Just Security Editorial Board Members’ Tweet Threads (Jan. 19-26)

It was a busy news week, starting with the federal government shutdown and ending with reports that in June, President Donald Trump ordered Special Counsel Robert Mueller fired, but ultimately changed his mind after White House Counsel Donald McGahn threatened to resign. Just Security editorial board members weighed in on these issues and other national security developments on Twitter. Below are tweet threads that we think might be of particular interest to our readers. Click on each tweet to access the entire thread.

 

Trump Reportedly Ordered Mueller Fired, But Waved Off When McGahn Threatened Resignation

On Thursday night, the New York Times reported that in June, the president ordered the firing of Mueller, “but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.” Following the Times report, other news organizations were able confirm it. Renato Mariotti analyzed the development and its implications for the Russia investigation, particularly with respect to obstruction of justice.

Flynn’s Interview with the FBI

Mariotti also dissected the NBC News report about retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s initial interview with the FBI on Jan. 24, 2017. The report states that the White House was not made aware of Flynn’s interview until after it happened. It notes that Flynn failed to notify National Security Council counsel before the interview, and that the White House only learned about the interview when Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed McGahn about it, two days later. NBC News also reported that McGahn did not “conclude” that Flynn had lied to the FBI until after Flynn had been fired.

Reports that the Mueller Investigation is Seeking to Interview Trump

Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor himself, noted that federal prosecutors typically wait until the end of an investigation to interview the highest-level target, and thus the reports that Mueller is trying to arrange an interview with Trump could suggest the obstruction-related aspect of the investigation is nearing a close, but other aspects of the Russia investigation could still be prosecuted in the future.

Mueller’s Interview of Attorney General Jeff Sessions

In a separate thread, Mariotti highlighted the topics that were likely discussed during the Special Counsel’s hours-long interview of Sessions:

 

Controversy Over House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)’s Memo

Julian Sanchez weighed in on the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign, which appears to be part of an effort to allege political bias at the FBI and tarnish the Russia investigation.

In a related thread, Sanchez pointed out that if Trump were to declassify the FBI’s FISA application for Carter Page, it could compromise the various investigations in Russian interference in the 2016 election.

 

Sessions’ Pressure on FBI Director Christopher Wray to Clear Out FBI Leadership Team

Former FBI Special Agent Rangappa wrote about the implications for the Russia investigation of the alleged pressure by Sessions on Wray to reassign or fire FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe (who has announced he will retire) and General Counsel James Baker (who has been reassigned).

 

Facebook Acknowledges Mistakes in Its Response to Misinformation During 2016 Election

Ryan Goodman discusses blog posts written by Facebook executives that acknowledge the social media company’s mistakes with respect to misinformation during the 2016 election campaign:

 

Can Trump Claim Executive Privilege With Respect to the Russia Investigation?

In this thread, Rangappa explored whether the president could invoke executive privilege to prevent disclosure of memos relating to the firing of his senior aides.

THREAD. I know that the whole executive privilege stuff is old news now since it happened four days ago, but in light of the real potential that it will be litigated I’m interested in exploring how POTUS could argue a colorable claim, and I see two areas. https://t.co/8nomMnmTNi

 

New York Times Story on Cyberattacks

In this thread, Jennifer Granick, Surveillance and Cybersecurity Counsel at ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, wrote about a recent New York Times report on state-sponsored cyber attacks.

Image: (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

  

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