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


The U.S. Media Is In The Crosshairs Of The New Assange Indictment

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Friday, May 24, 2019

(New Media Days/Peter Erichsen) I have written a lot on how hard it is to distinguish WikiLeaks from the New York Times when it comes to procuring and publishing classified information. One implication of the comparison is that any successful prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would have adverse implications for mainstream U.S. news publications efforts to solicit, receive and publish classified information. The May 23 indictment of Assange makes clear that these concerns are real. As Susan Hennessey said, “[I]t will be very difficult to craft an Espionage Act case against him that won’t adversely impact true journalists.” I don’t think this is an accident. I think the government’s indictment has the U.S. news media squarely in its sights.


The Mueller Report’s Weak Statutory Interpretation Analysis: Part II

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Thursday, May 23, 2019

I argued earlier this month that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report misapplied the presidential clear statement rule and improperly exposed many of President Trump’s actions in response to the Russia investigation to potential criminal liability. The argument drew disagreement from Benjamin Wittes, Andrew Kent and Marty Lederman, which in turn provoked a response by Josh Blackman, who holds views similar to mine.

Analysis and Commentary

The Mueller Report’s Weak Statutory Interpretation Analysis

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Saturday, May 11, 2019

Someone on Twitter recently asked: “What is your most [fire emoji] take that absolutely infuriates people and you know deep down in your heart is 100% true”? I was inclined to respond: “The statutory interpretation analysis in the Mueller report is one-sided and weak.”

In the News

A Strong Defense Of Barr

featuring Jack Goldsmithvia Outside The Beltway
Sunday, May 5, 2019

In recent weeks, we have offered some strong critiques of Attorney General William Barr’s handling of the public release of the Mueller report. Most notably, Steven Taylor asserted that, “Donald Trump finally has the AG he wanted back when he was railing at Jeff Sessions. He has a toady who will use the office to further Trump’s own political needs rather than act as law enforcement.” And I asserted, “The attorney general hasn’t said a single thing that wasn’t technically true about the Mueller report. But he was dishonest.”


Thoughts On Barr And The Mueller Report

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Saturday, May 4, 2019

I’ve been in a cave for several weeks crashing to complete my new book, and am only now emerging to read Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report and the commentary on it. I’ll hopefully have more to say on the report, especially on its legal analysis of criminal obstruction of justice as applied to the president. But for now I want to comment on the reaction to Attorney General William Barr’s handling of the report in his March 24 letter and his May 1 testimony. It seems over the top to me.

Analysis and Commentary

The Lawfare Podcast: Michael Anton Defends Trump's Foreign Policy

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Jack Goldsmith interviews Michael Anton, former Trump administration national security official and a research fellow at Hillsdale College, concerning the new article and the philosophy behind Trump's foreign policy, particularly with respect to liberal internationalism and international institutions.

In the News

Is Trump’s Designation Of Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps As Terrorist Organization A Set-Up For War?

quoting Jack Goldsmithvia Mint Press News
Monday, April 8, 2019

With the IRGC now officially labeled a “foreign terrorist organization” by the U.S. government, the march to war with Iran — long a goal of top Trump administration officials — is closer than ever.

In the News

Ex-National Security Officials Sue To Limit Censorship Of Their Books

quoting Jack Goldsmithvia The New York Times
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A newly filed lawsuit is challenging a censorship system the government uses to ensure that millions of former military and intelligence officials spill no secrets if they decide to write articles and books after they move on from public service.

In the News

If Democrats Want To Protect The Rule Of Law, They Can’t Rush The Mueller Report

quoting Jack Goldsmithvia The Washington Post
Friday, March 29, 2019

Democrats demanding the release of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s complete and unredacted report on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election should pipe down, at least if they want to preserve a reputation for consistency. They spent over two years reminding us how important the rule of law is. They, more than anyone, should know that the law does not permit Attorney General William P. Barr to give them what they desire.


Jack Goldsmith On The Lawfare Podcast

interview with Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Jack Goldsmith discusses the early days of US and international climate action, how the Paris Agreement came into force and the predecessor agreements that gave rise to it, how it was supposed to operate, and what impacts President Trump's actions have had on international climate policy.