The Lawfare Podcast (general)

It was supposed to be the big sequel to the January 6 "Stop the Steal" rally-turned-riot. It was supposed to be the largest armed protest in the history of the United States, taking place in all 50 state capitals. And yet, Inauguration Day turned out to be peaceful. Protesters were few; acts of violence were even fewer. It's a major counterterrorism success, and like many major counterterrorism successes, it has largely been unremarked upon. How did we go without the sequel to the bloody events of January 6? To what extent should we credit law enforcement action or the deplatforming of the president and his followers, or is the explanation something entirely different? To talk it through, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Dan Byman, Lawfare's foreign policy editor and counterterrorism expert, who has identified six major factors that likely contributed to this week's success.

Direct download: Dan_Byman_on_the_Sequel_that_Never_Came_to_Be.mp3
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During his inaugural address yesterday, President Biden spoke about the subject of this podcast: disinformation. “There is truth and there are lies,” Biden said, “lies told for power and for profit.” And he asked Americans to unify rather than “turn inward” against those “who don't get their news from the same sources you do.”

But in an era of QAnon and pandemic disinformation, how will that unification be possible? The day before the inauguration, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Kate Starbird, an associate professor of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington, for this first episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth miniseries under the Biden administration. Kate last came on the podcast in March 2020 to discuss disinformation and misinformation around the coronavirus, and she has had a long year since then researching online ecosystems around the pandemic and supposed voter fraud. And the Capitol riot on January 6 threw all this into sharp relief, as the things that Kate studies every day boiled over into mainstream consciousness with a vengeance. They spoke with Kate about what led up to the riot, what the disinformation landscape looks like now and what kind of work will be required to move forward.

Direct download: Information_Disorder_During_and_After_the_Trump_Presidency.mp3
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Private entities—in particular, technology giants like internet service providers, email services and social networks—play a vital role in helping law enforcement fight child pornography online. But the involvement of private entities does not eliminate the Fourth Amendment issues that come with electronic surveillance. In fact, the more the private entities cooperate with the government, the more likely it is that courts will consider them government agents, and the evidence they collect will be subject to the same Fourth Amendment restrictions as apply to law enforcement agencies. Jeff Kosseff is an assistant professor at the United States Naval Academy's Cyber Science Department. As part of Lawfare's ongoing Digital Social Contract research paper series, he published a paper entitled, "Online Service Providers and the Fight Against Child Exploitation: The Fourth Amendment Agency Dilemma." Alan Rozenshtein spoke with Jeff about how the government and internet companies can thread the needle on fighting digital child exploitation without running afoul of the Constitution.

Direct download: Jeff_Kosseff_on_the_Fight_Against_Online_Child_Pornography.mp3
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In the wake of the January 6 mob attack on the Capitol, some have called for the invocation of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Section 3 disqualifies anyone who has engaged in rebellion or insurrection against United States from public office. In particular, critics of President Trump have seized on this as a potential way of preventing him from running in 2024. Alan Rozenshtein spoke about Section 3 with professors Daniel Hemel of the University of Chicago Law School and Gerard Magliocca of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

Direct download: Section_3_of_the_14th_Amendment.mp3
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The NSA this week released a long-awaited update to its signals intelligence policy, which had not been updated since 1988. David Kris, former assistant attorney general for the National Security Division, shortly thereafter produced an even longer paper analyzing the dense and technical policy document. David joined Benjamin Wittes to talk about the significance of this new policy document, what it does and how it is different from the document it replaces. They also talked about David's paper, how he came to write it, why it is so much longer than the policy document itself and what the implications of the new NSA policies are for signals intelligence collection and civil liberties.

Direct download: David_Kris_on_the_NSA_Annex.mp3
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Yesterday, January 13, the House of Representatives impeached President Trump a second time for encouraging the violent riot in the Capitol Building on January 6. And yet, the impeachment is probably less of a crushing blow to the president than something else that’s happened in recent days: the loss of his Twitter account.

After a few very eventful weeks, Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation is back. Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jonathan Zittrain, the George Bemis Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School, about the decision by Twitter, Facebook and a whole host of other platforms to ban the president in the wake of the Capitol riot. Jonathan, Evelyn and Quinta take a step back and situate what’s happening within the broader story of internet governance. They talked about how to understand the bans in the context of the internet’s now not-so-brief history, how platforms make these decisions and, of course, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Listeners might also be interested in Zittrain's February 2020 Tanner Lecture, "Between Suffocation and Abdication: Three Eras of Governing Digital Platforms," which touches on some of the same ideas discussed in the podcast.

Direct download: Jonathan_Zittrain_on_the_Great_Deplatforming.mp3
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Jack Goldsmith sat down with Brian Kalt, a law professor at Michigan State University, to talk about an important issue in the news this week: late impeachments. In the current context, the issue of a late impeachment would arise if the House of Representatives impeaches President Trump before he leaves office but the Senate does not hold the trial for Trump, with possible conviction and disqualification from further office, until after he leaves office. They discussed how the Constitution and its historical background and structure inform this question, as well as what the practice of impeachments over 230 years teaches us. They also talked about how former President Trump might challenge any trial, conviction or disqualification that takes place after he leaves office.

Direct download: Late_Impeachments.mp3
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Donald Trump is headed for a second impeachment, a whole lot of people have been charged in federal and local courts in Washington, and an even larger number are probably about to be. What's more, the president's social media accounts have vanished; in fact, one of the very networks on which the president's supporters organized has itself disappeared. To talk through it all, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare's Alan Rozenshtein, Bryce Klehm, David Priess, Quinta Jurecic and Susan Hennessey. They talked about whether impeachment is inevitable now, if the article of impeachment Congress is considering is well-crafted, who has been charged and who is going to be charged, and what we should make of the actions of the tech companies against the president and his allies.

