The Lawfare Podcast

By The Lawfare Institute

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Subscribers: 1000
Reviews: 5

Sean M
 Jan 30, 2019
Excellent didcussion from real experts, not the typical talking heads.

Jeff
 Dec 16, 2018
No hysteria. Just subject matter experts even-handedly discussing the big issues.

Brian
 Dec 3, 2018

Ben
 Nov 29, 2018
Very insightful

John
 Aug 7, 2018
This is an excellent podcast, presenting a range of learned opinions and expert testimony on a wide range of topics (diverse, but mostly touching national security and the law). No hype, no bluster, just well-informed and sincerely presented explanation. I strongly recommend it!

Description

This is Lawfare's series of audio podcasts.

Episode Date
Bonus Edition: A Brookings Discussion on What We Learned From the Mueller Report
01:33:30

On April 23, Benjamin Wittes hosted a panel discussion at the Brookings Institution unpacking what we learned from the redacted version of the Mueller report. The panel featured Susan Hennessey, Chuck Rosenberg and Margaret Taylor. They discussed the factual record Mueller established on Russian interference and collusion, whether the president's conduct constitutes obstruction of justice and how Congress and the American people might react to the report. The full audio of the event is available here. 

Apr 24, 2019
Michael Anton Defends Trump's Foreign Policy
01:07:23

Michael Anton, former Trump administration national security official and a research fellow at Hillsdale College, has published an essay in Foreign Policy explaining what he calls the 'Trump Doctrine' on foreign policy. Recently Anton sat down with Jack Goldsmith to discuss the new article and the philosophy behind Trump's foreign policy, particularly with respect to liberal internationalism and international institutions.

They discussed the administration's foreign policy successes and failures, how it's similar to and different from prior administrations in substance and in rhetoric, and whether the president's style and aversion to diplomatic norms inhibits the substance of his foreign policy.

Apr 23, 2019
Culper Partners Rule of Law Series: Ron Klain
55:16

In this fifth episode of the special Culper Partners Rule of Law Series, David Kris and Nate Jones speak with former senior White House and DOJ official Ron Klain.

Ron has served his country repeatedly, including in senior positions at the highest levels of all three branches of government. He has served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Byron White, Chief Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chief of Staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, and in that role, also served as a senior advisor to Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. He has worked on seven presidential campaigns, including the 2000 election between George W. Bush and then-Vice President Al Gore. Today, among other things, he is an adjunct professor at both Georgetown University and Harvard Law School.

Ron takes us on a trip down memory lane to discuss the hotly contested 2000 election, and in doing so, he shares his perspective on why he thinks the Supreme Court's decision departed from the rule of law. Ron also worries that our democracy is caught in a symbiotic downward spiral together with the rule of law. From active measures being deployed by foreign adversaries, to partisan political efforts to rig the system, Ron is concerned about the future.

Apr 21, 2019
Special Edition: What to Make of the Mueller Report
01:07:09

A redacted version of the 448-page Mueller report dropped yesterday, and there’s a lot to say about it. In this Special Edition of the Lawfare Podcast, Bob Bauer, Susan Hennessey, Mary McCord, Paul Rosenzweig, Charlie Savage and Benjamin Wittes discuss what the report says about obstruction and collusion, Mueller’s legal theories and what this all means for the president and the presidency.

Apr 19, 2019
Special Edition: The Mueller Report in Under an Hour
52:50

The Justice Department released on Thursday morning a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. The Mueller team divided the report into two volumes: one on Russian interference and potential coordination with the Trump campaign, and the other exploring the president’s conduct in relation to the investigation. Each volume features its own executive summary, chronicling the investigation’s central findings and conclusions. On this special edition episode of the Lawfare Podcast Benjamin Wittes reads those executive summaries in full. It’s a Mueller Report instant audio-book.

Apr 18, 2019
Michelle Melton on Climate Change as a National Security Threat
45:12

Since November, Lawfare Contributor Michelle Melton has run a series on our website about Climate Change and National Security, examining the implication of the threat as well as U.S. and international responses to climate change. Melton is a student a Harvard Law school. Prior to that she was an associate fellow in the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where she focused on climate policy.

She and Benjamin Wittes sat down last week to discuss the series. They talked about why we should think about climate change as a national security threat, the challenges of viewing climate change through this paradigm, the long-standing relationship between climate change and the U.S. national security apparatus, and how climate change may affect global migration.

Apr 17, 2019
Julian Mortenson on 'The Executive Power'
52:33

Julian Mortenson, Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, is the author of a remarkable new article entitled "Article II Vests Executive Power, Not the Royal Prerogative," forthcoming in the Columbia Law Review, and available on SSRN. 

Recently, Benjamin Wittes spoke with the professor about the article, which Mortenson has been working on for years—as long as the two have known each other. The article explores the history of exactly three words of the U.S. Constitution—the first three words of Article II, to be precise: "the executive power."

Huge claims about presidential power have rested on a conventional understanding of these three words. Julian argues that this conventional understanding is not just partially wrong, or mostly wrong, but completely wrong, as a matter of history. And, he tries to supplant it with a new understanding that he argues is actually a very old understanding of what those words mean.

Thanks to our sponsor Blinkist. Get your 7-day free trial at blinkist.com/lawfare.

Apr 13, 2019
Bonus Edition: James Comey at Verify 2019
01:20:00

On Thursday morning, Susan Hennessey spoke to former FBI director James Comey about encryption, China, Attorney General Bill Barr's comments to the Senate about the opening of the Russia investigation, and more.

Apr 11, 2019
Shorts: Memo to the Press: How Not to Screw Up on the Mueller Report
13:07

Attorney General Bill Barr announced on Wednesday, April 10, that the Mueller report will be released next week. While we wait for the release, Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes have written a "Memo to the Press: How Not to Screw Up on the Mueller Report." Jurecic and Wittes argue that the press got lost in the confusion of Barr's letter to Congress announcing the special counsel's top-line conclusions, and they offer nine principles for how to "[do] better the second time." You can listen to Quinta Jurecic read that article in the latest edition of the Lawfare Podcast Shorts

Apr 10, 2019
An NSI Conversation on Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and U.S. Policy
38:15

Our friends at the National Security Institute at George Mason University came over last week to have a discussion in our podcast studio about Yemen and the U.S.-Saudi alliance. Four former Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffers who worked with and sometimes at odds with each other participated. The conversation was moderated by Lester Munson, former Staff Director of the Committee under Chairman Bob Corker, and it included Jodi Herman, former Staff Director of the Committee under Ranking Member Ben Cardin; Jamil Jaffer, Founder and Executive Director of the National Security Institute and former Chief Counsel and Senior Advisor with the Committee under Chairman Bob Corker; and Dana Stroul, former Democratic senior staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the Middle East.

Apr 09, 2019
Culper Partners Rule of Law Series: Kathy Ruemmler
55:09

In this fourth episode of the special Culper Partners Rule of Law series, David Kris and Nate Jones speak with former White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler.

Prior to her White House service, Kathy served as the Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, DC, and on the Enron task force. Earlier in her career, Kathy was an Associate Counsel to President Bill Clinton, where she defended the White House and the Office of the President in independent counsel and congressional investigations.

Kathy spoke with David and Nate about her service as President Obama's White House Counsel and how her experience at the Department of Justice instilled in her a deep respect for the rule of law, including limits on interactions between the White House and DOJ concerning particular investigations and other matters. She has grave concerns about the inherent conflict facing President Trump's subordinates, who must remain faithful to the rule of law while trying to carry out the legitimate policy goals of the elected president. She is not optimistic that this can be done, and she raises the question of whether those who remain have compromised to the point of enabling the president's misconduct.

Apr 06, 2019
Mary Louise Kelly and Shane Harris on Covering the CIA
50:20

Back in February, we hosted Bill Harlow and Marie Harf, two former public affairs officers at the Central Intelligence Agency, to discuss how the CIA interacts with reporters on sensitive national security topics. For this episode, we thought it only fair to turn that around and also talk about how it's seen on the other side.

