Thu, 29 November 2018
Thursday saw another plea deal from Michael Cohen: this time with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Cohen pleaded guilty to one count of lying to Congress regarding how long into the 2016 campaign the Trump Organization sought to build Trump Tower in Moscow and who exactly knew about the efforts. The criminal information validates to a remarkable degree a May 2018 report from Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold of Buzzfeed news, chronicling the details of Michael Cohen and associate Felix Sater’s efforts to cement the real estate deal (you can also listen to a special edition of the Lawfare Podcast on the story here).
Immediately after new of the plea broke, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Cormier, Susan Hennessey and Paul Rosenzweig to discuss the story, the implications of the plea for the Mueller investigation, and who just might have legal exposure and for what.
Direct download: Special_Edition_-_Michael_Cohen_Trump_Tower_Moscow.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:24pm EDT
Tue, 27 November 2018
This week, Russia and Ukraine went at it in the Kerch Strait, which separates the Black Sea from the Sea of Azov. It's the latest salvo in Russia's (not-so-secret) war against Ukraine and its eastern provinces, and it's the latest thing that has the world talking about Vladimir Putin's lawlessness in his back yard.
To understand it all, Benjamin Wittes spoke today with Alina Polyakova of the Foreign Policy program at Brookings, and Scott Anderson of Lawfare and the Governance Studies program at Brookings. They talked about what happened this week, the international law implications, and the domestic politics in both Ukraine and Russia.
Direct download: Episode_368.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:29pm EDT
Sat, 24 November 2018
John Carlin served as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division from April 2014 to October 2016. In his new book with Garrett Graff, called “Dawn of the Code War: America's Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat," Carlin explains the cyber conflicts the U.S. faces and how the government fights back. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Carlin last week to talk about the book. They talked about about the FBI and Justice Department’s fight against cyber espionage, about how the Justice Department attributes cyberattacks to the responsible actors, and about Carlin’s experience as FBI director Robert Mueller’s chief of staff.
Direct download: Episode_367.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:10am EDT
Tue, 20 November 2018
Earlier this year, just as the United States was preparing to kick-off its national elections, the country of Iraq was finalizing the results of its own and finally installing a new government after months of debate. It was the fourth parliamentary election under the Iraqi Constitution that the United States helped to put in place, and the first since the Iraqi government declared victory in the conflict with ISIS that has dominated the country’s attention since 2014.
To understand what this new government may mean for Iraq and its relationship to the United States, Scott R. Anderson spoke with Jared Levy, the Director of Research Services for the Iraq Oil Report, a premier resource for Iraq-watchers everywhere; and Rasha al-Aqeedi, a native of Mosul, Iraq, and the Robert A. Fox Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and the Managing Editor of Raise Your Voice, a digital platform that focuses on Iraqi society post-ISIS.
They discussed the politics behind Iraq’s recent elections, what to expect of the main figures in the new Iraqi government, and how they might try and navigate the growing tensions between the United States and Iran that are increasingly evident in the region.
Direct download: Episode_366.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:07pm EDT
Fri, 16 November 2018
Following the #NatSecGirlSquad’s first conference, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Jung Pak before a live audience at the Bier Baron in Washington, DC. Jung is a senior fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Foreign Policy program and a long-time North Korea CIA analyst. They talked about North Korean missile development, what reasonable expectations the United States might have when it comes to relations with North Korea, and why we tolerate and sometimes embrace comical representations of the North Korean regime.
Direct download: Episode_365.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30pm EDT
Tue, 13 November 2018
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that U.K. and EU officials have reached a provisional Brexit agreement. Though as of this recording, the text of that agreement has not been released, we at Lawfare thought it a good time for a refresher on how senior Europe experts and British officials are thinking about the U.K.’s split from the European Union. On October 23, the Brookings Center on the United States and Europe hosted a panel discussion on the endgame of the Brexit negotiations with Sir Kim Darroch, Britain’s ambassador to the United States; Amanda Sloat, senior fellow at Brookings; Douglas Alexander, former U.K. shadow foreign secretary; and Lucinda Creighton, a former Irish minister for European affairs. Edward Luce of the Financial Times moderated the discussion.
Direct download: Episode_364.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:45pm EDT
Fri, 9 November 2018
With the firing of Jeff Sessions and his replacement with former U.S. attorney Matt Whitaker, all eyes this week are focused on whether Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians will get to run its full course. But even before the Sessions firing, Benjamin Wittes and Paul Rosenzweig had inquiries into the presidency on their minds. On Tuesday morning, they sat down to discuss Paul’s recent 12-part lecture series on presidential investigations released through the online educational platform The Great Courses.
They talked about how Paul structured the lecture series, Paul’s own experience on Independent Counsel Ken Starr’s team investigating the Clinton White House, and the course’s relevance to the Mueller investigation.
Direct download: Episode_363.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:25pm EDT
Wed, 7 November 2018
President Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday and replaced him on an interim basis with the attorney general’s own chief of staff, a man named Matt Whitaker. Whitaker has made repeated public statements expressing skepticism about the Mueller investigation, which he will now be supervising. Benjamin Wittes got on a recorded conference line with Susan Hennessey, Paul Rosenzweig, Steve Vladeck, Chuck Rosenberg and Bob Bauer to discuss the day’s events: the president’s action, how we should understand Whitaker, and what congressional pushback we can expect, both now and when the new congress comes in.
Direct download: sessions_firing_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:53pm EDT
Fri, 2 November 2018
The rate and intensity of cyber attacks on financial institutions has increased in recent years, but the risk that these attacks pose to our financial stability remains understudied in the financial industry and among regulators and policymakers. What would it look like if malicious actors took direct aim at the systemic stability of U.S. financial institutions? On October 11, Susan Hennessey spoke to three senior research scholars from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs who are taking early steps to find the answer: Katheryn Rosen, former deputy assistant treasury secretary for financial institution policy; Jason Healey, former White House cyber adviser on the Bush administration; and financial-stability expert and former Federal Reserve official Patricia Mosser. They talked about how to understand financial stability, the unique risks that cyber threats pose to it, and what gaps remain in how to mitigate those risks.
Direct download: Episode_361.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:38pm EDT