Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Anna Salvatore
Tuesday, December 1, 2020, 1:35 PM

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

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A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)panel is scheduled to vote today on guidelines for which Americans should receive the coronavirus vaccine first, reports the New York Times. The panel is expected to say that healthcare workers and elderly Americans living in long-term care facilities should get the first shots. If CDC Director Robert Redfield approves today’s recommendations, then they will be shared with state governments, all of which are preparing to receive vaccine shipments as early as mid-December if Pfizer gets emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

According to CNN, Scott Atlas has resigned from President Trump’s coronavirus task force. Earlier this month Atlas criticized coronavirus restrictions in Michigan, urging residents there to “rise up” against Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s measures. He also tweeted in October that masks don’t work to prevent coronavirus infections, a lie which Twitter removed under its Covid-19 Misleading Information Policy. "His actions have undermined and threatened public health even as countless lives have been lost to Covid-19," wrote the faculty of Stanford University, which recently disavowed Atlas due to his ties with the Hoover Institution.

Wisconsin and Arizona certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory on Monday, writes the Washington Post. Their certifications are yet another blow to President Trump, who has now failed to prevent six states—including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada—from certifying Biden’s victory on baseless grounds of voter fraud. His claims are “an apparent attempt to undermine confidence in the election, to confuse people, to scare people,” said Chris Krebs, the recently-fired director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, in a 60 Minutes interview.

In a court filing yesterday, the Justice Department released a copy of the president’s pardon of his former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The pardon absolves Flynn of “any and all possible offenses” relating to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, writes Politico. “Pardons are typically directed at specific convictions or at a minimum at specific charges,” said Margy Love, a former pardon attorney for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. “I can think of only one other pardon as broad as this one, extending as it does to conduct that has not yet been charged, and that is the one that President Ford granted to Richard Nixon.”

Two former associates of Rudy Guiliani, the president’s personal lawyer, pleaded not guilty yesterday of conspiring to commit insurance fraud. Their case has drawn attention, writes Reuters, because they have worked with Giuliani on the shell insurance company.

Iran’s parliament approved a bill today that would ban the United Nations from inspecting Iranian nuclear facilities, reports the Associated Press. The bill—which next requires approval by the twelve-member Guardian Council—would also force the Iranian government to increase uranium enrichment if European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal don’t roll back sanctions. Voting on this bill came days after a top Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated in Tehran. At one point during deliberations this morning, the parliament chamber erupted in chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this morning in Nestlé USA v. Doe I, a case involving the Alien Tort Statute. According to SCOTUSblog, the justices will decide whether former child slaves from Mali can sue American companies in U.S. courts for permitting human rights abuses on Ivory Coast cocoa plantations.

According to the New York Times, Russian peacekeepers are maintaining a tense truce in Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed region fought over for six weeks this fall by Armenia and Azerbaijan. “Armenia is now ever more firmly locked within the Russian orbit, with limited options and even less room to maneuver,” said Richard Giragosian, a political analyst in Yerevan, Armenia. “The future security of Nagorno-Karabakh now depends on Russian peacekeepers, which gives Moscow the leverage they lacked.”

Facebook’s Oversight Board, an independent judicial body tasked with reviewing content moderation decisions, announced today that it has chosen its first six cases out of 20,000 submissions. The board will hold a weeklong open comment period for the chosen content, which ranges from inflammatory posts by a Malaysian politician to photos of female nipples to raise awareness for breast cancer. According to Reuters, the cases will be reviewed by five-member panels who are empowered to overrule Facebook’s past decisions to remove the content.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of The Lawfare Podcast. Jordan Schneider, the host of the ChinaTalk podcast, interviewed former national security advisor H.R. McMaster about his career.

Bryce Klehm examined the Pentagon’s inspector general report on U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.

Nicol Turner Lee shared an episode of the TechTank podcast entitled “Will Telehealth Continue Under the Biden Administration?” Lee spoke with Ross Friedberg and Niam Yaraghi about the rise and future of telehealth, also known as telemedicine.

Lawson Fite suggested that future president-elects can sue the General Services Administration to avoid delays in certifying their victories.

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.

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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