Direct download: The_Incredible_Vanishing_President.mp3
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Jamie Gorelick was the deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno. In that capacity, she hired as her top aide and adjutant one Merrick Garland. This was before Garland became a D.C. Circuit judge, but it was a fateful period for the department, a period in which Garland supervised some high-profile cases, including the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Gorelick to talk about Garland's history at the department, his selection as attorney general and the team that will surround him.

Direct download: Jamie_Gorelick_on_Merrick_Garland.mp3
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The storming of the Capitol on Wednesday was a catastrophic failure of protective law enforcement, as rioters overran Capitol Police barricades and gained access to a building that a lot of police were supposed to be protecting. How did it happen? Who screwed up? And what can be done about it? Benjamin Wittes sat down with Fred Burton, the executive director of the Center for Protective Intelligence at Ontic and a former protective officer; Garrett Graff, a journalist who covers federal law enforcement and who wrote a book about continuity in government; and Lawfare's executive editor Susan Hennessey. They talked about how bad the failure was on the part of the Capitol Police, who is responsible for it, what can be done now to bring the perpetrators to justice and how we should think about changing security protocols on Capitol Hill going forward.

Direct download: Who_Let_the_Barbarians_Through_the_Gates.mp3
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Today a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol following a rally at which the president spoke. Congressional efforts to count the electoral votes were suspended, and an armed standoff, in which at least one person was killed, ensued. To discuss the matter, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare managing editor Quinta Jurecic; Lawfare chief operating officer David Priess; Georgetown's Mary McCord, who used to run the National Security Division at the Justice Department; and Daniel Byman, a professor at Georgetown and Lawfare's foreign policy editor.

Direct download: Insurrection_at_the_Capitol.mp3
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It is electoral count voting day, and members of Congress in a joint session will open and count the electoral votes and declare Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the winners of the election. It will not be without controversy, however, as members from both houses plan to object, forcing debate, and as the Proud Boys descend on Washington. In anticipation of turmoil inside and outside of the Capitol, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare senior editor Scott Anderson, Brookings and Lawfare congressional guru Molly Reynolds, and law professor and election law specialist Ned Foley of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. They talked about what the rules are for counting electoral votes, how much latitude they have, what could really happen today and what role, if any, Mike Pence could play in the disposition of the final stage of the presidential election.

Direct download: Counting_the_Electoral_Votes.mp3
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Jack Goldsmith sat down with Margaret Love, the United States Pardon Attorney in the Justice Department from 1990 to 1997. They discussed Donald Trump's very controversial pattern of pardons and commutations, Trump's circumvention of the traditional pardon attorney process and the historical operation of that process prior to Trump. They also discussed various potential reforms of the process for determining pardons and commutations.

Direct download: The_Role_of_the_Pardon_Attorney.mp3
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Alexander Vindman sat down with Dr. Geoffrey Gresh to discuss his new book, "To Rule Eurasia's Waves: The New Great Power Competition at Sea." Dr. Gresh is a professor of International Security Studies at the College of International Security Affairs (CISA) at the National Defense University in Washington D.C., with a primary research focus on maritime affairs. He has also served as the chair of the Department of International Security Studies and as CSIA's director for the South and Central Asia Security Studies program. They discussed Russia's, China's and India's interests in their near-seas competition cooperation and the implications of great power competition for U.S. policy.

The views expressed by Dr. Gresh in this episode do not represent the U.S. government, the Department of Defense or National Defense University.

Direct download: To_Rule_Eurasias_Waves.mp3
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It is the last podcast of the year, and we are giving 2020 an appropriate send-off. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare executive editor Susan Hennessey, managing editor Quinta Jurecic, senior editor Scott Anderson, and Lawfare contributor and law professor Alan Rozenshtein to talk about the worst stories of the year, as well as their expectations and predictions for the coming year.

Direct download: Bye_Bye_2020.mp3
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Bob Bauer is a former White House counsel, and he has been leading the legal response for the Biden campaign and transition to the unprecedented onslaught of efforts on the part of the president to overturn the 2020 election. He also recently wrote a piece for Lawfare on the current occupant of the White House counsel's office, Pat Cipollone, and how he should be handling the incredibly difficult position the president has put him in. Benjamin Wittes spoke with Bob about the article, the role of the White House counsel when the president is trying to overturn a democratic election, and the spate of pardons the White House has issued over the last few weeks.

Direct download: Bob_Bauer_on_the_White_House_Counsel.mp3
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It's the end of the year, and that means we opened the phones for the annual "Ask Us Anything" edition. You called in with your questions, which we routed to Lawfare contributors for their answers. Benjamin Wittes, Molly Reynolds, Steve Vladeck, David Priess, Susan Hennessey, Scott Anderson, Judd Devermont and Rohini Kurup responded to questions on everything from pardons to prosecuting contractors to ethnic diversity at Lawfare.

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

Direct download: Ask_Us_Anything.mp3
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It’s not something that has gotten a lot of attention amid a busy U.S. news cycle, but much has been happening in Ethiopia over the past two months. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who just last year won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to bring unity between Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea, led a military battle against domestic forces in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray. The fighting has caused the significant displacement of people living in the region and has involved reports of atrocities. In early December, the Prime Minister claimed victory, but concerns remain about how long tensions will endure—or at least continue to simmer. It’s a complicated situation with major implications for stability in the East Africa and Horn of Africa region. To break it all down, Jacob Schulz talked with two different experts. First, to get a sense of what’s going on and how we got to this point, he spoke with Emmanuel Igunza, a reporter in East Africa for BBC News; then, he spoke with Beza Tesfaye, the director of research and learning for migration at Mercy Corps, about the humanitarian problems implicated by the crisis.

