The Lawfare Podcast (general)

On Sunday, September 27, the New York Times dropped bombshell new reporting on nearly two decades of Donald Trump's tax return data. The story has attracted enormous attention and paints a dismal picture. Donald Trump paid no personal income taxes for 11 of the past 18 years, he uses tax deductions aggressively, and last year he paid only $750 in federal income tax. So, is this a story of a president merely in massive debt, or is there something more sinister at play? To whom does the president owe all this money? And what are the national security risks of the president being in this sort of financial position? To try to break it all down, Susan Hennessey sat down with Margaret Taylor, a fellow at Brookings and senior editor at Lawfare; Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the author of "The Toddler in Chief: What Donald Trump Teaches Us about the Modern Presidency"; and Adam Davidson, a contributing writer to The New Yorker who has written extensively on Trump's financial entanglements.

Direct download: Trump_Money_and_National_Security.mp3
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James A. Baker III has been a lawyer, a presidential campaign manager, the White House Chief of Staff for two presidents, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of State and the point person for George W. Bush in the 2000 Florida recount. His career demonstrates what it takes to acquire political power; to wield it effectively to reach bipartisan compromises, even after bitter campaigns; and to wrestle with the tension between partisan loyalty and the principles of good government.

David Priess spoke about Baker's remarkable life and career with Peter Baker of the New York Times and Susan Glasser of The New Yorker, authors of the new book, "The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III."

Direct download: Peter_Baker_and_Susan_Glasser_on_The_Man_Who_Ran_Washington.mp3
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It's been a wild few weeks with President Trump threatening to shut WeChat and TikTok out of the U.S. market and rip them out of the app stores. There have been lawsuits, a preliminary injunction—and a sudden deal to purchase TikTok and moot the issue out. To chew it all over, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare co-founder Bobby Chesney, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin Law School, and Jordan Schneider, the voice behind the podcast ChinaTalk. They talked about how we got here, whether the threat from these companies is real or whether this is more Trump nonsense, and whether the deal to save TikTok will actually work.

Direct download: TikTok_WeChat_and_Trump_Update.mp3
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Rebecca Lissner is an assistant professor at the U.S. Naval War College. Mira Rapp-Hooper is a senior fellow at Yale Law School's Paul Tsai China Center. Together, they are the authors of "An Open World: How America Can Win the Contest for 21st-Century Order." It's an ambitious book that looks beyond the liberal world order, arguing that China's rise and America's weakness render the old order obsolete. So, what will replace it? Lissner and Rapp-Hooper argue that the United States should push for an open order. They joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss why the liberal world order is failing, what role Donald Trump plays in that, whether it can be rehabilitated and what it means to have the open order that they are describing.

Direct download: An_Open_World.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth miniseries on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke to Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, about her new book: “How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict.” The book chronicles Nina’s journey around Europe, tracing down how information operations spearheaded by Russia have played out in countries in the former Soviet bloc, from Georgia to the Czech Republic. What do these case studies reveal about disinformation and how best to counter it—and how many of these lessons can be extrapolated to the United States? How should we understand the role of locals who get swept up in information operations, like the Americans who attended rallies in 2016 that were organized by a Russian troll farm? And what is an information war, anyway?

Direct download: Nina_Jankowicz_on_How_to_Lose_the_Information_War.mp3
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Bobby Chesney sat down with former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Texas Congressman Chip Roy as part of the 2020 Texas Tribune Festival. They discussed Portland, DHS, domestic violence and even the shortage of civil discourse in our society.

Direct download: Portland_DHS_and_the_Rule_of_Law.mp3
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It’s not something that gets a lot of attention in American news outlets, but there remain large numbers of women and children linked with the Islamic State detained in various camps in Syria. Some of the population in the camps are native to Iraq or Syria, but there are also significant numbers who traveled to the Islamic State from outside the Middle East. Many of these travelers came from Central Asia, but a not-insignificant number of them came from various countries in Western Europe—and many of those countries shied away from efforts to bring the women back home to face trial or otherwise reintegrate into society. Who are these women? What are conditions like in the camps? What is behind the reluctance of European countries to repatriate? And how should we think about the security threat that these women pose?

Jacob Schulz talked through these issues with Vera Mironova, a research fellow at Harvard and, among other things, author of a recent Lawfare post interviewing four women in these camps, and Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the United Nations special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

Direct download: Detention_Questions_and_the_Woman_of_the_Islamic_State.mp3
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Elizabeth Neumann served as the assistant secretary for threat prevention and security policy at the Department of Homeland Security. She has recently been speaking out about President Trump and, among other things, his failure of leadership with respect to the threat of white supremacist violence. In the course of doing so, she made reference to a book by Kathleen Belew, a historian at the University of Chicago: "Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America," a history of violent white power movements in the modern United States.

Elizabeth and Kathleen joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the interactions of policy and the history that Belew describes. Why have we underestimated this threat for so long? How has it come to be one of the foremost threats that DHS faces? And what can we do about it, given the First Amendment?

Direct download: Elizabeth_Neumann_and_Kathleen_Belew_on_White_Power_Violence.mp3
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"After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency," a new book published by Lawfare, is a look at the manner in which Donald Trump has disrupted the presidency across a range of areas, as well as a series of proposals for reforms to try to restore those norms that his presidency has disrupted. Its authors, Bob Bauer, former White House counsel in the Obama White House, and Jack Goldsmith, Lawfare co-founder and former OLC chief in the Bush administration, joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss they book, how they came to write it, and the specific proposals they put on the table. They talked about ethics, about disclosure, about the relationship between the Justice Department and the White House, and about what the problems are that can—and can't—be solved through reform.

Direct download: Goldsmith_and_Bauer_on_After_Trump.mp3
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In recent years, Congress has taken unprecedented steps to push back against the Trump administration's efforts to pull U.S. troops from certain long-standing deployments overseas. The most recent such provision is contained in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021 that is currently being debated and would prohibit the president from reducing U.S. troop levels in Germany and Europe unless certain conditions are met.

But does Congress have the authority to direct these deployments, or does doing so interfere with the president's constitutional authority as commander-in-chief? To discuss these issues, Scott R. Anderson sat down with two legal experts who have written extensively on the subject: Ashley Deeks of the University of Virginia School of Law and Zachary Price of the UC Hastings College of Law. They discussed the legal limits on Congress's authority over the military, what the president's commander-in-chief authority actually entails and what it all means for the future of U.S. troop deployments overseas.

Direct download: Congress_Control_Over_the_Military.mp3
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What is the proper relationship between the CIA director and the president? How should directors handle arguably illegal orders? How important is the director's role as the nation's honest broker of information during times of crisis?

To get at these questions, David Priess sat down with Chris Whipple, a documentary filmmaker, journalist and the author of two books about the people around the president. "The Gatekeepers," based upon his documentary of the same name, examines White House chiefs of staff, and his new book, "The Spymasters: How the CIA Directors Shape History and the Future," is based on the Showtime documentary "The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs," for which Whipple was the writer and executive producer. They talked about CIA directors through the last several decades and how they've impacted U.S. history and national security.

Direct download: The_Spymasters_with_Chris_Whipple.mp3
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Alexei Navalny is Russia's most prominent dissident, opposition leader and anti-corruption crusader—and the latest such person to be poisoned by the Vladimir Putin regime, which, of course, it denies. When we recorded this episode, Navalny's condition was improving as he received medical treatment in Germany. To discuss Navalny's career and why Putin chose now to attack him, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Alina Polyakova, president and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis. They talked about how Navalny has become such a thorn in the side of the Putin regime, why Putin keeps poisoning people as opposed to killing them by other means and why the Russians are so ineffective at poisonings when they undertake them.