Mary Louise Kelly is a voice familiar to many as an anchor of All Things Considered on NPR. She previously spent a decade as national security and intelligence correspondent for NPR News after working for CNN and the BBC. Shane Harris, in addition to co-hosting the Rational Security podcast, now covers intelligence and national security for The Washington Post, after writing about the same for outlets like The Wall Street Journal, Daily Beast, and National Journal.

David Priess recently sat down with Mary Louise and Shane to discuss the challenges of covering national security, to address myths about the intelligence beat, and, unsuccessfully, to uncover their sources.

Apr 02, 2019
Ambassador Kim Darroch on the State of the Special Relationship
54:53

There's a special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, but with Brexit and the erratic presidency of Donald Trump, it hasn't exactly been business as usual between the two countries. Or has it?

British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch, sat down with Benjamin Wittes last week to talk about the alliance, particularly in moments of uncertainty for both countries. They talked briefly about Brexit, but they mostly discussed other key areas of mutual cooperation, like counterterrorism in the Middle East, countering Russian aggression, and what to do about a rising China.

Thanks to our sponsor Blinkist. Get your 7-day free trial at blinkist.com/lawfare

Mar 30, 2019
Sue Biniaz on the Trump Administration and International Climate Policy
01:27:27

From 1989 to early 2017, Sue Biniaz was the lead climate lawyer and a climate negotiator at the State Department. She was also a key architect of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, a UN-negotiated agreement designed to mitigate global warming, which went into effect in November 2016. In June 2017, President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the agreement.

Sue sat down with Lawfare's Jack Goldsmith to talk about the early days of U.S. and international climate action, how the Paris Agreement came into force and the predecessor agreements that gave rise to it, how it was supposed to operate, and what impacts Trump's actions have had on international climate policy.

Mar 27, 2019
Special Edition: The Mueller Report and the Barr Letter
56:25

Special Counsel Robert Mueller sent his report to Bill Barr on Friday, and the attorney general sent a letter to Congress on Sunday detailing the principal conclusions of the Mueller report. Benjamin Wittes talks about it all with Lawfare Executive Editor Susan Hennessey, former senior Justice Department official Carrie Cordero and former assistant attorney general for national security David Kris. 

Mar 25, 2019
Culper Partners Rule of Law Series: Sen. Saxby Chambliss
49:30

In this third episode of the special Culper Partners Rule of Law series, David Kris and Nate Jones speak with former Senator Saxby Chambliss, who served as a senator from Georgia from 2003–2015, and in the House of Representatives from 1995–2003.

During his tenure in the Senate, he was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as well as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, where he served as Vice Chairman from 2011–2014. His previous role as Chairman of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security made him one of the leading congressional experts on those issues.

They talked about the history of the congressional intelligence committees, the significance of election interference, and the proper penalties for lying to Congress. Chambliss also described what it was like to serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee, even describing a particular situation that is apparently still classified and undisclosed, as well as revealing whom he considers to be the best legislator he ever knew.

Mar 23, 2019
African Elections and U.S. Interests
37:32

Demographic, technological, and geostrategic developments are disrupting the electoral landscape in sub-Saharan Africa. How do these shifts affect the political climate for democracy and participation across Africa? What have recent elections in Nigeria illustrated about these? And what about the clash between China and the United States in Africa?

To explore these questions, David Priess spoke with Judd Devermont, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, host of the Into Africa podcast, and former national intelligence officer for Africa from 2015 to 2018.

Mar 19, 2019
Shorts: ‘Speaking Indictments’ by Robert S. Mueller III
20:36

It’s Robert Mueller as you’ve never heard him before.

We have something special for you on the podcast today. Something very different.

The Mueller report is coming. We all know that. We don’t know what’s going to be in it. We don't know when it's showing up. 

But Bob Mueller has already told a remarkable story. He’s told it scattered through different court filings in a variety of cases, indictments, plea agreements, stipulations of fact. We decided to distill it, to organize it, to put it all in one place, to tell the story of the Russia investigation orally, to let a remarkable group of speakers read the speaking indictments that Mueller has issued.

So here’s the story of the Russia conspiracy, distilled to a brief audiobook in seven chapters. What you’re about to hear is all taken nearly verbatim from actual Bob Mueller filings. We’ve cut a lot, moved stuff around, and changed a few words here and there to make it sound more like a narrative. We have changed the meaning not at all. 

Mar 18, 2019
Bill Browder and Jago Russell Debate Interpol and Authoritarian Governments
49:33

Bill Browder, human rights campaigner and foe of Vladimir Putin, seems to get arrested whenever he travels abroad as a result of red notices and diffusion orders issued by Putin through the Interpol police organization. These incidents have highlighted the abuse of Interpol by authoritarian governments, and they raise a really important question: Should we be participating in an international police organization with governments that use that organization to harass and arrest their enemies?

On this episode of The Lawfare Podcast, Benjamin Wittes speaks with two people with somewhat different points of view, although a lot of common ground: Bill Browder himself, along with Jago Russell, the head of Fair Trials, which has worked to reform Interpol and make it less susceptible to abuse. Bill argues for kicking the bums out and having police cooperation only between countries that observe civilized norms of law enforcement. Jago makes the case for mending, not ending, an inclusive international police organization.

Mar 16, 2019
Andrew Coan on 'Prosecuting the President'
43:22

As the nation braces for the forthcoming end of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into President Trump and his associates, The Lawfare Podcast decided to take a look back at the complete history of special prosecutors.

Benjamin Wittes sat down with Andrew Coan, a professor of law at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. Coan recently published "Prosecuting the President," which traces the history of how special prosecutors and counsels work to keep the executive branch accountable for its actions. Ben and Andrew discussed the book, the Teapot Dome Scandal, the Whiskey Ring, and what all of that might mean for the future of special counsels.

Mar 12, 2019
War Powers History You Never Knew with Matt Waxman
01:01:46

For the past year, Matt Waxman has been writing Lawfare vignettes about interesting—and usually overlooked—historical episodes of American constitutional war powers in action, and relating them to modern debates. These include the stories of St. Claire’s Defeat and the Whiskey Rebellion during the Washington administration, congressional war powers and the surprisingly late termination of World War I, the proposed Ludlow Amendment during the interwar years, and Eisenhower’s Taiwan force authorization.

Ben Wittes invited Matt on the podcast to talk about them and how they fit together into a book broader project he's embarking on. If you’re tired of hearing the usual war powers debates, listen in. And even if you think you know a lot about constitutional war powers, you’ll learn a lot.

Mar 09, 2019
Shorts: FBI Director Wray on Combating Cyberthreats
20:09

On Tuesday, Susan Hennessey interviewed FBI Director Chris Wray at the 2019 RSA Conference. They discussed about how the Director views the cyber threat landscape 18 months into his term, his concerns about the threats posed by Russia and China, what the FBI is doing to protect the 2020 elections, and more.

Mar 06, 2019
John Judis on The Nationalist Revival
44:31

Political trends in recent years have seen a rise of right-leaning nationalism and populism around the globe, including in the United States. What are the sources of nationalism, and what are its effects on modern politics?

On this episode, Lawfare founding editor and Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith sits down with John Judis, editor-at-large at Talking Points Memo and author of "The Nationalist Revival." They discussed Judis’s book, including the necessity of nationalism in developed democracies, why right-wing nationalist and populist movements seem to be winning out over those on the left, and how Donald Trump successfully raised the profile of nationalist politics in the United States.

Mar 06, 2019
Luke Murry and Daniel Silverberg on National Security in Congress
43:54

It's hard to open a newspaper or turn on the television without hearing about the dysfunction and partisan polarization affecting members of Congress. But what about their staffs, and what does that mean for national security?

