Action Alerts · Call Your Members of Congress · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Call Your MoCs and Demand They Enforce Sanctions Against Russia, Dammit, June 14, 2018 Edition

Call your MoCs to demand enforcement of sanctions against Russia.

 

Sarah Jane here. While I was sick with the flu back in January 2018, I wrote a few posts asking folks to call their MoCs and demand that they pressure President Trump to impose the sanctions on Russia for meddling with the 2016 election, which Congress passed with a veto-proof margin.

 

Trump’s shrugging off of the deadline and refusal to impose the sanctions has gotten some attention, but not enough, because ridiculous scandals continue to happen.

 

It should not get lost, and I am determined that it won’t.

 

Trump should not be allowed to ignore the will of 530 members of Congress. In my opinion it’s one of the worst, scariest signs of sliding into authoritarianism. We need to push back, and keep pushing back. And given that almost everyone in Congress feels the same way, we have leverage here.

 

We did see a small amount of progress on March 15, 2018, when the Trump administration accused Russia of hacking vital American infrastructure and imposed sanctions on 19 individuals, including the 13 that Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted in February 2018. While the move is welcome, it’s not what we’re asking for. The administration still needs to obey Congress and impose the damn sanctions on Russia already.

 

We also saw progress on March 23, when Trump signed an omnibus spending bill that included measures that push back against Russia in various ways. It was also good news when the administration announced it would expel 60 Russian officials from America and close the Seattle consulate over the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain.

 

And as of April 4, we’ve seen reports that the administration might sanction Russian oligarchs. See the stories:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-administration-to-impose-fresh-sanctions-against-russia/2018/04/04/bc09e0b8-3851-11e8-b57c-9445cc4dfa5e_story.html?utm_term=.943e72ddd109

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-sanctions/u-s-plans-to-sanction-russian-oligarchs-this-week-sources-idUSKCN1HB34U

 

But! The sanctions that Congress called for have still not been imposed.

 

And! We saw a serious setback on April 16, 2018, when the Trump administration walked back a new round of sanctions against Russia, throwing the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, under the bus in the process. Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Counsel, evidently claimed she “might have gotten confused”. Read a New York Times story on the walk-back:

 

Haley, for her part, is Not Having It as of April 17, 2018, when she told CNN, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” Kudlow later apologized for his remarks. Read a Vox story on Haley’s pushback:

https://www.vox.com/2018/4/17/17249652/nikki-haley-russia-sanctions-larry-kudlow-response

 

We at OTYCD will continue to devote at least one post per week to the Russian sanctions issue until the Trump administration does what Congress told it to do.

 

This is the entry for June 14, 2018.

 

Below is more material from other past posts, plus a Celeste Pewter calling script. Please stay on this, and please spread the word. Thanks!

 

 

On Monday, January 29, 2018, the Trump administration was due to enforce sanctions imposed on Russia for meddling in our elections, as required by a 2017 law.

 

The administration brushed off the requirement by claiming the threat of the sanctions was deterrent enough.

 

After I wrote a combo Nunes memo-Russia sanctions enforcement post yesterday, Senator Claire McCaskill got to the heart of the problem in a tweet she sent late on January 29, 2018:

 

Congress voted 517-5 to impose sanctions on Russia. The President decides to ignore that law. Folks that is a constitutional crisis. There should be outrage in every corner of this country.

 

To my horror, the implications of Trump’s act are getting ignored, or crowded out by other horrible things.

 

Please, call your members of Congress and demand that they call Trump out for this. He cannot just brush off a law passed with a veto-proof majority. McCaskill is right–it’s a constitutional crisis. Please call.

 

Here’s your @Celeste_Pewter calling script for that topic:

 

 

Since Celeste prepared that calling script, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictments of 13 Russians for interfering in the 2016 Russian election.

 

Read the Washington Post‘s story about the indictments, which came down on February 16, 2018:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/russian-troll-farm-13-suspects-indicted-for-interference-in-us-election/2018/02/16/2504de5e-1342-11e8-9570-29c9830535e5_story.html?utm_term=.be1dd2d76f9d

 

The indictments also make Trump’s refusal to impose the sanctions that Congress voted overwhelmingly to impose that much more flagrant and disgusting. It also makes it that much more important that we at OTYCD stay on this topic and spotlight it until Trump finally does what he should have done back in late January 2018.

 

Here I will reproduce more useful info from past OTYCD post that quote Celeste Pewter and Alexandra Erin.

 

Celeste Pewter (@Celeste_Pewter) helped me keep sane with a series of tweets on January 31, which I’ll reproduce:

 

Ok. I keep seeing certain threads about Russian sanctions/authoritarianism being RTed into my TL, so I think it’s important to have some facts on what Congress can and cannot do to address the WH’s decision. Start with this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/01/30/even-if-trump-is-blatantly-ignoring-the-russia-sanctions-law-theres-not-a-lot-congress-can-do-about-it/?utm_term=.3b1222b2389a

 

Then follow it up with this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/01/30/the-trump-administrations-weird-explanation-for-withholding-russia-sanctions/?utm_term=.1821cef97d99

 

I think it’s easy (and understandable) to say: “Rule of law is deaaaaad!” but the question now becomes: What are YOU going to do about it? Senator tweeted this: [She quotes the tweet I reproduce above]

 

Yes, be outraged. But more importantly, channel your outrage. The WaPo article I listed lists four options for Congress to respond to this; these are the three most likely. Your elected work for you. Demand they make any three (or even all three) happen. [She includes a screenshot of the three things, from the first Washington Post piece above.]

 

Don’t just sit around waiting for government to collapse; if you’re truly as upset as all of your RTs seem to indicate – I’m getting a bit [thinking face with arched eyebrow emoji] with the fatalism – then make sure you call and make your electeds hear your voice. Yes, this includes GOP electeds.

 

If you’ve followed me long enough, you’ll know I used to be a constituent affairs director for an elected. Trust me when I say: staff will let their boss(es) hear it, if their phone lines are ringing off the hook. We want it to stop so we can do other work.

 

We want our bosses to give us solutions to make it stop. So make it happen w/ these Russian sanction calls. Make the constituent team know you don’t accept this, and you will keep calling, until they are so tired of you, they will demand the office do something.

 

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: we are many, and they are few. Do you really want these sanctions dictated by a few wankers in the administration? No. This time, you even have a bipartisan majority of the House and the Senate on your side. You have the power.

 

Here also are Alexandra Erin (@alexandraerin)’s January 31, 2018 tweets on the topic:

 

There are a pair of recent moves, from the State Department and the Treasury Department, which suggest that in year two of Trump’s reign, the regime is being a lot less circumspect about being in Putin’s pocket, with less ego-clashing feud and less smoke-and-mirrors resistance.

 

Now, you might recall that back in 2017, Congress passed laws calling for tough new sanctions to punish Russia for its election interference. There was a lot of speculation about whether Trump would sign this act, but he finally did, grudgingly and complaining the whole time.

 

In the United States system of government, the theory is that Congress passes the law, and the executive branch *executes* them, hence the term. Trump as chief executive is the chief one responsible for carrying out laws passed by Congress.

So guess where this is going.

 

Monday, January 29th, was the deadline for the executive branch to impose the sanctions, as prescribed in the bill that Donald Trump personally signed into canon as the law of the land.

It came and it went.

 

The law called for the Treasury Department to help guide the sanctions by producing an investigative report of oligarchs and businesses linked to Putin.

