Lawfare (blog)

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

Lawfare is an American blog dedicated to national security issues, published by the Lawfare Institute in cooperation with the Brookings Institution.[1][2] It has received attention for articles on Donald Trump's presidency.


The blog was started in September 2010[3] by Benjamin Wittes (a 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 law professors, law students, and former George W. Bush and Barack Obama administration officials.[2]

Donald Trump[edit]

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] In January 2017, the website's traffic was up by 1,101% from 12 months before.[6][non-primary source needed]

Executive Order 13769[edit]

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 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 wrote 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][non-primary source needed]

Dismissal of FBI Director James Comey[edit]

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, who is a friend of Wittes, 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. According to him, Trump's hug "disgusted" Comey.[11] Wittes said Comey was not expecting a hug, adding "It was bad enough there was going to be a handshake."[10] According to Wittes, Comey had been "disgusted" with Trump's attempts to publicly ingratiate himself with Comey saw as calculated attempts to compromise him by agitating Democrats. Wittes elaborated on this shortly thereafter in a post on Lawfare.[12][non-primary source needed]

Trump's disclosure of classified intelligence[edit]

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]


Columnist 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][better source needed]

The blog has been criticized by attorney and journalist Glenn Greenwald. Writing in The New York Times he said the blog has a "courtier Beltway mentality" devoted to "serving, venerating and justifying the acts of those in power".[2]


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