This week, Margaret Taylor sat down with seemingly unlikely partners: Luke Murry, National Security Advisor to Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Daniel Silverberg, National Security Advisor to Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. They spoke about security issues facing this Congress, what staffers do on a day-to-day basis, and how the two of them actually work together.

Mar 02, 2019
Bonus Edition: Michael Cohen vs. the Committee with No Bull
01:02:03

On Wednesday, Michael Cohen—the former executive vice president of the Trump Organization, former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, and former personal lawyer to Donald Trump—paid a visit to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Cohen accused the president of campaign finance violations after taking office. He alleged that he was present when Roger Stone gave Trump advance notice of the WikiLeaks dump of the hacked DNC emails. And he claimed that the president's statements in a meeting with Jay Sekulow led Cohen to conclude that the president wanted Cohen to make false statements to Congress. So we cut out all of the bickering, all of the procedural obstructions, and all the rest of the frivolity, to bring you just the one hour of testimony you need to hear. 

Feb 28, 2019
Culper Partners Rule of Law Series: Eric Holder
54:33

In this second episode of the special Culper Partners Rule of Law Series, David Kris and Nates Jones, the founders of the Culper Partners consulting firm, speak with Eric Holder, who served as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States from 2009 to 2015.

Holder shares his perspective on the proper functioning of the Department of Justice, the balance between independence and political accountability, and a distinction between the role of the Attorney General as the chief prosecutor on the one hand and as legal advisor to the president, and sometimes to the National Security Council, on the other. He also remembers his own experience with congressional oversight and gives a frank assessment of how oversight is functioning today. He also critiques the two OLC opinions against indicting a sitting president, and he offers predictions about the Mueller report and his own upcoming decision on whether he will run for president.

Feb 27, 2019
Bastian Giegerich on IISS's 2019 Military Balance
42:54

Each year, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London publishes The Military Balance, an annual assessment of the military capabilities and defense economics of 171 countries around the world. Last week, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Bastian Giegerich, director of defense and military analysis for IISS, who leads the research and publication of The Military Balance, which has just come out for 2019.

They discussed Chinese military modernization, global defense spending and how it's changing around the world, Russia's violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Agreement, NATO, and cyber.

Feb 23, 2019
Shorts: Four Principles for Reading the Mueller Report
13:30

It’s looking more and more like Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation is finally reaching an end. The regulations under which he is operating require Mueller to write and submit a final, confidential report to the attorney general. Who, in turn, must then decide when and how much of the report to release to Congress and the public. No one outside of the Justice Department knows what will be in the report, which  makes this the perfect to set ground rules regarding how people should engage this material, regardless of their political affiliations or view of the L’Affaire Russe scandal. Today, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, Benjamin Wittes and I detailed what, we believe, those ground rules should be. In the latest edition of the Lawfare Podcast Shorts, you can listen to that article in-full, read by one of the authors, Susan Hennessey.

Feb 22, 2019
Marie Harf and Bill Harlow on CIA Public Relations
50:16

The Central Intelligence Agency, by its very nature, is a secretive organization, yet it has a robust public affairs and media relations operation. How does the agency resolve this tension? How do its employees, from the director of the CIA to the officers needed to assist in this effort, deal with the difficult questions of how open to be? To find out, David Priess sat down with Bill Harlow and Marie Harf, two former CIA officers who were in the middle of it all.

Feb 19, 2019
Culper Rule of Law Series: Judge John Bates
01:11:03

Something a little different on the podcast today: the launch of a special series—the Culper Partners Rule of Law Series. David Kris and Nates Jones, the founders of the Culper Partners consulting firm, have recorded a limited-edition podcast series exploring various aspects of the rule of law, particularly as it relates to U.S. national security and criminal law enforcement. Over the course of several episodes, which we will be dropping into the Lawfare Podcast feed over the coming weeks and months, David and Nate examine topics including legislative and judicial oversight of the executive branch, the rule of law in counterterrorism, the relationship between law, economic security, and national security, foreign relations and the rule of law, and law and politics. Each episode features an interview with a current or former senior government official, or a leader in the private sector.

In this first episode, Nate and David talk with Judge John Bates, Senior Judge on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Judge Bates has had a long and distinguished career in government and private practice, including work at two private law firms, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in DC, and as Deputy Independent Counsel in the Whitewater investigation. Most recently, from 2013 to 2015, he was Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Judge Bates became a federal judge in 2001, and from 2006 to 2013 he served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, where he was the court’s Presiding Judge beginning in 2009.

Feb 16, 2019
Amanda Sloat on All Things Brexit
52:23

On March 29, in approximately six weeks, the United Kingdom is scheduled to crash out of the European Union. As of the date of this podcast, there is no deal governing how that exit will work. To understand the stakes, Benjamin Wittes sat down last week in the new Jungle Studio with Amanda Sloat, a senior fellow at the Brookings Center for the United States and Europe, to talk about all things Brexit.

They talked about the thorny issue of the Northern Ireland border, Theresa May's delicate political position, and what might happen if March 29 arrives without a Brexit deal.

Feb 13, 2019
Bonus Edition: Whitaker vs. the Committee with No Bull
01:05:56

After the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee assured that he would be allowed to appear voluntarily, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker gave testimony on Friday before the panel on oversight of the department he has led since Jeff Sessions left office in November 2018. He answered questions for over six hours about everything from his decision not to recuse from the Mueller investigation to the department's pretrial release program. But we cut out all the unnecessary repetition and theatrics to leave you with just the questions and answers about national security law that you need to hear.

Feb 10, 2019
The Future of Warfare
01:23:00

From the increasing development of autonomous weapons systems to the expansion of the traditional battlefield to cyber and outer space, the evolution of warfare invites ethical and legal questions about what the future holds. In November 2018, Arnold & Porter's Veterans and Affiliates Leadership Organization hosted a panel discussion to explain what warfare will be like for the military veterans of the future.

Former Air Force and Army general counsel and current Arnold & Porter partner Chuck Blanchard moderated a conversation with American University law professor Ken Anderson, Emory law professor Laurie Blank, and Jamie Morin, vice president of Defense System Operations at The Aerospace Corporation and a director of the Center for Space Policy and Strategy.

Feb 09, 2019
Progressive Critiques of Liberal Internationalism
52:35

Many critics of Donald Trump’s foreign policy say the president has undermined the liberal international order, but some progressives question whether liberal internationalism was worthwhile to begin with. On Sunday, Jack Goldsmith had a conversation with Samuel Moyn, a professor of law and history at Yale University, who studies that subject. They talked through how to understand the successes and failures of liberal internationalism, the significance of Donald Trump’s effect on it, and what the future holds for the liberal international order.

Feb 06, 2019
Shorts: Why the FBI Sent So Many Agents to Roger Stone’s Home
06:26

In the wake of Roger Stone’s arrest on Jan. 25, 2019, Chuck Rosenberg, a longtime U.S. federal law enforcement official, explained on Lawfare why the tactics used during the arrest were wholly appropriate. Nonetheless, some politicians, including the president and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, have raised questions about the FBI’s operational decisions—in particular regarding the allegedly excessive number of FBI officials who were present for the arrest and search of Stone’s home. In a second article for Lawfare, Rosenberg detailed why it was entirely appropriate for the FBI to send roughly 29 agents to Stone’s house. In the latest edition of the Lawfare Podcast Shorts, you can listen to that article in-full, read by the author.

Feb 04, 2019
Herb Lin and Amy Zegart on “Bytes, Bombs, and Spies”
54:26

Last week, as part of the Hoover Institution’s “Security by the Book” series, Jack Goldsmith spoke with Herb Lin and Amy Zegart, co-directors of the Stanford Cyber Policy Program. Lin and Zegart edited a recently-published volume on offensive cyber operations entitled: “Bytes, Bombs, and Spies: The Strategic Dimensions of Offensive Cyber Operations.” In the book, leading cybersecurity scholars and practitioners dissect the technical, political, psychological, and legal ramifications of offensive cyber operations. Goldsmith, Lin, and Zegart discussed the book’s inception, its contents, and what role offensive cyber operations have played and continue to play in U.S. strategy.