Direct download: Conflict_in_Ethiopia.mp3
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In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technology was touted as a potential savior. In particular, there was a burst of enthusiasm around so-called digital contact tracing apps, which would track people's movements and interactions and notify them if they had been exposed to COVID. Apple and Google, which together control the operating systems for virtually the entire smartphone market, joined forces and created a standard to help researchers, private entities and governments create contact tracing apps. But despite the early hype, enthusiasm about these apps quickly fizzled, and even today, they remain underdeveloped and rarely used. As part of Lawfare's ongoing Digital Social Contract research paper series, law professors Jane Bambauer from the University of Arizona and Brian Ray from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, published a paper titled, "COVID-19 Apps Are Terrible—They Didn't Have to Be." Alan Rozenshtein sat down with Jane and Brian to talk about why contact tracing never played more than a marginal role in managing the pandemic.


The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has been conducting and regulating signals intelligence, SIGINT, since before the United States was born. To talk about how they do it across the pond, David Kris sat down with two experts on UK SIGINT and SIGINT regulation: Michael Drury and Tony Comer, both veterans of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British counterpart to our own National Security Agency. Michael was GCHQ's first full-time legal advisor from 1996 to 2010, when he joined the private sector, and Tony was GCHQ's historian until his retirement earlier this year. They compared and contrasted the U.S. and UK experience with SIGINT, SIGINT regulation, popular support for SIGINT and intelligence in general, and also some cutting-edge issues, including how SIGINT works today, synergies between SIGINT and cyber, GDPR encryption and online harms.

Direct download: SIGINT_in_the_UK.mp3
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Jasmine El-Gamal is a nonresident senior fellow with the Middle East program at the Atlantic Council. Between 2008 and 2015, she served as a Middle East advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and as a special assistant to three undersecretaries of defense for policy. She is the author of a recent article in Newlines magazine entitled, "Lost and Found in Guantanamo Bay: Two encounters with two different men in the most notorious detention facility in the world shaped my faith – and my life – forever." She joined Benjamin Wittes to talk about the article, how she ended up as a young woman as a translator at Guantanamo and in Iraq, what she's done since, and how the experience of Guantanamo shaped her later policy career, as well as her view of America, Islam and counterterrorism.

Direct download: Jasmine_El-Gamal_on_What_She_Lost_and_Found_at_Guantanamo.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jaime Longoria, an investigative researcher at First Draft, who monitors information disorder in Latino or Latinx communities in the United States and in Latin America. In the run-up to the 2020 U.S. election, there was an explosion of press stories about mis- and dis-information in Spanish-speaking communities. But this is hardly a new phenomenon. They talked with Jaime about the long-standing and ongoing information disorder in these communities, how it is or isn’t distinctive, why it tends to go under the radar in public conversation and what can be done about it.

Direct download: No_One_Expects_the_Spanish_Disinformation.mp3
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It is two days after the Electoral College has met in 50 state capitals, voted and given 306 electoral votes to Joe Biden, making him the next president of the United States. Or did it? There is talk of a kind of electoral Alamo wherein a final showdown takes place over the counting of those electoral votes come January 6 when Congress meets in a joint session to receive the votes of the state electors. To discuss what happened this week, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Molly Reynolds, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Scott R. Anderson, Lawfare senior editor and fellow at the Brookings Institution. They talked about whether the election is actually over, or if we are heading toward some kind of final cataclysm where the forces of Trumpism take on the last stage of the electoral process.

Direct download: Its_Over_or_Is_It.mp3
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Alan Rozenshtein sat down with Yaya Fanusie, a former CIA analyst and an expert on the national security implications of cryptocurrencies, who recently published a paper as part of Lawfare's ongoing Digital Social Contract research paper series, entitled, "Central Bank Digital Currencies: The Threat From Money Launderers and How to Stop Them." They talked about how central banks are exploring digital currencies, how those currencies might in turn be used by criminals and terrorist groups, and how governments and the private sector should respond.

Direct download: Yaya_Fanusie_on_Central_Bank_Digital_Currencies-2.mp3
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In the first part of this episode, Jordan Schneider, the host of ChinaTalk, sat down with Yun Jiang, a former Australian government official and an editor at the Australian National University's China Story blog, for a deep dive into the Australia-China relationship, providing much needed context on why tension has boiled over in recent months. In the second part, we excerpt a conversation that Jordan had with Wendy Cutler, a long-time USTR official and current vice president and managing director of the Asia Society Policy Institute. They talked about how the Biden administration could address China on trade, and she offers her take on Yun and Jordan's policy proposals for shoring up Australia.

Direct download: China-Australia_Relations.mp3
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This week, the Supreme Court returned once again to the complex and sometimes controversial Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, or FSIA, that protects foreign sovereigns from litigation before U.S. courts. At the same time, Congress is once again debating new exceptions to the protections provided by the FSIA on issues ranging from cybercrime to the coronavirus pandemic, an effort that may risk violating international law and exposing the United States to similar lawsuits overseas. To discuss these developments and where they may be headed, Scott R. Anderson sat down with two leading scholars on sovereign immunity issues: Chimène Keitner, a professor at the UC Hastings School of Law and a former counselor on international law at the U.S. State Department, and Ingrid Wuerth, a professor at Vanderbilt University Law School and one of the reporters for the American Law Institute's Fourth Restatement on U.S. foreign relations law.

Direct download: The_Past_Present_and_Future_of_Sovereign_Immunity.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Claire Wardle, the co-founder and leader of the nonprofit organization First Draft and a research fellow at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center. First Draft recently released a report on the information environment around the development of vaccines for COVID-19, and Claire talked about what she and her team found in terms of online discussion of the vaccine in English, Spanish and French. What kinds of misinformation should we be ready for as vaccines begin to be administered across the world? Why might fact-checking and labeling by platforms not be effective in countering that misinformation? And why is Claire still pessimistic about the progress that platforms and researchers have made in countering dis- and misinformation over the last four years?

Direct download: The_Vaccine_Misinformation_Cometh.mp3
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President-elect Joe Biden has selected a new defense secretary, retired general Lloyd Austin, former commander of Central Command. The selection has received somewhat mixed reviews, and to discuss why, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Brookings senior fellow Mike O'Hanlon, a defense policy analyst, and Kori Schake, the head of defense and foreign policy at the American Enterprise Institute. They talked about why people are upset about General Austin's nomination, his background, the experience he has and doesn't have, who would have been a better choice and whether it matters that this is the second administration in a row that begins by putting a retired general at the head of the Pentagon.