 

Serious, lifetime-career experts at the Treasury Department prepared that report, which was then thrown out and replaced with a copy of the Russian Forbes 100 list plus a few public Putin associates and a disclaimer that it’s not a list of people who should face sanctions.

 

And Rex Tillerson, secretary of state and obvious Yosemite Sam pseudonym, told Congress that they haven’t imposed actual sanctions because the threat of sanctions is proving an effective deterrent. Slap on the wrist, everybody learned a valuable lesson. No actual penalty.

 

The actual implementation strategy here is to let everyone else know that doing “significant transactions” with certain Russia-linked entities may result in penalties for the other party. But it’s entirely discretionary. No actual rules per se.

Team America: World Secret Police.

 

This gives the Trump regime a valuable tool for looking tough (Trump’s favorite way to look), a free hand for Putin, and a way to arbitrarily impose sanctions on countries or other entities that Trump or Putin want to weaken.

 

With nothing actually in writing about what transactions get penalized, we could easily see a situation where a group that does significant business with the Ukraine and also had an incidental transaction in Russia gets hit with sanctions for violating the unwritten rules.

 

Or anybody backing dissidents and opposition politicians in Russia. The sub-basement floor is the limit with these guys.

 

I don’t think we are quite at “Treasury and State Department overtly help Putin crush his enemies” territory yet. Nope. But one year and change in to Trump’s rule, and we are at “Treasury and State Department overtly shield Putin and his cronies from consequences” territory.

 

And while it’s not a surprising shift, it is a marked shift from where they were last year, and the main thing that has changed is what year it is. Time makes Trump normal. The passage of the year changed his dislike of the sanctions from an outrage to the way things are.

 

And with Trump’s feet-dragging opposition to the sanctions accepted as the new normal, his executive branch failing to execute them becomes a natural progression of time rather than a startling departure from all norms of governance and the rule of law.

 

So you’ve really got to ask yourself, what would the start of a year 3 of Trump look like? How far would he be able to go after his next calendar reset? How far can he push things between now and then?

 

…this prompted Cathy R to tweet,

So now what? No further actions!? What can be done?

 

Alexandra Erin answered:

 

Talk about it. Spread awareness of it. Make sure everybody you know knows that it’s happening. Post it on your Facebook. Put it in an email forward to your uncle. The right does these things, and it shapes the way people think about politics, and vote.

 

Talk is not the only action required, but talk is an action that is required. There is a national discourse. We have to be shaping it.

 

Believe it or not, talking about the regime’s corruption is doing something. Talking about the resurgence of overt Nazism and white nationalism is doing something. Being willing to talk about these things, to label them as they are rather than accepting them as normal, helps.

 

We could be calling Congress to light a fire under them to demand the executive branch actually execute these things, to write newer, more specific, and tougher sanction laws, but to be honest: the public engagement and awareness aren’t there yet to get the critical mass needed.

 

So step one is: talk about it. Talk to people about it. Get people talking about it. The executive branch is flouting the rule of law, Trump is ignoring a law he himself signed into existence.

 

The right has a hundred talking points about why Russian interference doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter or helped Clinton or whatever. But none of that addresses the fact that Trump signed this law. He made it the law of the land. And he’s ignoring it.

Action Alerts · Call Your Members of Congress · Health Care

Call Your MoCs and Make It Damn Clear You Support the ACA and the 16 State AGs (Plus the District of Columbia) Who Are Countersuing to Defend It

Call your Members of Congress and make it damn clear to all three that you support the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and you support the 16 state attorneys general (plus the District of Columbia) who are countersuing to defend it. 

 

Having failed to get Congress to kill the ACA, the Trump administration is trying a ridiculous, bullshit move. On June 7, the Department of Justice stated it would not defend the law against a suit brought by 20 state attorneys general.

 

To quote from a June 7, 2018 story in the Washington Post:

In a brief filed in a Texas federal court and an accompanying letter to the House and Senate leaders of both parties, the Justice Department agrees in large part with the 20 Republican-led states that brought the suit. They contend that the ACA provision requiring most Americans to carry health insurance soon will no longer be constitutional and that, as a result, consumer insurance protections under the law will not be valid, either.

 

Full story is here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trump-administration-wont-defend-aca-in-cases-brought-by-gop-states/2018/06/07/92f56e86-6a9c-11e8-9e38-24e693b38637_story.html?utm_term=.f3b0215d68fe

 

The same night, Topher Spiro, who has done consistently great work with defending the ACA, CHIP, and GOP assaults on health care, tweeted the following:

 

Trump’s Justice Department just refused to defend the ACA and asked a court to invalidate protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Luckily, Democratic states have intervened and will defend the law.

 

This is an open and shut case. It is frivolous, a truly wacko claim. Texas argues that because Congress repealed the individual mandate, the pre-existing condition protections must also go. Congress obviously disagreed.

 

The judge is right-wing and unpredictable. So he could very well strike down the protections. But the circuit court would reverse.

This development is important because 1) Trump is thoroughly politicizing the DOJ and refusing to defend the law of the land and 2) this creates some degree of uncertainty that contributes to GOP sabotage.

Three respected career DOJ attorneys withdrew from the case in protest just before this brief was filed. That tells you how politicized this is. This is a political attack on the ACA and people with pre-existing conditions.

I don’t believe people should worry too much about this court case. Nothing we can do about it anyway. I believe people should worry about repeal if they keep the House. THAT we can do something about.

One thing is clear: Trump made a BIG mistake attacking pre-existing condition protections tonight. He may have awakened a sleeping giant.

Conservative constitutional law scholar (who believed the individual mandate was unconstitutional!) says this latest case is “cynical-squared” and “absurd” =>

…and he cited these two Adler tweets, one a main tweet, one a reply:

The problem with the Trump Administration’s response to the latest ACA suit is not its refusal to defend the mandate so much as its adoption of problematic (and quite cynical) approach to severability.

Then the arguments here are cynical-squared. No matter how one conceives of severability doctrine, the underlying premise here is absurd.

…Back to Topher Spiro. He cited the fact that 16 other state attorneys general, plus the District of Columbia, had filed a countersuit. And while he did state he felt people shouldn’t worry about the court case, he did recommend that folks call their MoCs:

The average number of people with pre-existing conditions is about 300,000 per congressional district. Find your district. Get the number. Hold Republicans accountable.

We agree with him. Even though he’s right, and legal scholars from across the spectrum affirm that the state AGs’ anti-ACA lawsuit is wack (scroll down for a link), we at OTYCD think it’s worth it to call your MoCs and make it completely and utterly clear that You Are Not On Board With This Shit.

Suggested script: “Hello (Senator/House Rep Lastname,) I am (Firstname Lastname of town, zip code). I realize this is a Department of Justice matter at the moment but I wanted to call and make it absolutely clear that I support the Affordable Care Act and I oppose any attempt to undercut it or its key provisions. The lawsuit that was brought by the 20 state attorneys general, and which the DOJ has essentially backed by refusing to enforce the law, is crap. Most legal scholars agree that it’s crap. But if the DOJ does not wise up and do the right thing, there is a chance that the suit will advance, and the protections the ACA grants to people with pre-existing conditions will be threatened.

It’s estimated that at least 52 million non-elderly Americans have pre-existing conditions. If you don’t have one, you love someone who does. We cannot go back to the bad old days when health insurers would only cover you without bankrupting you if you’d never been sick in your life, at all, ever. That would be cruel and insane. And I am putting you on notice: If any representative of mine votes to cripple or kill the ACA, I will work to throw that person out of office. Thank you for listening.”

