The Lawfare Podcast
Read With Me: The Trump Indictment
This weekend, Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes had a conversation on Read With Me, a by-subscription-only podcast associated with Ben’s Substack Dog Shirt Daily. In this episode, Ben went through the indictment of Donald Trump at great length and with particular care with Lawfare Fulton County Court Correspondent Anna Bower and Lawfare Contributing Editor Matt Tait. It's a line-by-line, page-by-page analysis that we thought might be a good resource for people who are trying to make sense of the indictment—where it's strong, where it raises issues, what issues it raises, and where things might go from here.
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How to Steal a Presidential Election57:12As the 2024 presidential election approaches, a vital question is whether the legal architecture governing the election is well crafted to prevent corruption and abuse. In their new book, “How to Steal a Presidential Election,” Lawrence Lessig and Matthew Seligman argue that despite the Electoral Count Reform Act of 2022, serious abuse of the presidential election rules remains a live possibility. Jack Goldsmith sat down with Lessig to learn why. They discussed the continuing possibility of vice presidential mischief, the complex role of faithless electors, strategic behavior related to recounts, and the threat of rogue governors. They also pondered whether any system of rules can regulate elections in the face of widespread bad faith by the actors involved.
Rational Security: The “Sir, This is a Wendy’s” Edition01:15:20This week on Rational Security, Quinta and Scott were joined by Molly Reynolds and (a prerecorded) Anna Bower to talk through some of the week’s big national security news, including:“The Shutdown Rut.” Congress once again has the government on the verge of a shutdown. And while Speaker of the House Mike Johnson has reportedly committed to avoiding one, demands from within his caucus may make that hard—just as they continue to obstruct a path forward for the national security supplemental that contains essential assistance for Ukraine. Is there a way forward? Or are we shutdown-bound?“Sex, Lies, and Geolocation.” The criminal case against former President Trump and more than a dozen codefendants in Fulton County, Georgia, remains on hold as defense attorneys continue to dig into the details of Fani Willis’s romantic relationship with subordinate Nathan Wade. Over the last week, we’ve seen filings on geolocation data and the examination of Wade’s former attorney. But does any of this add up to a potentially disqualifying conflict of interest?“If This Segment Were a Newspaper, How Much Would It Weigh?” The Supreme Court heard extended oral arguments over the constitutionality of controversial Florida and Texas laws seeking to regulate content moderation on social media platforms this week. But amid some very interesting lines of questioning—including one inquiring the weight of YouTube if it were a newspaper—it wasn’t clear the Court was really ready and interested in delving into the technical details. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? And where might the Court come out?For object lessons, Quinta answered Justice Alito’s recent inquiry, “If YouTube were a newspaper, how much would it weigh?” Scott sang the praises of Bianco DiNapoli’s fire-roasted tomatoes. And Molly recommended the podcast Short Walk, about one of the stranger state-level political controversies in recent memory.
Trump’s Trials and Tribulations: The Supreme Court Will Hear Trump's Immunity Claim01:24:26It's another episode of “Trump's Trials and Tribulations,” recorded on February 29 in front of a live audience on YouTube and Riverside. Lawfare Senior Editor Scott R. Anderson sat down with Lawfare Senior Editors Quinta Jurecic and Roger Parloff, Lawfare Courts Correspondent and Legal Fellow Anna Bower, and Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes to talk about the Supreme Court's decision to hear Trump's presidential immunity claim and how much the D.C. trial may be delayed. They also discussed this week's hearing in Fulton County, previewed what to expect at the Friday Mar-a-Lago hearing in Florida, and talked about what is happening with the New York criminal trial. And of course, they took audience questions from Lawfare Material Supporters on Riverside.To be able to submit questions to the panelists, become a Material Supporter at lawfaremedia.org/support.
Lawfare Archive: The SpaceX Launch and the Future of Space Law47:34From May 26, 2020: On Wednesday, NASA and the SpaceX Corporation are scheduled to send astronauts back into outer space from U.S. soil for the first time since the U.S. space shuttle program ended in 2011. The launch promises to kick off a new era in space exploration, one that will see the increased use of outer space for both public and private purposes, as well as greater involvement by private corporations and other unconventional actors in space exploration. To discuss the legal and policy challenges of this new era, Scott R. Anderson spoke with three lawyers working at the bleeding edge of space law and policy: Professor Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty of Arizona State University and its Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law; Brian Israel, a former public and private sector space lawyer who teaches space law at Berkeley Law; and Daniel Porras, currently a space security fellow at the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research.
