Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Tia Sewell
Friday, March 12, 2021, 2:33 PM

Lawfare’s daily roundup of national security news and opinion

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The Justice Department and FBI are gathering evidence in an attempt to build a large conspiracy indictment against members of the Oath Keepers militia group who participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, writes the Washington Post. In a document filed this morning, prosecutors stated that the “investigation and prosecution of the Capitol Attack will likely be one of the largest in American history, both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence.” So far, twelve alleged Oath Keepers affiliates have already been arrested on charges related to the riot—and recent court documents allege that the group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes, was in direct contact with some of these members regarding the plot. Still, the Post notes, prosecutors' efforts to bring an Oath Keepers conspiracy case is likely to be complicated by the fact that the group is largely decentralized and loosely structured around local chapters, despite the group's appearance as a paramilitary organization.

George Floyd’s family will receive a record payment of $27 million from the Minneapolis City Council to settle the wrongful-death lawsuit filed after Floyd died in police custody last May, according to the Post. The criminal trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer filmed with his knee on Floyd’s neck who now faces murder charges, began this week. Some legal observers have noted that the settlement could have implications for Chauvin’s trial—and perhaps could even result in a mistrial. “The concern is that jurors will be aware that the city gave George Floyd’s family a great deal of money," said Mary Moriarty, former chief Hennepin County public defender. "And I suspect the jurors will have a hard time avoiding the news, even if they try.”

President Biden delivered his first prime-time White House address to the nation yesterday, reports the New York Times. The president spoke for 24 minutes, reflecting on the “collective suffering, a collective sacrifice, a year filled with the loss of life, and the loss of living, for all of us,” in addition to the “hope and possibilities” that lie ahead. He promised that all adults in the U.S. will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by May 1 and urged Americans to continue abiding by public health guidelines, with the ultimate goal of allowing gatherings with loved ones by July 4.

Prior to his speech, Biden also signed his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package into law yesterday—marking his first significant legislative achievement as president, according to Politico. The package includes $1,400 stimulus checks for eligible Americans, which are expected to arrive in bank accounts as early as this weekend.

During a hearing today, the House antitrust subcommittee moved to rein in big tech and help traditional news outlets with new legislation that would grant significant negotiating power to media organizations, reports the Wall Street Journal. If passed, the bill would allow news outlets a four-year exemption from antitrust laws in order to work with other organizations to negotiate compensation deals with online platforms that use their content, such as Facebook and Google. Republican backers of the legislation say that they expect to roughly double the number of GOP House co-sponsors of the bill as compared to last year.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced today that he will not seek re-election in November, according to Reuters. The decision raises questions about Vance’s criminal investigation into former President Trump’s financial records, making it likely that Vance’s successor will inherit the probe. Earlier this year, Vance’s office finally obtained eight years of Trump’s tax returns after an 18-month court battle.

In a wave of fines issued this morning, China’s antitrust regulator punished 12 companies—including technology conglomerate Tencent—for failing to properly report past deals, writes the Journal. The move comes as the latest sign of Beijing’s broad crackdown on the country’s internet sector. This morning, the CEO of Ant Group, a Chinese financial-technology company, resigned amid Beijing’s heightened scrutiny of the country’s tech giants, reports the Journal.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Dan Lips argued that the Biden administration has a unique opportunity to confront the opioid epidemic and secure international mail by closing vulnerabilities in the postal system.

Abby Lemert and Eleanor Runde analyzed the latest U.S.-China technology policy and national security news in this week’s edition of SinoTech.

Jen Patja Howell shared the latest edition of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth series, featuring Quinta Jurecic and Evelyn Douek’s interview with Genevieve Lakier, assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School, about content moderation and the First Amendment.

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Tia Sewell is a former associate editor of Lawfare. She studies international relations and economics at Stanford University.

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