Tue, 4 June 2019
In movies and TV shows like Zero Dark Thirty and Homeland, Hollywood has fictionalized the roles of intelligence officers in tracking down terrorists. But the truth is often filled with personal and political challenges beyond those that screenwriters imagine. Nada Bakos worked in several jobs at the CIA, including as a targeting officer focusing on the founder of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In her new book, 'The Targeter,' she describes the experiences and challenges she faced along the way.
Last week, David Priess got on the phone with Nada to talk about what a CIA targeting officer does, what it was like interrogating detainees in Iraq, and the difficulties she encountered in getting her book to print.
Sat, 1 June 2019
The U.S. intelligence community is, by design, shrouded in secret, but it is ultimately responsible to the public. So how do intelligence agencies balance competing interests in protecting privacy and civil liberties, ensuring transparency and accountability, and safeguarding the country’s most sensitive secrets? To shed light on the subject, on Friday, Brookings hosted a conversation between Ben Huebner, Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer at the CIA, and Brookings Federal Executive Fellow Ryan Trapani, who previously served as a spokesman for the agency, who discussed how the CIA handles that dynamic. They talked about the job of the CIA’s privacy and civil liberties officers; the legal and regulatory regime that governs how the agency collects, handles, and uses data; and the privacy and security considerations that agency employees manage every day.
Wed, 29 May 2019
Susan Hennessey hosts Quinta Jurecic, David Kris, Paul Rosenzweig and Benjamin Wittes to discuss (now former) Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Wednesday press conference and what comes next.
Tue, 28 May 2019
From the Washington Post’s February report that U.S. Cyber Command took a Russian disinformation operation offline on the day of the 2018 midterms to fight election interference, to the Pentagon’s announcement last year that it would take more active measures to challenge adversaries in cyberspace, recent news about cyber operations suggests they are playing an increasingly important role in geopolitics. So how should the public understand how the United States deploys its cyber tools to achieve its goals? To help answer that question, last month at the 2019 Verify Conference, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation hosted a panel discussion featuring former CIA Deputy Director Avril Haines, former Pentagon chief of staff Eric Rosenbach, and New York Times national security correspondent David Sanger. They talked about how the U.S. projects power in cyberspace, the difficulties of developing norms to govern state behavior in that domain, and more.
Sat, 25 May 2019
Our friends from the National Security Institute at George Mason University stopped by earlier this week to discuss U.S.-China relations. Lester Munson, Jodi Herman, Jameel Jaffer, and Dana Stroul, former Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffers who collaborated and sometimes competed with one another on the Committee, had a lively discussion about Huawei, cyber and tech security, the South China sea, and Uighur internment.
Tue, 21 May 2019
Chuck Rosenberg is a former U.S. Attorney, former senior FBI official, and the former acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. He is now an analyst with NBC News and MSNBC. He also has a podcast with MSNBC called The Oath with Chuck Rosenberg. The podcast draws its name from the Oath of Office, which many public servants take upon their entry into government service.
In the podcast, Chuck speaks with other former government officials about their careers, pivotal moments they witnessed in history, and what drew them to public service. He sat down with Benjamin Wittes this week to discuss his podcast, his career in government service, and his thoughts on the Oath of Office.
Sat, 18 May 2019
Christine Fair is an expert on South Asian politics and extremist groups, and it's been a bad few weeks in Sri Lanka. A major terrorist attack, the largest since 9/11, hit multiple locations targeting Christians on Easter morning. The violence was different from the usual terrorism that rocks Sri Lanka from time to time, and Benjamin Wittes asked Christine to come in and talk us through it.
What's going on in the island nation? How does it map onto the history of ethnic tensions between Tamils and Sinhalese? And what does it mean for the future of Muslim extremism in South Asia?
Tue, 14 May 2019
Jared Cohen is the founder and CEO of Jigsaw and Alphabet Inc., who previously ran Google Ideas and served as a member of the Secretary of State's policy planning staff and as an advisor to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. He is also the author of a new book on the presidency called, "Accidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America." It describes the times in American history when a president has died in office, forcing eight other men, who are neither the voters' nor their party's choice, to confront unparalleled challenges. David Priess spoke with Jared recently about their stories and the lessons we can learn from their experiences.