Direct download: Alina_Polyakova_on_the_Poisoning_of_Alexei_Navalny.mp3
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Michael S. Schmidt is a reporter for The New York Times, a reporter who broke a number of key stories during the Russia investigation. He is most recently the author of "Donald Trump v. The United States: Inside the Struggle to Stop a President," a new book with exhaustive reporting on the history of the Russia investigation and the confrontations between the president and those in his administration who tried to put the brakes on his most extreme behaviors.

Schmidt joined Benjamin Wittes to talk about the book. They talked about Jim Comey and his wife Patrice; they talked about former White House Counsel Don McGahn, who was in an impossible situation as both a deep believer in the Trump agenda and an informant for the Mueller investigation; and they talked about the Mueller investigation and why it never answered those counterintelligence questions that everyone expected it to address.

Direct download: Mike_Schmidt_on_Stopping_a_President.mp3
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Peter Strzok served in the FBI from 1996 to 2018 and eventually became the deputy head of the counterintelligence division, where he supervised, among other things, the Russia investigation, both at the FBI and later under Robert Mueller. His new book is called, "Compromised: Counterintelligence and the Threat of Donald J. Trump." Benjamin Wittes sat down with Peter for an extended conversation over Zoom, sponsored by the Georgetown Center for Security Studies, to discuss the book, Pete's own history, why he still thinks the president is compromised by the Russians and his response to criticisms of the way the Russia investigation was conducted.

Direct download: Pete_Strzok_on_Compromised.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Ben Nimmo, the director of investigations at Graphika. Ben has come on the podcast before to discuss how he researches and identifies information operations, but this time he talked about one specific information operation: a campaign linked to the Internet Research Agency “troll farm.” Yes, that’s the same Russian organization that Special Counsel Robert Mueller pinpointed as responsible for Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election on social media. They’re still at it, and Graphika has just put out a report on an IRA-linked campaign that amplified content from a fake website designed to look like a left-wing news source. They discussed what Graphika found, how the IRA’s tactics have changed since 2016 and whether the discovery of the network might represent the rarest of things on the disinformation beat—a good news story.

Direct download: Ben_Nimmo_on_the_Return_of_the_Internet_Research_Agency.mp3
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It was a big week for manipulated video and audio content. In just 36 hours, senior republicans or people associated with the Trump campaign tweeted, posted or shared manipulated audio or video on social media three times, prompting backlash from media and tech companies. Last week, Lawfare's managing editor, Quinta Jurecic, and associate editor, Jacob Schulz, wrote a piece analyzing these incidents. To talk through issues of deep fakes and cheap fakes, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Quinta, Jacob and Danielle Citron, a professor of law at the Boston University School of law. They talked about who posted what on Twitter and other social media, how the companies responded, what more they could have done and whether posting manipulated video is still worth it, given how companies now respond.

Direct download: Cheap_Fakes_on_the_Campaign_Trail.mp3
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The Hatch Act has been in the news a lot recently, between the Republican National Convention's use of the White House grounds and Secretary Pompeo's decision to address the Convention from an official trip in Jerusalem. What does the law really require, what does it forbid and what does it permit? Benjamin Wittes spoke with Amanda Kane Rapp, senior counsel at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson. They talked about whether the RNC violated the Hatch Act, where the rules come from and how in the future they might be changed.

Direct download: Everything_You_Wanted_to_Know_About_the_Hatch_Act.mp3
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It was a big week for the DC Circuit Court of Appeals who handed down opinions in two cases involving former presidential White House advisors. The case of Don McGahn, former White House Counsel, was decided by a panel of the court, having been kicked back to that panel by the full court earlier in the summer. The case of Michael Flynn was decided by the full court, reversing a panel that had earlier ordered a lower court judge to throw the criminal case out.

It's a dizzying series of events involving a complex bunch of cases. To talk through it, Benjamin Wittes got together with Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson who clerked on the DC Circuit, and Jonathan David Shaub, a professor at the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law. They talked about the Flynn case, the McGahn case, the en banc court vs. the panels that it has generated, and where the cases are going next.

Direct download: A_Busy_Week_at_the_DC_Circuit.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Alissa Starzak, the head of public policy at Cloudflare—a company that provides key components of the infrastructure that helps websites stay online. They talked about two high-profile incidents in which Cloudflare decided to pull its services from websites publishing or hosting extremist, violent content. In August 2017, after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Cloudflare’s CEO Matthew Prince announced that he would no longer be providing service to the Neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer. Two years later, Cloudflare also pulled service from the forum 8chan after the forum was linked to a string of violent attacks.

They talked about what Cloudflare actually does and why blocking a website from using its services has such a big effect. They also discussed how Cloudflare—which isn’t a social media platform like Facebook or Twitter—thinks about its role in deciding what content should and shouldn’t stay up.

Direct download: Alissa_Starzak_on_Cloudflare.mp3
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Last week, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe informed Congress that elections security briefings in the run-up to the 2020 election would no longer be oral. There would be written intelligence product only, and there would be no Q&A sessions. Members of Congress are not happy about it.

To discuss the the change, Benjamin Wittes spoke with David Priess, a former CIA briefer who used to do briefings like this, and Margaret Taylor, a former congressional staffer who used to consume briefings like this. They discussed how big a change this actually is, whether it will stick and what tools Congress has to push back against it.

Direct download: Briefings_Schmiefings.mp3
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On August 13, President Trump said in a news interview that he opposed supplemental funding for the United States Postal Service because such funding is needed for the delivery of universal mail-in ballots for the 2020 election. His comments sparked panic about whether the Trump administration is slowing Postal Service delivery in order to sway the election. Images of blue mailboxes being removed and anecdotes about slow mail delivery added fuel to the fire. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was called to testify before Senate and House oversight committees. Lawsuits were filed by a host of state Attorneys General.

So what’s really going on here? Is this election interference, the implementation of legitimate policies or something else? Margaret Taylor sat down with Kevin Kosar of the American Enterprise Institute and Anne Joseph O’Connell of Stanford Law School to sort through the facts, the policy changes, the investigations and the lawsuits—and what it all means for the 2020 election.

Direct download: Election_Anxieties_and_the_US_Postal_Service.mp3
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Earlier this month, the Trump administration re-imposed tariffs on aluminum imports from Canada, signaling a new salvo in the now years-long trade war it has been waging with countless U.S. trading partners. But what gives the president the authority to pursue such measures unilaterally, even when he lacks support from members of his own party in Congress? To talk through this question, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Kathleen Claussen of the University of Miami School of Law and Timothy Meyer of Vanderbilt Law School. They discussed the scope of the president's authority over trade, where it came from and what a future Congress might be able to do about it.

Direct download: Trade_War_Powers_Past_Present_and_Future.mp3
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In mid-May, President Trump fired the State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. The ouster came as a surprise, and although it is clear that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked Trump to fire him, the reasons Pompeo gave for it have changed over time. This is just one of a series of controversies coming out of the Department of State in recent months. With the House Foreign Affairs Committee investigating and additional Inspector General reports becoming public over the last month, Margaret Taylor sat down with Politico’s foreign affairs correspondent, Nahal Toosi, and Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson, to sort through it all. They talked about the implications of Secretary Pompeo’s speech at the Republican National Convention, the IG’s report on Pompeo’s controversial decision to declare an emergency to expedite the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, questions about the use of Department resources in support of Susan Pompeo and the State Department’s responses to the House and Senate requests for documents related to Biden and Burisma.

Direct download: Pompeos_State_Department_with_Nahal_Toosi_and_Scott_Anderson.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Emma Llansó, the director of the Free Expression Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT). They discussed the Global Internet Forum, or GIFCT, a consortium which houses a shared database of content that platforms use to remove terrorism-related material. Emma makes the case for why it’s worth paying attention to—and why she finds it concerning.

They also talked about CDT’s lawsuit against President Trump over his recent executive order aiming to constrain platforms’ leeway to moderate content, which the CDT is arguing violates the First Amendment.

