The Lawfare Podcast (general)

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 EST

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 EST

"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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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