Sat, 11 May 2019
The Mueller report is out, all 448 pages of it, and its first volume tells a detailed story of Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The report recounts the Internet Research Agency’s trolling and disinformation campaign. It explains the GRU’s hacking and email dissemination operation. And it details 100 pages of interactions between Trump campaign affiliates and Russian nationals. To better understand whether and to what extent the public should understand those interactions as part of a deliberate Russian operation to make contact with the Trump campaign, earlier this week, Benjamin Wittes spoke to John Sipher, who ran Russia operations for the CIA in Moscow. They talked about how Sipher read the Mueller report, the respective roles of the CIA and the FBI in counterintelligence investigations and operations, and whether an investigation like Mueller’s really had a chance of understanding the full scope of Russia’s intentions and activities in the 2016 election.
Fri, 10 May 2019
On May 10, the Brookings Institution hosted a public conversation between former FBI General Counsel Jim Baker, who is now the Director of National Security and Cybersecurity at the R Street Institute, and Brookings Senior Fellow Benjamin Wittes. The conversation was recorded live as a Bonus Edition of the Lawfare Podcast. The conversation covered how the FBI thought about the Russia investigation in those fateful months both before and after the president fired FBI Director James Comey. How did the president’s conduct toward the bureau impact the institution? How does it affect career public servants like Baker? And how does Baker feel now about the president and his conduct after reading the Mueller report?
Tue, 7 May 2019
In this sixth episode of the special Culper Partners Rule of Law Series, David Kris and Nate Jones speak with former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick.
Jamie has had a career spanning the legal, policy, and corporate worlds, in and out of government. Currently a partner at WilmerHale, she has represented corporations and individuals in a wide array of matters, particularly in the regulatory and enforcement arenas. In government, she was one of the longest serving Deputy Attorneys General of the United States. Prior to that, she was the General Counsel at the Department of Defense. She serves and has served on numerous government boards and commissions, including the Defense Policy Board, and she was a member of the 9/11 Commission.
Jamie speaks with David and Nate about her years of experience as a lawyer in government and the private sector. She talks about the shame of current attacks on the rule of law and prosecutorial independence, her self-described "hawkish" views on when it's appropriate for the news media to publish classified information, and she describes a time when she was involved in a major dispute involving whether and to what extent the FBI should brief the White House on efforts by a foreign government to influence U.S. elections.
Mon, 6 May 2019
On April 23, the Hoover Institution hosted the latest iteration of the Security by the Book series, where Jack Goldsmith interviewed Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman about their new book, “Of Privacy and Power, The Transatlantic Struggle Over Freedom and Security.” They talked about how the relationship between Europe and U.S. has changed in response to regulations and other government action in the security and privacy spheres on both sides of the Atlantic.
Sat, 4 May 2019
Bill Galston, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and domestic policy advisor in the Clinton White House, wrote his column this week in the Wall Street Journal arguing against impeachment in a fashion that sharply diverges from arguments made by others on Lawfare. He argues that polling data shows that an impeachment inquiry would be an irresponsible direction for anyone hoping to remove Trump from office. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Bill to discuss his column, as well as his recent book, "Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy."
They talked about populism as an international and domestic phenomenon, the role of economics and identity in driving populism internationally, and whether populisms of the left and right are symmetric issues or whether they present different ones.
Thu, 2 May 2019
Attorney General Bill Barr appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to discuss the Mueller report and the Justice Department’s wider efforts to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. The evening before the testimony, multiple outlets reported that Mueller had sent Barr a letter expressing concerns that the attorney general’s summary of the report’s conclusions “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the special counsel’s work. The hearing became contentious, and covered a wide array of topics ranging from Barr’s conduct to the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But we cut out all the unnecessary repetition and theatrics to leave you with just the questions and answers that you need to hear.
It's the Lawfare Podcast, Bonus Edition: Barr vs. the Committee with No Bull.
Tue, 30 April 2019
On January 17, 2019, BuzzFeed News reported a blockbuster. The headline reads, President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project. It was a remarkable story, and within 24 hours of its publication, the Special Counsel's office had issued an unprecedented statement taking issue with it and describing unspecified components of it as "inaccurate." It wasn't clear at the time what parts of the story were inaccurate and how much of it was true, but in light of the actual Mueller report, we can now identify the parts of the story that had problems and the parts that did not.
The two reporters who wrote the story, Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold, joined Benjamin Wittes by phone to do a kind of after-action report on the story. They discussed how they came to report what they reported, what parts of the story they stand by, what parts they think they messed up on, how the story was sourced, and what the discrepancy between the story and the Mueller report tells us about the conduct of Donald Trump.
Sat, 27 April 2019
The action has shifted to Congress, the Mueller report is filed, and a blizzard of subpoena fights between the White House and various congressional committees is already underway. The president has sued a committee chairman, there's a question about whether Don McGahn will testify or whether the White House will exert executive privilege over it, and looming over it all is the question of how congressional Democrats and Republicans are thinking about impeachment.
