Today's Headlines and Commentary

Tia Sewell
Tuesday, January 12, 2021, 2:20 PM

Lawfare’s daily roundup of national security news and opinion

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House Democrats will likely impeach President Trump for the second time during his term on Wednesday, according to the Hill. A Senate impeachment trial is unlikely to begin before Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, meaning that the proceedings could create unforeseen challenges for the incoming Biden administration. An impeachment trial would impede the quick action in Congress that Biden needs to keep his administration’s first 100 days on track: It would effectively stall the confirmation of new White House Cabinet picks, as well as delay the implementation of Biden’s legislative agenda. Biden told reporters that his aides have spoken to Senate staffers about the possibility of dividing the Senate’s day between holding the impeachment trial and managing its other congressional duties.

President Trump has continued to deny any wrongdoing in inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, writes the Wall Street Journal. After years of defending the president, the siege has forced many GOP members to wrestle with whether and how to split from Trumpsome Republican lawmakers are weighing censure, while others have called for the president’s removal from office.

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced his resignation yesterday on Twitter, citing “recent events, including the ongoing and meritless court rulings regarding the validity of [his] authority as Acting Secretary.” Wolf is the third White House cabinet member to resign since last week’s riot in Washington, though he makes no mention of the Jan. 6 violence in his resignation letter.

Facebook told employees in an internal memo to avoid wearing company-branded apparel in public due to concerns that it could put the staff at risk, reports Yahoo News. The memo follows Facebook’s decision to suspend President Trump’s account for inciting violence on Jan. 6.

Nearly 100 members of the pro-Trump mob have been arrested so far for their role in the attack, writes USA Today. Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Colubmia Michael Sherwin has stated that “hundreds” could ultimately face charges, and no charges—including more serious offenses, such as seditious conspiracy, rioting and insurrection—are off the table as officials continue their investigation. Bryce Klehm and Rohini Kurup will continue updating this Lawfare database as more criminal charges related to the Jan. 6 rioting become available.

According to an internal FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News, federal law enforcement is aware of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitols in addition to the U.S. Capitol starting this week and running through Inauguration Day. The FBI’s note explains that the bureau has recieved information about pro-Trump groups calling for “a huge uprising” if Congress attempts to remove Trump. Amid heightened security concerns ahead of Biden’s inauguration, U.S. officials have bolstered National Guard forces in Washington, D.C., writes the Wall Street Journal.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the Voice of America—an international federally-funded news outlet—to “broadcast that this is the greatest nation in the history of the world and the greatest nation that civilization has ever known,” reports the Washington Post. Pompeo’s remarks prompted a group of staffers to file an anonymous whistleblower complaint in protest, calling it an order to produce “propaganda.” Today, Lawfare’s Tia Sewell published an article detailing how the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees the Voice of America, was hijacked by the agency’s Trump-appointed CEO for the president’s political purposes.

Today, Pompeo declared that al Qaeda had established a new home base in Iran, according to Reuters. The secretary of state did not provide hard evidence for his allegation.

Pompeo also announced that the State Department has designated Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism on Monday, writes the New York Times. The action reverses a step taken during the Obama administration in 2015, when the U.S. restored diplomatic relations with Cuba after decades of politically and economically isolating the country because of Cold War tensions.

The Trump administration is calling for coronavirus vaccinations to be made available to all Americans over 65, reports the Times. The move comes as part of an effort to accelerate the lagging U.S. inoculation campaign. According to the Journal, Uber and Lyft are pushing the incoming Biden administration for a role in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout by, for example, helping those eligible for doses with limited transportation options to schedule rides and receive reminder notifications.

The New York State Bar Association will consider expelling Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, writes the Post. Giuliani encouraged Trump supporters to fight election results “by combat” hours before the attack on the Capitol last week.

U.N. Chief Antonio Guterres has declared he will seek a second term, reports the Post.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jacob Schulz explored the implications of Twitter’s removal of President Trump from its platform—both for Trump and for the company itself.

Evelyn Douek argued that the Facebook Oversight Board should review the company’s most high-profile content moderation decision yet: its suspension of Trump.

Herb Lin explained why Americans should be concerned about the longer-term cybersecurity implications of the Jan. 6 occupation of the Capitol.

Paul Rosenzweig argued that a massive cybersecurity breach at Parler, a social media platform used largely by Trump supporters, will likely enable the U.S. government to prosecute rioters from the Jan. 6 insurrection with more ease.

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast, in which Jamie Gorelick, the deputy attorney general under President Clinton, spoke with Benjamin Wittes about Biden’s Justice Department nominations.

Jordan Schneider shared an episode of ChinaTalk featuring an interview with Matt Brazil on his new book co-written with Peter Mattis about Chinese Communist espionage.

Kelsey Clinton analyzed oral arguments in the Supreme Court’s Nestlé USA, Inc. v. Doe I and Cargill, Inc. v. Doe I cases, which consider whether a U.S. company can be sued for alleged violations of international human rights abroad under the Alien Tort Statute.

William Loomis and Stewart Scott discussed the Biden administration’s opportunity to secure the U.S. software ecosystem by reforming the government vulnerability disclosure process into a more transparent system.

Darrell West shared an episode of TechTank, titled “Ways to Protect Your Privacy and Security with Online Dating Apps.”

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.

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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