Direct download: Emma_Llanso_on_GIFCT.mp3
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Yemen is home to the most tragic circumstances imaginable right now—years upon years of war, environmental disasters and severe humanitarian plight, exacerbated by cholera, diphtheria and now COVID-19. To discuss the ongoing situation, David Priess sat down with Elisabeth Kendall, a senior research fellow in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Pembroke College, Oxford University, who has spent extensive time on the ground in Yemen, and Mick Mulroy, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East. They talked about the roots of the Yemeni war and its humanitarian toll, its evolution through conflict and COVID-19, and prospects for improved conditions.

Direct download: Yemens_Ongoing_Tragedy.mp3
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Jack Goldsmith spoke with Harold Holzer, director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, about his new book, "The Presidents vs. the Press: The Endless Battle Between the White House and the Media from the Founding Fathers to Fake News." They discussed the long and interesting history of the contentious relationship between presidents and the press, and how President Trump's relationship with journalists has many precedents and is not the low point in president-press relations. They also discussed the likely arc of the battle between the White House and the media after Trump leaves office.

Direct download: Harold_Holzer_on_The_Presidents_vs_the_Press.mp3
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In recent months, relations between the United States and China seem to have reached a new low as disagreements over trade, tech, human rights and the coronavirus have led the two sides to exchange increasingly harsh rhetoric. Just weeks ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went so far as to suggest that the decades-long experiment of U.S. engagement with China had been a mistake. But is this heightened tension just a bump in the road, or is it a new direction for one of the United States's most important bilateral relationships? To discuss these issues, Scott R. Anderson sat down with an all-star panel of China watchers, including Tarun Chhabra of the Brookings Institution and Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Elsa Kania of the Center for a New American Security, and Rob Williams, executive director of the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School.

Direct download: The_State_of_the_US-China_Relationship.mp3
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The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has released the final counterintelligence volume of its extensive report related to many aspects of the Russian information warfare and influence campaign surrounding the 2016 election. To dissect it, David Priess sat down with Lawfare's Benjamin Wittes, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic and Margaret Taylor. They discussed what's in this report, how it relates to the Mueller report and what actions, if any, it will spur from its hard-hitting findings.

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Alex Stamos, the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory and former chief security officer of Yahoo and Facebook. Alex has appeared on the podcast before, but this time, they discussed a new coalition he helped set up called the Election Integrity Partnership—a coalition focused on detecting and mitigating attempts to limit voting or delegitimize election results. Disinformation and misinformation around the U.S. presidential election has already started popping up online, and it’s only going to increase as November draws closer. The coalition aims to counter this in real time. So how will it actually work?

They also asked Alex for his hot takes on TikTok—the popular video sharing platform facing pressure over concern about influence from the Chinese government.

Direct download: Alex_Stamos_on_Fighting_Election_Disinformation_in_Real_Time.mp3
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Late last week, the UN Security Council voted down a resolution, offered by the United States, to indefinitely extend a conventional arms embargo on Iran set to expire in October. The lifting of the arms embargo was one of the sweeteners that was part of the Obama administration's Iran nuclear agreement. Now, the Trump administration has announced it will begin the process of triggering the snapback of UN sanctions on Iran using procedures outlined in UNSCR 2231—a move that could be the death knell for the Iran nuclear agreement. Margaret Taylor sat down with Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson, and Richard Gowan, the UN director for the Crisis Group, an independent research and advocacy organization, to talk through the legal and political issues, as well as what will unfold on this matter in the weeks and months to come.

Direct download: Gowan_and_Anderson_on_Snapback_on_UN_Sanctions_on_Iran.mp3
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President Trump's relationship with the intelligence community is back in the news again after allegations that his administration manipulated an intelligence report to show a false equivalency between Russian efforts to interfere in the 2020 presidential election on his behalf and similar efforts by China and Iran on behalf of his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. But Trump isn't the first president to try to get the intelligence community to align its assessments with his preferred version of the facts, and he's most likely not the last. This week, Scott R. Anderson sat down with journalist Robert Draper to discuss his new book on one of the most infamous cases of intelligence manipulation in recent history, entitled "To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America into Iraq." They also discussed his recent article for The New York Times Magazine detailing the Trump administration's efforts to change intelligence reports on election interference and what these cases can tell us about the relationship between the presidency and the intelligence community.

Direct download: Manipulating_Intelligence_Then_and_Now_with_Robert_Draper.mp3
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In a surprise announcement last week, the United Arab Emirates and Israel are normalizing relations, and Israel is putting on hold its plans for annexation of West Bank territory. To discuss the announcement and its diverse implications for various actors, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson; Suzanne Maloney, an Iran specialist who is acting head of the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings; Natan Sachs, the director of the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy; and Hady Amr, a non-resident senior fellow at Brookings who served as the United States deputy special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. They talked about what the deal covers; its implications for the domestic politics of Israel, Iran and the United States; how it might affect the larger regional dynamics and what it means for the Palestinians.

Direct download: A_Surprise_UAE-Israel_Deal.mp3
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On July 30, former President Barack Obama, speaking at the funeral of Congressman John Lewis, threw his weight behind ending the Senate filibuster if necessary to pursue a voting rights agenda. His comments brought to the forefront a debate that has been simmering for years within the Democratic party. Margaret Taylor spoke with Adam Jentleson, who served as deputy chief of staff to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid during the Obama administration, and Brookings senior fellow Molly Reynolds, about the history of the filibuster, how it actually works and what the consequences could be if a Democratic-controlled Senate actually got rid of it.

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Shane Huntley, the director of Google’s Threat Analysis Group—a team that leads Google’s efforts to track threats from nation states and hacker groups. If you’ve ever received a notification from Google that a state-sponsored actor is trying to access your email account, you’ve heard from the Threat Analysis Group. The group examines everything from attempts to steal cryptocurrency to what Google calls “coordinated influence campaigns.”

Recently, the Threat Analysis Group has begun putting out blog posts with updates on their work against coordinated influence campaigns. Alina and Quinta asked Shane about his “bulletin” for the first quarter of 2020.

Direct download: Shane_Huntley_on_Countering_Digital_Threats_at_Google.mp3
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President Trump recently issued executive orders aimed at banning TikTok and WeChat from operating in the United States. To discuss the sanction, Bobby Chesney sat down with Dr. Sheena Chestnut Greitens, an associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and a faculty affiliate with the Strauss Center for International Security and Law and the Clements Center for National Security at UT; and Dr. Ronald Deibert, a professor of political science and the founder and director of The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. In addition to the executive orders concerning TikTok and WeChat, they also discussed the larger U.S.-China relationship and the role of technology competition in that space.

Direct download: Trump_Takes_Aim_at_TikTok_and_WeChat.mp3
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Last week, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington handed down a major en banc decision on the question of whether the president's former White House Counsel, Don McGahn, even needs to show up in response to a congressional subpoena, or whether he has absolute immunity from testifying before Congress. A strong seven judge majority of the DC Circuit overturned a panel opinion that had held that a congressional committee had no standing to sue to enforce its subpoena. The full DC Circuit ruled that yes, it does have standing. In a separate case, a lower court ruled on an internecine dispute within the House of Representatives over proxy voting instituted by speaker Nancy Pelosi in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The court ruled that Republicans could not challenge the proxy voting rule because of the Speech and Debate Clause. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare senior editors Margaret Taylor and Scott Anderson about what this all means for congressional oversight, whether these opinions will stand up on further review and what will happen next.

Direct download: The_McGahn_Decision_and_Proxy_Voting.mp3
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During the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon employed an unusual scare tactic in his efforts to reach a withdrawal—he led Vietnam to believe he was crazy enough to start a nuclear war, an approach he described as the madman theory. From his first days in office, President Trump has employed his own madman theory, from menacing North Korea with fire and fury to threatening withdrawal from NATO, leaving not just adversaries, but also U.S. allies and even his own advisors unsure of what he will do next. David Priess spoke with CNN's chief national security correspondent and anchor of CNN Newsroom, Jim Sciutto, who has analyzed Trump's foreign policy through this lens and written "The Madman Theory: Trump Takes On the World."

