presidential powers that vision affects, and a look at the history of how those norms developed.

Direct download: Episode_498.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:07pm EDT

The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump starts Tuesday. The President now has a legal team. And over the weekend, both the House impeachment managers and the President's lawyers filed initial briefs. In this special edition of the podcast, Benjamin Wittes, Margaret Taylor, Susan Hennessey, David Priess, Scott Anderson, and Paul Rosenzweig talk it all through. What should we make of the president's legal team? What do the briefs say? And what should we expect from the trial to come?

Direct download: Special_Edition_1-20-20_Impeachment_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:52pm EDT

The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is set to begin on Jan. 21, and the question of what constitutes an impeachable offense is sure to feature in the trial itself and in the broader discussion of the president’s conduct. To answer that question, many commentators, lawmakers and experts may rely on what the Founders said at the time the Impeachment Clause was written into the Constitution. But there’s another way to think about an impeachable offense: by looking at the offenses for which Congress has actually impeached people. Hilary Hurd explored that sordid and unexpected history of impeachment in a recent article for Lawfare. In the latest edition of the Lawfare Podcast Shorts, you can listen to that article in-full, read by the author.

Direct download: Hilary20Hurd20Shorts_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:46am EDT

Batya Ungar-Sargon is the opinion editor of The Forward, the Jewish newspaper published out of New York City. She has been among the chroniclers, both in print and on Twitter, of the recent spate of attacks against Orthodox communities in New York and New Jersey. She joined Benjamin Wittes by Skype to talk about the origins of these attacks, why it is so hard to respond to them, and why they don't fit in with any of our political preconceptions.

Direct download: Episode_497.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

On this episode of the Arbiters of Truth series, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with law professors Bobby Chesney and Danielle Citron about deep fakes—that is, artificial audio and video that can be used to depict a person doing or saying something that they never did or said. They talked about the paper that Bobby and Danielle wrote in 2018 about how deep fakes pose a looming challenge for privacy, democracy, and national security. And with recently circulated, doctored video of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and presidential candidate Joe Biden, they talked about how the issue hasn't gone away, as well as the distinction between deep fakes and other less sophisticated forms of editing.

Direct download: Episode_496.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:47am EDT

There's going to be a House vote tomorrow to send the impeachment articles over to the Senate. Then there's going to be a little parade where the appointed managers from the House take them over. And then, we're going to have a Senate trial. Benjamin Wittes gathered in the Jungle Studio with Margaret Taylor, Molly Reynolds, David Priess, and Jonathan Shaub (by phone) to imagine what that trial will look like. They talked about the ceremonial aspects of the impeachment trial; witnesses, who they can force to show up, and whether they can force them to answer questions; and how the president's defense might defend Donald Trump against these charges.

Direct download: Episode_495.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:56pm EDT

As part of Lawfare's continuing coverage of the killing of Iranian Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani, we are bringing you an edited version of the latest episode of the National Security Law Podcast, in which Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck discuss the legality of the strike and what this means for the future of U.S.-Iranian relations. We edited the podcast down solely to focus solely on the discussion of Soleimani.

Direct download: Episode_494.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

It’s 2020, and The Lawfare Podcast's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation is back for the new year. Quinta Jurecic sat down with cohosts Evelyn Douek, Kate Klonick, and Alina Polyakova to discuss what they’ve learned over the last few months of putting together this podcast—and what they should expect for the year to come. What new regulation or oversight mechanisms will we see for social media companies? Should Twitter remove or hide the president’s tweets? How should we think about the unique challenges of addressing disinformation and misinformation in an election year in the United States? And just how bad are things going to get?

Direct download: Episode_493.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:27am EDT

To kick off this year of The Lawfare Podcast, we wanted to hear from you. You tweeted your questions and you left us voicemails, and we did our best to answer you. Benjamin Wittes, Susan Hennessey, Bobby Chesney, David Priess, Quinta Jurecic, David Kris, Scott R. Anderson, Molly Reynolds, and Margaret Taylor came together to tackle your impeachment questions, your foreign policy questions, your FISA questions, your recommendation requests, and everything in-between.

Thank you for your questions. And as always, thank you for listening.