Direct download: General_Austin_as_Secretary_of_Defense.mp3
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On Monday, Lawfare released the first paper in its "The Digital Social Contract" paper series. For each paper, Alan Rozenshtein will be doing a podcast interview with the author, and the first guest is law professor Kyle Langvardt of the University of Nebraska College of Law. His paper, "Platform Speech Governance and the First Amendment: A User-Centered Approach," examines how the First Amendment should and should not apply to the content moderation decisions of major internet platforms. Plus, Alan and Benjamin Wittes have a brief discussion to introduce the paper series as a whole.

Direct download: Kyle_Langvardt_on_Platform_Speech_and_the_First_Amendment.mp3
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Jack Goldsmith spoke with Adam Cox and Christina Rodríguez, the authors of "The President and Immigration Law," a new book about the historical rise and operation of a president-dominated immigration system. They discussed the various ways that Congress has delegated extraordinary power over immigration to the president, how what the authors call "de facto delegation" confers massive presidential enforcement discretion that is the basis for programs like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and the benefits, costs and legal limits of this system. They also discussed what President Donald Trump accomplished with his immigration program during his term in office and President-elect Biden's possible immigration agenda.

Direct download: Cristina_Rodriguez_and_Adam_Cox_on_The_President_and_Immigration_Law.mp3
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In a ruling late in the night, the day before Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court issued a preliminary injunction against Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, preventing him from imposing restrictions on how many people could attend houses of worship—restrictions that Governor Cuomo defended as necessary to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. In a lawsuit brought by a Catholic Diocese and an organization of Orthodox Jews, a majority of the Court held that the occupancy restrictions had a high likelihood of violating the free exercise of religion as protected by the First Amendment. To help explain that decision and to discuss its implications for future public health responses to COVID, Alan Rozenshtein spoke with law professors Lindsay Wiley of American University and Josh Blackman of the South Texas College of Law.

Direct download: Diocese_v_Cuomo.mp3
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On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on platforms and disinformation, Quinta Jurecic spoke with Alina Polyakova and Ambassador Daniel Fried, the former U.S. ambassador to Poland and the Weiser Family Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council. The two have a new paper out on “Democratic Offense Against Disinformation,” published by the Atlantic Council and the Center for European Policy Analysis. They have written previously on how democracies can defend themselves against disinformation and misinformation from abroad, but this time, they turned their attention to what it would mean for democracies to take the initiative against foreign purveyors of disinformation, rather than just playing defense.

So how effective are democracies at countering disinformation? What tools are available if they want to play offense? And is it even possible to do so without borrowing tactics from the same authoritarian regimes that democracies seek to counter?

Direct download: Can_Democracies_Play_Offense_on_Disinformation.mp3
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The top Iranian nuclear scientist has been killed, apparently in an Israeli strike. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who has long been the mastermind of the Iranian nuclear program, was gunned down in an attack with a remote control machine gun. Iranian reprisals are expected, although their timing and nature is not clear. It also puts the incoming Biden administration, which is looking to bring back the Iran nuclear deal, in a bit of a pickle.

To chew it all over, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Scott R. Anderson, international law specialist and Lawfare senior editor; Suzanne Maloney, the vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution and an Iran scholar; and Natan Sachs, director of the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings where he focuses on Israeli policy. They talked about why the Israelis would conduct this operation, how effective its killing of Iranian nuclear scientists has been, whether any of it is legal and what it means for the future of U.S.-Iran relations.

Direct download: An_Assassination_in_Iran.mp3
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“American companies are in a bind.” So argue Bill Priestap and Holden Triplett, who have written a series of articles for Lawfare making the case that more and more state intelligence agencies are turning their attention to private businesses, using the tools of espionage in order to build their own economic power. Both writers are speaking from experience: Priestap ran the FBI’s counterintelligence division from 2015 to 2018, and Triplett led the FBI office in Beijing from 2014 to 2017 and was deputy head of the FBI office in Moscow from 2012 to 2014. Quinta Jurecic sat down with them to discuss why countries have started to use their intelligence services in this way, what dangers this creates for American businesses and why counterintelligence risks are hard to intuitively understand.

Direct download: Why_Businesses_Need_to_Take_Espionage_Seriously.mp3
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Jordan Schneider, the host of the ChinaTalk podcast, sat down with H. R. McMaster, President Trump's former national security advisor. They talked about his time in government; the origins of the 2017 national security strategy, which focused the U.S. government on China; how he thinks history is best applied to policymaking; and even why he considers himself to be the funkiest NSA in U.S. history.

Direct download: HR_McMaster_on_China.mp3
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On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on platforms and disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Nick Rasmussen, the Executive Director of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (also known as GIFCT). The GIFCT is an organization working to facilitate cross-industry efforts to counter the spread of terrorist and violent extremist content online. It was founded in 2017 by four platforms, but is now transitioning to a new life as an independent organization, which Nick is heading up.

Online violent extremism is one of the most difficult problems of the internet age, and collaboration between companies and governments may be the only way to effectively tackle it. But how can the GIFCT balance this with the need to respect legitimate free speech concerns? How is Nick thinking about the transparency and accountability problems that such collaboration might exacerbate? And why might the GIFCT be one of the most important institutions for the future of online free speech?

Direct download: Collaborating_to_Counter_Violent_Extremism_Online.mp3
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We have a new president-elect here in the United States, which means changes to certain U.S. domestic policies and also a different way of doing foreign policy. So, what does Biden’s win mean for different countries and regions globally? Jacob Schulz brings you dispatches from around the world about the effects of Biden’s win with Boris Ruge on Germany and the EU, Alina Polyakova on Russia and Ukraine, Emmanuel Igunza on East Africa and the Horn of Africa, Ambassador Antonio Garza on Mexico, Tanvi Madan on India, Sophia Yan on China, Ben Hubbard on Saudi Arabia, Rasha Al Aqeedi on Iraq, Daniel Reisner on Israel and Kemal Kirişci on Turkey.

