Type of site
|Owner||The Lawfare Institute|
|Editor||Benjamin Wittes, Susan Hennessey|
|Launched||September 1, 2010|
Lawfare is a blog dedicated to national security issues, published by the Lawfare Institute in cooperation with the Brookings Institution. It has received attention for articles on Donald Trump's presidency.
The blog was started in September 2010 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. 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. Its writers include law professors, law students, and former George W. Bush and Barack Obama administration officials.
Lawfare's coverage of intelligence and legal matters related to the Trump administration has brought the blog significant increases in readership and national attention. In January 2017, the website's traffic was up by 1,101% from 12 months before.
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. Trump reportedly tweeted the excerpt minutes after the line was quoted on Morning Joe. Wittes, who supported the court ruling, criticized Trump harshly for the tweet, asserting that Trump distorted the argument presented in the article. 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.
On May 18, 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. Wittes also provided a 25-minute interview to PBS NewsHour on the same subject. 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. Comey had also reportedly found that people in the Trump administration were "not honorable". Wittes elaborated on this shortly thereafter in a post on Lawfare.
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." The column further alleged that Trump's reported actions "may well be a violation of the President's oath of office."
Journalist David Ignatius described Lawfare as "one of the most fair-minded chroniclers of national security issues." 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."
The blog has been criticized by attorney and journalist Glenn Greenwald, who considers it to have a "courtier Beltway mentality" devoted to "serving, venerating and justifying the acts of those in power."