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Feb 02, 2019
Shorts: What a Watergate Document Can Teach the House Judiciary Committee
15:23

While researching the Watergate Road Map, Benjamin Wittes discovered a letter written by the then-Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary Peter Rodino to the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In the letter, Rodino requested that any material relevant to the House’s impeachment inquiry be transferred to his committee. This morning, Wittes analyzed in a Lawfare article how the letter could instruct current Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler on what steps he can take to ensure his committee properly executes its constitutional obligation. In the latest edition of the Lawfare Podcast Shorts, you can listen to that article in-full, read by the author.

Jan 31, 2019
Shorts: The Intelligence Chiefs vs. the Committee with No Bull
12:25

On Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee heard testimony on global threats to U.S. national security from six heads of intelligence agencies: Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher Wray, NSA Director Paul Nakasone, NGIA Director Robert Cardillo, and DIA Director Robert Ashley. In a three-hour open session, they gave testimony about North Korea, they gave testimony about Iran, and they gave some testimony that clashed with statements made by the president of the United States. But we cut out all of the bull, and left you with just the 15 minutes of the hearing that you need.

Jan 30, 2019
Stan Brand on Congressional Subpoenas and Contempt
37:32

With the Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives, the 116th Congress is expected to be one of vigorous oversight of the executive branch, complete with requests for documents and for testimony from executive branch officials. But how does this actually work, and what happens when the executive branch refuses to comply?

To hash it all out, Brookings Senior Fellow Molly Reynolds spoke with Stan Brand, who served as the general counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1976 to 1983. They talked about the institutional role of the House general counsel, the ins and outs of congressional contempt and subpoena enforcement, and the various challenges that the House will have to confront over the next two years.

Jan 29, 2019
Jeffrey Tulis on 'The Rhetorical Presidency' on Steroids
51:04

On a flight recently, Benjamin Wittes read a book that knocked his socks off: "The Rhetorical Presidency" by political scientist Jeffrey Tulis. While written in 1987, the book seems to anticipate our current president.

Ben got on the phone with Jeffrey Tulis to talk about the book, how the speaking style of presidents changed from the Founding era through the 19th century and into the 20th century, and how the hyper-rhetorical style of Donald Trump, where he's talking all the time, is really an extension of developments that had been going on all through the 20th century.

Jan 26, 2019
Molly Reynolds and Margaret Taylor on National Security and the 116th Congress
51:04

It's a new year with a new Congress, and the Democrats now control the House of Representatives. But how will that change affect the state of play for national security legal issues? To find out, Benjamin Wittes spoke last Friday with Brookings senior fellow and expert on all things Congress, Molly Reynolds, and Brookings fellow, Lawfare senior editor, and former Chief Democratic Counsel for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Margaret Taylor.

They talked about the dynamics of a divided legislature, what committees Lawfare Podcast listeners should keep an eye on, and how the new chairs of certain committees will affect key issues in national security law.

Jan 23, 2019
Ian Bassin on Protecting Democracy
40:25

Ian Bassin served in the White House Counsel's office under President Obama. At the dawn of the Trump administration, he became the impresario behind the litigating organization Protect Democracy, which has become an increasingly cross-ideological mechanism for using litigation to protect democratic values. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Ian to talk about the differences between Protect Democracy and more traditional litigating organizations, what sort of projects they do take on, and what sort of projects they don't take on. And they talked about the role litigation can and cannot play in preserving the norms that make democracy vibrant.

Jan 19, 2019
Special Edition: Bill Barr vs. the Committee with No Bull
02:01:25

Bill Barr spent Tuesday testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on his nomination to take over the reins of the Justice Department as attorney general, a role he previously held during the George H.W. Bush administration. Barr spent more than eight hours before the senators. But on this episode of the Lawfare Podcast, we cut out all the BS: No repeated questions, no repeated answers, no ums, no uhs. And we took out everything except the national security questions, leaving you just the questions and responses about Lawfare topics that you want to hear.

Jan 16, 2019
Special Edition: The FBI’s Counterintelligence Investigation of Donald Trump
01:03:57

Benjamin Wittes talks to Carrie Cordero, Chuck Rosenberg, David Kris, Jack Goldsmith and Susan Hennessey about the New York Times's report that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation of Donald Trump after the president fired Director James Comey in May 2017.

Jan 12, 2019
Greg Miller on “The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy”
43:36

Last week, Jack Goldsmith got on the phone with Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalist Greg Miller to discuss Miller’s new book, “The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy.” Miller’s book chronicles Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the interactions among members of the Trump campaign, transition, and administration, and officials and representatives of the Russian government. Goldsmith and Miller discussed how Miller approached writing the book, the extraordinary series of apparent connections and contacts between Trump associates and the Russian government, and what Russian President Vladimir Putin might have gained from his brazen interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Jan 12, 2019
Special Edition: Jaimie Nawaday on the Veselnitskaya Indictment
29:24

Benjamin Wittes talks to Jaimie Nawaday, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, to discuss the indictment of Natalia Veselnitskaya over alleged obstruction of justice in a case Nawaday handled. Nawaday talks about Russian abuse of the American justice system and how Veselnitskaya colluded with the Russian chief prosecutor's office to frustrate American prosecutors.

Jan 09, 2019
John Sipher on Spy Swaps: Past, Present, and Future
35:36

The Russian government's recent arrest of American Paul Whelan and its charges against him have many politicians and pundits speculating about the possibility of an intended spy swap for Maria Butina. There's a lot going on here, but there's also a lot of misunderstanding about the history of spy swaps, what they are, and what they aren't.

Earlier this week, David Priess sat down with his former CIA colleague John Sipher to talk about it all. They discussed the history of spy swaps, the current case involving Paul Whelan, and prospects for some kind of a release.

Jan 08, 2019
Mary McCord and Jason Blazakis on Criminalizing Domestic Terrorism
51:15

The murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville in 2017 and other recent events have drawn into the public discourse the fact that domestic terrorism is not a crime in and of itself. Earlier this week, Benjamin Wittes sat down with two experts on domestic terrorism to talk about ways that it might be incorporated into our criminal statutes.

Mary McCord, a professor of practice at Georgetown Law School, a senior litigator at the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown Law School, and the former acting assistant attorney general for national security at the U.S. Department of Justice; and Jason Blazakis, a former State Department official in charge of the office that designates foreign terrorist organizations, and a professor of practice at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, joined Ben to talk about their proposals for how domestic terrorism might become a crime.

They talked about why domestic terrorism is currently left out of the criminal code, their two proposals for how it might be incorporated and how those proposals differ, and the 1st Amendment consequences of their competing proposals.

Jan 05, 2019
Lawfare AMA 2018
01:28:48

For this end-of-the-year episode of the Lawfare Podcast, we wanted to hear from you and get your voice on the podcast. You called us with questions, you tweeted your questions using #LawfareAMA, and Benjamin Wittes, Scott Anderson, Bob Bauer, Bobby Chesney, Susan Hennessey, Matthew Kahn, Alina Polyakova, David Priess, and Tamara Cofman Wittes all came together to answer them. We talked about everything from the 25th Amendment, to cyberwarfare, to what's happening in the Middle East.

Thank you for your questions. And as always, thank you for listening.

Dec 29, 2018
Exiting Syria and the Rest of the Iceberg
01:05:56

This week, President Trump made the unexpected announcement that he was immediately withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria, ending their involvement in the counter-ISIS campaign that the United States has led there for the last four years. As the week went on, it became clear that the decision on Syria was just the tip of the iceberg.

To help us make sense of all that has happened over the last 72 hours, Lawfare's Scott R. Anderson sat down on Friday with a panel of Middle East experts at the Brookings Institution: Dan Byman, a senior fellow; Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow and former State Department official; and Mara Karlin, a nonresident senior fellow, professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and former Pentagon official. They talked about the Syria withdrawal, what it means for U.S. policy in the Middle East moving forward, and about Defense Secretary James Mattis's resignation.