Direct download: Episode_492.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:43pm EDT

On Friday, the Lawfare Podcast hosted a conversation on the wide-ranging policy implications of the U.S. strike that killed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leader Qassem Soleimani and militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, deputy commander of Iraq’s quasi-official Popular Mobilization Forces and leader of the Iraqi militia and PMF Keta’ib Hezbollah. 

Today’s special edition episode leaves the policy debate behind to zero-in on the law behind the strike. Law of war and international law experts Scott R. Anderson, Bobby Chesney, Jack Goldsmith, Ashley Deeks and Samuel Moyn join Benjamin Wittes to discuss the domestic and international law surrounding the strike, how the administration might legally justify it, what the president might do next and how Congress might respond. 

Direct download: Law_and_the_Souleimani_Strike_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:53pm EDT

The American drone strike last night that killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, is a seismic event in U.S.-Iranian relations—and for the broader Middle East. We put together an emergency podcast, drawing on the resources of both Lawfare and the Brookings Institution and reflecting the depth of the remarkable collaboration between the two. Iran scholar Suzanne Maloney, terrorism and Middle East scholar Daniel Byman, Middle East scholar and former State Department official Tamara Cofman Wittes and former State Department lawyer and Baghdad embassy official Scott Anderson—who is also a Lawfare senior editor—came together the morning after the strike for a diverse discussion of the reasons for the operation, the vast repercussions of it, the legality of the strike and the role Soleimani played in the Iranian regime.

Direct download: UPDATE_Solemani_Special_Edition_Podcast_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00pm EDT

Iran is in turmoil. Protests erupted across the country last month, sparked by the government's decision to triple the price of gasoline. The Iranian government has responded with brute force, imposing a blackout of the internet and deploying security forces to crack down in the streets. The crackdown has left hundreds dead and thousands injured or detained. On December 18, the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution hosted a discussion on the unrest in Iran, what it means for the future of the country and the region, and how the United States and the international community should respond. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius led the conversation, which featured Brookings senior fellow Suzanne Maloney and film maker and journalist Maziar Bahari, who leads IranWire, a news site that conveys original information from Iran via citizen journalists.

Direct download: Episode_491.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:16pm EDT

Live from the #NatSecGirlSquad Conference in Washington, DC, on December 12, 2019, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Danielle Citron, professor of law at Boston University, VP of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, and MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow. Ben and Danielle talked about technology, sexual privacy, sextortion, and the previously unexplored intersections of feminism and cybersecurity.

Direct download: Episode_490.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

On Thursday, December 19, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Before that vote, the Brookings Institution's Governance Studies program assembled an all-star panel—Sarah Binder, William Galston, John Hudak, Molly Reynolds, and Lawfare's own Benjamin Wittes—to talk through how we got here and just what might happen next.

Direct download: Episode_489.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:10pm EDT

This week, following a resounding victory by Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party in British elections, Members of Parliament have backed Johnson’s plan to withdraw from the EU by January 31. But before they did that, Benjamin Wittes got on the phone from an undisclosed location with Brookings senior fellow and Brexit expert Amanda Sloat—who was here in the Jungle Studio—to discuss Britain’s recent election, what it means for Brexit, and what it might portend for the future of the United Kingdom.

Direct download: Episode_488.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

In this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Peter Pomerantsev, a research fellow at the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University and the author of "This is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality." The book explores how the nature of propaganda has shifted as authoritarian governments move from silencing dissent to drowning dissent out with squalls of disinformation. Pomerantsev argues that this transformation traces back to the cynicism and chaos in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union, but now it's become all too familiar around the world.

Direct download: Episode_487.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:05pm EDT

You probably know Peter Bergen from his work at CNN, his books on terrorism and national security, or perhaps his role as vice president at New America. Now, he's turned his reporting and analysis to President Trump, to President Trump's advisors, and to the impact of those relationships on U.S. national security. David Priess sat down with Peter to talk about his new book: "Trump and His Generals," the president's confusing mix of attraction to senior military leaders and disdain for their advice, and what it all means for foreign policy in Washington.