Follow Topher Spiro on Twitter:

@TopherSpiro

Read a June 8, 2018 Vox piece in which a range of legal scholars smack down the anti-ACA lawsuit that the DOJ is rolling over for:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/6/8/17441512/obamacare-lawsuit-texas-trump

Read a June 8, 2018 piece from the Washington Post that claims that 52 million Americans younger than 65 have pre-existing conditions and would be hurt if the ACA is destroyed:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/06/08/aca-lawsuit-could-jeopardize-52-million-americans-access-to-health-care/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.70f79d9a202b

Read yet another June 8, 2018 piece on California AG Xavier Becerra leading a countersuit to defend the ACA:

California’s Attorney General Vows National Fight To Defend The ACA

Call Your Members of Congress · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Call Your MoCs to Demand They Step Up and Do Something About Trump’s Dumpster-fire of a Performance at the 2018 G7 Summit

Call your members of Congress and ask them to do something–not just make a statement–to appropriately react to Trump’s Dumpster-fire of a performance at the 2018 G7 summit.

 

We were all bracing ourselves for the 2018 G7. We knew Trump wasn’t going to cover himself in glory. But it was worse than we expected.

 

He came late and left early.

 

He had the unmitigated, uneducated gall to ask the others to re-admit Russia to the group. The G-force booted Russia for cause four years ago, after it messed with Ukraine and invaded Crimea. Unsurprisingly, and correctly, the other Gs told Trump ‘no’. Because they are diplomats, they did not say, ‘No, fuck you, no, and also, fuck you.’

 

Bizarrely, the noted fan of tariffs suggested getting rid of all tariffs, while insisting that the tariffs he had just imposed were necessary.

 

He endorsed the G-7 joint statement and then un-endorsed it later on Twitter.

 

He shat upon our allies repeatedly, for no good reason.

 

When he pulls stone cold nonsense like the G7 beclownment, Trump swings a wrecking ball into America’s international reputation. The longer he’s in the Oval Office, the more damage he will do, and the harder it will be to repair.

 

Our friend Celeste Pewter (who you should be following on Twitter at @Celeste_Pewter) suggested we should call or leave voicemails for our MoCs, asking them to do something. Not just speak out, but do something. On June 9, 2018, after news broke of Trump’s takeback on the joint G7 statement, she tweeted:

 

A good thing to do at the moment? Leave a VM [voicemail] with your electeds and ask how they can stand by and watch Trump torpedo our most critical international relationships.

 

This is one of those times when a mere statement or tweet from an elected isn’t enough. Ask them what they plan to do, and tell them you expect actual action steps.

 

Also: I know this comes off as typical behavior for Trump, but it’s different because he’s reneging on an agreement w/ multiple international countries, after saying the US would sign on.

 

Today’s move gives the international community zero reason to trust the United States for *anything* in the future. Because they’ll always, always be risking Trump backing out, and insulting them to boot.

 

Trump voters: I hope you understand that isolationism does nothing to help our country. It sets our economy back. It sets advances in critical fields back. It will absolutely decrease our global standing, in many ways that are potentially irreversible. Everyone else: [she tweeted three phone emojis, indicating we should CALL]

 

She also retweeted @mikechenwriter, who said:

Do this especially if you live in a red state. There is no practical reason to sabotage our relations with out allies. This is purely driven by ego. GOP electeds need to hear it.

 

…and responded to this subsequent tweet from @mikechenwriter:

Seriously, if you have any conservative friends who are willing to listen, ask them if President Romney or McCain would be doing this. Then urge them to call their electeds.

@Celeste_Pewter responded:

This is an important point. I dislike conservative politicians. But Romney, McCain, Kasich all know how to behave like adults with international allies, even if we disapprove of what they’re saying/doing. What we have ATM [at the moment], is playground-style bullying at the highest level.

She went on to tweet:

 

Sample script: “Dear [Senator/House Rep Lastname,] I am [Firstname Lastname, from
town, zip code.] I am calling because I am disgusted by the way President Trump acted at
the G7 Summit. I was embarrassed, and you should be embarrassed. He called for the
group to re-admit Russia, though it has not atoned for the acts that got it thrown out–
meddling in Ukraine and invading Crimea. He needlessly insulted our allies through his
words and his actions. He came late and left early. He acted like a fool, and he made us
look foolish. He took a sledgehammer to our international reputation, and it’s going to
take a long time to repair the damage.
Barack Obama did not act this way. George W. Bush did not act this way. Bill Clinton did
not act this way. Every other president in living memory did not act this way because
regardless of their politics, they had reached the baseline level of maturity and personal
restraint needed to navigate a high-level meeting of this type. I don’t just want you to
make a statement about the G7 disaster. I want you to do something that makes it damn
clear that Trump’s G7 behavior is not acceptable. And I want you to do it now, before we
ruin our oldest international friendships just so Trump can salve his ego and please
Vladimir Putin. Thank you for listening.”

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the

page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

 

Some cites about Trump and the 2018 G7:

 

Stories on Trump pulling the U.S. out of the G7 joint statement because he got shirty over stuff Trudeau said:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/trump-floats-end-to-all-tariffs-threatens-major-penalties-for-countries-that-dont-agree/2018/06/09/a06350be-6bf1-11e8-bea7-c8eb28bc52b1_story.html?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/10/g7-in-disarray-after-trump-rejects-communique-and-attacks-weak-trudeau

 

 

Trump suggests re-admitting Russia to the Gs, with no mention of the behavior that got them booted in the first place:

https://www.vox.com/world/2018/6/8/17441338/trump-russia-g7-summit

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/08/donald-trump-shows-no-sign-compromise-flies-in-g7-summit

 

 

 

Pieces on how Trump suggested eliminating all tariffs:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/09/politics/trump-g7-tariffs-trade/index.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44423072

https://www.businessinsider.my/trump-suggests-dropping-all-tariffs-trade-barriers-at-g7-summit-2018-6-2/

 

 

Stories on Trump pulling the U.S. out of the G7 joint statement because he got shirty over stuff Trudeau said:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/trump-floats-end-to-all-tariffs-threatens-major-penalties-for-countries-that-dont-agree/2018/06/09/a06350be-6bf1-11e8-bea7-c8eb28bc52b1_story.html?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/10/g7-in-disarray-after-trump-rejects-communique-and-attacks-weak-trudeau

In addition to following Pewter on Twitter (again, her handle is @Celeste_Pewter) you

can support her in other ways.

 

After you call your elected representatives on these two topics, tweet about the

experience using the #ICalledMyReps hashtag.

 

Pewter founded The Road to 2018, an organization devoted to defending Democratic

Senators who are vulnerable and up for re-election this year. See our post on it:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/02/25/support-the-road-to-2018-which-defends-democratic-senators/

 

Subscribe to Pewter’s peerless newsletter, It’s Time To Fight:

http://itstimetofight.weebly.com

 

 

 

Action Alerts · Call Your Members of Congress · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Call Your MoCs and Demand They Enforce Sanctions Against Russia, Dammit, June 5, 2018 Edition

Call your MoCs to demand enforcement of sanctions against Russia.

 

Sarah Jane here. While I was sick with the flu back in January 2018, I wrote a few posts asking folks to call their MoCs and demand that they pressure President Trump to impose the sanctions on Russia for meddling with the 2016 election, which Congress passed with a veto-proof margin.

 

Trump’s shrugging off of the deadline and refusal to impose the sanctions has gotten some attention, but not enough, because ridiculous scandals continue to happen.

 

It should not get lost, and I am determined that it won’t.

