Jack Goldsmith

Senior Fellow

Jack Goldsmith is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law at Harvard University. From 2003 to 2004, he served as the assistant attorney general, Office of Legal Counsel; from 2002 to 2003 he served as the special counsel to the general counsel of the Department of Defense. Goldsmith also taught at the University of Chicago Law School from 1997 to 2002 and at the University of Virginia Law School from 1994 to 1997.

In his academic work, Goldsmith has written widely on issues related to national security law, presidential power, international law, and Internet regulation. His books include Power and Constraint: The Accountable Presidency after 9/11 (2012), The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment inside the Bush Administration (2009), Who Controls the Internet: Illusions of a Borderless World (with Tim Wu) (2006), and The Limits of International Law (with Eric Posner) (2005). He blogs on national security matters at the Lawfare blog,and on issues of labor law and policy at the On Labor blog.

Goldsmith is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He holds a JD from Yale Law School, a BA and an MA from Oxford University, and a BA from Washington & Lee University. He clerked for Supreme Court justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Court of Appeals judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, and Judge George Aldrich on the Iran-US Claims Tribunal.

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Recent Commentary

How Hard Is It To Work For President Trump?

by Jack Goldsmith
Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Wall Street Journal has a surprisingly tough editorial urging President Trump to stop the “seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods.” The thrust of the editorial is that Trump’s mendacity is hurting his presidency.


The Trump Onslaught On International Law And Institutions

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Friday, March 17, 2017

Two months in to the Trump administration, we are witnessing the beginnings of the greatest presidential onslaught on international law and international institutions in American history. The onslaught appears to be driven by a combination of economic nationalism, anti-cosmopolitanism, anti-elitism, a belief that international law does not reflect American values but threatens American institutions, and a related belief that “American peace, prestige, and prosperity were not being served by our foreign policy.”


Yes, Trump Is Being Held Accountable

by Jack Goldsmithvia The New York Times
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Many critics of President Trump, including a sizable number of Democrats in the Republican-controlled Congress, are wary about the incipient congressional investigations of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and the possibly related Russian entanglements with the Trump administration and campaign. 


McGahn Should Have Preempted The (Latest) Flynn Mess

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Saturday, March 11, 2017

Over at Daily Beast I explain why I think White House Counsel Don McGahn should have discovered and fixed Michael Flynn's foreign agent problems long before Flynn became National Security Advisor.

Analysis and Commentary

Notable & Quotable: The Real Trump Danger

by Jack Goldsmithvia The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, February 16, 2017

[Subscription Required] From “The Real Constitutional Danger” by Jack Goldsmith at Lawfare.com on February 14.


More Questions About McGahn In The Flynn Imbroglio

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Washington Post reported on Monday that it was “unclear what the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, did” when Acting Attorney General Sally Yates told him last month that Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about his phone conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.


The Real Constitutional Danger

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, February 14, 2017

It is more than a little amusing, in light of the events of the last week, that we still see concerns about whether “we’re in a constitutional crisis” due to excessive presidential power, and about “how much … the early days of the Trump administration look like the Third Reich,” and about how the United States is part of a global movement on a downward spiral toward “repressive kleptocracy.”

Analysis and Commentary

The Spotlight Will Now Shift To The White House Counsel

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I was pretty hard on White House Counsel Donald McGahn in connection with the horrible roll-out of the Trump Executive Order on immigration, and his inability or disinclination to control the President’s self-destructive attack on courts.


The Practical Legal Need For An ISIL AUMF

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, February 8, 2017

“The Trump White House is nearing completion of an order that would direct the Pentagon to bring future Islamic State detainees to the Guantánamo Bay prison,” reports Charlie Savage. This development gives new urgency to the enactment of an ISIL AUMF.

Analysis and Commentary

Does Trump Want To Lose The EO Battle In Court? Or Is Donald McGahn Simply Ineffectual (Or Worse)?

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, February 6, 2017

I’m starting to believe that either Donald Trump wants courts to strike down the Immigration Executive order, or that his White House Counsel is incompetent or ineffectual.