Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Anna Salvatore
Wednesday, August 26, 2020, 1:01 PM

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

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Reps. Tom Malinowski and Denver Riggleman introduced a resolution on Tuesday condemning the unfounded QAnon conspiracy, writes Politico. A QAnon follower named Marjorie Taylor Green won her Republican primary and may soon enter the House of Representatives.

In a statement Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed deep concern about Alexei Navalny’s hospitalization, reports CNN. His statement came nearly a week after the Russian opposition politician was airlifted from Siberia to Berlin. Pompeo added that if Russian poisoning is the culprit, the United States will join the European Union in supporting a thorough investigation.

Sec. Pompeo also visited Khartoum, Sudan on Tuesday, where he discussed removing Sudan from a state-sponsored terrorism list, reports BBC News. He also pushed the African country to normalize its relations with Israel, which have been erratic since the two nations clashed in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

The Trump administration once considered using a heat ray against immigrants at the border, according to The New York Times. A heat ray is an invisible beam that would simulate the feeling of burning skin. The proposal was suggested by Customs and Border Protection officials after President Trump asked for “extreme action,” but it failed to gain traction.

There are more than 26,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 at American universities, reports The New York Times, and at least 64 people have died since the start of the pandemic. Because colleges many refused to share their data with the Times, experts believe that there are thousands more cases not included in the survey. The article points out that “Some colleges remove people from their tallies once they recover. Some only report tests performed on campus. And some initially provided data but then stopped.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled today that a transgender man, Gavin Grimm, was discriminated against on the basis of sex when he was excluded from his high school’s boy’s bathroom. This opinion is the latest legal win for transgender rights, following the Supreme Court’s June ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County.

House Chairs are filing a complaint with the Department of Defense asking for an investigation into “what appears to have been a concerted effort by the Trump Administration to retaliate" against LTC Alexander Vindmanfor testifying during the impeachment trial.

Two people were killed last night protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake, reports The New York Times. According to the Kenosha, Wisconsin sheriff, the deceased were shot by armed citizens at a local gas station.

Hamas has imposed a 48-hour lockdown on Gaza after discovering four Covid-19 cases in a crowded neighborhood, according to The Washington Post. Experts agree that the territory of two million people is poorly equipped to handle an outbreak. The Post explains that Gaza has “one of the densest populations on Earth, a collapsed health-care system, and small supplies of electricity and clean water.”

The House Intelligence Committee re-issued a subpoena to Deutsche Bank yesterday to obtain President Trump’s financial records, writes Reuters. The committee wants to determine whether the president’s business ties rendered him vulnerable to the influence of foreign countries like Russia. Lawmakers first issued a subpoena in July 2019, but the Supreme Court held in Trump v. Vance that the Committee needed to explain its need for the records in greater depth.

Hurricane Laura may soon upgrade to a Category Four storm, reports The Associated Press. The churning mass of wind and water is expected to wreak catastrophic damage on Texas and Louisiana in the coming days. To Kathleen Tierney, former director of the National Hazards Center, “We need to be concerned about the federal capacity to respond to a major hurricane disaster.”

China accused the United States on Tuesday of flying a U-2 spy plane over a contested area of the South China Sea, reports CNN. American experts are skeptical, with military analyst Carl Schuster saying that, “Flying over rarely - if ever - happens anymore.” China’s accusation comes after it held three military exercises on Monday in Pacific waters, as well as after HHS Sec. Alex Azar angered Chinese officials by visiting Taiwan.

China also announced an economic partnership with Russia yesterday, according to the South China Morning Post. Xi’s government will increase its soybean purchases from Russia.

American soldiers were injured in Syria after being deliberately rammed with a Russian vehicle, reports Politico. Experts see the attack as part of a broader Russian effort to push U.S. troops out of the region.

Hong Kong police have released a controversial assessment of last year’s attack on pro-democracy protesters, writes BBC News. They deny that masked men assaulted pro-democracy activists, instead arguing that the fight had “two evenly matched rivals” and that video footage didn’t accurately portray the scene. Activists have responded with outrage to this re-telling of events.

The White House announced a $1 billion investment yesterday in artificial intelligence and quantum computing, according to Techcrunch. The initiative will fund both private and public institutions’ research on foundational problems.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Bobby Chesney analyzed the likelihood that TikTok will win its lawsuit against the U.S. government.

Ava J. Abramowitz and Catherine H. Milton proposed several ways in which communities can reform their police departments.

Nathaniel Sobel and Julia Solomon-Strauss discussed the latest news in Trump v. Vance.

Molly E. Reynolds addressed how Congress can bridge its information gap with the executive branch.

Todd Carney, Samantha Fry, Quinta Jurecic, Jacob Schulz, Tia Sewell, Margaret Taylor and Benjamin Wittes continued to dissect the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of The Lawfare Podcast featuring a conversation between Jack Goldsmith and Harold Holzer 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.”

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Anna Salvatore is a rising freshman at Princeton University. She previously served as the editor in chief of High School SCOTUS, a legal blog written by teenagers. She is now a fall intern at Lawfare.

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