Dec 22, 2018
David Priess on 'How to Get Rid of a President'
34:14

David Priess is man of many national security hats. Long before becoming Lawfare's head of operations, Priess was an intelligence officer, manager, and briefer with the CIA, including some time spent as a primary PDB briefer to then-FBI director Robert Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft. Since leaving government, Priess has become a historian of national security, intelligence, and the presidency, most recently writing on the history of presidential removal in the book "How to Get Rid of a President: History's Guide to Removing Unpopular, Unable, or Unfit Chief Executives." Lawfare's Mikhaila Fogel sat down with David to discuss his recent book, his research process, and the national security implications for these historic episodes.

Dec 19, 2018
Senator Mark Warner on a New Cyber Doctrine
41:00

Last week, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia addressed a crowd at the Center for New American Security (CNAS), offering what he called a “New Doctrine for Cyberwarfare & Information Operations.” Sen. Warner currently serves as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. In that role, he helps to oversee that committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. To combat the sort of information warfare and cyberattacks used in that election, as well as the more general and staggering cybersecurity threats posed to U.S. persons and entities, the senator lays out a detailed series of recommendations for this doctrine, emphasizing: establishing international cyber norms and rules; combatting disinformation and misinformation; hardening networks, weapons systems, and Internet of Things devices; realigning defense spending; and strong federal leadership.

Dec 15, 2018
The War in Yemen (and Congress’s Response)
01:00:38

Last week, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Gregory Johnsen, a former member of the U.N. Security Council Panel of Experts on Yemen and the author of the book "The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Qaeda, and America’s War in Arabia," to do a deep dive on the conflict in Yemen: its origins; its current state; and the role Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United States have played and are likely to play moving forward. Joining Ben and Greg was Daniel Byman, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy and Lawfare’s own Foreign Policy Editor.

After Ben and Dan’s conversation with Greg, Brookings Fellow Molly Reynolds and Lawfare's Scott R. Anderson sat down for a conversation about Yemen-related legislation that is currently churning on Capitol Hill, and what it may mean for the future of U.S. involvement in the conflict there.

Dec 12, 2018
Congressman Adam Schiff on the Future of the House Intelligence Committee
42:30

On January 3, Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives and all of its committees. Congressman Adam Schiff of California, the current ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, also known as HPSCI, is expected to take control of the committee. This week, Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes sat down with Congressman Schiff at his office to discuss the agenda for HPSCI and the upcoming Congress, the challenges facing the Democratic majority as they attempt to rebuild bipartisanship on a deeply divided committee, and, of course, the Russia investigation.

Dec 08, 2018
Special Edition: Preet Bharara Discusses…Everything
58:44

Today Benjamin Wittes got on the phone with former U.S. attorney and podcast empresario Preet Bharara to discuss a recent report Preet has published along with the National Task Force on Rule of Law & Democracy, a group which Preet co-chairs along with former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman.

The conversation took a turn towards the news: They talked about a hot-of-the-presses Washington Post story naming former attorney general William Barr as President Trump’s leading candidate to be the next attorney general. And, of course, they discussed the Mueller investigation. After that, they turned back to their original purpose, the Task Force report.

Dec 06, 2018
Global Developments in Encryption and Surveillance Law
01:16:35

In August, legal and technical experts gathered in Santa Barbara for the Crypto 2018 Workshop on Encryption and Surveillance to further the ongoing debate over the impact of strong encryption and law enforcement surveillance capabilities. Over the past several days, Lawfare has published a series of reflections that capture some of the views presented at the conference. On this episode of the Lawfare Podcast, we’ve brought you one of the conversations from the event itself, in which Jim Baker of Brookings and Lawfare, Cindy Cohn of the EFF, Sven Herpig of the New Responsibilities Foundation, Adam Ingle of Australia’s Department of Home Affairs, and Ian Levy of the U.K.’s GCHQ discussed recent developments in the laws and policy governing encryption and surveillance around the world.

Dec 05, 2018
Special Edition: Michael Cohen’s Trump Tower Moscow Plea
01:08:19

Thursday saw another plea deal from Michael Cohen: this time with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Cohen pleaded guilty to one count of lying to Congress regarding how long into the 2016 campaign the Trump Organization sought to build Trump Tower in Moscow and who exactly knew about the efforts. The criminal information validates to a remarkable degree a May 2018 report from Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold of Buzzfeed news, chronicling the details of Michael Cohen and associate Felix Sater’s efforts to cement the real estate deal (you can also listen to a special edition of the Lawfare Podcast on the story here).  

Immediately after new of the plea broke, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Cormier, Susan Hennessey and Paul Rosenzweig to discuss the story, the implications of the plea for the Mueller investigation, and who just might have legal exposure and for what.

Nov 29, 2018
Alina and Scott Talk Ukraine and Russia
53:44

This week, Russia and Ukraine went at it in the Kerch Strait, which separates the Black Sea from the Sea of Azov. It's the latest salvo in Russia's (not-so-secret) war against Ukraine and its eastern provinces, and it's the latest thing that has the world talking about Vladimir Putin's lawlessness in his back yard.

To understand it all, Benjamin Wittes spoke today with Alina Polyakova of the Foreign Policy program at Brookings, and Scott Anderson of Lawfare and the Governance Studies program at Brookings. They talked about what happened this week, the international law implications, and the domestic politics in both Ukraine and Russia.

Nov 27, 2018
John Carlin on "Dawn of the Code War"
55:59

John Carlin served as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division from April 2014 to October 2016. In his new book with Garrett Graff, called “Dawn of the Code War: America's Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat," Carlin explains the cyber conflicts the U.S. faces and how the government fights back. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Carlin last week to talk about the book. They talked about about the FBI and Justice Department’s fight against cyber espionage, about how the Justice Department attributes cyberattacks to the responsible actors, and about Carlin’s experience as FBI director Robert Mueller’s chief of staff. 

Nov 24, 2018
What to Expect from the New Iraqi Government
49:55

Earlier this year, just as the United States was preparing to kick-off its national elections, the country of Iraq was finalizing the results of its own and finally installing a new government after months of debate. It was the fourth parliamentary election under the Iraqi Constitution that the United States helped to put in place, and the first since the Iraqi government declared victory in the conflict with ISIS that has dominated the country’s attention since 2014.

To understand what this new government may mean for Iraq and its relationship to the United States, Scott R. Anderson spoke with Jared Levy, the Director of Research Services for the Iraq Oil Report, a premier resource for Iraq-watchers everywhere; and Rasha al-Aqeedi, a native of Mosul, Iraq, and the Robert A. Fox Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and the Managing Editor of Raise Your Voice, a digital platform that focuses on Iraqi society post-ISIS.

They discussed the politics behind Iraq’s recent elections, what to expect of the main figures in the new Iraqi government, and how they might try and navigate the growing tensions between the United States and Iran that are increasingly evident in the region.

Nov 21, 2018
Jung Pak at #NatSecGirlSquad
43:33

Following the #NatSecGirlSquad’s first conference, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Jung Pak before a live audience at the Bier Baron in Washington, DC. Jung is a senior fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Foreign Policy program and a long-time North Korea CIA analyst. They talked about North Korean missile development, what reasonable expectations the United States might have when it comes to relations with North Korea, and why we tolerate and sometimes embrace comical representations of the North Korean regime.

Nov 17, 2018
The U.K. and Europe on the Brink of Brexit
57:55

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that U.K. and EU officials have reached a provisional Brexit agreement. Though as of this recording, the text of that agreement has not been released, we at Lawfare thought it a good time for a refresher on how senior Europe experts and British officials are thinking about the U.K.’s split from the European Union. On October 23, the Brookings Center on the United States and Europe hosted a panel discussion on the endgame of the Brexit negotiations with Sir Kim Darroch, Britain’s ambassador to the United States; Amanda Sloat, senior fellow at Brookings; Douglas Alexander, former U.K. shadow foreign secretary; and Lucinda Creighton, a former Irish minister for European affairs. Edward Luce of the Financial Times moderated the discussion.


