Jack Goldsmith

Senior Fellow
Biography: 

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

Analysis and Commentary

The Downsides Of Mueller's Russia Indictment

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, February 19, 2018

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia indictment represents “a remarkable rebuke of the president’s claims” that the Russia investigation was a “phony Democrat excuse for losing the election,” the Lawfare team concluded. The indictment also educates the American public about the reality and scale of the Russian threat to the American political process more credibly than last year’s intelligence community report on the matter. Perhaps it will help the United States build resilience against future attacks.

Analysis and Commentary

The McGahn Cover Letter In Light Of The Trump Tweet

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Nunes memo was thoroughly debunked less than 12 hours after its publication. The sources of this debunking transcended politics, and ranged from The Intercept and Marcy Wheeler to Paul Rosenzweig and David French.

Analysis and Commentary

Independence And Accountability At The Department Of Justice

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Over the weekend some conservative commentators pushed back on my tweet-claim that President Trump has “threaten[ed] DOJ/FBI over and over in gross violation of independence norms.”

Analysis and Commentary

What's Up With McGahn Revisionism?

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Saturday, January 27, 2018

“[T]he WH Counsel seems to be renting out space in his office to the New York Times,” notes Bill Kristol in reference to the sympathetic New York Times story yesterday about White House Counsel Don McGahn’s efforts to “Corral Trump While Pushing G.O.P.’s Agenda,” on top of the Times story the day before on McGahn threatening to quit rather than carry out Trump’s directive to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Analysis and Commentary

Power And Integrity At The FBI: Chris Wray Stands Up To The President And The Attorney General

by Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Monday, January 22, 2018

Jonathan Swan of Axios reported Monday night, based on “three sources with direct knowledge,” that FBI Director Chris Wray “threatened to resign” if FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe “was removed” from office. The threat apparently came in response to pressure on Wray by “Attorney General Jeff Sessions—at the public urging of President Donald Trump” to fire McCabe.

Analysis and Commentary

The Merits Of Supporting 702 Reauthorization (Despite Worries About Trump And The Rule Of Law)

by Jack Goldsmith, Susan Hennesseyvia Lawfare
Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Senate voted by a razor-thin margin Tuesday to invoke cloture on the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017, which would reauthorize for six years Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The bill includes some significant changes to 702, though the reforms are substantially more modest than those sought by privacy advocates. The House approved its version last week. A final Senate vote is scheduled for Thursday; the bill is expected to pass handily.

Analysis and Commentary

Why Hasn’t Rod Rosenstein Recused Himself From The Mueller Investigation?

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Friday, January 5, 2018

One puzzle that deepens with Mike Schmidt’s New York Times story on “Trump’s Struggle to Keep [a] Grip on [the] Russia Investigation” is why Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has not recused himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation. On Lawfare’s special edition podcast yesterday, Susan Hennessey briefly raised the issue, but the puzzle is worth unpacking a bit more here.

Analysis and Commentary

The President Can’t Kill The Mueller Investigation

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, January 1, 2018

One of most remarkable stories of 2017 was the extent to which President Donald Trump was prevented from executing his many pledges—both on the campaign trail and in office—to violate the law. As predicted, courts, the press, the bureaucracy, civil society, and even Congress were aggressive and successful in stopping or deterring Trump from acting unlawfully.*

Analysis and Commentary

The Strange WannaCry Attribution

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Thursday, December 21, 2017

I’ve been trying to figure out why the U.S. government thought it was useful to attribute the “WannaCry” attack to North Korea. WannaCry was a global ransomware attack that hit hundreds of thousands of computers, cost billions of dollars in damage, and compromised U.K. healthcare computers in ways that “put lives at risk.”

Analysis and Commentary

Foreign Relations Law Casebook Supplement

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, December 18, 2017

The new Supplement for Curtis A. Bradley and Jack Goldsmith, Foreign Relations Law: Cases and Materials (6th ed. 2017), is now available. These materials update the casebook, and in particular address litigation over the Trump administration’s executive orders relating to its “travel ban,” the administration’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement, the debates and litigation concerning “sanctuary jurisdictions,” President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and legal issues raised by various U.S. missile strikes in Syria and by the military detention of a U.S. citizen who was allegedly fighting on behalf of the Islamic State.

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