Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Tia Sewell
Monday, January 25, 2021, 2:07 PM

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The U.S. House of Representatives will deliver an article of impeachment charging former President Trump with incitement of insurrection today at about 7 p.m. ET, reports NPR. The trial will begin on Feb. 9, giving both Trump’s legal team time to prepare a defense and the Senate time to get the Biden administration’s Cabinet nomination hearings done in the first weeks of his term. Lawmakers have privately discussed conducting proceedings in record time—including possibly holding a three-day impeachment trial for Trump, according to Politico.

The Senate is facing gridlock as Democrats and Republicans are unable to agree on procedural rules for how the body, which is divided 50-50 by party lines, should operate, writes the Washington Post. The cross-party conflict could threaten Biden’s legislative agenda and undermine the president’s calls for bipartisanship and unity as Congress moves forward with impeachment.

National security officials are increasingly shifting focus to a broad crackdown on domestic extremism after the Jan. 6 rioting, reports the Post. On Jan. 22, Biden ordered the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to work with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to compile a comprehensive threat assessment on violent domestic extremism. Further, the White House has instructed its National Security Council to review policies in order to determine whether and how the government can improve information-sharing among federal agencies about the threat posed by domestic extremists.

Big tech is also preparing to address the threat and radicalization of domestic terrorists, according to Axios. Twitter has said that it’s working closely with federal law enforcement to minimize potential risks from white nationalists and other extremist groups in the United States, and Facebook and Youtube have made similar statements.

Facebook’s decision to refer its suspension of Trump to the Oversight Board, a corporate supercourt with the power to preside over Facebook’s content moderation decisions, will have major consequences for both American politics and the future of social media regulation, writes the New York Times. Over the next 87 days, the Oversight Board will rule on whether Donald Trump should be allowed back on Facebook in accordance with the platform’s policies. “Either it’s nothing, or it’s the New World Order,” said Evelyn Douek, who wrote a piece on Lawfare earlier this month pushing for Facebook to send the Trump case to the Oversight Board.

This weekend, tens of thousands of Russians turned out in protest against the Kremlin’s arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, reports the Times. The demonstrations mark the biggest nationwide showdown in Russia in years—signaling a new level of confrontation between the Kremlin and its opposition, which has gained traction as Russians have grown frustrated with corruption in the country under President Vladimir Putin. More than 3,000 people were arrested in at least 109 cities over the weekend in connection with the pro-Navalny protests.

China sent warplanes into the Taiwan Strait over the weekend, according to the Times. The move could be a signal to the new U.S. administration that Beijing intends to maintain its military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan. U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price condemned China’s action on Saturday, and committed to “deepening our ties with democratic Taiwan.” Days before President Trump’s term ended, the White House took a series of steps to elevate the U.S. relationship with Taiwan. In recent decades the U.S. relationship with Taiwan has been carefully maintained in order to avoid confrontation with the Chinese government.

In a speech today, Chinese President Xi Jinping appeared to issue a warning about the U.S.-China tensions, writes Axios. “History and reality have made it clear time and again that the misguided approach of antagonism and confrontation—be it in the form of a cold war, hot war, trade war or tech war—will eventually hurt all countries’ interest and undermine everyone’s well-being,” President Jinping stated at an economic conference.

As the U.S. Department of Defense is turning its strategic focus to “great power competition,” the Pentagon is investing in different military technologies and revamping some old capabilities including the B-52 bomber, reports the Wall Street Journal. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told the Senate last week that China is “the most significant threat going forward” and called for new American strides in building “space-based platforms,” writes the Times.

On Sunday, Italy announced that it will take legal action against pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and AstraZeneca over delays in deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines, according to Reuters.

Today, the Justice Department’s inspector general announced he will investigate whether department officials “engaged in an improper attempt” to overturn President Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, reports the Journal. Dominion Voting systems also filed a defamation lawsuit today against Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, for allegedly carrying out “a viral disinformation campaign” about 2020 U.S. election fraud, writes the Times.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is unlikely to seek re-election, reports the Journal. If Vance doesn’t run to renew his seat, he will have less than a year to see through his office’s investigation into former President Trump’s business dealings.

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Tore Refslund Hamming analyzed the Islamic State’s successes in Mozambique, arguing that absent substantial assistance from foreign actors, the country’s government is unlikely to recapture provinces currently controlled by the militant group.

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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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