They talked about some of the thorniest issues at stake in Britain’s departure, including the unresolved trade issues between the U.K. and the EU, how Scotland—whose residents overwhelmingly opposed leaving the EU in the 2016 referendum—may react to Brexit, and the risks Brexit poses to a peaceful future in Northern Ireland.

Nov 14, 2018
Paul Rosenzweig on Investigating American Presidents
31:46

With the firing of Jeff Sessions and his replacement with former U.S. attorney Matt Whitaker, all eyes this week are focused on whether Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians will get to run its full course. But even before the Sessions firing, Benjamin Wittes and Paul Rosenzweig had inquiries into the presidency on their minds. On Tuesday morning, they sat down to discuss Paul’s recent 12-part lecture series on presidential investigations released through the online educational platform The Great Courses.

They talked about how Paul structured the lecture series, Paul’s own experience on Independent Counsel Ken Starr’s team investigating the Clinton White House, and the course’s relevance to the Mueller investigation. 

Nov 10, 2018
Special Edition: Sessions is Out!
57:16

President Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday and replaced him on an interim basis with the attorney general’s own chief of staff, a man named Matt Whitaker. Whitaker has made repeated public statements expressing skepticism about the Mueller investigation, which he will now be supervising. Benjamin Wittes got on a recorded conference line with Susan Hennessey, Paul Rosenzweig, Steve Vladeck, Chuck Rosenberg and Bob Bauer to discuss the day’s events: the president’s action, how we should understand Whitaker, and what congressional pushback we can expect, both now and when the new congress comes in.

Nov 08, 2018
Cybersecurity and Financial Stability
39:49

The rate and intensity of cyber attacks on financial institutions has increased in recent years, but the risk that these attacks pose to our financial stability remains understudied in the financial industry and among regulators and policymakers. What would it look like if malicious actors took direct aim at the systemic stability of U.S. financial institutions? On October 11, Susan Hennessey spoke to three senior research scholars from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs who are taking early steps to find the answer: Katheryn Rosen, former deputy assistant treasury secretary for financial institution policy; Jason Healey, former White House cyber adviser on the Bush administration; and financial-stability expert and former Federal Reserve official Patricia Mosser. They talked about how to understand financial stability, the unique risks that cyber threats pose to it, and what gaps remain in how to mitigate those risks.

Nov 02, 2018
U.S. Policy and the Crisis in Yemen
58:51

Since 2011, Yemen has transitioned from the scene of a political crisis to one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world, but how U.S. policy affects the situation is the subject of little discussion. The United States provides intelligence and logistical support to the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition fighting against Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, and the conflict implicates the future stability of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the U.S.’s longest standing ally in the region.

To shed light on the complicated dynamic of the conflict, on October 25, the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution hosted a panel discussion on U.S. policy in Yemen, featuring Brookings senior fellows Daniel Byman and Bruce Riedel, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dafna Rand, and Arabia Foundation senior analyst Fatima Abo Alasrar. They talked about the U.S.’s role in the conflict, the extent of the humanitarian crisis, and how the dire conditions on the ground can be alleviated.

Oct 31, 2018
The Migrant Caravan and its Dissenters
44:41

There is a caravan—you've probably heard something about it. Stephanie Leutert, director of the Mexico Security Initiative at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, has heard something about it. On Friday, Benjamin Wittes caught up with Stephanie to talk about her time on the Mexico-Guatemala border traveling with migrants who are following a trail not unlike that of the caravan. They talked about why people are joining this caravan, what the alternatives to it are, why certain migrants are shunning it, the pushes out of countries like Honduras and Guatemala, and what it's like to be a child on the long trek to the United States.

Oct 27, 2018
András Pap on Viktor Orbán and the Decline of Hungarian Democracy
47:05

Last week while traveling in the United Kingdom, Benjamin Wittes met up with András Pap, a Hungarian scholar of constitutional law. Pap is a professor with Central European University’s Nationalist Studies Program in Budapest, and the two spoke over breakfast about the decline of Hungarian democracy. They talked about the Fidesz party, Hungary's strongman ruler Viktor Orbán, to what extent Hungary is similar to and different from other European countries, and why Pap was cheerfully having breakfast with Ben talking about all these things and not fearing what would happen to him when he returns to Budapest.

Oct 24, 2018
John Mearsheimer on 'The Great Delusion'
39:01

In recent decades, both democratic and republican administrations have tried to guide other countries toward liberal democracy. But international relations theorist John Mearsheimer’s latest book, “The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realties,” says that strategy has made the U.S. a “highly militarized state fighting wars that undermine peace, harm human rights, and threaten liberal values at home.” Last week at the Hoover Institution’s Washington office, Jack Goldsmith sat down with Mearsheimer to talk about the book. They talked about why administrations try to promote democracy, how that strategy has bolstered non-democratic governments, and whether a more restrained foreign policy could better serve U.S. interests.

Oct 19, 2018
The State of Rule of Law in the U.S.: National Security and Law Enforcement
42:17

On October 3, Benjamin Wittes co-hosted an event with his Brookings colleague, Norm Eisen, on The State of Rule of Law in the U.S. Ben moderated a panel on national security and law enforcement with Lawfare contributor and long-time Department of Justice official Mary McCord; former head of the DEA Chuck Rosenberg; and Representative Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.


They spoke about the impact of today’s political environment on national security investigations in the Executive Branch; Congress’s conduct in this recent spate of such investigations; and how—under normal circumstances—these two branches are supposed to interact.

Oct 17, 2018
Through the Looking Glass with Mike Doran, An Update
58:26

Back in January, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Mike Doran—a foreign policy and Middle East specialist who served in the George W. Bush White House, State Department, and Pentagon, and is a former Brookings colleague—to discuss his support of President Trump and dismissal of the Trump-Russia allegations and the investigation of L’Affaire Russe. At the end of that conversation, Ben and Mike said they would check in again in a few months to see who was right.

Earlier this week, the two sat down over Scotch to talk through Doran’s views on—among other things—the Mueller investigation, the Steele dossier, Carter Page’s FISA warrant, and the congressional investigations into L’Affaire Russe. It’s safe to say that their views have not converged, and Doran’s view of the world differs from the standard fare on Lawfare. Hang onto your hats, folks, this one’s a wild ride.

Oct 13, 2018
Ambassador David O'Sullivan on the US-EU Relationship
59:11

It's easy to spend all our time focusing on American domestic politics these days, but the rest of the world is not going away. Take the European Union, for example—our neighbors from across the pond, and one of the US's most valuable economic and security relationships. There's a lot going on over there, and some of it even involves us. How is that relationship faring in the age of tariffs, presidential blusters, Brexit, and tensions over Iran sanctions?

To figure that out, Shannon Togawa Mercer and Benjamin Wittes spoke to David O'Sullivan, the EU Ambassador to the United States. They talked about the US-EU trade relationship, Iran and Russia sanctions, Privacy Shield, the rule of law in deconsolidating democracies in the EU, and more.

Oct 10, 2018
Mark Risher on Google Advanced Protection
33:57

Stories of grievous hacks, data breaches and their fallouts have become an almost daily addition to the news cycle. On Wednesday, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Mark Risher, Director of Product Management for Security and Privacy for Google, to talk about how his team is thinking about the current and future threats posed by malicious cyber actors.

They discussed Google Advanced Protection, how Google works with “targeted” individuals to set up secure systems, the growing sophistication of phishing emails, and how you might be able to protect yourself. By way of full disclosure, Google is a financial supporter of the Brookings institution, with whose cooperation, Lawfare is published.