Molly Reynolds and Margaret Taylor joined Benjamin Wittes in the jungle studio to focus on all things Congress. They talked about subpoenas, lawsuits, impeachment, and even the much-forgotten 'inherent contempt' power of Congress.
Wed, 24 April 2019
On April 23, Benjamin Wittes hosted a panel discussion at the Brookings Institution unpacking what we learned from the redacted version of the Mueller report. The panel featured Susan Hennessey, Chuck Rosenberg and Margaret Taylor. They discussed the factual record Mueller established on Russian interference and collusion, whether the president's conduct constitutes obstruction of justice and how Congress and the American people might react to the report. The full audio of the event is available here.
Tue, 23 April 2019
Michael Anton, former Trump administration national security official and a research fellow at Hillsdale College, has published an essay in Foreign Policy explaining what he calls the 'Trump Doctrine' on foreign policy. Recently Anton sat down with Jack Goldsmith to discuss the new article and the philosophy behind Trump's foreign policy, particularly with respect to liberal internationalism and international institutions.
They discussed the administration's foreign policy successes and failures, how it's similar to and different from prior administrations in substance and in rhetoric, and whether the president's style and aversion to diplomatic norms inhibits the substance of his foreign policy.
Sun, 21 April 2019
In this fifth episode of the special Culper Partners Rule of Law Series, David Kris and Nate Jones speak with former senior White House and DOJ official Ron Klain.
Ron has served his country repeatedly, including in senior positions at the highest levels of all three branches of government. He has served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Byron White, Chief Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chief of Staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, and in that role, also served as a senior advisor to Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. He has worked on seven presidential campaigns, including the 2000 election between George W. Bush and then-Vice President Al Gore. Today, among other things, he is an adjunct professor at both Georgetown University and Harvard Law School.
Ron takes us on a trip down memory lane to discuss the hotly contested 2000 election, and in doing so, he shares his perspective on why he thinks the Supreme Court's decision departed from the rule of law. Ron also worries that our democracy is caught in a symbiotic downward spiral together with the rule of law. From active measures being deployed by foreign adversaries, to partisan political efforts to rig the system, Ron is concerned about the future.
Fri, 19 April 2019
A redacted version of the 448-page Mueller report dropped yesterday, and there’s a lot to say about it. In this Special Edition of the Lawfare Podcast, Bob Bauer, Susan Hennessey, Mary McCord, Paul Rosenzweig, Charlie Savage and Benjamin Wittes discuss what the report says about obstruction and collusion, Mueller’s legal theories and what this all means for the president and the presidency.
Direct download: update_Special_Edition_Mueller_Report_20190419T174332.381451_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:43pm EST
Thu, 18 April 2019
The Justice Department released on Thursday morning a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. The Mueller team divided the report into two volumes: one on Russian interference and potential coordination with the Trump campaign, and the other exploring the president’s conduct in relation to the investigation. Each volume features its own executive summary, chronicling the investigation’s central findings and conclusions. On this special edition episode of the Lawfare Podcast Benjamin Wittes reads those executive summaries in full. It’s a Mueller Report instant audio-book.
Tue, 16 April 2019
Since November, Lawfare Contributor Michelle Melton has run a series on our website about Climate Change and National Security, examining the implication of the threat as well as U.S. and international responses to climate change. Melton is a student a Harvard Law school. Prior to that she was an associate fellow in the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where she focused on climate policy.
She and Benjamin Wittes sat down last week to discuss the series. They talked about why we should think about climate change as a national security threat, the challenges of viewing climate change through this paradigm, the long-standing relationship between climate change and the U.S. national security apparatus, and how climate change may affect global migration.
Sat, 13 April 2019
Julian Mortenson, Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, is the author of a remarkable new article entitled "Article II Vests Executive Power, Not the Royal Prerogative," forthcoming in the Columbia Law Review, and available on SSRN.
Recently, Benjamin Wittes spoke with the professor about the article, which Mortenson has been working on for years—as long as the two have known each other. The article explores the history of exactly three words of the U.S. Constitution—the first three words of Article II, to be precise: "the executive power."
Huge claims about presidential power have rested on a conventional understanding of these three words. Julian argues that this conventional understanding is not just partially wrong, or mostly wrong, but completely wrong, as a matter of history. And, he tries to supplant it with a new understanding that he argues is actually a very old understanding of what those words mean.
Thanks to our sponsor Blinkist. Get your 7-day free trial at blinkist.com/lawfare.