Direct download: Biden_Victory_Around_the_World.mp3
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Following his appearance on Friday on the Lawfare Podcast, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the Pritzker Military Fellow at the Lawfare Institute, appeared on Lawfare Live for a live video conversation and audience Q&A. It was a very good conversation—so good that we thought we would bring you an edited version of it as Part Two of our conversation with Alex Vindman. He discussed how one becomes an NSC director while serving in the active duty military, what risks the transition period has in foreign relations, whether he has any regrets about his decision to speak out during the impeachment and much more.

Direct download: A_Conversation_with_Alexander_Vindman.mp3
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Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (Ret.) is now the Pritzker Military Fellow at the Lawfare Institute, the newest member of the Lawfare team. You've heard his story, likely in his testimony in the impeachment proceedings for President Trump. But Benjamin Wittes sat down with him for a different reason—his substantive expertise in Eastern Europe policy, Russia matters and great power competition. They talked about the challenges the Biden administration will face as it tries to pick up the pieces the Trump administration has left it, how democracies can hang together and harden themselves against attacks from authoritarian regimes, what a good Russia policy looks like, how China fits in and how we can rebuild traditional American alliances.

Direct download: Alex_Vindman_Talks_Eastern_Europe.mp3
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This week on Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic are bringing you a conversation with Alex Stamos, the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory. Alex was last on the show in August to talk about the newly established Election Integrity Partnership, which he helped set up to focus on detecting and mitigating disinformation around the U.S. 2020 election. Well, the election is over! So Alex is back to talk about what the partnership saw, how well the information ecosystem held up and what the landscape looks like as the dust begins to settle.

Direct download: Most_Intense_Online_DIsinformation_Event.mp3
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In the waning days of his administration, the president has attempted to install a political loyalist as General Counsel of the National Security Agency, a position that is traditionally a merits position, not a political position. He has also issued an executive order that gives the executive branch greater control over the civil service, making it easier to hire and fire people in agencies. It all raises the question: Is Donald Trump attempting to create the very deep state that he has spent the last four years denouncing? To talk over this question in its various permutations, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Susan Hennessey, who recently wrote an article about the NSA General Counsel appointment; Scott Anderson, Lawfare senior editor; and Rudy Mehrbani, senior advisor at Democracy Fund Voice, senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, and former assistant to the president and director of presidential personnel and former associate White House counsel in the Obama administration.

Direct download: Is_Trump_Creating_a_Deep_State.mp3
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The world’s most dangerous job apparently has a vacancy once again. Al Qaeda’s #2 reportedly has been killed in Iran by Israeli forces acting on U.S. intelligence. In addition, there are some rumors about Al Qaeda's #1, Ayman al-Zawahri, also passing into the hereafter. To talk about the reports and the rumors, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare's foreign policy editor, Brookings scholar and Georgetown professor Daniel Byman.

Direct download: Job_Openings_in_Al_Qaeda.mp3
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The Islamic State in America is a topic that once garnered front-page headlines, but it has fallen a bit out of public attention in the past year or so. Jacob Schulz sat down with Seamus Hughes, the author with Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens and Bennett Clifford of "Homegrown: ISIS in America." They talked about the book, how the Islamic State has attracted American followers, how the organization operates differently in the U.S. versus Europe, the FBI and the role it plays in countering homegrown extremism, and what Seamus is most concerned about going forward.

Direct download: Homegrown_ISIS_in_America.mp3
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Kori Schake is a long-time Pentagon watcher; she is a former Defense Department, State Department and National Security Council official; and she leads the foreign policy and defense policy team at the American Enterprise Institute. She is also the author of an article in The Atlantic this week about the latest mishegoss at the Pentagon—a decapitating strike against the military civilian leadership of the United States by the president. She joined Benjamin Wittes to talk through possible explanations of why the president is firing all the leaders of the Department of Defense. Is this a grand plan to do something terrible in the last two months of his presidency, or is this just flailing narcissism? And even if it's the latter, what harm could it do?

Direct download: Kori_Schake_on_What_the_Heck_is_Going_On_at_the_Pentagon.mp3
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On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke to Marietje Schaake about how Europe is not necessarily waiting for America to get its act together and is moving ahead with tech regulation. Marietje served as a Member of European Parliament for 10 years for the Dutch liberal democratic party and is now the international policy director at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center and international policy fellow at Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. They spoke about what’s happening in Europe in the tech space, what distance there may be between European and American ideas about regulation of tech platforms, and whether that distance is bridgeable—especially under a Biden administration.

Direct download: Marietje_Schaake_on_Reclaiming_Democratic_Control_of_the_Internet.mp3
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Yesterday, President Trump fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, the latest in a string of dismissals. Meanwhile, the Biden campaign is trying to put a transition together, but the head of the General Services Administration will not ascertain that the transition has begun. To talk about it all, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Steve Vladeck, Susan Hennessey and Scott R. Anderson. They discussed the president's surprise—or not so surprising—removal of staff who have offended him, how you run a transition, what the law requires, why the GSA won't get this one started, how you staff an administration and the particular challenges Biden will face.

Direct download: Firings_Transitions_and_Staffing.mp3
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Well, that's it, folks. We have a president elect in Joe Biden. And, we have a president who is now officially a lame duck. To talk through the transition from Donald Trump to a more normal presidency, Benjamin Wittes spoke with Scott R. Anderson, Quinta Jurecic, Jacob Schulz and Susan Hennessey.