Direct download: Jim_Sciutto_on_Trump_and_the_Madman_Theory.mp3
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Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday. He was asked about the recent DHS personnel deployments in the wake of mass protests, particularly in Portland, Oregon. The hearing included some grandstanding and repetition, but we cut out all of the theatrics to leave you with just the questions and answers that you need to hear.

Direct download: Chad_Wolf_vs_the_Committee_with_No_Bull.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny, reporters at NBC News. Writing at, they report on disinformation and misinformation in health and politics. Their work covers a lot of ground, but for this episode, they discussed one increasingly prominent issue on that beat: QAnon, a conspiracy theory built around anonymous posts on an internet forum claiming that Donald Trump is waging war against a deep state and a vast network of child sex traffickers. The conspiracy theory has inspired acts of violence and is becoming increasingly mainstream, with several candidates for U.S. Congress being QAnon believers. They talked about how QAnon started, why we need to take it seriously and how the internet—and big technology platforms—have allowed the theory to spread.

Direct download: Ben_Collins_and_Brandy_Zadrozny_Explain_QAnon_.mp3
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“What if J. Edgar Hoover Had Been a Moron?” That’s the question Lawfare’s editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes asks in a new article about his experience learning that his tweets had been written up in an intelligence report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis. After reporting on an internal DHS document and publishing other documents to Twitter, Wittes learned that I&A had distributed intelligence reports about those tweets along with the tweets of New York Times reporter Mike Baker. After Shane Harris reported on I&A’s activities at the Washington Post, DHS announced that it was halting the practice of collecting information on journalists and the head of the office was reassigned. Quinta Jurecic discussed the bizarre story with Wittes and former Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris.

Direct download: DHS_Compiles_Intelligence_on_Journalists.mp3
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Last Friday the Lawfare Podcast brought you Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's full statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his question and answer session with the senators, all with "no bull." A few days before that hearing, the Democratic staff of the Committee released its most recent oversight report titled "Diplomacy in Crisis: The Trump Administration's Decimation of the State Department." Following remarks by Ranking Member Bob Menendez, Margaret Taylor moderated a panel discussion about the report featuring three distinguished former ambassadors with close to 75 years of diplomatic experience between them—Tom Shannon, Barbara Stephenson and Bonnie Jenkins—as well as Elizabeth Shackelford, who in 2017 resigned her career post in protest of the Trump administration. They talked about the contents of the minority staff report, the recommendations it contains and the long-term consequences of what the report documents for America's foreign policy and national security interests.

Direct download: SFRC_Report_Diplomacy_in_Crisis.mp3
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Michel Paradis is a scholar of international law and human rights who has worked for more than a decade for the U.S. Department of Defense Military Commissions Defense Organization, where he has worked on a number of the landmark court cases to arise out of Guantanamo Bay. Most recently, he is the author of the book "Last Mission to Tokyo: The Extraordinary Story of the Doolittle Raiders and Their Final Fight for Justice." It's the story of two military commissions that arose out of the first U.S. bombing raid over Japan during World War II: One, the trial by the Japanese of a number of Americans who participated in the raid, and the other after the war, of the Japanese who conducted the first trial for their conduct of that trial. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Michel about the extraordinary history he uncovered, how he came to be interested in these cases and how they relate to the ongoing U.S. experiments with military commissions.

Direct download: Michel_Paradis_on_Last_Mission_to_Tokyo.mp3
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday. Pompeo was asked about the threats posed by China and Russia, the decision to withdraw 12,000 U.S. troops from Germany, the upcoming presidential election and much more. The hearing did include some grandstanding and repetition, but we cut out all of the theatrics to leave you with just the questions and answers that you need to hear.

Direct download: Pompeo_vs_the_Committee_with_No_Bull.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Kate Klonick and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jillian C. York, the director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She’s been an activist working on issues of internet freedom and free expression for many years, which gives her a unique perspective on debates over disinformation and platform governance. Jillian and Kate discussed Facebook’s Oversight Board—the entity designed to provide accountability for the platform’s content moderation decisions—whose development they have watched closely, and about which Kate has written a recent article. They also discussed why Jillian thinks content moderation is broken, what technology companies could do better and how discussions of platform governance tend to focus on the United States to the exclusion of much of the rest of the world.

Direct download: Jillian_York_on_Free_Expression_on_a_Broken_Internet.mp3
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Attorney General William Barr testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Barr was asked about the federal government's response to protests, the upcoming presidential election, the dismissal of former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman and much more. The hearing did include a lot of bickering and grandstanding, but we cut out all of the unnecessary repetition and theatrics to leave you with just the questions and answers that you need to hear.

Direct download: Barr_vs_the_Committee_with_No_Bull.mp3
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For a while, there have been large numbers of alleged former Islamic State state fighters and affiliates detained by the Iraqi government and by autonomous authorities in Syria. The fate of these detainees—and the more than 60,000 people affiliated with the men who live in refugee camps in the region—remains a pressing national security issue for countries in the region, as well as the United States and its Western allies. To talk about the situation, Jacob Schulz spoke with Bobby Chesney, Lawfare co-founder and professor of law at the University of Texas; Vera Mironova, a research fellow at Harvard and, among other things, author of a recent Lawfare post on trials of Islamic State fighters in Iraq; and Leah West, a lecturer at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University and a fellow at the McCain Institute. They talked about how the trials have gone in Iraq and Syria; how the U.S., Canada and European countries have responded to the situation; and what lessons can be drawn from U.S. experiences with post-9/11 detention and trials of suspected terrorists.

Direct download: What_to_do_with_Detained_Islamic_State_Fighters.mp3
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Anne Applebaum is a columnist, writer, historian and most recently, the author of "Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lore of Authoritarianism," a book that explores why authoritarian ideologies are on the ascendance in countries as diverse as Poland, Hungary, Spain, the United States and Great Britain. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Anne about the themes of the book: Why are all of these authoritarian ideologies on the rise now? What is the role of social media in their rise? What are the major themes that they have in common, and how different are they location by location? How did conservative ideology come to fracture the way it has over so brief a period of time? And how is the modern wave of authoritarianism different from earlier iterations of it?

Direct download: Anne_Applebaum_on_the_Twilight_of_Democracy.mp3
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Why has modern China prospered in spite of vast corruption? On this episode of ChinaTalk, Jordan Schneider talks with Yuen Yuen Ang, associate professor of political science at the University of Michigan, about her new book, "China's Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Boom and Vast Corruption." She draws comparisons between U.S. history and the China of today, arguing that access money in China functions like campaign finance in the States. They also discuss the implications of corruption for regime stability.

Direct download: How_Corruption_Works_in_China.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, whose work focuses on analyzing and identifying altered photo and video—what’s known as digital image forensics. Recently, he has done work on deep fakes—realistic synthetic media in which a person’s likeness is altered to show them doing or saying something they never did or said. He’s also helped develop technology used by platforms to identify and remove material related to child sexual abuse. They talked about how dangerous deep fakes really are, how much of that danger is the technology itself and how much of it has to do with how big platforms amplify incendiary content, and whether platforms should moderate disinformation and misinformation in the same aggressive way they take down sexually abusive material.

Direct download: Hany_Farid_on_Deep_Fakes.mp3
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Last week, the European Court of Justice released its much awaited decision in Data Protection Commissioner v Maximilian Schrems, commonly known as Schrems II, which addressed which privacy requirements governments and corporations within the European Union will be required to secure before participating in international data transfers. The court's decision casts serious doubt on many of the measures currently in place, most notably in relation to the United States's own national security and surveillance activities, and thus raises new questions about how the European Union would continue to interact with the global digital economy. To discuss these developments, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Peter Swire, professor of law and ethics at the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology and himself a former privacy official in the Clinton and Obama administrations, and Stewart Baker, currently of counsel at Steptoe & Johnson and previously the assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security during the George W. Bush administration.