Thu, 11 April 2019
On Thursday morning, Susan Hennessey spoke to former FBI director James Comey about encryption, China, Attorney General Bill Barr's comments to the Senate about the opening of the Russia investigation, and more.
Wed, 10 April 2019
Attorney General Bill Barr announced on Wednesday, April 10, that the Mueller report will be released next week. While we wait for the release, Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes have written a "Memo to the Press: How Not to Screw Up on the Mueller Report." Jurecic and Wittes argue that the press got lost in the confusion of Barr's letter to Congress announcing the special counsel's top-line conclusions, and they offer nine principles for how to "[do] better the second time." You can listen to Quinta Jurecic read that article in the latest edition of the Lawfare Podcast Shorts.
Tue, 9 April 2019
Our friends at the National Security Institute at George Mason University came over last week to have a discussion in our podcast studio about Yemen and the U.S.-Saudi alliance. Four former Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffers who worked with and sometimes at odds with each other participated. The conversation was moderated by Lester Munson, former Staff Director of the Committee under Chairman Bob Corker, and it included Jodi Herman, former Staff Director of the Committee under Ranking Member Ben Cardin; Jamil Jaffer, Founder and Executive Director of the National Security Institute and former Chief Counsel and Senior Advisor with the Committee under Chairman Bob Corker; and Dana Stroul, former Democratic senior staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the Middle East.
Fri, 5 April 2019
In this fourth episode of the special Culper Partners Rule of Law series, David Kris and Nate Jones speak with former White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler.
Prior to her White House service, Kathy served as the Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, DC, and on the Enron task force. Earlier in her career, Kathy was an Associate Counsel to President Bill Clinton, where she defended the White House and the Office of the President in independent counsel and congressional investigations.
Kathy spoke with David and Nate about her service as President Obama's White House Counsel and how her experience at the Department of Justice instilled in her a deep respect for the rule of law, including limits on interactions between the White House and DOJ concerning particular investigations and other matters. She has grave concerns about the inherent conflict facing President Trump's subordinates, who must remain faithful to the rule of law while trying to carry out the legitimate policy goals of the elected president. She is not optimistic that this can be done, and she raises the question of whether those who remain have compromised to the point of enabling the president's misconduct.
Tue, 2 April 2019
Back in February, we hosted Bill Harlow and Marie Harf, two former public affairs officers at the Central Intelligence Agency, to discuss how the CIA interacts with reporters on sensitive national security topics. For this episode, we thought it only fair to turn that around and also talk about how it's seen on the other side.
Mary Louise Kelly is a voice familiar to many as an anchor of All Things Considered on NPR. She previously spent a decade as national security and intelligence correspondent for NPR News after working for CNN and the BBC. Shane Harris, in addition to co-hosting the Rational Security podcast, now covers intelligence and national security for The Washington Post, after writing about the same for outlets like The Wall Street Journal, Daily Beast, and National Journal.
David Priess recently sat down with Mary Louise and Shane to discuss the challenges of covering national security, to address myths about the intelligence beat, and, unsuccessfully, to uncover their sources.
Sat, 30 March 2019
There's a special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, but with Brexit and the erratic presidency of Donald Trump, it hasn't exactly been business as usual between the two countries. Or has it?
British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch, sat down with Benjamin Wittes last week to talk about the alliance, particularly in moments of uncertainty for both countries. They talked briefly about Brexit, but they mostly discussed other key areas of mutual cooperation, like counterterrorism in the Middle East, countering Russian aggression, and what to do about a rising China.
Thanks to our sponsor Blinkist. Get your 7-day free trial at blinkist.com/lawfare.
Wed, 27 March 2019
From 1989 to early 2017, Sue Biniaz was the lead climate lawyer and a climate negotiator at the State Department. She was also a key architect of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, a UN-negotiated agreement designed to mitigate global warming, which went into effect in November 2016. In June 2017, President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the agreement.
Sue sat down with Lawfare's Jack Goldsmith to talk about the early days of U.S. and international climate action, how the Paris Agreement came into force and the predecessor agreements that gave rise to it, how it was supposed to operate, and what impacts Trump's actions have had on international climate policy.
Mon, 25 March 2019
Special Counsel Robert Mueller sent his report to Bill Barr on Friday, and the attorney general sent a letter to Congress on Sunday detailing the principal conclusions of the Mueller report. Benjamin Wittes talks about it all with Lawfare Executive Editor Susan Hennessey, former senior Justice Department official Carrie Cordero and former assistant attorney general for national security David Kris.
