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

Analysis and Commentary

If Rod Rosenstein Recuses: What Happens Next?

by Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Friday, June 16, 2017

ABC News is reporting that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “has privately acknowledged to colleagues that he may have to recuse himself from” his role as Acting Attorney General for the Department’s Russia Investigation. (Recall that Rosenstein assumed that role when Attorney General Sessions recused himself earlier.)

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Security by the Book - The Ideas Industry: How Pessimists, Partisans, And Plutocrats Are Transforming The Marketplace Of Ideas

by Jack Goldsmith, Daniel W. Dreznervia Lawfare
Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Hoover Institution hosted "The Ideas Industry: How Pessimists, Partisans, and Plutocrats are Transforming the Marketplace of Ideas" on Thursday, June 15, 2017 from 5:00pm - 7:00pm EST.

The White House
Analysis and Commentary

If Trump Fires Mueller (Or Orders His Firing)

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

There are growing indications that President Trump may be thinking about getting rid of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Last weekend one of the President’s private lawyers would not rule out the possibility when asked. Yesterday the President’s allies started talking affirmatively about the possibility.


Two Reflections On The Comey Statement

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Though I agree with much of what Ben says about James Comey’s statement, I find myself in greater agreement with David French’s account. As French concludes, “there are some elements that are good for President Trump, but overall it shows a chief executive placing improper pressure on the FBI director — pressure that no GOP politician would tolerate from a Democratic president.” I write to add two points.

Analysis and Commentary

President Trump Nominates Chris Wray For FBI Director

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

This morning President Trump announced that he would nominate Chris Wray as the next Director of the FBI. I worked with Wray in the Justice Department. He was the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division when I was Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel.

Analysis and Commentary

Updating The 2001 AUMF At Long Last? On The Flake-Kaine Bill

by Robert Chesney, Jack Goldsmith, Matthew Waxman, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

It is past time for Congress to update the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), explicitly authorizing the armed conflict with the Islamic State while also adding further important reforms to that foundational instrument. The bill that Senators Flake (R-AZ) and Kaine (D-VA) introduced this week would serve that purpose well.

Analysis and Commentary

Did Comey “Grandstand” Or "Politicize" The Russia Investigation?

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Saturday, May 20, 2017

As is well known, President Trump told his Russian friends in the Oval Office: “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Yesterday afternoon, Sean Spicer tried to explain away the President's comments as follows: “By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia.”


Another Bomb Drops: Initial Thoughts On Trump Asking Comey To Kill The Flynn Investigation

by Helen Klein Murillo, Jack Goldsmith, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, Matthew Kahn, Paul Rosenzweig, Benjamin Wittesvia Lawfare
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The New York Times is reporting that President Donald Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to drop the FBI’s investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. 

Analysis and Commentary

Bombshell: Initial Thoughts On The Washington Post’s Game-Changing Story

by Jack Goldsmith, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, Matthew Kahn, Benjamin Wittes, Elishe Julian Wittesvia Lawfare
Monday, May 15, 2017

The Washington Post this afternoon published a stunning story reporting that President Trump disclosed highly-classified information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during their visit to the Oval Office last week.

Analysis and Commentary

Justice Alito's Kiobel Concurrence And The “Touch And Concern” Circuit Split

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Monday, May 15, 2017

As Lawfare readers know, the question of corporate liability under the Alien Tort Statute is once again before the Supreme Court. But other ATS issues are still dividing lower courts. One of them—recently covered by John here and here—is how much an ATS claim must “touch and concern” the United States to rebut the presumption against extraterritoriality, as outlined in Kiobel.