Direct download: Episode_486.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:13pm EDT

Recently, former CIA officer Jerry Lee was arrested and sentenced for his role in misusing classified information. At the same time, reporting indicates that CIA officers in China have been arrested or turned by Chinese authorities. What's the connection between these two? And what does it mean for Chinese counterintelligence work overall? David Priess sat down with John McLaughlin, practitioner-in-residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Shane Harris, intelligence and national security reporter for The Washington Post whose reporting covered much of the Jerry Lee case. They talked about, of course, the Jerry Lee case, counterintelligence in China, and the impact on the U.S.-China relationship.

Direct download: Episode_485.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

In this episode from Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation in the run-up to the 2020 election, Quinta Jurecic, Evelyn Douek, and Alina Polyakova spoke with Tiffany Li, a visiting professor at Boston University and a fellow at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Tiffany writes on all the issues discussed on this podcast—disinformation, misinformation, and platform governance—but with an additional twist. She’s also a privacy scholar. They talked about how privacy law can inform platform governance, and how prioritizing privacy might help tackle disinformation—as well as what tensions there might be between those two goals.

Direct download: Episode_484.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:29pm EDT

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss his recently released report on the Russia investigation. The hearing was contentious and occasionally devolved into speechify-ing. 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: Horowitz20v20Committee.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:25pm EDT

We have articles of impeachment. We have a very long inspector general report on the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane investigation. And we have a Lawfare Podcast that you won't want to miss.

Benjamin Wittes spoke with Margaret Taylor, Quinta Jurecic, Jack Goldsmith, and David Kris about the new articles of impeachment unveiled today and the inspector general's investigation. They talk about where the report vindicates the FBI, where it severely criticizes the FBI, and those very peculiar statements from the attorney general and John Durham, the U.S. attorney from Connecticut.

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

Direct download: Episode_483.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:15pm EDT

In a marathon day, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony from Judiciary and Intelligence Committee staffers Barry Berke, Daniel Goldman and Steven Castor. The hearing was contentious and filled with interruptions, but we cut out all the grandstanding and theatrics to leave you with just the questions and answers that you need to hear.

00:00:30: Berke

00:30:30: Castor I

00:56:00: Goldman

1:41:00: Castor II

2:27:30: Rep. Nadler/Majority Counsel

3:14:00: Rep. Collins/Minority Counsel

3:52:00: Member questions

Direct download: HPSCI20v20Judiciary.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44pm EDT

Wargaming has long been a staple of military strategizing, but how do we plan for the future in cyberspace, a realm where governments do not hold a monopoly on capabilities? A new report from the Atlantic Council argues that "visualizing and describing the evolution of cyber capabilities and strategic competition require envisioning multiple futures," and the report sets out to do exactly that. This week, Lawfare's Susan Hennessey sat down with John Watts, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Skowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, and JD Work, the Bren Chair for Cyber Conflict and Security at the Marine Corps University, who are authors of "Alternate Cybersecurity Futures," along with Nina Kollars, Ben Jensen, and Chris Whyte. They talked about the behind-the-scenes of strategic policy planning, the value of creativity, and what scenarios emerge when you ask cybersecurity experts to predict the future.

Direct download: Episode_482.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

It's another week of impeachment, and we thought it warranted gathering everyone around the table to talk about it. Margaret Taylor, David Priess, Susan Hennessey, and Scott R. Anderson joined Benjamin Wittes in the Jungle Studio to talk about the Schiff report, the Nunes/Jordan pre-rebuttal report, the House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday with a bunch of law professors, and Nancy Pelosi's message on Thursday afternoon that impeachment was going forward.

Direct download: Episode_481.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:01pm EDT

For this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation in the run-up to the 2020 election, Quinta Jurecic and Evelyn Douek spoke with David Kaye, the United Nations special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. David has argued that social media companies should adopt international human rights law as the standard for content moderation, an idea that's becoming increasingly popular in recent years. And, he has a new book: "Speech Police: The Global Struggle to Govern the Internet." They talked about international law, fake news, and the pitfalls and promises of internet governance.