Fri, 22 March 2019
In this third episode of the special Culper Partners Rule of Law series, David Kris and Nate Jones speak with former Senator Saxby Chambliss, who served as a senator from Georgia from 2003–2015, and in the House of Representatives from 1995–2003.
During his tenure in the Senate, he was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as well as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, where he served as Vice Chairman from 2011–2014. His previous role as Chairman of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security made him one of the leading congressional experts on those issues.
They talked about the history of the congressional intelligence committees, the significance of election interference, and the proper penalties for lying to Congress. Chambliss also described what it was like to serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee, even describing a particular situation that is apparently still classified and undisclosed, as well as revealing whom he considers to be the best legislator he ever knew.
Tue, 19 March 2019
Demographic, technological, and geostrategic developments are disrupting the electoral landscape in sub-Saharan Africa. How do these shifts affect the political climate for democracy and participation across Africa? What have recent elections in Nigeria illustrated about these? And what about the clash between China and the United States in Africa?
To explore these questions, David Priess spoke with Judd Devermont, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, host of the Into Africa podcast, and former national intelligence officer for Africa from 2015 to 2018.
Mon, 18 March 2019
It’s Robert Mueller as you’ve never heard him before.
We have something special for you on the podcast today. Something very different.
The Mueller report is coming. We all know that. We don’t know what’s going to be in it. We don't know when it's showing up.
But Bob Mueller has already told a remarkable story. He’s told it scattered through different court filings in a variety of cases, indictments, plea agreements, stipulations of fact. We decided to distill it, to organize it, to put it all in one place, to tell the story of the Russia investigation orally, to let a remarkable group of speakers read the speaking indictments that Mueller has issued.
So here’s the story of the Russia conspiracy, distilled to a brief audiobook in seven chapters. What you’re about to hear is all taken nearly verbatim from actual Bob Mueller filings. We’ve cut a lot, moved stuff around, and changed a few words here and there to make it sound more like a narrative. We have changed the meaning not at all.
Fri, 15 March 2019
Bill Browder, human rights campaigner and foe of Vladimir Putin, seems to get arrested whenever he travels abroad as a result of red notices and diffusion orders issued by Putin through the Interpol police organization. These incidents have highlighted the abuse of Interpol by authoritarian governments, and they raise a really important question: Should we be participating in an international police organization with governments that use that organization to harass and arrest their enemies?
On this episode of The Lawfare Podcast, Benjamin Wittes speaks with two people with somewhat different points of view, although a lot of common ground: Bill Browder himself, along with Jago Russell, the head of Fair Trials, which has worked to reform Interpol and make it less susceptible to abuse. Bill argues for kicking the bums out and having police cooperation only between countries that observe civilized norms of law enforcement. Jago makes the case for mending, not ending, an inclusive international police organization.
Tue, 12 March 2019
As the nation braces for the forthcoming end of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into President Trump and his associates, The Lawfare Podcast decided to take a look back at the complete history of special prosecutors.
Benjamin Wittes sat down with Andrew Coan, a professor of law at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. Coan recently published "Prosecuting the President," which traces the history of how special prosecutors and counsels work to keep the executive branch accountable for its actions. Ben and Andrew discussed the book, the Teapot Dome Scandal, the Whiskey Ring, and what all of that might mean for the future of special counsels.
Fri, 8 March 2019
For the past year, Matt Waxman has been writing Lawfare vignettes about interesting—and usually overlooked—historical episodes of American constitutional war powers in action, and relating them to modern debates. These include the stories of St. Claire’s Defeat and the Whiskey Rebellion during the Washington administration, congressional war powers and the surprisingly late termination of World War I, the proposed Ludlow Amendment during the interwar years, and Eisenhower’s Taiwan force authorization.
Ben Wittes invited Matt on the podcast to talk about them and how they fit together into a book broader project he's embarking on. If you’re tired of hearing the usual war powers debates, listen in. And even if you think you know a lot about constitutional war powers, you’ll learn a lot.
Wed, 6 March 2019
On Tuesday, Susan Hennessey interviewed FBI Director Chris Wray at the 2019 RSA Conference. They discussed about how the Director views the cyber threat landscape 18 months into his term, his concerns about the threats posed by Russia and China, what the FBI is doing to protect the 2020 elections, and more.
Tue, 5 March 2019
Political trends in recent years have seen a rise of right-leaning nationalism and populism around the globe, including in the United States. What are the sources of nationalism, and what are its effects on modern politics?
On this episode, Lawfare founding editor and Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith sits down with John Judis, editor-at-large at Talking Points Memo and author of "The Nationalist Revival." They discussed Judis’s book, including the necessity of nationalism in developed democracies, why right-wing nationalist and populist movements seem to be winning out over those on the left, and how Donald Trump successfully raised the profile of nationalist politics in the United States.
