The Lawfare Podcast
How to Evaluate Progress in the Justice Department's Jan. 6 Investigation
There’s been a great deal of debate recently about how to understand the apparently slow pace of the Justice Department’s investigation into Jan. 6, particularly into Donald Trump’s personal role in the insurrection. On Lawfare, editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes made the case that everyone should just chill out and let the department do its work, while executive editor Natalie Orpett and senior editor Quinta Jurecic argued that it’s reasonable to push harder for the department to understand its particular responsibilities in upholding the rule of law in this unique political moment.
After that debate, Ben, Natalie, and Quinta put their heads together with former FBI official Pete Strzok—who’s expressed his own skepticism about whether the Justice Department is investigating aggressively enough—to map out some benchmarks for what to look for in the Jan. 6 investigation going forward. They wrote that up as a Lawfare piece—and then they sat down to talk about it on the podcast.
How will we know if the Justice Department investigation is proceeding aggressively? What signs should worry people hoping for legal accountability for the insurrection? Natalie, Pete, Ben, and Quinta discussed.
Note: This podcast was recorded before the New York Times published some new reporting on July 28 about the role of lead prosecutor Thomas Windom. Throughout the show, you’ll hear reference to a major report by the Washington Post published on July 26 stating that prosecutors have asked witnesses testifying before the grand jury about Trump’s individual actions before and on Jan. 6.
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Robert Silvers on the Cyber Safety Review Board41:17The Cyber Safety Review Board was created by a Biden administration Executive Order entitled, “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity.” The Board reviews major cyber events and makes concrete recommendations that can drive improvements within the private and public sectors. Lawfare Senior Editor Stephanie Pell sat down with Robert Silvers, Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans at the Department of Homeland Security and Chair of the Cyber Safety Review Board, to discuss the Board’s mission and work. They talked about the two reports that the Board has issued, one that it’s currently working on, and a legislative proposal from DHS that seeks to codify the Board in the law and ensure that the Board receives the information it needs to continue to advance the overall security and resiliency of our digital ecosystem.
Chatter: Governing Space Settlements Ethically with Erika Nesvold01:31:05As humanity builds settlements beyond Earth, myriad ethical issues will arise--many in a different way than they do terrestrially. Astrophysicist and space communicator Erika Nesvold has devoted extensive thought and research to how to ethically govern space settlements, most notably on her podcast Making New Worlds and in her book Off-Earth.In a conversation that pairs well with Shane Harris's March 2022 Chatter discussion with astrobiologist Lucianne Walkowicz about ethical space exploration, David Priess spoke with Erika about her grounding in Star Trek and other science fiction, the JustSpace Alliance that she co-founded with Lucianne, that alliance's interactions with space industrialists, Erika's application to be an astronaut, conflicting motivations for humanity to settle space, how we should select space settlers, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, the concept of legal personhood for non-terrestrial bodies, labor law and criminal justice in space settlements, how motivations for settling space influence openness to various forms of government, and more.Among the works mentioned in this episode:The podcast Making New WorldsThe book Off-Earth by Erika NesvoldThe Chatter podcast episode Ethical Space Exploration with Lucianne WalkowiczThe Star Trek universeThe Foundation book series by Isaac AsimovThe Dune book series by Frank HerbertThe YouTube video All TomorrowsThe movie 2012The book 2010 by Arthur C. ClarkeThe book Artemis by Andy WeirThe movie SunshineThe book A Brief History of Equality by Thomas PinkettyThe book series The Wheel of Time by Robert JordanThe book Doomsday Book by Connie WillisChatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.
Ken Chesebro’s Upcoming Trial01:08:40Next month, Kenneth Chesebro—the alleged architect of the fake electors plot—is set to be tried in Fulton County, Georgia, on racketeering and other charges. This week, Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes and Lawfare Legal Fellow and Courts Correspondent Anna Bower sat down with Chesebro’s defense attorneys, Scott Grubman, Manny Arora, and Robert Wilson. In a wide-ranging conversation, they discussed why Chesebro demanded a speedy trial, debated the merits of several pending motions, and chatted about the prospect of a settlement in Chesebro’s case.
A Conversation on Domestic Intelligence with Kenneth Wainstein01:16:33On September 19, Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, Kenneth Wainstein, gave a speech at the Brookings Institution on the current threat environment and the role of the Department of Homeland Security's Intelligence and Analysis Office (I&A) in confronting it. Following the speech, Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes and Wainstein sat down for a Q&A, both between them and with the live audience at Falk Auditorium at the Brookings Institution. It's a wide-ranging conversation about the lessons of 9/11, how we seem to have forgotten them in certain respects, current congressional efforts to rein in I&A’s intelligence-gathering activities domestically, and the post-Jan. 6 need for those authorities.
