Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Tia Sewell
Monday, January 11, 2021, 1:36 PM

Lawfare’s daily roundup of national security news and opinion

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On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi committed to quickly bring impeachment proceedings against President Trump if Vice President Mike Pence does not invoke the 25th Amendment, reports the New York Times. Pelosi said the House would move forward today with a resolution calling on the vice president and White House cabinet to declare President Trump unfit for office and remove him from power. But in a brief session today, House Republicans blocked the resolution compelling Pence to take action against the president.

Because Pence is not expected to proceed on Pelosi’s timeline, the House will likely move to impeach President Trump by mid-week, making him the first U.S. president to be impeached twice, according to the Wall Street Journal. This morning, House Democrats introduced an impeachment resolution charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection.” The moves follow the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building by a pro-Trump mob intent on stopping legislators’ certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory in the 2020 presidential race. The drafted impeachment resolution alleges that the violence on Jan. 6 was spurred by President Trump’s baseless claims of a stolen election.

Police departments across the country have announced investigations into whether their officers took part in the Capitol riot, writes the Washington Post. Internal investigations based on tips, social media posts and other evidence documenting the violence on Jan. 6 have so far identified multiple law enforcement officers and at least one police chief. Departments nationwide have announced that identified officers could face termination, suspension or other disciplinary action for their involvement in the Jan. 6 rioting—punitive measures that are likely to raise questions moving forward about free speech, surveillance and public trust in policing.

The U.S. Army is investigating an officer, Capt. Emily Rainey, for allegedly leading a group of 100 people to the Washington rally to “stand against election fraud” in support of Trump’s fraudulent claims, according to the Associated Press. Rainey is assigned to the 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, a U.S. military group that uses information and misinformation to shape the behavior of American adversaries. She claims she acted within military regulations and was exercising her rights as a private citizen.

President-elect Joe Biden has selected William J. Burns to serve as the next director of the CIA, reports the Post. “Bill Burns is an exemplary diplomat with decades of experience on the world stage keeping our people and our country safe and secure,” Biden said in a statement. “He shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect.”

An Indonesian passenger plane crashed into the Java sea on Saturday, according to the Times. The aircraft, a Boeing 737-500, was the third passenger plane in just over six years to crash into the Java Sea after taking flight from a Java island airport. On Sunday, searchers located the plane’s flight data recorders. It could take months before investigators are able to conclude what caused the crash.

Parler, the social media platform known for hosting right-leaning political figures with less strict content moderation standards, has shut down, reports the Journal. Parler disappeared after Amazon removed the site from its servers, citing its inadequate efforts to remove violent content.

The Trump administration will designate Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a foreign terrorist organization, writes the Post. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the move in a press statement yesterday. Pompeo also said the White House will add three top Houthi officials to a list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Humanitarian organizations and foreign diplomats have expressed concern over the decision, as it could complicate U.N.-brokered peace talks between the Houthis and the Saudi-backed government in Yemen during a brutal six year conflict that has resulted in mass food insecurity and hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted the first day of post-war talks between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan over the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, according to Reuters. Despite a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement in November, tensions persist. The talks are intended to resolve problems that could strain the ceasefire resolution.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

John Bellinger argued that Donald Trump remains a danger to U.S. national security and stated that senior White House officials have a responsibility to protect the country from the president.

Kenneth M. Pollack analyzed Iran’s recent actions to assess prospects for U.S.-Iran relations in the Biden administration.

Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith reflected on legal advice the president may seek if he chooses to pardon himself before leaving office and discussed the potential consequences of an executive self-pardon.

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Tia Sewell is a former associate editor of Lawfare. She studied international relations and economics at Stanford University and is now a master’s student in international security at Sciences Po in Paris.

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