Direct download: Trump_is_Defeated.mp3
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The votes are almost all counted, but they're not quite all counted. We kind of know where the electoral votes are going, but some of them have not gone there yet. We think we know the outcome, but the outcome has not been officially called. To talk through the next several days, Benjamin Wittes sat down for a late-Thursday-evening chat with Lawfare chief operating officer David Priess, Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson and Lawfare senior contributor Alan Rozenshtein.

Direct download: Almost_Done.mp3
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Benjamin Wittes sat down with an all-Lawfare crew to discuss the election. Scott Anderson, David Priess, Jacob Schulz, Quinta Jurecic and Susan Hennessey joined Ben to talk about where the election is, whether we are in a transition or in a contested election, the challenges a Biden transition team might face and what concerns the team finds particularly alarming as they imagine the next few weeks and months.

Direct download: We-re_Almost_Done.mp3
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In a conversation completely unrelated to yesterday's election, Jordan Schneider of ChinaTalk and Matthew Klein, author of the recent "Trade Wars Are Class Wars," spoke with Adam Tooze, a professor at Columbia University and an economic historian. They discussed what we can learn from the diplomatic and economic modes of the 1930s, why Nazi legal theory resonates so well in China today, how Xinjiang's camps echo the logic of Soviet gulags, whether the U.S. in fact lost the Cold War and the bureaucracies in which Adam would have loved to work.

Direct download: Adam_Tooze_on_World_Order_Then_and_Now.mp3
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On this Election Day, we are checking in on how healthy the election actually is. Nathaniel Persily of Stanford Law School and Charles Stewart III of MIT together run the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project. Zahavah Levine and Chelsey Davidson manage the project on the Stanford side. Together, they have supervised a collection of students who have produced 32 articles for Lawfare on election administration as part of the project. Benjamin Wittes sat down with all four of them to discuss how the election is actually going, what the rules of mail-in voting are, how litigation has affected the conduct of the vote, if we have enough poll workers and what results we can expect this evening.

Direct download: Are_We_Having_a_Healthy_Election.mp3
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We're all hoping for a peaceful Election Day tomorrow, but some people are worried about violence at the polls. Two of those people are Dan Byman, senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, the foreign policy editor of Lawfare and a professor at Georgetown University; and Colin Clarke, a senior research fellow at the Soufan Center and an assistant teaching professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Together, they wrote a piece on the Brookings FixGov blog on why the risk of election violence is high. They joined Benjamin Wittes for an unnerving conversation about the set of facts that led them to write such an alarming piece, how violence could manifest at the polls and what could ease the threat.

Direct download: Daniel_Byman_and_Colin_Clarke_on_Violence_at_the_Polls.mp3
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Laura Rosenberger is the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy and a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. She was foreign policy advisor for the Hillary Clinton campaign four years ago, where she had to respond to Russian information operations against the campaign in real time. She has been working on combating foreign interference in U.S. domestic politics ever since, and she is the author of two recent significant articles—one in Foreign Affairs and one on Lawfare—both on the subject of foreign influence operations and interference in U.S. politics. She joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the strategic purpose of these operations, whether we have to fear more operations during or after the election, and if U.S. voters should have confidence in their system.

Direct download: Laura_Rosenberger_on_Foreign_Interventions_on_US_Campaigns.mp3
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On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Casey Newton, veteran Silicon Valley editor for The Verge who recently went independent to start a newsletter on Substack called Platformer. Few people have followed the stories of platforms and content moderation in recent years as closely and carefully as Casey, so Evelyn and Quinta asked him about what’s changed in the last four years—especially in the lead-up to the election. They also spoke about the challenges of reporting on the tech industry and whether the increased willingness of platforms to moderate content means that the name of this podcast series will have to change.

Direct download: Casey_Newton_on_Four_Years_of_Platform_Chaos.mp3
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There is a human rights crisis going on in the Chinese province of Xinjiang. The Chinese government has been rounding up minority groups, most notably the Uighurs, and putting them into forced labor and reeducation camps. The government has gone to great lengths to keep Xinjiang away from international attention, and it has had some success in doing so. Jordan Schneider, the host of the ChinaTalk podcast, wrote an essay on Lawfare last week outlining how the U.S. can respond and push back on the Chinese government's abuses in the region. During a live event for ChinaTalk, Lawfare's Jacob Schulz talked through Xinjiang and potential U.S. responses with Schneider and Sheena Greitens, an associate professor at UT Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Direct download: What_To_Do_About_Xinjiang.mp3
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Jack Goldsmith sat down with Stephen Wertheim, deputy director of research and policy at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He is the author of the new book, "Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy." They discussed the surprising World War II origins of U.S. hegemonic militarism, the changes in what it meant to be an internationalist during this period and the domestic political origins of the U.S. embrace of the UN Charter. They also discussed the relationship between Wertheim's book and his work for the Quincy Institute, a think tank devoted to fostering U.S. military restraint.

Direct download: Tomorrow_the_World.mp3
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This month, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence's Subcommittee on Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research released a report entitled, "Rightly Scaled, Carefully Open, Infinitely Agile: Reconfiguring to Win the Innovation Race in the Intelligence Community." Susan Hennessey sat down with Subcommittee Chair Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut to discuss the challenges the United States is facing with near-peer national competitors in science and technology and the impact on the intelligence community. They talked about the role of China, stemming intelligence community brain drain, the need for basic research and how Congress can heal itself to become part of the solution.

Direct download: Congressman_Jim_Himes_on_the_Intelligence_Innovation_Race.mp3
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It's been a wild couple of days of disinformation in the electoral context. Intelligence community officials are warning about Russian and Iranian efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election—and claiming that Iran is responsible for sending threatening emails from fake Proud Boys to Democratic voters. What exactly is going on here? To talk through the developments and the questions that linger, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Scott R. Anderson, Susan Hennessey and Quinta Jurecic.

Direct download: ForeignInterference_ItsHappening.mp3
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On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Alina Polyakova and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Janine Zacharia, the Carlos Kelly McClatchy Lecturer in Stanford’s Department of Communication, and Andrew Grotto, director of the Program on Geopolitics, Technology and Governance and the William J. Perry International Security Fellow at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center.