Direct download: Episode_480.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:42am EDT

Senator Tim Kaine is perhaps best known as Hillary Clinton's 2016 vice presidential running mate. For purposes of Lawfare, however, he is better understood as the Senate's leading exponent of congressional authority in the war powers domain. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Senator Kaine in the Senate Russell Office Building to talk about all things war powers. They talked about the United States' new military deployment to Saudi Arabia, congressional anxieties about it, the administration's unwillingness to go to Congress for authorization, and the larger drift of congressional war powers to the executive branch. They also talked, of course, about impeachment—just a little bit.

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

Direct download: Episode_479.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:46pm EDT

Last month, Tamara Cofman Wittes, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, and Brian Egan, former legal advisor to the State Department and National Security Council, participated in the Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens Memorial Lecture at the UC Hastings Law School. Ambassador Stevens, who died tragically in the attack against the U.S. special mission in Benghazi in 2012, was a proud alumnus of UC Hastings. In his memory, his family generously endowed an annual lecture on a current topic in foreign relations.

This year's event featured a panel discussion with Cofman Wittes and Egan, moderated by Professor Chimène Keitner, on U.S. law and policy in the Middle East. The conversation takes a step back from current events to look at the broader strategic landscape following the U.S. withdrawal from Syria.

Direct download: Episode_478.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

Brian Kalt is a professor of law at Michigan State University. In 2012, he wrote "Constitutional Cliffhangers, " a book about all of the gaps in and the potentially disruptive interpretations of the text of the U.S. Constitution. His new book, "Unable: The Law, Politics, and Limits of Section 4 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment," is about the mere 270 words that comprise that section. David Priess spoke with Brian about the need for something better than what the original Constitution said about presidential incapacity; the drafting of the 25th Amendment and the discussions around its various provisions; how the media, TV shows, movies, and books often get important parts of the 25th Amendment wrong; and how an invocation of the 25th Amendment's 4th section would actually work.

Direct download: Episode_477.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:24pm EDT

It's the week it all went public. What had been dry pages of deposition transcript turned into live witnesses, sometimes many of them a day, in front of the House impeachment investigation. It was a lot of material, and we assembled quite the group to break it all down for you. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Scott R. Anderson, Susan Hennessey, Margaret Taylor, and Alina Polyakova to talk about what's happened this week, the new information we got and what it means that we have it all live in person, the foreign policy implications, disinformation, and what comes next as impeachment rolls on.

Direct download: Episode_476.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

On Thursday, Fiona Hill, the former National Security Council Russia adviser, and David Holmes, counselor for political affairs at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, testified before the House Intelligence Committee. Here is the testimony of Hill and Holmes with no member-infighting, no speechifying, and no unnecessary fluff. 

Direct download: Hill20and20Holmes20versus20the20Committee.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:13pm EDT

In a new episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation in the run-up to the 2020 election, Quinta Jurecic, Evelyn Douek, and Alina Polyakova, spoke with Ben Nimmo, the director of investigations at Graphika. They talked about how disinformation works; how a researcher knows where to look to find disinformation; how to tell when a strange pattern of tweets or Facebook posts is actually a disinformation campaign; and whether it's possible to counter these campaigns effectively, or if this work is just a never-ending game of whack-a-mole.

Direct download: Episode_475.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:37am EDT

The evening testimony on Nov. 20 extended into the night, so we are bringing the podcast version to you this morning. The House Intelligence Committee heard from Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper and Under Secretary of State David Hale. We’ve taken out all the grandstanding and all the repetition, so you can just listen to the portions of the testimony that you need to hear.

Direct download: Cooper20and20Hale20Versus20the20Committee20help.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

It was another exciting day at the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified in the impeachment inquiry. While two more officials testified in a second hearing after Sondland, we thought his testimony was important enough to bring you ASAP. Here is the testimony of Amb. Sondland in the impeachment inquiry with no member-infighting, no speechifying, and no unnecessary fluff. 

Here are some time-stamps to guide your listening:

Sondland opening:
00:00:59

Democratic Counsel (and Chairman Schiff)
00:37:15

Republican Counsel (and Ranking Member Nunes)
1:23:30

Democratic Counsel (and Chairman Schiff)
2:07:15

Republican Counsel (and Ranking Member Nunes)
2:40:30

Member Questions:
3:00:00

Direct download: Sondland_versus_the_Committee.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:58pm EDT

In the afternoon of Nov. 20, the committee heard from Tim Morrison, the former senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, and Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine. 