Direct download: Schrems_II_and_the_Future_of_Transatlantic_Data.mp3
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Yesterday, Lawfare published an article revealing and analyzing a document from the Department of Homeland Security that offers legal guidance to analysts in its Office of Intelligence and Analysis regarding the appropriate intelligence activities to mitigate the threat to monuments, memorials and statues, among other things. To discuss this new information and its implications, David Priess spoke with not only the two authors of the article —Lawfare's editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes and University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck—but also Carrie Cordero, senior fellow and general counsel at the Center for a New American Security, who has researched and written extensively on DHS authorities and policies, and Paul Rosenzweig, senior fellow for National Security & Cybersecurity at the R Street Institute and a former deputy assistant secretary for policy at DHS.

Direct download: The_Expanded_Intelligence_Activities_of_the_DHS.mp3
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This year marks the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. Though often called the "Forgotten War," the Korean War has highly conditioned much of our contemporary international politics in East Asia, and the people of Korea continue to live with its aftermath, both in the north and in the south. And the shadow of the Korean War looms large over something we often debate on Lawfare—war powers. To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the U.S. entry into the Korean War, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Katharine Moon, a professor of political science at Wellesley College and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Center for East Asia Policy; Matt Waxman, a professor at Columbia University Law School and long-time Lawfare contributor; and Scott R. Anderson, senior editor of Lawfare and a specialist on war powers, among other things. They talked about what happened on the Korean peninsula during the war, how it affected the way we talk about war powers, and the international law status of the conflict in Korea.

Direct download: The_Forgotten_War_Remembered.mp3
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Darrell West is vice president of the Brookings Institution and director of Governance Studies at Brookings. John Allen is the president of the Brookings Institution and a retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general. Together, they are the authors of the book, "Turning Point: Policymaking in the Era of Artificial Intelligence," a broad look at the impact that artificial intelligence systems are likely to have on everything from the military, to health care, to vehicles and transportation, and to international great power competition. They joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the book and the question of how we should govern AI systems. What makes for ethical uses of AI? What makes it scary? What are the anxieties that people have about artificial intelligence and to what extent are the fears legitimate?

Direct download: John_Allen_and_Darrell_West_on_Artificial_Intelligence.mp3
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This week on our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jane Lytvynenko, a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News who focuses on disinformation. If you use Twitter regularly and have looked at the platform during any major media events—disasters, protests, you name it—you’ve likely seen her enormous tweet threads where she debunks hoaxes and misinformation. Recently, she’s turned her debunking skills toward misinformation and disinformation around the coronavirus pandemic, reporting on the various “fake experts” peddling misleading stories about the virus and the long half-life of the conspiratorial “Plandemic” video. She’s also written on the rise of “disinformation for hire”—PR firms that turn to disinformation as a marketing tool. So what is it like to report on disinformation and misinformation in real time? How can journalists help readers understand and spot that bad information? And, is there any cause to be optimistic?

Direct download: Jane_Lytvynenko_on_Debunking_the_Disinformation_Garbage_Fire.mp3
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We talk a lot about Chinese policy in Hong Kong, but there's another human rights crisis going on in China in the province of Xinjiang. It concerns the Turkic minority known as the Uighurs whom the Chinese government has been rounding up and putting in reeducation camps. It is an ugly story—one that the Chinese government has gone to great lengths to keep from international attention, with some degree of success. To walk us through the situation in Xinjiang, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Jessica Batke, a senior editor at ChinaFile; Darren Byler, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Colorado at Boulder whose research focuses on Uighur dispossession; and Maya Wang, a senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch, who has written extensively on the use of biometrics, artificial intelligence and big data in mass surveillance in China.

Direct download: A_Deep_Dive_on_China_and_the_Uighurs.mp3
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In a 2018 poll, 74 percent of Americans said they believed that some group of unelected government and military officials was definitely or probably secretly manipulating or directing national policy. What is the actual history of presidents and Congress clashing with national security and law enforcement institutions? And how has that led to Trump's notion of a deep state out to get him? David Priess spoke with two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Rohde of The New Yorker, who has turned his attention to this tricky topic in the new book, "In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth about America's 'Deep State.'" They talked about intelligence, law enforcement, inspectors general, public trust in government and of course, Bill Barr.

Direct download: David_Rohde_on_the_Supposed_Deep_State.mp3
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You've heard a lot about COVID-19 and its effects in the United States, China and East Asia, Europe and Brazil. But what about the Middle East, South Asia and Africa? The virus is hitting these regions hard with profound political and national security consequences. To discuss it all, David Priess sat down with Mona Yacoubian, a senior advisor on Syria, the Middle East and North Africa at the United States Institute of Peace; Nilanthi Samaranayake, the director of the Strategy and Policy Analysis Program at CNA with expertise on Indian Ocean and South Asia security; and Judd Devermont, the director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former national intelligence officer for Africa.

Direct download: COVID19_National_Security_Implications_MiddleEast_SouthAsia_Africa.mp3
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Yesterday, the Supreme Court, on the final day of its term, handed down the two big subpoena cases: Trump v. Vance, in which the president tried to beat back a subpoena from a New York grand jury, and Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, in which the president tried to beat back a congressional subpoena for his financial records. He didn't entirely succeed in either case, but he made some headway in the Mazars case. To discuss it all, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare's Margaret Taylor, Scott Anderson, Quinta Jurecic and Molly Reynolds. They talked about whether the president has a path forward before the New York grand jury, and what the cryptic decision in Mazars portends, both for Trump and for the executive-legislative oversight relationship.

Direct download: The_Subpoena_Cases_Come_Down.mp3
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In this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Brandi Collins-Dexter, the senior campaign director at the advocacy organization Color of Change and a visiting fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She recently published a report with the Shorenstein Center on “Canaries in the Coal Mine: COVID-19 Misinformation and Black Communities,” tracing how different false narratives about the pandemic surfaced among Black social media users in the United States. So what makes this misinformation unique and especially dangerous? And how should the responses of technology companies account for the ways the Black community is particularly vulnerable to this kind of misinformation? They also discussed Color of Change’s role in the #StopHateForProfit campaign, an ad boycott of Facebook in protest of the company’s handling of potentially harmful speech on its platform.

Direct download: Brandi-Collins-Dexter-Covid19-Disinfo-and-Black-Communities.mp3
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The protests in Hong Kong have grabbed international headlines, but Hong Kong is hardly the only region of China that is experiencing brutal repression from the Chinese Communist Party. The latest unrest in the city and the imposition of the new national security law in Hong Kong mirrors actions taken in Xinjiang, the province of China that is inhabited principally by Uighur Muslims. To talk about it all, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Alvin Cheung, a non-resident affiliated scholar of NYU's U.S. Asia Law Institute and an expert on Hong Kong law; Jeremy Daum of the Paul Tsai China Center at the Yale Law School and an expert on Chinese criminal procedure and the detention of Uighurs outside of it; and Sophia Yan, the Beijing-based China correspondent for The Telegraph in London. They talked about what's going on in Hong Kong, what's going on in Xinjiang, what's going on in Tibet, and what's going on in the mainland of China itself.

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David Priess is the chief operating officer of the Lawfare Institute. He is also a former CIA briefer for the Attorney General and the FBI director, and he's the author of "The President's Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America's Presidents." The president's daily brief has been in the news of late because of the Russia bounties story and the question of whether President Trump is actually internalizing the intelligence he is given in his daily briefing. Benjamin Wittes spoke with David about the history of the president's daily brief, how different presidents have gotten intelligence information and whether President Trump's behavior in this regard is exceptional or not.

