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White House Pressure, the Justice Department and the Election

The majority staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee has issued an interim report, entitled “Subverting Justice: How the Former President and His Allies Pressured DOJ to Overturn the 2020 Election.” A lot of it covers ground we knew about previously, but it contains a raft of new details about the president's pressure on the Justice Department to support his election fraud claims, the resignation of a U.S. attorney in Georgia, and the bizarre attempt to install as acting attorney general a Justice Department official who might actually support the president's ambitions. 

To go over it all, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Lawfare senior editors Alan Rozenshtein and Quinta Jurecic, and Lawfare associate editor Bryce Klehm, who has been reading all of the depositions in the matter. They talked about what the committee found, what aspects of it are new and what we might do about this dramatic turn of events.

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10/14/2021

Finstas, Falsehoods and the First Amendment

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s recent testimony before Congress has set in motion a renewed cycle of outrage over the company’s practices—and a renewed round of discussion around what, if anything, Congress should do to rein Facebook in. But how workable are these proposals, really?This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jeff Kosseff, an associate professor of cybersecurity law at the United States Naval Academy, and the guy that has literally written not just the book on this, but two of them. He is the author of “The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet,” a book about Section 230, and he has another book coming out next year about First Amendment protections for anonymous speech, titled “The United States of Anonymous.” So Jeff isvery well positioned to evaluate recent suggestions that Facebook should, for example, limit the ability of young people to create what users call Finstas, a second, secret Instagram account for a close circle of friends—or Haugen’s suggestion that the government should regulate how Facebook amplifies certain content through its algorithms. Jeff discussed the importance of online anonymity, the danger of skipping past the First Amendment when proposing tech reforms, and why he thinks that Section 230 reform has become unavoidable … even if that reform might not make any legal or policy sense.