 

Trump should not be allowed to ignore the will of 530 members of Congress. In my opinion it’s one of the worst, most scary signs of sliding into authoritarianism. We need to push back, and keep pushing back. And given that almost everyone in Congress feels the same way, we have leverage here.

 

We did see a small amount of progress on March 15, 2018, when the Trump administration accused Russia of hacking vital American infrastructure and imposed sanctions on 19 individuals, including the 13 that Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted in February 2018. While the move is welcome, it’s not what we’re asking for. The administration still needs to obey Congress and impose the damn sanctions on Russia already.

 

We also saw progress on March 23, when Trump signed an omnibus spending bill that included measures that push back against Russia in various ways. It was also good news when the administration announced it would expel 60 Russian officials from America and close the Seattle consulate over the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain.

 

And as of April 4, we’ve seen reports that the administration might sanction Russian oligarchs. See the stories:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-administration-to-impose-fresh-sanctions-against-russia/2018/04/04/bc09e0b8-3851-11e8-b57c-9445cc4dfa5e_story.html?utm_term=.943e72ddd109

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-sanctions/u-s-plans-to-sanction-russian-oligarchs-this-week-sources-idUSKCN1HB34U

 

But! The sanctions that Congress called for have still not been imposed.

 

And! We saw a serious setback on April 16, 2018, when the Trump administration walked back a new round of sanctions against Russia, throwing the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, under the bus in the process. Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Counsel, evidently claimed she “might have gotten confused”. Read a New York Times story on the walk-back:

 

Haley, for her part, is Not Having It as of April 17, 2018, when she told CNN, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” Kudlow later apologized for his remarks. Read a Vox story on Haley’s pushback:

https://www.vox.com/2018/4/17/17249652/nikki-haley-russia-sanctions-larry-kudlow-response

 

We at OTYCD will continue to devote at least one post per week to the Russian sanctions issue until the Trump administration does what Congress told it to do.

 

This is the entry for June 5, 2018.

 

Below is more material from past posts, plus a Celeste Pewter calling script. Please stay on this, and please spread the word. Thanks!

 

 

On Monday, January 29, 2018, the Trump administration was due to enforce sanctions imposed on Russia for meddling in our elections, as required by a 2017 law.

 

The administration brushed off the requirement by claiming the threat of the sanctions was deterrent enough.

 

After I wrote a combo Nunes memo-Russia sanctions enforcement post yesterday, Senator Claire McCaskill got to the heart of the problem in a tweet she sent late on January 29, 2018:

 

Congress voted 517-5 to impose sanctions on Russia. The President decides to ignore that law. Folks that is a constitutional crisis. There should be outrage in every corner of this country.

 

To my horror, the implications of Trump’s act are getting ignored, or crowded out by other horrible things.

 

Please, call your members of Congress and demand that they call Trump out for this. He cannot just brush off a law passed with a veto-proof majority. McCaskill is right–it’s a constitutional crisis. Please call.

 

Here’s your @Celeste_Pewter calling script for that topic:

 

 

Since Celeste prepared that calling script, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictments of 13 Russians for interfering in the 2016 Russian election.

 

Read the Washington Post‘s story about the indictments, which came down on February 16, 2018:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/russian-troll-farm-13-suspects-indicted-for-interference-in-us-election/2018/02/16/2504de5e-1342-11e8-9570-29c9830535e5_story.html?utm_term=.be1dd2d76f9d

 

The indictments also make Trump’s refusal to impose the sanctions that Congress voted overwhelmingly to impose that much more flagrant and disgusting. It also makes it that much more important that we at OTYCD stay on this topic and spotlight it until Trump finally does what he should have done back in late January 2018.

 

Here I will reproduce more useful info from past OTYCD post that quote Celeste Pewter and Alexandra Erin.

 

Celeste Pewter (@Celeste_Pewter) helped me keep sane with a series of tweets on January 31, which I’ll reproduce:

 

Ok. I keep seeing certain threads about Russian sanctions/authoritarianism being RTed into my TL, so I think it’s important to have some facts on what Congress can and cannot do to address the WH’s decision. Start with this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/01/30/even-if-trump-is-blatantly-ignoring-the-russia-sanctions-law-theres-not-a-lot-congress-can-do-about-it/?utm_term=.3b1222b2389a

 

Then follow it up with this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/01/30/the-trump-administrations-weird-explanation-for-withholding-russia-sanctions/?utm_term=.1821cef97d99

 

I think it’s easy (and understandable) to say: “Rule of law is deaaaaad!” but the question now becomes: What are YOU going to do about it? Senator tweeted this: [She quotes the tweet I reproduce above]

 

Yes, be outraged. But more importantly, channel your outrage. The WaPo article I listed lists four options for Congress to respond to this; these are the three most likely. Your elected work for you. Demand they make any three (or even all three) happen. [She includes a screenshot of the three things, from the first Washington Post piece above.]

 

Don’t just sit around waiting for government to collapse; if you’re truly as upset as all of your RTs seem to indicate – I’m getting a bit [thinking face with arched eyebrow emoji] with the fatalism – then make sure you call and make your electeds hear your voice. Yes, this includes GOP electeds.

 

If you’ve followed me long enough, you’ll know I used to be a constituent affairs director for an elected. Trust me when I say: staff will let their boss(es) hear it, if their phone lines are ringing off the hook. We want it to stop so we can do other work.

 

We want our bosses to give us solutions to make it stop. So make it happen w/ these Russian sanction calls. Make the constituent team know you don’t accept this, and you will keep calling, until they are so tired of you, they will demand the office do something.

 

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: we are many, and they are few. Do you really want these sanctions dictated by a few wankers in the administration? No. This time, you even have a bipartisan majority of the House and the Senate on your side. You have the power.

 

Here also are Alexandra Erin (@alexandraerin)’s January 31, 2018 tweets on the topic:

 

There are a pair of recent moves, from the State Department and the Treasury Department, which suggest that in year two of Trump’s reign, the regime is being a lot less circumspect about being in Putin’s pocket, with less ego-clashing feud and less smoke-and-mirrors resistance.

 

Now, you might recall that back in 2017, Congress passed laws calling for tough new sanctions to punish Russia for its election interference. There was a lot of speculation about whether Trump would sign this act, but he finally did, grudgingly and complaining the whole time.

 

In the United States system of government, the theory is that Congress passes the law, and the executive branch *executes* them, hence the term. Trump as chief executive is the chief one responsible for carrying out laws passed by Congress.

So guess where this is going.

 

Monday, January 29th, was the deadline for the executive branch to impose the sanctions, as prescribed in the bill that Donald Trump personally signed into canon as the law of the land.

It came and it went.

 

The law called for the Treasury Department to help guide the sanctions by producing an investigative report of oligarchs and businesses linked to Putin.

 

Serious, lifetime-career experts at the Treasury Department prepared that report, which was then thrown out and replaced with a copy of the Russian Forbes 100 list plus a few public Putin associates and a disclaimer that it’s not a list of people who should face sanctions.

 

And Rex Tillerson, secretary of state and obvious Yosemite Sam pseudonym, told Congress that they haven’t imposed actual sanctions because the threat of sanctions is proving an effective deterrent. Slap on the wrist, everybody learned a valuable lesson. No actual penalty.

 

The actual implementation strategy here is to let everyone else know that doing “significant transactions” with certain Russia-linked entities may result in penalties for the other party. But it’s entirely discretionary. No actual rules per se.

Team America: World Secret Police.

 

This gives the Trump regime a valuable tool for looking tough (Trump’s favorite way to look), a free hand for Putin, and a way to arbitrarily impose sanctions on countries or other entities that Trump or Putin want to weaken.

