Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Matt Gluck
Tuesday, July 21, 2020, 6:08 PM

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

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The Department of Justice charged two Chinese individuals with conspiring to hack biotech companies around the globe developing COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, writes the Washington Post. The indictment also alleges that the hackers targeted high-tech manufacturing firms, software companies and human rights activists in the U.S., Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. The Justice Department also claimed that the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS), a non-military intelligence and security agency, assisted the defendants in their efforts.

Lawyers for Michael Flynn and the Trump administration issued a filing Monday urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit not to approve Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s petition for a rehearing en banc of a three-judge panel’s order to Sullivan to allow the Justice Department to drop the case against Flynn, reports the Post. On July 9, Judge Sullivan asked the D.C. Circuit Court to reevaluate whether he must dismiss the criminal case against Flynn.

Leading Democrats in Congress claimed in a Monday letter that a foreign power is attempting to interfere in the 2020 presidential election and in congressional activities, according to the New York Times. The authors of the letter demanded an FBI briefing to all of Congress explaining the attempted foreign intervention. Officials with knowledge of a classified addendum to the letter said the warning was based on intelligence that points to a Russian-sponsored effort to tarnish the campaign of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

The U.K.’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) filed a report Monday that alleged an inadequate British effort to confront expansive Russian interference in U.K. governance, writes the BBC. The ISC said that Russia likely influenced the Brexit referendum. Stewart Hosie, a member of the British Parliament, commented, “The report reveals that no one in government knew if Russia interfered in or sought to influence the referendum, because they did not want to know.”

Under domestic pressure, Iran suspended the death sentences of three suspected anti-government demonstrators. But the regime executed an Iranian citizen convicted of providing intelligence to the U.S and Israel about Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whom the U.S. later killed in a drone strike, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, European Union leaders agreed to an $857 billion coronavirus stimulus package on Tuesday, reports the Times. More than half of the stimulus funds will be paid out as grants that do not require repayment. Several economically stable members, such as the Netherlands and Austria, resisted bearing a financial burden to support nations with weaker economies, illustrating new divisions in the EU following Britain’s departure.

Almost two months after George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis, the Minnesota legislature passed an expansive police accountability bill Monday that includes a prohibition on the use of chokeholds and neck restraints, according to the Post. Floyd’s killing set off protests around the country against racial inequality and law enforcement misconduct.

A Washington Post-ABC poll found that more than half of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement and almost 70 percent of people believe Black and minority people face unequal treatment in the U.S. criminal justice system, writes the Post. However, according to the poll, Americans are generally not in favor of moving funding away from police departments or taking down statues of Confederate generals or presidents who owned slaves.

Attorneys for Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer, filed a petition Monday against Attorney General William Barr seeking Cohen’s release from prison, reports The Hill. The petition contends that Cohen was returned to prison because he is writing a book about his experience working for the President. Cohen was previously released from prison to serve his sentence in home confinement due to coronavirus-related health concerns.

Three laboratories shared encouraging results from preliminary vaccine trials in humans, writes the Times. All three developers British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, Chinese firm CanSino Biologics and a collaboration between American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German company BioNTech said individuals inoculated with their vaccines showed similar antibody levels to those who have recovered from COVID-19. Dr. Peter Jay Hotez, who researches vaccines at the Baylor College of Medicine, said, “What this means is that each of these vaccines is worth taking all the way to a Phase III study. That is it. All it means is [that the vaccines are] ‘worth pursuing.’”

The Trump administration appears reluctant to extend its coronavirus relief program which gives families access to free meals without requiring them to prove their low-income status, according to Politico.

The White House and Senate Republicans remain divided on payroll tax cuts in the forthcoming Republican coronavirus relief package, reports Politico. Senate Republicans want tens of billions of dollars for states’s COVID-19 testing and additional funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but the Trump administration has resisted thus far.

Federal authorities identified Roy Den Hollander, an “anti-feminist” lawyer, as the main suspect in the Sunday shooting of federal Judge Esther Salas’s husband and son, writes the Post. Hollander previously argued a case before Judge Salas that spanned multiple years.

China’s Ministry of Commerce is considering preventing Nokia and Ericssontwo major European telecommunication-equipment manufacturersfrom exporting products they manufacture in China to other countries if European Union members exclude Chinese tech giant Huawei from their 5G networks, writes the Wall Street Journal. The U.K. instructed its wireless carriers to stop purchasing Huawei 5G equipment by January 2021 and to completely eliminate Huawei 5G equipment from their networks by the beginning of 2028.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Steve Vladeck and Benjamin Wittes analyzed a document provided to Lawfare that details the federal government’s legal guidance concerning the Department of Homeland Security’s response to protest activities.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast featuring a conversation with Katharine Moon, a professor of political science at Wellesley College and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Center for East Asia Policy Studies; Matthew Waxman, a professor at Columbia University Law School; and Lawfare’s Scott Anderson about the Korean war and its implications for current war powers discourse.

David Simon, Veronica Glick, Joshua Silverstein and Gabriel Perlman discussed the legal issues implicated by the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission Report.

Richard Altieri and Benjamin Della Rocca explained developments in global tech firms’s responses to data requests from the Hong Kong government and detailed developments in ongoing debates over the app Tik Tok.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

Matt Gluck is a research fellow at Lawfare. He holds a BA in government from Dartmouth College.

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