Direct download: David_Priess_on_the_History_of_the_PDB.mp3
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Christian Brose was the staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he was also John McCain's senior policy adviser. He now works as the chief strategy officer of Anduril Industries, and he is the author of "The Kill Chain: Defending America and the Future of High-Tech Warfare," a look at how far behind the United States is growing in possible conflict against its principal national security adversary: China. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Chris to talk through what would happen if China and the United States actually fought a war. How has China modernized its military so quickly without the kind of military spending the United States has engaged in? And what does the United States need to do to stay current?

Direct download: Chris_Brose_on_The_Kill_Chain.mp3
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Jack Goldsmith spoke with David Shimer, the author of "Rigged: America, Russia and 100 Years of Covert Electoral Interference." They discussed United States and Soviet interference in elections during the Cold War, how and why the U.S. attitude toward foreign electoral interference changed after the Cold War, and whether and to what degree the Central Intelligence Agency still covertly intervenes in foreign elections today. They also discussed how the rise of the Internet asymmetrically empowers Russia and its long term efforts to disrupt domestic U.S. politics.

Direct download: Rigged.mp3
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On this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Darius Kazemi, an internet artist and bot-maker extraordinaire. Recently, there have been a lot of ominous headlines about bots—including an NPR article stating that nearly 50 percent of all Twitter commentary about the pandemic has been driven by bots rather than human users. That sounds bad—but Darius thinks that we shouldn’t be so worried about bots. In fact, he argues, a great deal of reporting and research on bots is often wrong and actually causes harm by drumming up needless worry and limiting online conversations. So, what is a bot, anyway? Do they unfairly take the blame for the state of things online? And if weeding out bot activity isn’t a simple way to cultivate healthier online spaces, what other options are there for building a less unpleasant internet?

Direct download: Darius_Kazemi_on_the_Great_Bot_Panic.mp3
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As the United States continues to suffer from the effects of the coronavirus, the controversy surrounding China's alleged role in the pandemic has continued to grow. In recent weeks, it has even entered the U.S. courts, as private plaintiffs have brought claims against the Chinese government and related institutions for allegedly contributing to the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, members of Congress have introduced legislation aimed at making such litigation even easier to pursue, specifically by stripping away the sovereign immunity protections that normally protect foreign states from such claims. But can these efforts really provide Americans with needed relief, or are they just a dangerous distraction from the real issues with the United States's own coronavirus response? To discuss these issues, Scott R. Anderson spoke with Chimène Keitner, the Alfred and Hanna Fromm Professor of International Law at the University of California Hastings School of Law, and Robert Williams, executive director of the Paul Tsai China Center at the Yale Law School.

Direct download: Taking_China_to_Court_Over_the_Coronavirus.mp3
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The New York Times and Washington Post both report that a Russian intelligence unit is paying bounties to Taliban-affiliated militants for killing coalition, including U.S., soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan. The White House denies that the president has been briefed on the subject, although the newspapers report that the White House was alerted to it and didn't do anything about it. Congress is asking questions, and Trump's critics are certain that this is the latest example of the president bowing before Vladimir Putin.

Benjamin Wittes spoke with Scott Anderson, Susan Hennessey and David Priess of Lawfare, and Alina Polyakova, president and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis, about how solid the intelligence is, what we can say about the president's knowledge—or lack thereof—of the situation, and why Russia would want to do this in the first place.

Direct download: About_Those_Russian_Bounties.mp3
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Jack Goldsmith sat down with Eric Posner, the Kirkland & Ellis Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, and the author of the new book, "The Demagogue's Playbook: The Battle for American Democracy from the Founders to Trump." They discussed why demagogues are a characteristic threat in democracies, how the founders of the U.S. Constitution tried to ensure elite control and prevent a demagogue from becoming president, how these safeguards weakened over time and how Donald Trump's demagoguery helped him win election as president. They also explored how Posner's perception of Trump as a threat to American democracy fits with his writings in support of a powerful president.

Direct download: Eric_Posner_on_the_Demagogues_Playbook.mp3
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Jordan Schneider, the host of ChinaTalk, sat down with Antony Dapiran, Hong Kong-based lawyer and author of two books on protests in Hong Kong. They discussed the history and legacy of the 2019 protests on the anniversary of one of the largest protests in human history, when two million Hongkongers marched against the extradition bill. They talked about the lead-up and aftermath of that day, how protests grew increasingly violent, the new national security law, and how these protests compare and contrast to Black Lives Matter.

Direct download: Hong_Kongs_Protests_One_Year_On.mp3
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In this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Whitney Phillips and Ryan Milner, authors of the new book, “You Are Here: A Field Guide for Navigating Polarized Speech, Conspiracy Theories, and Our Polluted Media Landscape.” Phillips is an assistant professor in Communications and Rhetorical Studies at Syracuse University, and Milner is an associate professor of Communication at the College of Charleston. In “You Are Here,” they look at the uniquely disorienting aspects of the current online information environment and how that is exacerbated by aspects of “internet culture” that don’t make sense from the outside. They discussed the challenges for journalists in understanding and reporting on that culture and how that can fuel information pollution, how the internet got to this point where everything is so polluted, and, of course, what QAnon has to do with it.

COVID-19 is still rampaging around the country, primaries in several states did not go as planned, and, of course, there are Russians lurking in the background. With all of this happening around us, what is going to happen with the election we are about to hold in November? Benjamin Wittes checked in with Nate Persily, the James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, a guru on conducting a safe and efficacious election in the era of COVID, and Lawfare senior editor Margaret Taylor, who has been tracking what, if anything, Congress is going to do about any of this. They talked about where we are, where we need to be and how long a road we can expect over the next few months.

Direct download: Election_Meltdown_Update.mp3
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Glenn Kessler is the head of the Fact Checker staff of the Washington Post. Along with Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, he is the author of the new book, "Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth: The President's Falsehoods, Misleading Claims and Flat-Out Lies." It is a compilation and distillation of the 19,000 false or misleading statements Donald Trump has made and the Washington Post has documented in its mammoth database of presidential untruths since the president took office. Kessler spoke with Benjamin Wittes about what makes Trump different from other presidents, the task of documenting the president's lack of candor on a daily basis and what it all means to have a president who lies this much.

Direct download: Glenn_Kessler_on_Donald_Trumps_Assault_on_Truth.mp3
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Former National Security Advisor John Bolton's White House memoir, titled “The Room Where it Happened,” has made a lot of waves recently. Not only has Bolton faced criticism for publishing his account of his time in the Trump administration in a book rather than testifying in the president’s impeachment trial, but the Justice Department is now suing Bolton for publishing what it claims is classified information. So what is the government arguing? And, is Bolton’s book any good? On Friday, June 19, Quinta Jurecic discussed it all with Benjamin Wittes, Jack Goldsmith and Marty Lederman.

Direct download: John_Boltons_Book_is_Out_of_the_Barn.mp3
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Dr. Mira Rapp-Hooper is the Stephen A. Schwarzman senior fellow for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the new book, "Shields of the Republic: The Triumph and Peril of America's Alliances." Matthew Waxman spoke with Mira about the history and strategic importance of American alliances, some of the constitutional issues alliances raise and what the United States should do to revitalize its alliances going forward.

Direct download: Mira_Rapp-Hooper_on_Shields_of_the_Republic.mp3
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On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Laura Rosenberger, the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy and a senior fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States. When it comes to information operations, most Americans probably think of Russia as the primary culprit. After all, the memory of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election is still fresh. But over the past year, Chinese information operations have gained prominence with the Chinese Communist Party involved in aggressive online campaigns regarding unrest in Hong Kong and the ongoing pandemic. They talked about how the Chinese government wields information online, how Chinese tactics are different from Russian tactics in the information space and how democracies should respond.