Human Rights Abuses in Saudi Arabia with Joey Shea27:43On August 21, the Human Rights Watch released a report detailing systematic abuses of Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers at the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border. Researchers interviewed dozens of Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers and found that Saudi border guards had used explosive weapons on them and shot migrants at close range. Lawfare’s Associate Editor of Communications Anna Hickey sat down with Joey Shea, a researcher in the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch who investigates human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. They discussed the Human Rights Watch recent report, how the international community has responded so far, and the human rights record of Prince Mohammed bin Salman since he ascended the throne in 2015.
An Update on Ukraine48:22For the past several months, Ukraine has been engaged in a grinding counteroffensive aimed at retaking lost territory from Russian invaders. Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky joined President Biden for the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York to make the case for continued support of Ukraine's efforts—a message they then repeated to members of Congress concerning whether to move forward a much-needed aid package.To discuss the state of the Ukraine offensive and where it sits in the broader political context, Lawfare Senior Editor Scott R. Anderson sat down with two leading experts: Eric Ciaramella and Dara Massicot, both of whom are senior fellows in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. They discussed the state of the counteroffensive, how Zelensky's pitches in New York and D.C. went, and where the conflict seems likely to head in this next phase.
Rational Security: The “Sara-FIN” Edition01:05:11This week on Rational Security, Quinta and Scott were joined by Lawfare colleagues Eric Ciaramella and Saraphin Dhanani, the latter for her last episode of RatSec before departing Lawfare, to break down the week’s big national security news stories, including:“UNGA UNGA Party.” President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelenskyy made back-to-back addresses to the U.N. General Assembly, which is gathered in New York for its annual summit this week. What should we make of their statements? Might this be a turning point for the conflict—and, if so, in which direction?“Et Tu, Modi?” Canada has leveled a serious allegation against the government of India: that it was directly involved in the recent assassination of a Sikh separatist leader (and Canadian citizen) on Canadian soil—something that promises to complicate U.S. efforts to bring India into the fold as a balance to China. How credible are these claims and what might they mean?“Ransomwhere?” The Biden administration has struck a deal with the government of Iran, exchanging several imprisoned Iranian nationals and $6 billion in frozen oil revenue for five U.S. nationals held by Iran and their spouses. Is this negotiating with terrorists, a new opening for Iran negotiations, or something else entirely?For object lessons, Quinta recommended Tyler Austin Harper’s penetrating review of Richard Hanania’s “The Origins of Woke.” Eric also went the critic’s route and passed along Gary Shteyngart’s withering review of Walter Isaacson’s new Elon Musk biography. Scott urged anyone with a junior mycologist at home to run out and find Elise Gravel’s charming “The Mushroom Fan Club.” And Saraphin gave a double-headed finale: BBC’s controversial documentary “India: The Modi Question,” which has been banned in India; and David Brooks’ recent article, “How America Got Mean.”
Trump’s Trials and Tribulations: Removal, Gag Orders, and Disqualification, Oh My57:17This past Thursday, Lawfare Senior Editor Scott R. Anderson hosted “Trump’s Trials and Tribulations,” Lawfare’s weekly live video chat about developments in the many ongoing trials circulating around former President Trump. He was joined by Lawfare’s two leading court reporters, Senior Editor Roger Parloff and Legal Fellow Anna Bower, both of whom have been closely following developments in courthouses around the country, both from afar and sometimes up close and personal. They talked about removal proceedings in Georgia, a proposed gag order of the former president in Washington, D.C., and new news about how former President Trump allegedly mishandled classified information in Florida, as well as the coming wave of litigation around the country seeking to disqualify Trump from the presidency under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.This is a live conversation that happens online every Thursday at 4:00pm Eastern Time. If you would like to come join and ask a question, be sure to visit Lawfare’s Patreon account and become a Material Supporter.
Lawfare Archive: An NSI Conversation on U.S.-China Policy50:32From May 25, 2019: Our friends from the National Security Institute at George Mason University stopped by earlier this week to discuss U.S.-China relations. Lester Munson, Jodi Herman, Jamil Jaffer, and Dana Stroul, former Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffers who collaborated and sometimes competed with one another on the Committee, had a lively discussion about Huawei, cyber and tech security, the South China sea, and Uighur internment.