Oct 06, 2018
High School SCOTUS Visits Lawfare
26:59

Anna Salvatore is the impresario behind the High School SCOTUS blog. She got in touch with Benjamin Wittes a number of months ago asking for an interview, and produced a fascinating character study of him. On Tuesday, Ben returned the favor. Anna joined Ben in the Jungle Studio for a wide-ranging discussion of the Supreme Court, high school, blogging, and building an army to produce legal journalism. They talked about how the Supreme Court is different from baseball, weird interests in high school, following a docket, and the Kavanaugh nomination hearings.

Oct 03, 2018
Robert Kagan on 'The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World'
01:00:56

On Wednesday, Brookings Senior Fellow Robert Kagan sat down with Susan Glasser of The New Yorker to discuss Kagan's new book The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World. In the book, Kagan argues that, like the jungle that keeps growing back, dangerous global actors, when left unchecked, will create chaos. Kagan and Glasser discussed whether the American public tends to support foreign policy that focuses on international withdrawal or unilateral intervention, whether the Trump foreign policy will enable faster growth of dangerous actors, and whether the America of 2018 has parallels to the U.S. in the 1920s or 1930s.

Sep 29, 2018
Jim Baker on AI and Counterintelligence
46:44

The United States has become the global leader in both defense and private-sector AI. Inevitably, this has led to an environment in which adversary and ally governments alike may seek to identify and steal AI information—in other words, AI has become intelligence, and those who work in AI have become potential sources and assets. And with intelligence, comes counterintelligence.


Jim Baker, a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution and former FBI General Counsel, is part-way through a series of essays for Lawfare on the links between counterintelligence and AI, two parts of which have already been published. On Monday, Jim sat down with Benjamin Wittes to discuss his work on the subject. They talked about how to understand AI as an intelligence asset, how we might protect this valuable asset against a range of threats from hostile foreign actors, and how we can protect ourselves against the threat from AI in the hands of adversaries.

Sep 25, 2018
Elsa Kania on China’s Quantum Quest
45:20

If you ask scientists what is most likely to kick off the next great wave of technological change, a good number will answer “quantum mechanics”—a field whose physics Albert Einstein once described as “spooky,” but whose potential, once tapped, could unleash exponentially faster computer processes, unbreakable cryptography, and new frontiers in surveillance technology.

No one understands this better than the People’s Republic of China, who over the last several years has built up an aggressive state-driven campaign to accelerate the development of quantum technology—a set of policies intended to put it at the very front of the pack of the next technological revolution, and all the competitive advantages it is likely to bring.

To discuss this development, what it may mean for the future, and how the United States should respond, Scott R. Anderson sat down with Elsa Kania, an adjunct fellow with the Center for a New American Security and the co-author of a new report on China’s efforts to achieve “Quantum Hegemony.”

Sep 22, 2018
Bruce Schneier on 'Click Here to Kill Everybody'
42:54

Security technologist Bruce Schneier's latest book, Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World, argues that it won't be long before everything modern society relies on will be computerized and on the internet. This drastic expansion of the so-called "internet of things," Schneier contends, vastly increases the risk of cyberattack. To help figure out just how concerned you should be, last Thursday, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Schneier. They talked about what it would mean to live in a world where everything, including Ben's shirt, was a computer, and how Schneier's latest work adds to his decades of advocacy for principled government regulation and oversight of "smart devices."

Sep 18, 2018
Special Edition: Paul Manafort “Breaks”
49:22

On Friday, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort entered a plea agreement with the special counsel. To figure out what it means for Manafort, the Mueller investigation, and President Trump, Benjamin Wittes spoke to former Obama White House counsel Bob Bauer, independent counsel prosector Paul Rosenzweig, and Lawfare managing editor Quinta Jurecic. 

Sep 14, 2018
John Brennan and Jerrold Nadler on 20 Months Under Trump
47:59

The challenges that President Donald Trump has posed to the rule of law are well documented, from his delegitimization of the law enforcement investigation into his campaign and conduct in office, to his attacks on federal judges who rule against the legality of his policy prerogatives. Coupled with what many call his adversarial relationship with his own intelligence community, the Trump presidency has created a role of the executive with no analogue in recent memory.

On September 4, at the Center on National Security at Fordham Law, Representative Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and former CIA Director John Brennan, both outspoken critics of the president, sat down for a conversation about what they've seen in the past 20 months under the Trump administration, including their takes on threats to the rule of law, the investigations of the president, and ongoing vulnerability of American democracy to cyber threats.

Sep 12, 2018
Special Edition: Kavanaugh vs. the Committee with No Bull, Part II
02:43:14

Brett Kavanaugh spent Thursday in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee for his second day of marathon questioning about his qualifications to join the Supreme Court. But on this podcast, we cut down more than 8 hours of testimony to bring you only the national-security content Lawfare readers and Lawfare Podcast listeners need. Every question and every answer on national security, presidential power and the Mueller investigation.

Sep 07, 2018
Special Edition: Kavanaugh vs. the Committee with No Bull, Part I
02:12:34

Judge Brett Kavanaugh faced the Senate Judiciary Committee in Day 1 of a two-day marathon Q&A session for his nomination as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. We sat through it all so you don't have to. We've cut out all the garbage and are bringing you just the questions and answers on legal matters related to national security, presidential power, and presidential investigation.

Sep 06, 2018
John Sipher on Human Sources in Moscow
36:57

The New York Times reports that CIA human sources in Moscow are drying up. The newspaper speculates that this may be because of the political environment in the United States, an environment in which the president tweets about the intelligence community and the Steele dossier, and the House Intelligence Committee goes after human sources and outs them.

John Sipher knows something about human sources in Moscow. He was stationed there for the CIA in the 1990s and had to deal with sources. He joined Benjamin Wittes in the Jungle Studio to talk about the fragility of those operations, the plausibility of the New York Times story, and what we could do tamp down negative impacts on intelligence collection.

Sep 01, 2018
What is Too Far When Former Intelligence Community Leadership Criticizes the President?
56:38

This edition of The Lawfare Podcast grows out of an email exchange between David Kris and Jack Goldsmith over a draft article Jack had written about John Brennan and other intelligence community former leaders who were criticizing the president in public and from whom the president was threatening to pull their security clearances in response.

What is appropriate for intelligence community leaders to say about the president? What is going too far? What is outside their lane? And what is required by the current moment when intelligence community leaders face a rogue elephant of a president who is violating every norm we know?

Aug 29, 2018
Solomon Wisenberg on Interviewing the President
34:31

Bob Mueller and the president's legal team are engaged in an extended negotiation over whether the president will sit for an interview with the Mueller team. As it turns out, there are three people in the world who have interviewed a sitting president as part of a grand jury investigation. This week Benjamin Wittes sat down with one of them—Solomon Wisenberg.

Wisenberg served as deputy independent counsel under Ken Starr during the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky investigation. On Thursday, Wisenberg discussed his experience interviewing Bill Clinton, how that can inform thinking on the next possible presidential interview, and how both prosecutors and the president's lawyers can think strategically about next steps.

Aug 25, 2018
Special Edition: The Mueller Investigation's Weird Weekend
47:57

What a weird weekend it has been. The Manafort jury is deliberating, the White House lawyer is cooperating with the special prosecutor and giving 30 hours of interview about presidential conduct, and Michael Cohen seems poised to either be indicted or form a cooperation deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York.

Benjamin Wittes jumped on the phone to discuss all of this with former White House counsel Bob Bauer, former Justice Department official Carrie Cordero, and Lawfare contributor Paul Rosenzweig.

Aug 21, 2018
Brad Moss on Presidential Power and Security Clearances
30:10

The President of the United States this week stripped the former CIA Director John Brennan of his security clearance in a dramatic White House statement by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The White House is threatening more adverse security clearance actions against presidential critics, and former senior security officials are outraged. Benjamin Wittes sat down Friday afternoon with Bradley Moss, who represents people in security clearance revocation processes, to discuss the president's move, how different it is, and what we can expect if a lawsuit develops.