Fri, 1 March 2019
It's hard to open a newspaper or turn on the television without hearing about the dysfunction and partisan polarization affecting members of Congress. But what about their staffs, and what does that mean for national security?
This week, Margaret Taylor sat down with seemingly unlikely partners: Luke Murry, National Security Advisor to Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Daniel Silverberg, National Security Advisor to Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. They spoke about security issues facing this Congress, what staffers do on a day-to-day basis, and how the two of them actually work together.
Wed, 27 February 2019
On Wednesday, Michael Cohen—the former executive vice president of the Trump Organization, former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, and former personal lawyer to Donald Trump—paid a visit to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Cohen accused the president of campaign finance violations after taking office. He alleged that he was present when Roger Stone gave Trump advance notice of the WikiLeaks dump of the hacked DNC emails. And he claimed that the president's statements in a meeting with Jay Sekulow led Cohen to conclude that the president wanted Cohen to make false statements to Congress. So we cut out all of the bickering, all of the procedural obstructions, and all the rest of the frivolity, to bring you just the one hour of testimony you need to hear.
Tue, 26 February 2019
In this second episode of the special Culper Partners Rule of Law Series, David Kris and Nates Jones, the founders of the Culper Partners consulting firm, speak with Eric Holder, who served as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States from 2009 to 2015.
Holder shares his perspective on the proper functioning of the Department of Justice, the balance between independence and political accountability, and a distinction between the role of the Attorney General as the chief prosecutor on the one hand and as legal advisor to the president, and sometimes to the National Security Council, on the other. He also remembers his own experience with congressional oversight and gives a frank assessment of how oversight is functioning today. He also critiques the two OLC opinions against indicting a sitting president, and he offers predictions about the Mueller report and his own upcoming decision on whether he will run for president.
Fri, 22 February 2019
Each year, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London publishes The Military Balance, an annual assessment of the military capabilities and defense economics of 171 countries around the world. Last week, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Bastian Giegerich, director of defense and military analysis for IISS, who leads the research and publication of The Military Balance, which has just come out for 2019.
They discussed Chinese military modernization, global defense spending and how it's changing around the world, Russia's violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Agreement, NATO, and cyber.
Thu, 21 February 2019
It’s looking more and more like Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation is finally reaching an end. The regulations under which he is operating require Mueller to write and submit a final, confidential report to the attorney general. Who, in turn, must then decide when and how much of the report to release to Congress and the public. No one outside of the Justice Department knows what will be in the report, which makes this the perfect to set ground rules regarding how people should engage this material, regardless of their political affiliations or view of the L’Affaire Russe scandal. Today, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, Benjamin Wittes and I detailed what, we believe, those ground rules should be. In the latest edition of the Lawfare Podcast Shorts, you can listen to that article in-full, read by one of the authors, Susan Hennessey.
Tue, 19 February 2019
The Central Intelligence Agency, by its very nature, is a secretive organization, yet it has a robust public affairs and media relations operation. How does the agency resolve this tension? How do its employees, from the director of the CIA to the officers needed to assist in this effort, deal with the difficult questions of how open to be? To find out, David Priess sat down with Bill Harlow and Marie Harf, two former CIA officers who were in the middle of it all.
Sat, 16 February 2019
Something a little different on the podcast today: the launch of a special series—the Culper Partners Rule of Law Series. David Kris and Nates Jones, the founders of the Culper Partners consulting firm, have recorded a limited-edition podcast series exploring various aspects of the rule of law, particularly as it relates to U.S. national security and criminal law enforcement. Over the course of several episodes, which we will be dropping into the Lawfare Podcast feed over the coming weeks and months, David and Nate examine topics including legislative and judicial oversight of the executive branch, the rule of law in counterterrorism, the relationship between law, economic security, and national security, foreign relations and the rule of law, and law and politics. Each episode features an interview with a current or former senior government official, or a leader in the private sector.
In this first episode, Nate and David talk with Judge John Bates, Senior Judge on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Judge Bates has had a long and distinguished career in government and private practice, including work at two private law firms, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in DC, and as Deputy Independent Counsel in the Whitewater investigation. Most recently, from 2013 to 2015, he was Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Judge Bates became a federal judge in 2001, and from 2006 to 2013 he served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, where he was the court’s Presiding Judge beginning in 2009.