 

With nothing actually in writing about what transactions get penalized, we could easily see a situation where a group that does significant business with the Ukraine and also had an incidental transaction in Russia gets hit with sanctions for violating the unwritten rules.

 

Or anybody backing dissidents and opposition politicians in Russia. The sub-basement floor is the limit with these guys.

 

I don’t think we are quite at “Treasury and State Department overtly help Putin crush his enemies” territory yet. Nope. But one year and change in to Trump’s rule, and we are at “Treasury and State Department overtly shield Putin and his cronies from consequences” territory.

 

And while it’s not a surprising shift, it is a marked shift from where they were last year, and the main thing that has changed is what year it is. Time makes Trump normal. The passage of the year changed his dislike of the sanctions from an outrage to the way things are.

 

And with Trump’s feet-dragging opposition to the sanctions accepted as the new normal, his executive branch failing to execute them becomes a natural progression of time rather than a startling departure from all norms of governance and the rule of law.

 

So you’ve really got to ask yourself, what would the start of a year 3 of Trump look like? How far would he be able to go after his next calendar reset? How far can he push things between now and then?

 

…this prompted Cathy R to tweet,

So now what? No further actions!? What can be done?

 

Alexandra Erin answered:

 

Talk about it. Spread awareness of it. Make sure everybody you know knows that it’s happening. Post it on your Facebook. Put it in an email forward to your uncle. The right does these things, and it shapes the way people think about politics, and vote.

 

Talk is not the only action required, but talk is an action that is required. There is a national discourse. We have to be shaping it.

 

Believe it or not, talking about the regime’s corruption is doing something. Talking about the resurgence of overt Nazism and white nationalism is doing something. Being willing to talk about these things, to label them as they are rather than accepting them as normal, helps.

 

We could be calling Congress to light a fire under them to demand the executive branch actually execute these things, to write newer, more specific, and tougher sanction laws, but to be honest: the public engagement and awareness aren’t there yet to get the critical mass needed.

 

So step one is: talk about it. Talk to people about it. Get people talking about it. The executive branch is flouting the rule of law, Trump is ignoring a law he himself signed into existence.

 

The right has a hundred talking points about why Russian interference doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter or helped Clinton or whatever. But none of that addresses the fact that Trump signed this law. He made it the law of the land. And he’s ignoring it.

Action Alerts · Call Your Members of Congress · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Call Your MoCs and Demand They Enforce Sanctions Against Russia, Dammit, June 1, 2018 Edition

Call your MoCs to demand enforcement of sanctions against Russia.

 

Sarah Jane here. While I was sick with the flu back in January 2018, I wrote a few posts asking folks to call their MoCs and demand that they pressure President Trump to impose the sanctions on Russia for meddling with the 2016 election, which Congress passed with a veto-proof margin.

 

Trump’s shrugging off of the deadline and refusal to impose the sanctions has gotten some attention, but not enough, because ridiculous scandals continue to happen.

 

It should not get lost, and I am determined that it won’t.

 

Trump should not be allowed to ignore the will of 530 members of Congress. In my opinion it’s one of the worst, scariest signs of sliding into authoritarianism. We need to push back, and keep pushing back. And given that almost everyone in Congress feels the same way, we have leverage here.

 

We did see a small amount of progress on March 15, 2018, when the Trump administration accused Russia of hacking vital American infrastructure and imposed sanctions on 19 individuals, including the 13 that Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted in February 2018. While the move is welcome, it’s not what we’re asking for. The administration still needs to obey Congress and impose the damn sanctions on Russia already.

 

We also saw progress on March 23, when Trump signed an omnibus spending bill that included measures that push back against Russia in various ways. It was also good news when the administration announced it would expel 60 Russian officials from America and close the Seattle consulate over the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain.

 

And as of April 4, we’ve seen reports that the administration might sanction Russian oligarchs. See the stories:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-administration-to-impose-fresh-sanctions-against-russia/2018/04/04/bc09e0b8-3851-11e8-b57c-9445cc4dfa5e_story.html?utm_term=.943e72ddd109

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-sanctions/u-s-plans-to-sanction-russian-oligarchs-this-week-sources-idUSKCN1HB34U

 

But! The sanctions that Congress called for have still not been imposed.

 

And! We saw a serious setback on April 16, 2018, when the Trump administration walked back a new round of sanctions against Russia, throwing the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, under the bus in the process. Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Counsel, evidently claimed she “might have gotten confused”. Read a New York Times story on the walk-back:

 

Haley, for her part, is Not Having It as of April 17, 2018, when she told CNN, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” Kudlow later apologized for his remarks. Read a Vox story on Haley’s pushback:

https://www.vox.com/2018/4/17/17249652/nikki-haley-russia-sanctions-larry-kudlow-response

 

We at OTYCD will continue to devote at least one post per week to the Russian sanctions issue until the Trump administration does what Congress told it to do.

 

This is the entry for June 1, 2018.

 

Below is more material from other past posts, plus a Celeste Pewter calling script. Please stay on this, and please spread the word. Thanks!

 

 

On Monday, January 29, 2018, the Trump administration was due to enforce sanctions imposed on Russia for meddling in our elections, as required by a 2017 law.

 

The administration brushed off the requirement by claiming the threat of the sanctions was deterrent enough.

 

After I wrote a combo Nunes memo-Russia sanctions enforcement post yesterday, Senator Claire McCaskill got to the heart of the problem in a tweet she sent late on January 29, 2018:

 

Congress voted 517-5 to impose sanctions on Russia. The President decides to ignore that law. Folks that is a constitutional crisis. There should be outrage in every corner of this country.

 

To my horror, the implications of Trump’s act are getting ignored, or crowded out by other horrible things.

 

Please, call your members of Congress and demand that they call Trump out for this. He cannot just brush off a law passed with a veto-proof majority. McCaskill is right–it’s a constitutional crisis. Please call.

 

Here’s your @Celeste_Pewter calling script for that topic:

 

 

Since Celeste prepared that calling script, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictments of 13 Russians for interfering in the 2016 Russian election.

 

Read the Washington Post‘s story about the indictments, which came down on February 16, 2018:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/russian-troll-farm-13-suspects-indicted-for-interference-in-us-election/2018/02/16/2504de5e-1342-11e8-9570-29c9830535e5_story.html?utm_term=.be1dd2d76f9d

 

The indictments also make Trump’s refusal to impose the sanctions that Congress voted overwhelmingly to impose that much more flagrant and disgusting. It also makes it that much more important that we at OTYCD stay on this topic and spotlight it until Trump finally does what he should have done back in late January 2018.

 

Here I will reproduce more useful info from past OTYCD post that quote Celeste Pewter and Alexandra Erin.

 

Celeste Pewter (@Celeste_Pewter) helped me keep sane with a series of tweets on January 31, which I’ll reproduce:

 

Ok. I keep seeing certain threads about Russian sanctions/authoritarianism being RTed into my TL, so I think it’s important to have some facts on what Congress can and cannot do to address the WH’s decision. Start with this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/01/30/even-if-trump-is-blatantly-ignoring-the-russia-sanctions-law-theres-not-a-lot-congress-can-do-about-it/?utm_term=.3b1222b2389a

 

Then follow it up with this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/01/30/the-trump-administrations-weird-explanation-for-withholding-russia-sanctions/?utm_term=.1821cef97d99

 

I think it’s easy (and understandable) to say: “Rule of law is deaaaaad!” but the question now becomes: What are YOU going to do about it? Senator tweeted this: [She quotes the tweet I reproduce above]

 

Yes, be outraged. But more importantly, channel your outrage. The WaPo article I listed lists four options for Congress to respond to this; these are the three most likely. Your elected work for you. Demand they make any three (or even all three) happen. [She includes a screenshot of the three things, from the first Washington Post piece above.]