Governing the Use of Autonomous Weapons and AI in Warfare with Lauren Kahn41:20Following Hamas’s attacks on Oct. 7, the Israeli military retaliated with a relentless and devastating air war. By mid-December, Israeli forces had struck more than 22,000 targets in Gaza, and the Israeli military said it had used artificial intelligence to select many of them. The targeting system, called “The Gospel” by the IDF, was not the first time a military used AI on the battlefield, but the high number of civilian casualties raised red flags for many.Lawfare Managing Editor Tyler McBrien sat down with Lauren Kahn, a Senior Research Analyst at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) who focuses on the national security applications of artificial intelligence. They discussed how autonomous and AI-enabled weapons are being used and will be used in war, “the current ground rules for the age of AI in warfare,” and why Lauren favors confidence-building measures and other incremental steps, rather than an all-out ban. And despite running through a few nightmare scenarios, we learned why Lauren remains hopeful for the responsible and ethical use of AI for defense.
Chatter: The Moon, Tides, and National Security with Rebecca Boyle01:10:52We all know how superpower competition spurred one giant leap for mankind on the lunar surface in July 1969. But the story of how the Moon and its tides affect national security is deeper and wider than most of us realize.David Priess explored this intersection with science journalist Rebecca Boyle, author of the new book Our Moon, about her path to writing about astronomy, Anaxagoras, Julius Caesar, lunar versus solar calendars, the Battle of Tarawa in 1943, the genesis of NOAA, tides and flooding, Johannes Kepler, Jules Verne and science fiction about travel to the Moon, lunar missions and the Cold War, the Moon's origins, the return of lunar geopolitical competition, prospects for a radio telescope on the far side of the Moon, and more.Among the works mentioned in this episode:The book Our Moon by Rebecca BoyleThe book From the Earth to the Moon by Jules VerneThe movie Fantasia"Massive New Seamount Discovered in International Waters Off Guatemala," from the Schmidt Ocean Institute, November 22, 2023Chatter 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.
Sanctions Past, Present, and Future with OFAC Director Brad Smith01:01:24Over the past several decades, financial sanctions have become one of the most widely used tools in the U.S. foreign policy arsenal. And since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago, the Biden administration has wielded them in a number of innovative ways. At the same time, some of these uses have also triggered concerns about U.S. overreach, something that could have consequences for both U.S. national security and the health of the U.S. economy. To better understand how the U.S. government is approaching its financial sanctions policies today, Lawfare Senior Editor Scott R. Anderson and Lawfare Contributing Editor Brandon Van Grack sat down with the man who manages them: Brad Smith, the Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (or “OFAC”) at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. A veteran of U.S. sanctions policy, Smith walked through some of the history of sanctions, lessons the Biden administration has learned from past efforts, and how these lessons are being applied to new challenges, including from Russia. This is the latest entry in our special “The Regulators” series, co-sponsored with Morrison Foerster, in which Brandon and Scott sit down with some of the senior officials working at the front lines of U.S. national security policy.
Justin Sherman on Senator Wyden’s Investigation of Near Intelligence Inc.41:06On Feb. 13, Senator Ron Wyden released a letter documenting an investigation his office has been conducting into the activities of Near Intelligence Inc., a data broker that allegedly enabled an anti-abortion organization to target anti-abortion messaging and ads to people visiting 600 Planned Parenthood clinics across the United States. Lawfare Senior Editor Stephanie Pell sat down with Justin Sherman, CEO of Global Cyber Strategies and a Senior Fellow at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, to discuss this investigation. They talked about the various players in the data broker ecosystem that enable these invasive practices, the lack of federal legislation governing and preventing these activities, and what actions the FTC might be able to take against Near Intelligence Inc.
The Justices Figure Out that Internet Law Is Hard59:54The Supreme Court heard hours and hours of oral arguments today brought by a trade association called NetChoice against laws restricting content moderation in Florida and Texas. It's the big First Amendment case of the year, and we sat through the whole oral argument.Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes spoke with Lawfare Senior Editors Quinta Jurecic and Alan Rozenshtein, and Kyle Langvardt of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. They talked about where the justices seem to be leaning on this case, why they think the record is inadequate and underdeveloped, and why they're grumpy about it. They also talked about whether we can predict where they seem to be headed and about why this case that doesn't involve Section 230 seems to involve Section 230.