Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Elliot Setzer
Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 12:06 PM

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

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House leaders have agreed to allow a vote on tightening limits on when the F.B.I. may collect Americans’ internet browsing and search records during national security investigations, reports the New York Times. The limit comes in the form of an amendment to a bill related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The Justice Department said today it opposes the proposed changes to surveillance reform legislation and will urge the President to veto the bill if it is passed, writes the Hill. President Trump last night sent a tweet urging Republicans to oppose the planned reauthorization of three authorities under FISA, according to CNN.

The Defense Department’s former acting inspector general Glenn Fine resigned yesterday, weeks after President Trump effectively removed him as the leader of a panel overseeing $2 trillion in coronavirus response funding, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Sen. Chuck Grassley said the White House counsel’s defense of President Trump’s decision to fire two inspectors general “failed to address” a statutory requirement that the President provide a detailed explanation for the firings, writes Politico.

The Justice Department is closing investigations into three U.S. senators for stock trades made just before the stock market plummeted in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Wall Street Journal. A related investigation into Sen. Richard Burr, however, will continue.

The Pentagon yesterday accused Russia of sending fighter jets to Libya to back Moscow-linked mercenaries helping the warlord Khalifa Hifter, reports the Washington Post. If true, the move would represent a significant expansion of Russia’s role in the escalating proxy war. Hifter’s forces seek to topple Tripoli’s U.N.-backed government.

Senior military officials are preparing to brief President Trump in the coming days on options for pulling all American troops out of Afghanistan, including one scenario for withdrawing forces before the presidential election, according to the New York Times.

Twitter yesterday put a fact-check label on tweets by President Trump for the first time, writes the Washington Post. Two Trump tweets falsely claimed that mail-in ballots were fraudulent, and Twitter’s label redirects users to news articles about the President’s unsubstantiated claim. In response, President Trump today threatened social media companies with new regulation or even shuttering, according to the Associated Press. Attacking the tech giants, Trump tweeted, “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”

Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 people today as protestors gathered to oppose a national security law that would potentially undermine the city’s semi-autonomous status, reports the New York Times.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Ganesh Sitaraman argued that to understand the conversation on U.S. policy toward China, it’s helpful to break down hawks and doves into more precise categories.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast discussing the SpaceX launch and the future of space law.

Patrick Hulme argued that while President Trump has the authority to decide whether to use force against Iran, Congress has taken steps that may make him unwilling to do so.

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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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