 

Don’t just sit around waiting for government to collapse; if you’re truly as upset as all of your RTs seem to indicate – I’m getting a bit [thinking face with arched eyebrow emoji] with the fatalism – then make sure you call and make your electeds hear your voice. Yes, this includes GOP electeds.

 

If you’ve followed me long enough, you’ll know I used to be a constituent affairs director for an elected. Trust me when I say: staff will let their boss(es) hear it, if their phone lines are ringing off the hook. We want it to stop so we can do other work.

 

We want our bosses to give us solutions to make it stop. So make it happen w/ these Russian sanction calls. Make the constituent team know you don’t accept this, and you will keep calling, until they are so tired of you, they will demand the office do something.

 

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: we are many, and they are few. Do you really want these sanctions dictated by a few wankers in the administration? No. This time, you even have a bipartisan majority of the House and the Senate on your side. You have the power.

 

Here also are Alexandra Erin (@alexandraerin)’s January 31, 2018 tweets on the topic:

 

There are a pair of recent moves, from the State Department and the Treasury Department, which suggest that in year two of Trump’s reign, the regime is being a lot less circumspect about being in Putin’s pocket, with less ego-clashing feud and less smoke-and-mirrors resistance.

 

Now, you might recall that back in 2017, Congress passed laws calling for tough new sanctions to punish Russia for its election interference. There was a lot of speculation about whether Trump would sign this act, but he finally did, grudgingly and complaining the whole time.

 

In the United States system of government, the theory is that Congress passes the law, and the executive branch *executes* them, hence the term. Trump as chief executive is the chief one responsible for carrying out laws passed by Congress.

So guess where this is going.

 

Monday, January 29th, was the deadline for the executive branch to impose the sanctions, as prescribed in the bill that Donald Trump personally signed into canon as the law of the land.

It came and it went.

 

The law called for the Treasury Department to help guide the sanctions by producing an investigative report of oligarchs and businesses linked to Putin.

 

Serious, lifetime-career experts at the Treasury Department prepared that report, which was then thrown out and replaced with a copy of the Russian Forbes 100 list plus a few public Putin associates and a disclaimer that it’s not a list of people who should face sanctions.

 

And Rex Tillerson, secretary of state and obvious Yosemite Sam pseudonym, told Congress that they haven’t imposed actual sanctions because the threat of sanctions is proving an effective deterrent. Slap on the wrist, everybody learned a valuable lesson. No actual penalty.

 

The actual implementation strategy here is to let everyone else know that doing “significant transactions” with certain Russia-linked entities may result in penalties for the other party. But it’s entirely discretionary. No actual rules per se.

Team America: World Secret Police.

 

This gives the Trump regime a valuable tool for looking tough (Trump’s favorite way to look), a free hand for Putin, and a way to arbitrarily impose sanctions on countries or other entities that Trump or Putin want to weaken.

 

With nothing actually in writing about what transactions get penalized, we could easily see a situation where a group that does significant business with the Ukraine and also had an incidental transaction in Russia gets hit with sanctions for violating the unwritten rules.

 

Or anybody backing dissidents and opposition politicians in Russia. The sub-basement floor is the limit with these guys.

 

I don’t think we are quite at “Treasury and State Department overtly help Putin crush his enemies” territory yet. Nope. But one year and change in to Trump’s rule, and we are at “Treasury and State Department overtly shield Putin and his cronies from consequences” territory.

 

And while it’s not a surprising shift, it is a marked shift from where they were last year, and the main thing that has changed is what year it is. Time makes Trump normal. The passage of the year changed his dislike of the sanctions from an outrage to the way things are.

 

And with Trump’s feet-dragging opposition to the sanctions accepted as the new normal, his executive branch failing to execute them becomes a natural progression of time rather than a startling departure from all norms of governance and the rule of law.

 

So you’ve really got to ask yourself, what would the start of a year 3 of Trump look like? How far would he be able to go after his next calendar reset? How far can he push things between now and then?

 

…this prompted Cathy R to tweet,

So now what? No further actions!? What can be done?

 

Alexandra Erin answered:

 

Talk about it. Spread awareness of it. Make sure everybody you know knows that it’s happening. Post it on your Facebook. Put it in an email forward to your uncle. The right does these things, and it shapes the way people think about politics, and vote.

 

Talk is not the only action required, but talk is an action that is required. There is a national discourse. We have to be shaping it.

 

Believe it or not, talking about the regime’s corruption is doing something. Talking about the resurgence of overt Nazism and white nationalism is doing something. Being willing to talk about these things, to label them as they are rather than accepting them as normal, helps.

 

We could be calling Congress to light a fire under them to demand the executive branch actually execute these things, to write newer, more specific, and tougher sanction laws, but to be honest: the public engagement and awareness aren’t there yet to get the critical mass needed.

 

So step one is: talk about it. Talk to people about it. Get people talking about it. The executive branch is flouting the rule of law, Trump is ignoring a law he himself signed into existence.

 

The right has a hundred talking points about why Russian interference doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter or helped Clinton or whatever. But none of that addresses the fact that Trump signed this law. He made it the law of the land. And he’s ignoring it.

Action Alerts · Call Your Members of Congress · Community Activism · Fighting Bigotry, Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Transphobia... · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms · Support Immigrants and Refugees · Vote with your Dollars

Call Your MoCs and Raise Hell Over How ICE Is Treating Migrant Families and Children

Call your members of Congress (MoCs) and raise absolute holy hell over how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is treating migrant families and children their care.

 

Holy crap. I mean, holy crap. The Trump administration has done a lot of hideously beyond-unacceptable things since it took office. The latest news about how ICE is treating migrant families represents a new low.

 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is pursuing a policy of separating parents and children who arrive in America after fleeing their home countries. According to a New York Times article, more than 700 children have been forcibly parted from their parents since October 2017, and more than 100 of those kids were four years old or younger.

 

Cites are at the tail of this post, but do we need to tell you how utterly disgusting this is? ‘Disgusting’ doesn’t even cover it. All the words that leap to our minds are forceful swears.

 

And that’s before we get to the fact that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly defended the policy on the notion that it could serve as a deterrent, and claiming that the separations would be OK because “the children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever”.

 

Since Kelly made that jaw-droppingly cavalier statement, news broke more widely that the government has somehow “lost” 1,475 kids who came to America as unaccompanied minors (so, to be clear, they came here alone, and the government did not separate them from their parents) and were subsequently placed with sponsors.

 

In Congressional testimony given on April 26, 2018 by Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary for administration for children and families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said that the agency tried to reach 7,635 children between October 2016 and December 2017 who had arrived as unaccompanied minors. The 1,475 it failed to contact represent 19 percent of the total.

 

Worse, the PBS show Frontline has since confirmed that at least a few of those “lost” children who arrived unaccompanied were released to human traffickers.

 

So, to sum up: The Trump administration thinks it’s A-OK to force families who have fled to America to part, holding the parents in one venue and the kids in another that could be thousands of miles away. The administration is OK with this despite the fact that they know the system is horrifically broken–they know they’ve lost track of about 1,500 migrant kids who came here alone and were placed in care while waiting for their cases to be heard.

