This week, we were forced to address the ramifications of military force as it ties into the legal and political sphere. After the latest development in the Syrian civil war ended in a gas attack that murdered civilians, a whirlwind of activity from the presidential administration followed. This culminated in a military strike in retaliation; the act violated a longstanding international agreement [[ https://lawfareblog.com/trumps-syria-conundrum ]] wherein Syria had been forbidden use of chemical warfare. This, however, prompted many to question whether the president had the legal authority to act as quickly as he did. Charlie Savage attempts to explain the breadth of presidential war powers applicable in this situation, while Jack Goldsmith and Andrew Kent consider the strike order through the lens of the US Constitution.
Despite protests to the contrary, Devin Nunes stepped down from the investigation into Russian interference of the 2016 US Election. The House Committee on Ethics released a statement confirming that Nunes is under investigation in light of “public allegations that Representative Devin Nunes may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct.” Though many headlines have reported this as a recusal, the word has been notably missing from White House statements on the matter.
Though the oft-requested presidential tax returns have still not been made public, the White House administration released financial disclosure forms from staff members. The discussion surrounding these financials has raised discussion regarding the ways in which the current administration established itself as a collection of multi-millionaires, including accusations that certain key staff members may not have performed due diligence in divesting themselves from potential conflicts of interest.
Litigation continues to circle around the presidency. A federal judge in Kentucky ruled against efforts to throw out a pending suit arguing that then-candidate Trump incited violence at a campaign rally in March 2016. An outstanding lawsuit alleging fraud against the former Trump University has been settled.