Tue, 12 February 2019
On March 29, in approximately six weeks, the United Kingdom is scheduled to crash out of the European Union. As of the date of this podcast, there is no deal governing how that exit will work. To understand the stakes, Benjamin Wittes sat down last week in the new Jungle Studio with Amanda Sloat, a senior fellow at the Brookings Center for the United States and Europe, to talk about all things Brexit.
They talked about the thorny issue of the Northern Ireland border, Theresa May's delicate political position, and what might happen if March 29 arrives without a Brexit deal.
Sun, 10 February 2019
After the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee assured that he would be allowed to appear voluntarily, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker gave testimony on Friday before the panel on oversight of the department he has led since Jeff Sessions left office in November 2018. He answered questions for over six hours about everything from his decision not to recuse from the Mueller investigation to the department's pretrial release program. But we cut out all the unnecessary repetition and theatrics to leave you with just the questions and answers about national security law that you need to hear.
Sat, 9 February 2019
From the increasing development of autonomous weapons systems to the expansion of the traditional battlefield to cyber and outer space, the evolution of warfare invites ethical and legal questions about what the future holds. In November 2018, Arnold & Porter's Veterans and Affiliates Leadership Organization hosted a panel discussion to explain what warfare will be like for the military veterans of the future.
Former Air Force and Army general counsel and current Arnold & Porter partner Chuck Blanchard moderated a conversation with American University law professor Ken Anderson, Emory law professor Laurie Blank, and Jamie Morin, vice president of Defense System Operations at The Aerospace Corporation and a director of the Center for Space Policy and Strategy.
Tue, 5 February 2019
Many critics of Donald Trump’s foreign policy say the president has undermined the liberal international order, but some progressives question whether liberal internationalism was worthwhile to begin with. On Sunday, Jack Goldsmith had a conversation with Samuel Moyn, a professor of law and history at Yale University, who studies that subject. They talked through how to understand the successes and failures of liberal internationalism, the significance of Donald Trump’s effect on it, and what the future holds for the liberal international order.
Mon, 4 February 2019
In the wake of Roger Stone’s arrest on Jan. 25, 2019, Chuck Rosenberg, a longtime U.S. federal law enforcement official, explained on Lawfare why the tactics used during the arrest were wholly appropriate. Nonetheless, some politicians, including the president and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, have raised questions about the FBI’s operational decisions—in particular regarding the allegedly excessive number of FBI officials who were present for the arrest and search of Stone’s home. In a second article for Lawfare, Rosenberg detailed why it was entirely appropriate for the FBI to send roughly 29 agents to Stone’s house. In the latest edition of the Lawfare Podcast Shorts, you can listen to that article in-full, read by the author.
Sat, 2 February 2019
Last week, as part of the Hoover Institution’s “Security by the Book” series, Jack Goldsmith spoke with Herb Lin and Amy Zegart, co-directors of the Stanford Cyber Policy Program. Lin and Zegart edited a recently-published volume on offensive cyber operations entitled: “Bytes, Bombs, and Spies: The Strategic Dimensions of Offensive Cyber Operations.” In the book, leading cybersecurity scholars and practitioners dissect the technical, political, psychological, and legal ramifications of offensive cyber operations. Goldsmith, Lin, and Zegart discussed the book’s inception, its contents, and what role offensive cyber operations have played and continue to play in U.S. strategy.
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Thu, 31 January 2019
While researching the Watergate Road Map, Benjamin Wittes discovered a letter written by the then-Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary Peter Rodino to the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In the letter, Rodino requested that any material relevant to the House’s impeachment inquiry be transferred to his committee. This morning, Wittes analyzed in a Lawfare article how the letter could instruct current Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler on what steps he can take to ensure his committee properly executes its constitutional obligation. In the latest edition of the Lawfare Podcast Shorts, you can listen to that article in-full, read by the author.
Wed, 30 January 2019
On Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee heard testimony on global threats to U.S. national security from six heads of intelligence agencies: Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher Wray, NSA Director Paul Nakasone, NGIA Director Robert Cardillo, and DIA Director Robert Ashley. In a three-hour open session, they gave testimony about North Korea, they gave testimony about Iran, and they gave some testimony that clashed with statements made by the president of the United States. But we cut out all of the bull, and left you with just the 15 minutes of the hearing that you need.
Tue, 29 January 2019
With the Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives, the 116th Congress is expected to be one of vigorous oversight of the executive branch, complete with requests for documents and for testimony from executive branch officials. But how does this actually work, and what happens when the executive branch refuses to comply?
To hash it all out, Brookings Senior Fellow Molly Reynolds spoke with Stan Brand, who served as the general counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1976 to 1983. They talked about the institutional role of the House general counsel, the ins and outs of congressional contempt and subpoena enforcement, and the various challenges that the House will have to confront over the next two years.