 

It might surprise you to learn that President Trump realizes, at least on some level, how fucked-up his administration’s family-separating policy is. It won’t surprise you to learn that he’s trying to blame it on the Democrats rather than kill the policy. See this Factcheck.org piece for clarification:

https://www.factcheck.org/2018/05/trump-blames-own-border-policy-on-democrats/

 

Oh! And that policy he’s blaming on the Democrats? He wants to expand it. Because of course he does.

 

We’ll wait for you to finish throwing up.

 

Done? Ok. Here’s what you can do to fight back.

 

You can call your members of Congress and demand action. Unsurprisingly, Celeste Pewter got there first with a fine script, which we are reproducing here. Note, however, that during the week of May 28, 2018, your MoCs are most likely in their home districts. Please go to their Congressional websites and pull up numbers for their state offices and call those rather than the D.C. switchboard number given in the script.

 

If you’re not following Celeste on Twitter, please do: @Celeste_Pewter. Also, scroll down for more ways to support her work.

 

 

 

You can also visit the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) page on Immigrants’ Rights, read up, and donate to their lawyers, who are fighting this nonsense:

https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights

 

 

In addition, there are several charities that help migrants that would welcome your support.

 

The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights advocates for unaccompanied minors who have fled to the United States to escape abuse, human trafficking, crippling poverty, and other unlivable situations. Its webpage is here:

https://www.theyoungcenter.org

 

 

Donate to the Young Center:

https://www.theyoungcenter.org/donate-to-the-young-center/

 

 

Here is the Young Center’s statement on the Trump administration’s policy to forcibly separate migrant parents and children:

https://www.theyoungcenter.org/stories/2018/5/8/breaking-attorney-general-sessions-announces-policy-to-prosecute-parents-and-forcibly-separate-their-children

 

 

Follow the Young Center on Twitter:

@TheYoungCenter

 

 

The Alitas program, run by Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, helps migrants who ICE delivers to the Alitas Hospitality Center. Read more about their efforts and how you can help:

https://www.ccs-soaz.org/agencies-ministries/detail/alitas-aid-for-migrant-women-and-children

 

 

Here is a longer list of charities, organizations, and humanitarian groups who assist migrants and fight for their rights:

http://www.nnirr.org/drupal/border-groups

 

 

Lastly, you can follow #WhereAreTheChildren on Twitter for news and updates.

 

 

And here are the promised cites:

 

Read a February 27, 2018 NPR story about the DHS separating parents and children at the border:

https://www.npr.org/2018/02/27/589079243/activists-outraged-that-u-s-border-agents-separate-immigrant-families

 

 

Read an April 20, 2018 New York Times piece that states that more than 700 kids, including more than 100 very small children, have been separated from their parents since October 2017:

 

Read a May 11, 2018 Business Insider piece in which White House Chief of Staff John Kelly defends the cruel policy by claiming it’s not cruel and the separated kids will be put ‘in foster care or whatever’:

http://www.businessinsider.com/john-kelly-family-separation-policy-illegal-border-crossing-2018-5

 

 

Read a May 16, 2018 Arizona Central article in which Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defends the policy of separating immigrant parents and children:

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/nation/2018/05/16/homeland-security-chief-defends-policy-separates-families-entering-u-s/614505002/

 

 

Here’s an article explaining how the government “lost” almost 1,500 unaccompanied minors seeking asylum:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/nation-now/2018/05/25/immigration-children-separated-families-lost-column/643793002/

 

 

Here’s a written version of the Frontline story that shows that at least some of the “lost” unaccompanied children were released to human traffickers:

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/hhs-official-says-agency-lost-track-of-nearly-1500-unaccompanied-minors/

 

 

Here is the official write-up of HHS official Steven Wagner’s April 26, 2018 testimony to Congress:

https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Wagner%20Testimony.pdf

 

 

Here is that Factcheck.org piece again that shows that Trump is lying when he claims the Democrats are forcing the government to separate parents and children at the border:

https://www.factcheck.org/2018/05/trump-blames-own-border-policy-on-democrats/

 

 

In addition to following Pewter on Twitter (again, her handle is @Celeste_Pewter) you can support her in other ways.

 

After you call your elected representatives on these two topics, tweet about the experience using the #ICalledMyReps hashtag.

 

Pewter founded The Road to 2018, an organization devoted to defending Democratic Senators who are vulnerable and up for re-election this year. See our post on it:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/02/25/support-the-road-to-2018-which-defends-democratic-senators/

 

Subscribe to Pewter’s peerless newsletter, It’s Time To Fight:

http://itstimetofight.weebly.com

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

Action Alerts · Call Your Members of Congress · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Call Your MoCs and Demand They Enforce Sanctions Against Russia, Dammit, May 22, 2018 Edition

Call your MoCs to demand enforcement of sanctions against Russia.

 

Sarah Jane here. While I was sick with the flu back in January 2018, I wrote a few posts asking folks to call their MoCs and demand that they pressure President Trump to impose the sanctions on Russia for meddling with the 2016 election, which Congress passed with a veto-proof margin.

 

Trump’s shrugging off of the deadline and refusal to impose the sanctions has gotten some attention, but not enough, because ridiculous scandals continue to happen.

 

It should not get lost, and I am determined that it won’t.

 

Trump should not be allowed to ignore the will of 530 members of Congress. In my opinion it’s one of the worst, scariest signs of sliding into authoritarianism. We need to push back, and keep pushing back. And given that almost everyone in Congress feels the same way, we have leverage here.

 

We did see a small amount of progress on March 15, 2018, when the Trump administration accused Russia of hacking vital American infrastructure and imposed sanctions on 19 individuals, including the 13 that Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted in February 2018. While the move is welcome, it’s not what we’re asking for. The administration still needs to obey Congress and impose the damn sanctions on Russia already.

 

We also saw progress on March 23, when Trump signed an omnibus spending bill that included measures that push back against Russia in various ways. It was also good news when the administration announced it would expel 60 Russian officials from America and close the Seattle consulate over the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain.

 

And as of April 4, we’ve seen reports that the administration might sanction Russian oligarchs. See the stories:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-administration-to-impose-fresh-sanctions-against-russia/2018/04/04/bc09e0b8-3851-11e8-b57c-9445cc4dfa5e_story.html?utm_term=.943e72ddd109

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-sanctions/u-s-plans-to-sanction-russian-oligarchs-this-week-sources-idUSKCN1HB34U

 

But! The sanctions that Congress called for have still not been imposed.

 

And! We saw a serious setback on April 16, 2018, when the Trump administration walked back a new round of sanctions against Russia, throwing the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, under the bus in the process. Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Counsel, evidently claimed she “might have gotten confused”. Read a New York Times story on the walk-back:

 

Haley, for her part, is Not Having It as of April 17, 2018, when she told CNN, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” Kudlow later apologized for his remarks. Read a Vox story on Haley’s pushback:

https://www.vox.com/2018/4/17/17249652/nikki-haley-russia-sanctions-larry-kudlow-response

 

We at OTYCD will continue to devote at least one post per week to the Russian sanctions issue until the Trump administration does what Congress told it to do.

 

This is the entry for May 22, 2018.

 

Below is more material from other past posts, plus a Celeste Pewter calling script. Please stay on this, and please spread the word. Thanks!

 

 

On Monday, January 29, 2018, the Trump administration was due to enforce sanctions imposed on Russia for meddling in our elections, as required by a 2017 law.

 

The administration brushed off the requirement by claiming the threat of the sanctions was deterrent enough.