At Lawfare, we have taken out all the unnecessary speeches, partisan bickering, and repetition to bring you just the portions of the testimony you need to hear. 

Direct download: Volker_and_Morrison_Versus_the_Committee.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:39am EDT

On the morning of Nov. 20, the committee heard testimony from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, U.S. Army officer and the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, and Jennifer Williams, a foreign service officer detailed to the Vice President's staff.

We have taken out all the unnecessary speeches, partisan bickering, and repetition to bring you just the portions of the testimony you need to hear.

Direct download: Vidman_and_Williams_Versus_the_Committee.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:31am EDT

On Monday, Benjamin Wittes moderated a discussion with Senator Mark Warner and Representative Jim Himes at NYU Law School as part of the "Catching the Cybercriminal: Reforming Global Law Enforcement" conference sponsored by the Center for Cybersecurity at NYU, the Journal of National Security Law and Policy, and Third Way. Sen. Warner is the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the co-founder of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, and Rep. Himes is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. They talked about the state of cybercrime, whether cybercriminals could be caught, and what more law enforcement in the United States should be doing to curb malicious cyberattacks.

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

Direct download: Episode_474.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:15pm EDT

This week, Roger Stone was convicted on seven counts by a jury in the District of Columbia, and three State Department officials testified before the House Impeachment Committee. There's been a lot going on, and Benjamin Wittes assembled an all-star, all-Lawfare crew to talk through it all.

Quinta Jurecic, Margaret Taylor, Susan Hennessey, Scott R. Anderson, and David Priess make appearances to talk about different aspects of the week's events. They talked about the Stone verdict, the impact of the testimony on the Hill, the impact on the State Department as it watched its senior officials testify against the president, what to expect next, and how this impeachment fits in with historic impeachments.

Direct download: Episode_473.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified before the House Intelligence Committee as a part of the impeachment investigation. Yovanovitch answered questions about her career, her experience in Ukraine and her abrupt dismissal. The hearing saw some of the same grandstanding and distractions as the first public hearing, 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: Yovanovich_versus_the_Committee1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:58pm EDT

Facebook has long been plagued by complaints about unreliable and arbitrary decisions about what does and doesn't appear on the site. In an experiment in incorporating greater transparency and accountability, Facebook has created a new Oversight Board, a body that will have the power to review policy and content moderation decisions made by the platform. But the development of the Board raises a lot of questions. What should this kind of oversight body look like? How will it remain independent? And will Facebook users trust the Board's decisions? In this episode of the new Arbiters of Truth series, Evelyn Douek worked through these questions with Zoe Darmé, manager of Facebook's Global Affairs and Governance team, who is leading the global outreach efforts in support of the Oversight Board.

Direct download: Episode_472.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:34am EDT

On Wednesday, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held its first in a series of public hearings pursuant to its impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to interfere with the 2020 election. Today the committee heard testimony from George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau, and William Taylor, the top U.S. Diplomat in Ukraine. While the witnesses had a compelling story to tell, there was some disagreement among the members about both facts and process, so we cut out all the bickering, all the speechifying, and all the procedural maneuvering to bring you just the testimony that you need to hear.

Direct download: Taylor20and20Kent20versus20the20Committee202.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:15pm EDT

As the 2020 race heats up, candidates spar over healthcare, immigration reform, affordable housing, and criminal justice issues. Unfortunately, substantive discussions about the candidates' views on executive power are seldom on the agenda. Since the 2008 election, the New York Time’s Charlie Savage has helped rescue the significance of questions of executive power. Savage surveys presidential candidates on a range of executive power questions and publishes their responses. This year, he presented candidates with questions about presidential war powers, military force against American citizens, presidential obstruction of justice, and more. Jack Goldsmith talked with Savage and Justin Florence of Protect Democracy about the history of the executive power survey, the value of the questionnaire, and the takeaways from responses to this year’s questions.

Direct download: Episode_471.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:06am EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT