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

Featured

The Wikileaks-ization Of The American Media

by Jack Goldsmithvia The Weekly Standard
Monday, May 14, 2018

Scott Shane had an interesting piece over the weekend in the New York Times on a topic I wrote about last year: What should journalists do when they receive “authentic and newsworthy” information from a foreign intelligence service? The question has become salient again because of Amy Chozick’s worry that she was an “unwitting agent of Russian intelligence” due to her reporting about the Russia-hacked DNC emails in 2016.

Featured

The Trump Administration Reaps What The Obama Administration Sowed In The Iran Deal

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The particular manner in which President Obama crafted the Iran deal paved the way for President Trump to withdraw from it.  Obama made the deal on his own presidential authority, in the face of significant domestic opposition, without seeking or receiving approval from the Senate or the Congress.

Comey On Ethical Leadership

by Jack Goldsmith
Monday, April 30, 2018

“I am reluctant to write a memoir and would rather write about leadership,” my friend Jim Comey told me in an email on June 16, 2017, about five weeks after Donald Trump fired him as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Comey was starting to focus on writing a book, and we were discussing literary agents, book-writing techniques, and the like.

Analysis and Commentary

Why Is The Media Defending Michelle Wolf?

by Jack Goldsmithvia The Weekly Standard
Monday, April 30, 2018

Two events over the weekend illuminate the issue of norms and the media in the Trump era. The first was a Twitter exchange on Friday evening.

Analysis and Commentary

The 'Deep State' Is Real. But Are Its Leaks Against Trump Justified?

by Jack Goldsmithvia The Guardian
Sunday, April 22, 2018

Even the most severe critics of the US president should worry about this subtle form of anti-democratic abuse.

Analysis and Commentary

Bad Legal Arguments For The Syria Airstrikes

by Jack Goldsmith, Oona A. Hathawayvia Lawfare
Saturday, April 14, 2018

On Friday night, the United States, United Kingdom, and France launched a coordinated attack in Syria, reportedly aimed at sites related to Syria’s chemical weapons program. President Trump stated that he “ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.”

Analysis and Commentary

The Cycles Of Panicked Reactions To Trump

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The raid on the office of Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, the president’s latest tweet-complaints and related rant, and the White House press secretary's claim that the President believes he has the authority to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, have many people spun up about that possibility that Trump will soon fire Mueller, or Attorney General Jeff Sessions, or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Featured

The Downsides Of Bombing Syria

by Jack Goldsmith, Oona A. Hathawayvia Lawfare
Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The U.S. government seems on a set path toward intervening in Syria with military force (probably air strikes of some sort) in response to the recent a chemical weapons attack allegedly sponsored by the Syrian government. We think a few brief points are worth keeping in mind.

Analysis and Commentary

Can Mueller Or Rosenstein Issue An Interim Report On Obstruction?

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, April 9, 2018

Unnamed sources in a Washington Post story last week claimed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller told President Trump’s lawyers that “he is preparing a report about the president’s actions while in office and potential obstruction of justice.” The Post added that “Mueller’s investigators have indicated to the president’s legal team that they are considering writing reports on their findings in stages—with the first report focused on the obstruction issue.”

Analysis and Commentary

Don't Expect A Starr-Like Report From Mueller

by Jack Goldsmith, Maddie McMahonvia Lawfare
Thursday, March 22, 2018

Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic have usefully reviewed the models that Special Counsel Robert Mueller might draw on deciding whether and how to tell the world what he learned in his investigation of the Russia matter. If Mueller follows the “orthodox path,” we will only “learn about the extent of ‘collusion’ or about possible obstructions of justice” to the extent Mueller issues indictments. 

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