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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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. 

Featured

Living Inside Adversary Networks

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Friday, March 16, 2018

The Trump administration on Thursday accused Russia of infiltrating by digital means “energy and other critical infrastructure sectors” in the United States. “We now have evidence they’re sitting on the machines, connected to industrial control infrastructure, that allow them to effectively turn the power off or effect sabotage,” Eric Chien, a security-technology director at Symantec, said to Nicole Perlroth and David Sanger in the New York Times. 

Analysis and Commentary

‘Can It Happen Here? Authoritarianism In America’

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, March 5, 2018

Tuesday is the release date for an extraordinary collection of essays published under the title: Can It Happen Here? Authoritarianism in America.

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.”

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