Direct download: Laura_Rosenberger_on_Chinese_Information_Operations.mp3
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Molly Reynolds spoke with Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and John Fortier of the Bipartisan Policy Center about the Continuity of Government Commission, an effort they helped to lead beginning in 2002 to ensure that our three branches of government would be able to function after a catastrophic attack that killed or incapacitated large numbers of our legislators, executive branch officials or judges. They discussed the findings of the Commission, how they relate to the challenges facing the federal government today and how the various branches of government have or have not acted to ensure smooth operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Direct download: Norm_Ornstein_and_John_Fortier_on_the_Continuity_of_Government.mp3
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The 2020 presidential election is less than five months away. As the election inches closer and closer, concerns have grown about the possibility that President Trump, should he lose the election, would refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the result. How can we think about that risk? Do we have adequate statutory and constitutional guardrails that protect us from electoral catastrophe? Jacob Schulz sat down with Lawrence Douglas, James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought at Amherst College, and author of the new book “Will He Go? Trump and the Looming Election Meltdown in 2020.” They talked about the vulnerabilities in our electoral system, historical examples of mishaps in presidential elections and how to think about the president’s continued hostility toward elections and, in particular, mail-in voting.

Direct download: Lawrence_Douglas_on_Presidential_Election_Concessions.mp3
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Patrick Skinner is a police officer in Savannah, Georgia, who brings diverse experience to that job. He served as a case officer at the Central Intelligence Agency, handling foreign intelligence sources in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Jordan. He also has previous law enforcement experience with the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Capitol Police and the U.S. Federal Air Marshal Service. David Priess spoke with Skinner about today's policing crisis, Pat's experiences with counterterrorism operations and what they taught him about effective law enforcement, and the hazards of the warrior mentality that is common across many police departments today.

Thanks to Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

Direct download: Patrick_Skinner_on_Warrior_Cops_and_Neighborhood_Policing.mp3
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ChinaTalk is the newest member of the Lawfare Podcast family, and its impresario, Jordan Schneider, does a wide range of interviews related to China's economy and security. In this episode, Jordan interviews Evan Osnos of The New Yorker about the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and the relationship between that date and the clearing of Lafayette Square. They talk about everything from the psychological similarities and differences between Donald Trump, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, to Chinese hip hop and why it is not catching on internationally.

Direct download: Evan_Osnos_on_Tiananmen_and_Lafayette.mp3
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On this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Eileen Donahoe, the Executive Director of the Global Digital Policy Incubator at Stanford University. There’s no shortage of controversies roiling right now about free expression and the future of the internet—from platforms aggressively removing misinformation about the ongoing pandemic, to President Trump’s executive order targeting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Eileen, Quinta and Alina take a step back and review the landscape of online speech as a whole, to get a more holistic sense of what things look like right now and where platforms and governments might be headed when it comes to regulating speech. They talked about the various debates over content moderation taking place within the United States and around the world, and Eileen made the case for why international human rights law should be used as the framework for both protecting and moderating online speech.

Direct download: Eileen_Donahoe_on_Protecting_Free_Expression_Online.mp3
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David Frum is one of the most prominent and eloquent conservative critics of the president. The former George W. Bush speechwriter and current writer for The Atlantic has written "Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy," a book about the Trump presidency, and in this case, what comes after it. David joined Benjamin Wittes for a wide-ranging conversation of the ground he covers in the book: how you rebuild after Trump, how you satisfy elements of Trumpism without letting them descend back into authoritarian populism, what policies and approaches a new administration should take and how we should treat the "Trumpists" and their most diehard supporters.

Direct download: David_Frum_on_Trumpocalypse.mp3
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High profile congressional hearings, like the 2015 Benghazi hearings, the 2019 Mueller Report hearings and most recently, the Ukraine impeachment proceedings are often described in derogatory terms like "political theater," "spectacle" or "circus." But do these exaggerated performances on Capitol Hill actually serve a constitutional purpose? Margaret Taylor sat down with Josh Chafetz, a law professor and author of the book "Congress's Constitution: Legislative Authority and the Separation of Powers." They talked about his most recent article, in which he argues that congressional overspeech, like congressional oversight, is actually an important tool of constitutional politics, even if it doesn't automatically produce good outcomes.

Direct download: Congressional_Overspeech_with_Josh_Chafetz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EDT

On May 27, the Trump administration announced that it was withdrawing sanctions waivers that had allowed Russian, Chinese and European companies to work with Iran on sensitive Iranian nuclear sites in support of the goals of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. Margaret Taylor talked about what it really means with two experts: Peter Harrell, an attorney and adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, and Richard Nephew, senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. They talked about what has happened since the Trump Administration decided to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement in 2018 and what difficulties a new presidential administration may encounter in re-joining the agreement.  

Direct download: JCPOA_with_Harrell_and_Nephew.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EDT

We normally think of international law as constraining leaders' actions, especially aggression toward other countries. But what if one effect of an established international principle actually spurs more covert action against other countries? Michael Poznansky is an assistant professor of International Affairs and Intelligence Studies in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, with a secondary appointment in the Political Science department, at the University of Pittsburgh. In his new book, "In the Shadow of International Law: Secrecy and Regime Change in the Postwar World," Mike argues just this—that the principle of non-intervention that has come up in the past century has actually created powerful motives for leaders to engage in covert action more frequently to spur regime change. David Priess sat down with Mike to talk through his thesis and its implications.

Direct download: Covert_Action_Regime_Change_and_International_Law.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EDT

In this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Ryan Merkley, the chief of staff to the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation. We’ve spent a lot of time on this podcast discussing how social media platforms have handled issues of disinformation and misinformation. But what about Wikipedia? It’s a massive online encyclopedia written and edited entirely by volunteers—so, not a platform, but still an online service grappling with a wave of untruths in an uncertain time. Ryan, Evelyn and Quinta talked about Wikipedia’s unique structure, how the site has managed to become a reliable resource on an often untrustworthy internet, and how readers, writers and editors of Wikipedia are navigating the need for information amidst both the pandemic and ongoing protests over police abuse of Black Americans.

Direct download: Ryan_Merkley_on_Why_Wikipedia_Works.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EDT

Dr. Rashawn Ray is a David M. Rubenstein fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He's also an associate professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he directs the Lab for Applied Social Science Research (LASSR). He is a scholar of, among other things, police-civilian relations and has done a lot of work on police-involved killings. He joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the mechanisms of police violence, what causes it, what can be done to address it and reduce it, and the role of race in this problem. They talked about police unions, implicit bias, the difference between legality and morality in police shootings and what policy levers are available to bring an end to the rash of police killings.

Direct download: Rashawn_Ray_on_Police_Violence.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EDT

The president is threatening to designate Antifa as a terrorist organization. This evening, he appears to have ordered a tear gas attack on peaceful protesters near the White House in order to stage a photo op in front of a local church. And he has called out troops in Washington, DC, and threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act. To talk through the legal ins and outs of what the president has done (and not done), what he has the power to do and what he does not have the power to do, and what the federal response to the protests should be, Bobby Chesney, Steve Vladeck and Benjamin Wittes got together for this special joint episode of the National Security Law Podcast and the Lawfare Podcast.

Direct download: On_the_Brink_with_the_Insurrection_Act.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:22am EDT

Journalist Bart Gellman is the author of the new book, "Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State." Jack Goldsmith sat down with Gellman to discuss the book. They spoke about Gellman's reporting on the Snowden affair, the scope of the National Security Agency's surveillance capabilities and press freedom as it relates to national security reporting.

Direct download: Bart_Gellman_on_Dark_Mirror.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EDT

Eli Lake is a columnist for Bloomberg and the author of a recent article in Commentary magazine on the case of Michael Flynn. In that article, he argues a number of things that many at Lawfare have argued against—that Michael Flynn was railroaded, that he was set up, that the FBI behaved inappropriately, and that the Justice Department pursued Michael Flynn unfairly and was thus correct under Attorney General Bill Barr to seek dismissal of the case.