 

After I wrote a combo Nunes memo-Russia sanctions enforcement post yesterday, Senator Claire McCaskill got to the heart of the problem in a tweet she sent late on January 29, 2018:

 

Congress voted 517-5 to impose sanctions on Russia. The President decides to ignore that law. Folks that is a constitutional crisis. There should be outrage in every corner of this country.

 

To my horror, the implications of Trump’s act are getting ignored, or crowded out by other horrible things.

 

Please, call your members of Congress and demand that they call Trump out for this. He cannot just brush off a law passed with a veto-proof majority. McCaskill is right–it’s a constitutional crisis. Please call.

 

Here’s your @Celeste_Pewter calling script for that topic:

 

 

Since Celeste prepared that calling script, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictments of 13 Russians for interfering in the 2016 Russian election.

 

Read the Washington Post‘s story about the indictments, which came down on February 16, 2018:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/russian-troll-farm-13-suspects-indicted-for-interference-in-us-election/2018/02/16/2504de5e-1342-11e8-9570-29c9830535e5_story.html?utm_term=.be1dd2d76f9d

 

The indictments also make Trump’s refusal to impose the sanctions that Congress voted overwhelmingly to impose that much more flagrant and disgusting. It also makes it that much more important that we at OTYCD stay on this topic and spotlight it until Trump finally does what he should have done back in late January 2018.

 

Here I will reproduce more useful info from past OTYCD post that quote Celeste Pewter and Alexandra Erin.

 

Celeste Pewter (@Celeste_Pewter) helped me keep sane with a series of tweets on January 31, which I’ll reproduce:

 

Ok. I keep seeing certain threads about Russian sanctions/authoritarianism being RTed into my TL, so I think it’s important to have some facts on what Congress can and cannot do to address the WH’s decision. Start with this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/01/30/even-if-trump-is-blatantly-ignoring-the-russia-sanctions-law-theres-not-a-lot-congress-can-do-about-it/?utm_term=.3b1222b2389a

 

Then follow it up with this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/01/30/the-trump-administrations-weird-explanation-for-withholding-russia-sanctions/?utm_term=.1821cef97d99

 

I think it’s easy (and understandable) to say: “Rule of law is deaaaaad!” but the question now becomes: What are YOU going to do about it? Senator tweeted this: [She quotes the tweet I reproduce above]

 

Yes, be outraged. But more importantly, channel your outrage. The WaPo article I listed lists four options for Congress to respond to this; these are the three most likely. Your elected work for you. Demand they make any three (or even all three) happen. [She includes a screenshot of the three things, from the first Washington Post piece above.]

 

Don’t just sit around waiting for government to collapse; if you’re truly as upset as all of your RTs seem to indicate – I’m getting a bit [thinking face with arched eyebrow emoji] with the fatalism – then make sure you call and make your electeds hear your voice. Yes, this includes GOP electeds.

 

If you’ve followed me long enough, you’ll know I used to be a constituent affairs director for an elected. Trust me when I say: staff will let their boss(es) hear it, if their phone lines are ringing off the hook. We want it to stop so we can do other work.

 

We want our bosses to give us solutions to make it stop. So make it happen w/ these Russian sanction calls. Make the constituent team know you don’t accept this, and you will keep calling, until they are so tired of you, they will demand the office do something.

 

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: we are many, and they are few. Do you really want these sanctions dictated by a few wankers in the administration? No. This time, you even have a bipartisan majority of the House and the Senate on your side. You have the power.

 

Here also are Alexandra Erin (@alexandraerin)’s January 31, 2018 tweets on the topic:

 

There are a pair of recent moves, from the State Department and the Treasury Department, which suggest that in year two of Trump’s reign, the regime is being a lot less circumspect about being in Putin’s pocket, with less ego-clashing feud and less smoke-and-mirrors resistance.

 

Now, you might recall that back in 2017, Congress passed laws calling for tough new sanctions to punish Russia for its election interference. There was a lot of speculation about whether Trump would sign this act, but he finally did, grudgingly and complaining the whole time.

 

In the United States system of government, the theory is that Congress passes the law, and the executive branch *executes* them, hence the term. Trump as chief executive is the chief one responsible for carrying out laws passed by Congress.

So guess where this is going.

 

Monday, January 29th, was the deadline for the executive branch to impose the sanctions, as prescribed in the bill that Donald Trump personally signed into canon as the law of the land.

It came and it went.

 

The law called for the Treasury Department to help guide the sanctions by producing an investigative report of oligarchs and businesses linked to Putin.

 

Serious, lifetime-career experts at the Treasury Department prepared that report, which was then thrown out and replaced with a copy of the Russian Forbes 100 list plus a few public Putin associates and a disclaimer that it’s not a list of people who should face sanctions.

 

And Rex Tillerson, secretary of state and obvious Yosemite Sam pseudonym, told Congress that they haven’t imposed actual sanctions because the threat of sanctions is proving an effective deterrent. Slap on the wrist, everybody learned a valuable lesson. No actual penalty.

 

The actual implementation strategy here is to let everyone else know that doing “significant transactions” with certain Russia-linked entities may result in penalties for the other party. But it’s entirely discretionary. No actual rules per se.

Team America: World Secret Police.

 

This gives the Trump regime a valuable tool for looking tough (Trump’s favorite way to look), a free hand for Putin, and a way to arbitrarily impose sanctions on countries or other entities that Trump or Putin want to weaken.

 

With nothing actually in writing about what transactions get penalized, we could easily see a situation where a group that does significant business with the Ukraine and also had an incidental transaction in Russia gets hit with sanctions for violating the unwritten rules.

 

Or anybody backing dissidents and opposition politicians in Russia. The sub-basement floor is the limit with these guys.

 

I don’t think we are quite at “Treasury and State Department overtly help Putin crush his enemies” territory yet. Nope. But one year and change in to Trump’s rule, and we are at “Treasury and State Department overtly shield Putin and his cronies from consequences” territory.

 

And while it’s not a surprising shift, it is a marked shift from where they were last year, and the main thing that has changed is what year it is. Time makes Trump normal. The passage of the year changed his dislike of the sanctions from an outrage to the way things are.

 

And with Trump’s feet-dragging opposition to the sanctions accepted as the new normal, his executive branch failing to execute them becomes a natural progression of time rather than a startling departure from all norms of governance and the rule of law.

 

So you’ve really got to ask yourself, what would the start of a year 3 of Trump look like? How far would he be able to go after his next calendar reset? How far can he push things between now and then?

 

…this prompted Cathy R to tweet,

So now what? No further actions!? What can be done?

 

Alexandra Erin answered:

 

Talk about it. Spread awareness of it. Make sure everybody you know knows that it’s happening. Post it on your Facebook. Put it in an email forward to your uncle. The right does these things, and it shapes the way people think about politics, and vote.

 

Talk is not the only action required, but talk is an action that is required. There is a national discourse. We have to be shaping it.

 

Believe it or not, talking about the regime’s corruption is doing something. Talking about the resurgence of overt Nazism and white nationalism is doing something. Being willing to talk about these things, to label them as they are rather than accepting them as normal, helps.

 

We could be calling Congress to light a fire under them to demand the executive branch actually execute these things, to write newer, more specific, and tougher sanction laws, but to be honest: the public engagement and awareness aren’t there yet to get the critical mass needed.

 

So step one is: talk about it. Talk to people about it. Get people talking about it. The executive branch is flouting the rule of law, Trump is ignoring a law he himself signed into existence.

 

The right has a hundred talking points about why Russian interference doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter or helped Clinton or whatever. But none of that addresses the fact that Trump signed this law. He made it the law of the land. And he’s ignoring it.