Aug 17, 2018
A Worthwhile Canadian Dust-Up
35:03

Canada and Saudi Arabia have been at loggerheads over the past week ever since the Canadian Foreign Minister condemned Saudi Arabia’s arrest of Samar Badawi, a human rights activist. Saudi Arabia's reactions were extreme, including expelling the Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, halting trade negotiations and the pulling of the Saudi Arabian ambassador for diplomatic consultation.

To sort this all out, Lawfare senior editor Shannon Togawa Mercer  spoke to Scott Anderson, former diplomat and international lawyer, and Canadian professors Stephanie Carvin of The Intrepid Podcast and Carleton University, Bessma Momani of the Stimpson Center, and Thomas Juneau of the University of Ottowa.

They spoke about Saudi Arabian and Canadian strategy, international legal considerations and what comes next.

Aug 13, 2018
Special Edition: Buzzfeed Follows Peter Smith’s Money
41:03

There’s a new twist in one of the stranger subplots of L’Affaire Russe: Buzzfeed News reports that Peter Smith, a Republican operative who reportedly sought to obtain missing Hillary Clinton emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, made several suspicious withdrawals from bank accounts during the timeframe of his quest for Clinton’s emails—suggesting that he may have paid people he believed were Russian hackers.

Benjamin Wittes is joined by Buzzfeed reporter Anthony Cormier and former Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris to make sense of it all. 

 

Aug 11, 2018
The Challenges of Digital Evidence
43:25

Encryption usually takes center stage in debates over digital evidence, and the sensitivities around the issue often halt discussions before reaching practical solutions. But on July 25, the Center for Strategic and International Studies unveiled a new report detailing solutions to other, less-fraught challenges that digital evidence presents to federal law enforcement. The launch event featured a panel discussion moderated by Jen Daskal, with an ensemble cast of law enforcement experts, including Lawfare contributing editor David Kris, David Bitkower, Ethan Arenson, Jane Horvath, and Michael Sachs. They talked about the challenges faced by law enforcement in accessing and utilizing digital evidence, the civil liberties and privacy concerns digital evidence provokes, and the role of Internet Service Providers in any new legal or policy framework.

Aug 08, 2018
Fighting Deep Fakes
44:41

Technologies that distort representations of reality, like audio, photo, and video editing software, are nothing new, but what happens when these technologies are paired with artificial intelligence to produce hyper-realistic media of things that never happened? This new phenomenon, called "deep fakes," poses significant problems for lawyers, policymakers, and technologists. On July 19, Klon Kitchen, senior fellow for technology and national security at the Heritage Foundation, moderated a panel with Bobby Chesney of the University of Texas at Austin Law School, Danielle Citron of the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, and Chris Bregler, a senior computer scientist and AI manager at Google. They talked about how deep fakes work, why they don't fit into the current legal and policy thinking, and about how policy, technology, and the law can begin to combat them.

Aug 04, 2018
Should Humans Communicate with Aliens?
54:37

For years, Shane Harris of The Washington Post has been fascinated with the search for extraterrestrial life in the universe. But that search raises a profound question: Should we try to communicate with aliens? Is there a risk to alerting a potentially hostile species to our presence? On July 12, Shane moderated a conversation hosted by Future Tense with Lucianne Walkowicz, the Chair of Astrobiology at the Library of Congress, and NASA astrophysicist Elisa Quintana, to talk about the ethics of the search for ETs and the associated risks with trying to make contact.

Aug 01, 2018
Talking Brexit
41:38

The British government is falling apart, Brexit talks are on the rocks, and into the maelstrom walks Donald Trump to walk in front of the Queen after having tea with her. It's been a bad period in the Brexit negotiations. To talk it through, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Tom Wright, the director of the Center on the United States and Europe; Amanda Sloat, the Robert Bosch senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe; and Shannon Togawa Mercer from the Hoover Institution and Lawfare. They talked about Northern Ireland, trade, U.S. policy, what the United States' dog in the Brexit fight is, and what happens if there is no deal by the time the whole thing turns into a pumpkin.

Jul 28, 2018
Kennedy, Kavanaugh, and the Future of National Security Before the Supreme Court
56:21

Justice Kennedy's resignation and the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his replacement promises to usher in a new era of the U.S. Supreme Court, not least in the areas of foreign relations and national security law. To hash out what these changes might mean, Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson spoke with Jen Mascott of the Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University, Steve Vladeck of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, and former Department of Justice official Bob Loeb, currently a partner at the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

Jul 25, 2018
Jennifer Hillman and Clark Packard on Trade and National Security, Part Deux
57:55

The Trump administration has taken an aggressive stance on U.S. trade relations, opting for bilateral negotiations, and in many cases, eschewing the multilateral trade order. The administration is collapsing the distinction between economic security and national security, and this has been painfully apparent in our trade war with China. Tensions with China are escalating. On Tuesday, Lawfare senior editor Shannon Togawa Mercer sat down with Jennifer Hillman, former World Trade Organization Appellate Body member, commissioner on the United States international Trade Commission, and general counsel at the Office of the United States Trade Representative; and Clark Packard, trade policy counsel at the R Street Institute, to hash it all out. They talked about China, the WTO, and this administration’s incoherent trade strategy.

Jul 21, 2018
Julia Ioffe and Ian Bremmer on the Trump-Putin Summit
40:23

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Helsinki for their first one-on-one summit, where the U.S. president said that he trusted the Russian president's denial of election interference over his own intelligence community. In the United States, furor followed on both sides of the aisle. To break down what happened and what it means, Alina Polyakova sat down with Julia Ioffe, correspondent at GQ and long-time Russia observer, and Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, to talk about why nobody else was in the room with Trump and Putin during their over-two-hour, one-on-one meeting; what Russia's kompromat on Trump really might be; and whether this summit actually moved the needle in U.S.-Russia policy. What was gained and what was lost? Was this a win for Putin? An embarrassment for Trump?

Jul 18, 2018
Emergency Edition: GRUccifer 2.0 Indictment!
59:32

On Friday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for their role in the theft and dissemination of documents from the DNC, the DCCC and the Clinton campaign during the 2016 election. Susan Hennessey, David Kris, Paul Rosenzweig, Matt Tait and Benjamin Wittes got together to make sense of the news.

Jul 14, 2018
#AbolishICE?
40:12

#AbolishICE is the hashtag that has proliferated all over Twitter. Anger over the family separation policy of the Trump administration has many people doubting whether the agency that does interior immigration enforcement is up to a humane performance of its task. Paul Rosenzweig, former policy guru at DHS where he supervised immigration matters, and Carrie Cordero, who has been actively engaged on the subject recently, joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the substance of our immigration laws. Would abolishing ICE actually make a difference, or would it just be renaming the problem with three other letters?

Jul 11, 2018
Radek Sikorski on the Week's Events in Poland
21:37

It's been a bad week for Polish democracy, with the government removing a bunch of judges from the country's Supreme Court in order to replace them with party loyalists. In response, protestors took to the streets to push back against the deconsolidation of Polish democracy. Radek Sikorski joined Benjamin Wittes to discuss the week's events and the larger degradation of Polish governance of which they are a part. Radek served as foreign minister and defense minister of Poland, as well as speaker of the Polish parliament. He has also been a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and he's currently a senior fellow at the Center of European Studies at Harvard University and distinguished statesman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Jul 07, 2018
Amanda Sloat Talks Turkey
36:28

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won the Turkish election the other day, and becomes the first president under Turkey's new empowered presidential system. His party, in coalition with ultra-nationalists, will control the Parliament as well, so it's a big win for the Turkish president. It may be a loss for democratic values. On Tuesday, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Amanda Sloat, Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at Brookings, to discuss the election results, the crackdown in Turkey and the justifications for it, friction points in U.S.-Turkish relations, and what comes next for Turkey, the United States, and the EU.

Jul 03, 2018