In 2016, a key part of the Russian influence campaign involved the hacking and leaking of emails belonging to the Democratic Party and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Journalists at mainstream news outlets rushed to write up the emails without giving adequate context to how they had been obtained.

So how can the press avoid a similar disaster in 2020? Zacharia and Grotto teamed up in recent months to write a playbook for reporters facing the dilemma of writing about hacked material or disinformation without participating in a disinformation campaign. (They’ve also written an article on the subject for Lawfare.) They spoke with Alina and Quinta about their recommendations for reporters, what the American press might be able to learn from colleagues abroad and how to assess the mainstream media’s response to the New York Post’s bizarre reporting on Hunter Biden.

Direct download: How_to_Report_on_Hacks_and_Disinformation.mp3
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While everyone’s attention has been focused on the coronavirus and the run-up to the 2020 election, a lot has been happening at the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees a number of government-funded entities, including the Voice of America. Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker, was confirmed as the head of the Agency for Global Media in June after much controversy on Capitol Hill. Once installed, Pack gutted the top leadership and took actions critics say breached the firewall meant to protect these various overseas news outlets from politicization. He held back congressionally appropriated funds and even defied a bipartisan congressional subpoena for his testimony. Investigations have been opened, and lawsuits have been filed. Margaret Taylor sat down with NPR’s David Folkenflik to sort it all out.

Direct download: Fear_and_Loathing_at_the_US_Agency_for_Global_Media.mp3
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One of the most interesting strategic developments in the past few years has been the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad—the growing partnership between the United States, Japan, Australia and India. To look at how this institution resurrected itself after a false start back in 2007, what it is and isn't doing now, and whether China is right to look warily at this dialogue, David Priess spoke with Tanvi Madan, a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Program and the director of The India Project at the Brookings Institution, and Lavina Lee, a senior lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, who was appointed by the defense minister in Australia to be a director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Council in Canberra earlier this year.

The World As You’ll Know It is available now, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

Direct download: The_Quad_with_Tanvi_Madan_and_Lavina_Lee.mp3
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On October 14, the New York Post began publishing what it touted as a series of blockbuster articles on emails and photos obtained from a laptop mysteriously abandoned at a Delaware computer repair shop—emails and photos that, the Post announced, belonged to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. The materials had been provided to the tabloid by President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. And from there, it only gets weirder.

In the eyes of many commentators, this looked like a continuation of Giuliani’s 2019 efforts to smear Joe Biden by claiming falsely that, while vice president, Biden had intervened to protect a Ukrainian company for which Hunter was working from investigation by Ukrainian law enforcement. That didn’t add up then, and it doesn’t now—the elder Biden’s work in Ukraine was aimed at combating corruption, not enabling it. But nevertheless, Trump and other Republicans are seizing on the Post’s stories—and complaining about efforts by social media companies to limit distribution of the stories on their platforms.

To get some perspective on what’s been going on, Quinta Jurecic spoke with Thomas Rid, a Professor of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies and the author of the book “Active Measures,” and Evelyn Douek, cohost of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth podcast series on disinformation and a lecturer at Harvard Law School.

Direct download: An_October_Surprise_from_the_New_York_Post.mp3
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The past year has been a difficult one for the U.S. relationship with Iraq, a country that has increasingly found itself caught in the middle of the Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign against Iran and Iran's own efforts to strike back at the United States. Now, the relationship between the United States and Iraq appears to be reaching a new low, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reportedly threatened to close the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad unless the Iraqi government does more to thwart attacks by militias associated with Iran against U.S. personnel stationed there. But is the Trump administration really willing to take such a dramatic and seemingly self-defeating step? Or are there other factors at play? To find out, Scott R. Anderson sat down with former ambassador Doug Silliman who knows the situation in Baghdad like few others. They discussed the threat to close the embassy, the legacy of the Soleimani strike for the bilateral U.S.-Iraq relationship and what the future that relationship might look like if Secretary Pompeo makes good on his threat.

Direct download: Ambassador_Doug_Silliman_on_the_Fate_of_Embassy_Baghdad.mp3
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On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek spoke with Maria Ressa, a Filipino-American journalist and co-founder of Rappler, an online news site based in Manila. Maria was included in Time's Person of the Year in 2018 for her work combating fake news, and is currently fighting a conviction for “cyberlibel” in the Philippines for her role at Rappler. Maria and her fight are the subject of the film, “A Thousand Cuts,” released in virtual cinemas this summer and to be broadcast on PBS Frontline in early next year.

As a country where Facebook is the internet, the Philippines was in a lot of ways ground zero for many of the same dynamics and exploitations of social media that are currently playing out around the world. What is the warning we need to take from Maria’s experience and the experience of Philippine democracy? Why is the global south both the beta test and an afterthought for companies like Facebook? And how is it possible that Maria is still, somehow, optimistic?

Direct download: Maria_Ressa_on_the_Weaponization_of_Social_Media.mp3
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Last Friday, Lawfare's chief operating officer, David Priess, published a piece on the site titled, "The Powerful Norm of Accepting the Results of a Presidential Election." It recounts the long history, with few exceptions, of presidents and other candidates who respected election results even if they did not go their way—a commitment that the current president and vice president have both failed to make. David joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the piece, the history, the president and the vice president's statements, and what it all means for the presidency and the transition of power.

Direct download: David_Priess_Accepts_the_Results_of_the_Presidential_Election.mp3
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Many of us think of the history of the United States' interaction with the world as one of relentless expansion, growth and engagement. From the early colonies, through the Spanish American War, through involvement in two world wars and of course, the Cold War era, the story is one of America increasingly getting involved with countries in its region and around the globe. Charles Kupchan has a thing or two to say about that. He recently researched and wrote the book, "Isolationism: A History of America's Efforts to Shield Itself from the World." He joined David Priess to talk through the idea that much of American history in terms of its relations to the outside world can be explained by isolationist tendencies, with only occasional bursts into more engagement, most notably in the Cold War world. But is that period coming to an end? And how does Donald Trump play into these trends?

