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Lawfare is a blog dedicated to national security issues, published by the Lawfare Institute in cooperation with the Brookings Institution.[1][2] It was started in September 2010[3] by Benjamin Wittes (author and former editorial writer for The Washington Post), Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith, and University of Texas at Austin law professor Robert Chesney.[2] Goldsmith was the head of the Office of Legal Counsel in the George W. Bush administration's Justice Department, and Chesney served on a detention-policy task force in the Obama administration.[2] Its writers include a large number of law professors, law students, and former George W. Bush and Barack Obama administration officials.[2]

Type of site
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
OwnerThe Lawfare Institute
EditorBenjamin Wittes, Susan Hennessey
LaunchedSeptember 1, 2010
Current statusActive


Donald Trump controversiesEdit

Lawfare's coverage of intelligence and legal matters related to the Trump administration has brought the blog significant increases in readership and national attention.[4][5] Compared to the same time period during the previous year, the website's web traffic during January 2017 was up by 1,101%.[6]

Executive Order 13769Edit

The blog came to prominence in January 2017 when President Donald Trump tweeted "LAWFARE" and quoted a line from one of its blog posts that criticized the reasoning in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that blocked the Trump's first refugee-and-travel ban.[2][7][8] Trump reportedly tweeted the excerpt minutes after the line was quoted on Morning Joe.[7] Wittes, who supported the court ruling, criticized Trump harshly for the tweet, asserting that Trump distorted the argument presented in the article.[8] Wittes also noted that it was disturbing that Trump, among other things, cited the line "with apparently no idea who the author was or what the publication was, and indeed without reading the rest of the article", and that no one in the White House vetted the tweet.[9]

Dismissal of FBI Director James ComeyEdit

On 18 May 2017, Lawfare's editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes was the principal source of an extensive New York Times report about President Trump's interactions with FBI Director James Comey, and how those interactions related to Comey's subsequent firing.[10] Wittes also provided a 25-minute interview to PBS NewsHour on the same subject.[11] Comey had reportedly been "disgusted" with Trump's attempts to be chummy with Comey and publicly indicate a close relationship with Comey and compromise Comey, such as hugging him, because Comey saw these as calculated attempts to compromise him by agitating Democrats.[12] Comey had also reportedly found that people in the Trump administration were "not honorable".[11] Wittes elaborated on this shortly thereafter in a post on Lawfare.[12]

Trump's disclosure of classified intelligenceEdit

In a widely read column, several Lawfare contributors argued that Trump's reported disclosure of classified intelligence to Russia in mid-May 2017 was "perhaps the gravest allegation of presidential misconduct in the scandal-ridden four months of the Trump administration."[13][14][15] The column further alleged that Trump's reported actions "may well be a violation of the President's oath of office."[15][13]


David Ignatius described Lawfare as "one of the most fair-minded chroniclers of national security issues."[16] According to Daniel W. Drezner, professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Lawfare is an example of "outside intellectuals" who "exercised real influence in the Trump era."[17]

Lawfare has been criticized by Glenn Greenwald, who considers it to have a "courtier Beltway mentality" devoted to "serving, venerating and justifying the acts of those in power."[2]


  1. ^ "Lawfare". Lawfare. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Bazelon, Emily (2017-03-14). "How a Wonky National-Security Blog Hit the Big Time". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  3. ^ "About Lawfare: A Brief History of the Term and the Site". Lawfare. 2015-05-14. Retrieved 2017-06-26.
  4. ^ Abbruzzese, Jason (26 May 2017). "This blog has become required reading in Trump's America". Mashable. Retrieved 2017-06-29.
  5. ^ "Chesney's Lawfare Blog Makes Headlines, Reaches 10 Million People a Year". The University of Texas at Austin School of Law. 30 May 2017. Retrieved 2017-06-29.
  6. ^ Wittes, Benjamin (2017-02-02). "A Note to Readers New and Old". Lawfare. Retrieved 2017-06-29.
  7. ^ a b "Trump quotes legal blog to argue travel ban ruling is 'a disgraceful decision'". Politico. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  8. ^ a b "Trump rips 'disgraceful' court decision in immigration ban". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  9. ^ "Thoughts on a Strange Day—and a Very Strange Presidential Tweet". Lawfare. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  10. ^ Schmidt, Michael S. (2017-05-18). "Comey, Unsettled by Trump, Is Said to Have Wanted Him Kept at a Distance". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
  11. ^ a b "Comey 'disgusted' by Trump hug, considered White House 'not honorable,' friend says". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
  12. ^ a b "What James Comey Told Me About Donald Trump". Lawfare. 2017-05-18. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
  13. ^ a b "Bombshell: Initial Thoughts on the Washington Post's Game-Changing Story". Lawfare. 2017-05-15. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
  14. ^ Dubenko, Anna (2017-05-16). "Right and Left React to Trump's Sharing Classified Information With Russia, and More". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
  15. ^ a b "National security experts: Trump's sharing classified info with Russia 'may breach his oath of office'". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
  16. ^ Ignatius, David; Ignatius, David (2017-05-16). "Trump's presidency is beginning to unravel". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-05-19.
  17. ^ Daniel W. Drezner [@dandrezner] (May 17, 2017). "At my UCLA talk I was asked if any outside intellectuals exercised real influence in the Trump Era. I answered 'Lawfare!'" (Tweet) – via Twitter.

External linksEdit