To argue it out, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lake about the conduct of the FBI investigation, whether it was reasonable to interview Mike Flynn, whether the case should have been dropped and whether Mike Flynn really lied in his interview with the FBI.

Direct download: Eli_Lake_Makes_the_Case_for_Flynn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:49pm EDT

In this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Gabrielle Lim, a researcher with the Technology and Social Change Research Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center and a fellow with Citizen Lab. Lim just released a new report with Data and Society on the fascinating story of a Malaysian law ostensibly aimed at stamping out disinformation. The Anti-Fake News Act, passed in 2018, criminalized the creation and dissemination of what the Malaysian government referred to as “fake news.” After a new government came into power following the country’s 2018 elections, the law was quickly repealed. But the story of how Malaysia’s ruling party passed the act, and how Malaysian civil society pushed back against it, is a useful case study on how illiberal governments can use the language of countering disinformation to clamp down on free expression, and how the way democratic governments talk about disinformation has global effects.

Direct download: Gabrielle_Lim_on_Malaysia_and_the_Anti-Fake_News_Act.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:12pm EDT

Hong Kong protesters are out in the streets once again, as the Beijing legislature contemplates a new national security law for the city, and the Hong Kong legislature considers a bill to make it a crime to disrespect the Chinese national anthem. It's all going relatively unnoticed amidst the international focus on the coronavirus, but Hong Kong is increasingly under the thumb of the Chinese Communist Party.

To discuss the latest developments, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Sophia Yan of The Daily Telegraph, and Alvin Cheung, originally from Hong Kong and currently a non-resident affiliated scholar at NYU's U.S.-Asia Law Institute. They talked about the details of what these laws would do, the way Beijing might use them to crack down on dissent and what the protesters hope to achieve in this latest round of street violence.

Direct download: Hong_Kong_Erupts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:58pm EDT

On Wednesday, NASA and the SpaceX Corporation are scheduled to send astronauts back into outer space from U.S. soil for the first time since the U.S. space shuttle program ended in 2011. The launch promises to kick off a new era in space exploration, one that will see the increased use of outer space for both public and private purposes, as well as greater involvement by private corporations and other unconventional actors in space exploration. To discuss the legal and policy challenges of this new era, Scott R. Anderson spoke with three lawyers working at the bleeding edge of space law and policy: Professor Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty of Arizona State University and its Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law; Brian Israel, a former public and private sector space lawyer who teaches space law at Berkeley Law; and Daniel Porras, currently a space security fellow at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research.

Direct download: The_Future_of_Space_Law.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:13pm EDT

Steven Teles is the author of a new book with Robert P. Saldin, "Never Trump: The Revolt of the Conservative Elites." Benjamin Wittes spoke with Teles about the book, how the national security and legal communities approach Donald Trump and how these two schools of thought have informed the Never Trump movement.

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

This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Deen Freelon, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Deen’s work focuses on data science and political expression on social media, and they discussed research he conducted on tweets from the Internet Research Agency troll farm and their attempts to influence U.S. politics, including around the 2016 election. In a recent article, Deen and his coauthors found that IRA tweets from accounts presenting themselves as Black Americans received particularly high engagement from other users on Twitter—which raises interesting questions about the interaction of race and disinformation. They also talked about what the data show on whether the IRA actually succeeded in changing political beliefs and just how many reporters quoted IRA trolls in their news reports without realizing it.

Direct download: Deen_Freelon_on_Why_Black_Trolls_Matter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:02pm EDT

There may not be many laws governing how former presidents should interact with the current commander-in-chief, or with each other, or how the sitting president should treat his or her predecessors. But over time, we have developed a body of norms about how to do so appropriately. Donald Trump has, to put it mildly, changed expectations about the relationships that presidents past and present have with each other. David Priess recently sat down in the virtual jungle studio to chat with Kate Andersen Brower, author of "Team of Five: The Presidents Club in the Age of Trump," in which she describes these dynamics among the few people to know what it is actually like to be president. They talked about her interview with Donald Trump to get at his feelings toward his predecessors, the unwritten rules of the Presidents Club and about what his post-presidency might look like.

Direct download: Trump_and_His_Predecessors.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48pm EDT

President Trump on Friday fired the inspector general of the State Department. It was the fourth time he had fired or removed an inspector general in just the last six weeks. As he explained in a letter to Capitol Hill leadership, he had lost confidence in the inspector general, though Democrats were quick to point out that he appeared to be investigating Mike Pompeo on a number of matters, and Mike Pompeo, in turn, had requested his removal.

To discuss the Trump administration's removals of inspectors general, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Mike Bromwich, who was the inspector general of the Justice Department during the Clinton administration; Jack Goldsmith, professor at Harvard, who wrote a piece on Lawfare about the legality of removals of inspectors general; and congressional guru Margaret Taylor, who examines the congressional reaction to the moves. They talked about many aspects of the controversy: Is this unprecedented? When have prior presidents removed inspectors general? And what, if anything is Congress going to do about it?

Thanks to our sponsor, the book "Slanted," at

Direct download: Firing_Inspectors_General.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:18pm EDT

The global pandemic has raised searching questions about the relationship between a public health emergency and free speech. Jack Goldsmith sat down with David Kaye, the outgoing U.N. Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, to talk about Kaye’s new U.N. report on “Disease pandemics and the freedom of opinion and expression.” The pair discussed the impact the pandemic has had on hostility to speech in different parts of world, the importance of information during a pandemic and much more.

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

The global coronavirus pandemic has changed the way different corners of the world interact with each other, perhaps forever. Nowhere is this more true than the global economy, where a decade's long trend toward the easier exchange of trade and investment was already under increasing political pressure when the pandemic broke. It may now be facing a truly unprecedented set of challenges. To discuss how the global trade and investment systems are being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, Scott R. Anderson spoke to three legal experts who have a wealth of private and public sector experience between them: Julian Arato of Brooklyn Law School, Kathleen Claussen of the University of Miami School of Law and Ben Heath, currently at NYU School of Law, and soon to be of the Temple University Beasley School of Law.

Direct download: Global_Trade_and_Investment.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:04pm EDT

On this week's episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek spoke with Craig Silverman, the media editor for Buzzfeed News and one of the leading journalists covering the disinformation beat. Craig is credited with coining the phrase “Fake News.” Evelyn spoke with him about how he feels about that, especially now that the phrase has taken on a life of its own. They also talked about a book Craig edited, the second edition of the "Verification Handbook,” available online now, that equips journalists with the tools they need to verify the things they see online. Journalism and reporting on disinformation has never been so important—but the internet has never been so chaotic and journalists are not only observers of disinformation, but also targets of it.

Direct download: Craig_Silverman_on_Real_Reporting_on_Fake_News.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:17pm EDT

Scott R. Anderson sat down with Elizabeth Shackelford, a former foreign service officer whose late 2017 resignation became a sign of growing discontent with the Trump administration within the diplomatic corps. They talked about her new book, "The Dissent Channel," out this week, which discusses her experience as a young diplomat living through a period of crisis in South Sudan, and the lessons it taught her about diplomacy, human rights and the role of the United States in the world.

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

The Supreme Court today held arguments in a blockbuster case. Do the Trump tax returns and associated financial documents at firms like Mazars and Deutsche Bank need to be turned over in response to congressional subpoenas and a subpoena by a New York State grand jury? Joining Benjamin Wittes to discuss it are Steve Vladeck, Quinta Jurecic and Margaret Taylor. They talked about how this confrontation developed between Congress and the executive, what the background law is and whether this should be in fact a very easy case, and where the justices seemed to be going and how they don't seem to be going in the direction of their prior precedents.

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

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