Fri, 25 January 2019
On a flight recently, Benjamin Wittes read a book that knocked his socks off: "The Rhetorical Presidency" by political scientist Jeffrey Tulis. While written in 1987, the book seems to anticipate our current president.
Ben got on the phone with Jeffrey Tulis to talk about the book, how the speaking style of presidents changed from the Founding era through the 19th century and into the 20th century, and how the hyper-rhetorical style of Donald Trump, where he's talking all the time, is really an extension of developments that had been going on all through the 20th century.
Tue, 22 January 2019
It's a new year with a new Congress, and the Democrats now control the House of Representatives. But how will that change affect the state of play for national security legal issues? To find out, Benjamin Wittes spoke last Friday with Brookings senior fellow and expert on all things Congress, Molly Reynolds, and Brookings fellow, Lawfare senior editor, and former Chief Democratic Counsel for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Margaret Taylor.
They talked about the dynamics of a divided legislature, what committees Lawfare Podcast listeners should keep an eye on, and how the new chairs of certain committees will affect key issues in national security law.
Fri, 18 January 2019
Ian Bassin served in the White House Counsel's office under President Obama. At the dawn of the Trump administration, he became the impresario behind the litigating organization Protect Democracy, which has become an increasingly cross-ideological mechanism for using litigation to protect democratic values. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Ian to talk about the differences between Protect Democracy and more traditional litigating organizations, what sort of projects they do take on, and what sort of projects they don't take on. And they talked about the role litigation can and cannot play in preserving the norms that make democracy vibrant.
Wed, 16 January 2019
Bill Barr spent Tuesday testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on his nomination to take over the reins of the Justice Department as attorney general, a role he previously held during the George H.W. Bush administration. Barr spent more than eight hours before the senators. But on this episode of the Lawfare Podcast, we cut out all the BS: No repeated questions, no repeated answers, no ums, no uhs. And we took out everything except the national security questions, leaving you just the questions and responses about Lawfare topics that you want to hear.
Sat, 12 January 2019
Benjamin Wittes talks to Carrie Cordero, Chuck Rosenberg, David Kris, Jack Goldsmith and Susan Hennessey about the New York Times's report that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation of Donald Trump after the president fired Director James Comey in May 2017.
Direct download: NYT_CI_investigation_emergency_podcast_mixdown_levelsfixed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:02pm EST
Sat, 12 January 2019
Last week, Jack Goldsmith got on the phone with Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalist Greg Miller to discuss Miller’s new book, “The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy.” Miller’s book chronicles Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the interactions among members of the Trump campaign, transition, and administration, and officials and representatives of the Russian government. Goldsmith and Miller discussed how Miller approached writing the book, the extraordinary series of apparent connections and contacts between Trump associates and the Russian government, and what Russian President Vladimir Putin might have gained from his brazen interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Tue, 8 January 2019
Benjamin Wittes talks to Jaimie Nawaday, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, to discuss the indictment of Natalia Veselnitskaya over alleged obstruction of justice in a case Nawaday handled. Nawaday talks about Russian abuse of the American justice system and how Veselnitskaya colluded with the Russian chief prosecutor's office to frustrate American prosecutors.
Tue, 8 January 2019
The Russian government's recent arrest of American Paul Whelan and its charges against him have many politicians and pundits speculating about the possibility of an intended spy swap for Maria Butina. There's a lot going on here, but there's also a lot of misunderstanding about the history of spy swaps, what they are, and what they aren't.
Earlier this week, David Priess sat down with his former CIA colleague John Sipher to talk about it all. They discussed the history of spy swaps, the current case involving Paul Whelan, and prospects for some kind of a release.
Fri, 4 January 2019
The murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville in 2017 and other recent events have drawn into the public discourse the fact that domestic terrorism is not a crime in and of itself. Earlier this week, Benjamin Wittes sat down with two experts on domestic terrorism to talk about ways that it might be incorporated into our criminal statutes.
Mary McCord, a professor of practice at Georgetown Law School, a senior litigator at the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown Law School, and the former acting assistant attorney general for national security at the U.S. Department of Justice; and Jason Blazakis, a former State Department official in charge of the office that designates foreign terrorist organizations, and a professor of practice at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, joined Ben to talk about their proposals for how domestic terrorism might become a crime.
They talked about why domestic terrorism is currently left out of the criminal code, their two proposals for how it might be incorporated and how those proposals differ, and the 1st Amendment consequences of their competing proposals.