Derek Reinbold  //  4/9/17  //  Topic Update

President Trump continues to level accusations against the Obama administration of improper surveillance activity, including speculation that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice may have committed a crime (NYT).

  • Bobby Chesney explains unmasking, the surveillance issue at the heart of allegations against Susan Rice (Lawfare).
  • Caroline Lynch notes the odd Republican-Democrat reversal on support for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s Section 702 authority in response to the Russian interference story (Lawfare).

President Trump has claimed that former National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice committed a crime by seeking to "unmask" the identities of Trump associates whose communications were intercepted incidentally by U.S. intelligence agencies (NYTPolitico).

  • Rice has previously denied this accusation (WaPo).
  • Rep. Adam Schiff told reporters that the House Intelligence Committee would “be happy” for Rice to testify (The Hill).
  • The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board argues that Rice’s own statements constitute evidence that she did unmask the names of some officials.

President Trump sent out several tweets Monday reiterating that the “real story” is President Obama’s targeting of him, as well as Hillary Clinton’s links to Russia, rather than contacts between his administration and Russia (NYT).

  • Charles Blow opines on the dwindling odds of coincidental connections between the Trump administration and the Russian government (NYT).
  • Susan Glasser of Politico interviews Lisa Monaco, a senior Obama national security official, about why President Obama didn’t do more to alert the public about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
  • Steve Vladeck provides an overview of how federal law tries to police the relationship between U.S. officials and foreign agents (Just Security).

The White House is struggling to handle the Russia controversy and also push its policy agenda forward, report David Nakamura and Ashley Parker at the Washington Post.

  • President Trump has continued his efforts to focus attention away from his administration’s connections with Russia and toward “leakers” (WaPo).
  • Emmarie Huetteman and Matthew Rosenberg have compiled a timeline of the “Trump surveillance drama” (NYT).
  • Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), has accused the White House of trying to distract from a Congressional investigation into potential Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election (WaPo).
  • Representative Elijah E. Cummings has called upon Chairman Nunes of the HPSCI to recuse himself from the “Russia-Trump” investigation.
  • Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., insisted she is taking a tough stance on Russia despite the ongoing controversy (WaPoWSJ).

Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Devin Nunes announced yesterday morning that he will step aside from the committee’s Russia investigation (PoliticoNYTWaPo).

  • Nunes’s statement can be found here.
  • Meanwhile, the House Ethics Committee released a statement (here) indicating it will investigate allegations of Nunes’s unauthorized disclosures of classified information.
  • Russell Berman summarizes the “swift fall of Devin Nunes” (The Atlantic).
  • Brian Barrett offers a detailed timeline of Representative Nunes’s surveillance claims and White House ties (Wired).
  • Despite Nunes’s own missteps, the White House largely led him down this path, argues Amber Phillips (WaPo).
  • Jane Chong cautions that Nunes’s statement did not use the word “recuse” and did not pledge uninvolvement in the investigation, making the statement much more equivocal than is being reported in various outlets (Lawfare).

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes expressed concern about alleged actions by former National Security Advisor Susan Rice regarding Trump officials (BloombergThe HillSlate).

  • Senator Rand Paul also raised concerns about Ms. Rice’s potential actions (Politico).
  • The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board opined that an investigation into potential domestic surveillance for political purposes is needed.
  • Ms. Rice denied claims that she made politically-motivated requests or leaked information to the press (The Guardian).
  • White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer decried a purported lack of media interest in alleged spying by the Obama Administration (WaPoWSJ).
  • Glenn Kessler fact-checks Mr. Spicer’s comments on the controversy surrounding Ms. Rice.
  • The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) wants Ms. Rice to testify in its investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election (WSJ).
  • The HPSCI may resume witness interviews within the next two weeks (WaPo).

Michael Flynn submitted a new version of his government financial disclosure form last week, which included payments from three Russian-linked entities he did not list on his initial disclosure form in February (NYTWSJWaPo).

  • President Trump tweeted his support for immunizing Michael Flynn in exchange for Russia-related testimony (WSJ).
  • At Politico, Phillip Carter analyzes why Michael Flynn may be seeking immunity.
  • In light of Michael Flynn’s recent request, Paul Rosenzweig investigates the concept of immunity (Lawfare).
  • At Just Security, Alex Whiting posits Michael Flynn’s immunity request was made because he has no good information to offer prosecutors.
  • Andrew Kent argues Michael Flynn’s immunity request is based not on fear of jail time, but rather seeks to gain maximum advantage from public interest in his testimony (Lawfare).
  • Devlin Barrett explains that immunity requests such as this one are rarely granted (WaPo).

Russia’s 2014 hack of an unclassified State Department computer system was more serious than previously reported (WaPo).

Carter Page has confirmed that he was targeted by Russian spies for recruitment in 2013, before he became campaign adviser to President Trump (WSJ, NYT).

  • Rep. Adam Schiff has announced that the House Intelligence Committee investigation into the Trump campaign will request that Page testify before the panel (Politico).

The Logan Act is not a dead letter and may indeed have been violated by President Trump’s inner circle, Ryan Goodman argues at the Washington Post.

Blackwater Founder Erik Prince’s White House ties and meetings with associates of Vladimir Putin must be investigated, Rep. Jan Schakowsky states in a podcast at the Intercept.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has denounced as “crazy” the idea of confirming President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee while the FBI’s Russia investigation is still ongoing (The Hill).

President Trump met with “Putin’s favorite Congressman,” California Representative Dana Rohrabacher, in the Oval Office today (CNNDaily Beast).

  • The Trump administration has become more hawkish toward Russia as investigations into White House connections to Russia have progressed, argues Adrian Karatnycky (WSJ).

The Washington Post is cataloguing what we know about ties between Russia, President Trump, his family, and his Administration.

Researchers are exploring connections between Russian disinformation actors and American conspiracy theories, reports Philip Bump (WaPo).

In mid-January, the UAE arranged a secret meeting as part of an apparent effort to establish back-channel communications between Moscow and President-Elect Trump (WaPo).

  • Aaron Blake reports that the White House has denied any connection to these meetings (WaPo).

Updates | The Week of February 19, 2018

2/25/18  //  Daily Update

Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed a new charge against Paul Manafort while Richard Gates pled guilty. Meanwhile, President Trump's proposal to arm teachers drew controversy in Washington.

Jacob Miller

Harvard Law School

Updates | The Week of February 5, 2018

2/11/18  //  Daily Update

The Nunes memo set off aftershocks; agencies scrambled to implement the Trump Administration's policies to mixed effect; and Congress passes a budget after a brief overnight shutdown.

Updates | The Week of January 22, 2018

1/28/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump attempted to fire Special Counsel Mueller in June 2017 over his obstruction of justice probe, but refrained after White House Counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit.