Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Elliot Setzer
Friday, May 1, 2020, 11:41 AM

Lawfare’s daily roundup of national security news and opinion.

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President Trump said yesterday he was confident the novel coronavirus originated in a Chinese virology lab, but declined to provide evidence for the assertion, reports Reuters. Trump said he had seen evidence that gave him a “high degree of confidence” the virus came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. But the Office of Director of National Intelligence said for the first time yesterday that the intelligence community believes COVID-19 was not manmade or genetically modified, writes the New York Times.

Senior U.S. officials are beginning to plan retaliatory actions against China for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Washington Post. Officials across multiple government agencies were expected to meet yesterday to map out strategies for punishing or demanding financial compensation from Beijing. Among the rumored proposals include one that limits China’s sovereign immunity in U.S. courts.

Federal prosecutors are examining the communications of Vladimir Zelenko, a family doctor who has communicated with the White House to tout the antimalarial hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, reports the Post. Zelenko’s records came under investigation after an associate, conservative commentator Jerome Corsi, accidentally sent an email intended for Zelenko to federal prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, who as a member of Robert Mueller’s team had spent months scrutinizing Corsi’s activities.

President Trump expressed outrage yesterday over the FBI’s treatment of Michael Flynn following the release of a cache of government records regarding the bureau’s investigation into his former national security advisor, writes Politico. But legal experts said the newly disclosed FBI documents are unlikely to convince a judge that law enforcement agents entrapped Flynn, reports the Washington Post.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of ChinaTalk discussing how the U.S. can forge an innovation alliance base.

Lester Munson shared an episode of Fault Lines discussing the Cyber Solarium Report with Dr. Samantha Ravich, former Deputy National Security Advisor to Vice President Cheney and Commissioner of the Cyber Solarium Commission.

Lester Munson also shared an episode of Fault Lines discussing Trump’s decision to freeze funding to the World Health Organization.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring part two of an interview with Thomas Rid about his new book, “Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare.”

David Benger, Todd Carney and Marina Lorenzini analyzed challenges to U.S. sanctions against Iran during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ariel Levite and Lyu Jinghua argued that our interconnected world is vulnerable to crises.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated, based on a Washington Post report, that Dr. Vladimir Zelenko has been a frequent guest on Fox News. The Post has since corrected this statement. Zelenko has been discussed on the network and has appeared on the radio program of Fox News anchor Sean Hannity, but he has not appeared as a guest on Fox.

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Elliot Setzer is a Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford Law School and a Ph.D student at Yale University. He previously worked at Lawfare and the Brookings Institution.

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