Direct download: Charles_Kupchan_on_Isolationism.mp3
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Congress is capable of moving a Supreme Court justice at record speed, yet it can't get coronavirus relief passed. It has struggled to keep the government open, and it has pending business that it has to accomplish now or during the lame duck session. Margaret Taylor and Molly Reynolds, both of Lawfare and the Brookings Institution, joined Benjamin Wittes for a Lawfare Live event to discuss the health of this first branch of government and its functioning during the combined crises of the coronavirus and an election in the midst of extreme partisan polarization. They talked about how oversight has worked (and how it hasn't), the relationship between Congress and the courts, whether McConnell can get the Supreme Court nomination through and what might be able to stop him.

Direct download: Molly_Reynolds_and_Margaret_Taylor_Talk_Congress.mp3
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Andrew Weissmann was the general counsel of the FBI. He was the head of the Justice Department's fraud section and helped run the Enron Task Force. And yet, he is best known these days for having been one of Bob Mueller's top prosecutors—and certainly the most smeared of Bob Mueller's prosecutors. Weismann's name became a kind of tagline for Mueller's supposedly evil alter ego as the investigation went on, and Andrew's new book, "Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation," recounts the whole experience. In it, Weissman describes what the Mueller investigation did right, what it did wrong, what it could have done differently and how it all went down from the inside. He joined Benjamin Wittes for a Lawfare Live event to discuss the book.

Direct download: Andrew_Weissman_on_Where_Law_Ends.mp3
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On this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Yochai Benkler, a professor at Harvard Law School and co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

With only weeks until Election Day in the United States, there’s a lot of mis- and disinformation flying around on the subject of mail-in ballots. Discussions about addressing that disinformation often focus on platforms like Facebook or Twitter. But a new study by the Berkman Klein Center suggests that social media isn’t the most important part of mail-in ballot disinformation campaigns—rather, traditional mass media like news outlets and cable news are the main vector by which the Republican Party and the president have spread these ideas.

So what’s the research behind this counterintuitive finding? And what are the implications for how we think about disinformation and the media ecosystem?

Direct download: Yochai_Benkler_on_Mass_Media_Disinformation_Campaigns.mp3
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We have an election in less than a month, and a lot of analysts seem to be expecting contested results. Doomsday scenarios are playing out in the pages of national magazines, the campaigns are gearing up for legal challenges and a lot of people are super worried about it. But there's something missing from a lot of these conversations: actual state law. State laws are the rules under which an election will initially be challenged, and they differ a great deal from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Scott Anderson who led a team for Lawfare that surveyed the key battleground states' challenge regimes for contested elections. They talked about how these regimes differ, how they are similar, which ones give rise to particular concerns and what it all means for the upcoming federal election.

Direct download: Scott_Anderson_on_State_Election_Rules.mp3
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Starting in January 2017, John Brennan became one of President Trump's most blunt critics among former national security professionals. In the years since, he has been working on writing a book, now available, called "Undaunted: My Fight Against America's Enemies at Home and Abroad." David Priess sat down with John to talk about the book and his career. They talked about what brought him to the CIA, his career as a CIA officer and manager, his work overseas at the CIA, his time at the White House as the Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism for President Obama in his first term, and his time as CIA director in President Obama's second term. They covered some controversies, including enhanced interrogation, the reorganization of the CIA in the so-called "modernization effort," Russian interference in the 2016 election, and of course, his outspoken criticisms of the president ever since.

Direct download: John_Brennan_Remains_Undaunted.mp3
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President Trump is at Walter Reed with the COVID virus. A large number of executive and legislative branch officials have also tested positive. What happens when the president is seriously ill? What happens when the president is incapacitated? And what happens when a presidential candidate falls seriously ill—after people have already started voting? These are not all questions entirely answered by the law, but they are all questions on which the law has something to say. To talk it all through, Benjamin Wittes spoke with an all Lawfare panel including managing editor Quinta Jurecic, founding editor Jack Goldsmith and chief operating officer David Priess.

Direct download: The_President_and_the_Coronavirus.mp3
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On September 25, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested a Canadian man for faking his involvement in the Islamic State. It’s a strange charge, but the situation is made more complicated by the fact that the man—who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Huzayfah—was the primary subject of “Caliphate” a popular New York Times podcast series about the Islamic State. In that series, Abu Huzayfah talked at length about spending time with the Islamic State and rehashed in great detail his involvement in the executions of prisoners detained by the group. It’s a complicated set of facts with a lot to unpack. Do we have any real sense of what happened? What features of the Canadian national security apparatus might have contributed to the bizarre situation? And what does the whole ordeal reveal about the challenges and pitfalls of telling stories about the war on terror?

To talk through everything, Jacob Schulz spoke with Leah West, a lecturer at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University and a fellow at the McCain Institute, and Amarnath Amarasingam, an assistant professor in the School of Religion at Queen’s University.

Direct download: An_Islamic_State_Hoax.mp3
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On this episode of Lawfare's Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic talked about how everything is on fire—not metaphorically, but literally. In recent months, wildfires in the American West have caused unprecedented devastation and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes. And along with the fires, the West has been grappling with a surge of false material circulating online about the flames. But this isn’t the first time wildfires and disinformation have gone together. This past December and January, Australia was hit with both a brutal bushfire season and a similar wave of disinformation and misinformation about what sparked the fires and the role of climate change.

Evelyn and Quinta spoke about the offline and online conflagrations on both sides of the Pacific with Charlie Warzel of the New York Times and Cam Wilson, a reporter for Gizmodo Australia and Business Insider Australia.

Direct download: Everything_is_On_Fire.mp3
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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
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

"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.

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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
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

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
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

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