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Never Stop Demanding That Congress Investigate Trump’s Ties to Russia and His Violations of the Constitution

This OTYCD entry originally posted in March 2017.

Trump and his minions have done, or tried to do, any number of horrible things. Most of them demanded an immediate answer. Others demanded ongoing attention.

 

Several people are speaking up to say the daily shenanigans are distracting us from focusing on the two issues that have the power to force Trump from office: His financial conflicts of interest, and the Russian hacking scandal, which should shed light on Trump’s curious connections to Putin.

 

To be fair, these issues have not been forgotten, just overshadowed. A team of lawyers from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is suing Trump over his violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments clause. Jerry Nadler, a house rep from New York who sits on the house judiciary committee, recently filed a resolution of inquiry into Trump, an early step on the road to impeachment. Members of Congress are pursuing bipartisan investigations into the Russian hacking scandal, despite Republican attempts to keep such queries under its party’s control (which would let them soft-pedal the findings).

 

But the blogger behind The Liberal Yell rightly points out that it’s on us, the citizens, to keep pressing Congress to stay on the two issues that could end Trump’s presidency, and we should support their efforts to do so.

 

See the blog below.

 

http://theliberalyell.com/focus-people-there-are-only-two-things-to-demand-of-congress-in-regards-to-trump/

 

To summarize: TLY asks us to stay firmly on these two issues, regardless of what other evils Trump looses. No matter what happens, do not lose sight of the need to look into Trump’s Emoluments clause violations and the importance of getting to the bottom of the Russian hacking.

 

Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the post for a great tool–a custom postcard demanding investigations into both issues, which you can download and print and mail and hand out to others.

 

 

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!

 

 

Read about bipartisan efforts to investigate the Russian hacking scandal, and Republican resistance to it:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/02/02/senate-panel-investigate-russian-election-interference/97411482/

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/10/14220484/house-dems-bipartisan-probe-russian-hacking

http://www.snopes.com/mitch-mcconnell-blocked-investigating-russian-hacks/

 

 

Learn about New York House Representative Jerry Nadler’s filing of a resolution of inquiry into Trump, and its implications:

https://www.countable.us/articles/237-preliminary-impeachment-inquiry-filed-president-trump

Call Your Senators · Ethics · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Call Your Senators to Oppose the Nomination of Gina Haspel as CIA Director

Call your senators to oppose the nomination of Gina Haspel as director of the CIA.

 

When Trump nominated CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, he also nominated Haspel to replace Pompeo. The choice raised alarms immediately.

 

Haspel’s three-decade career at the CIA overlaps the period in the first decade of the 21st century, when the agency was using intense interrogation techniques, including torture, on detainees. She has supervised at least one so-called “black site” prison, or secret prison, and she was involved in a 2005 decision to destroy tapes of waterboarding sessions in direct defiance of Congress.

 

Important note: A February 2017 ProPublica story gave details of Haspel’s involvement with CIA interrogations and torture of suspects during the George W. Bush administration. After Haspel emerged as Trump’s choice for CIA director, ProPublica revisited the story and made significant corrections. Scroll down for a link.

 

A commentary from Just Security that appeared after the ProPublica correction lays out why Haspel’s nomination is still problematic and should be opposed. It says in part:

 

The years after 9/11 marked a dark and difficult time, but Gina Haspel did not have to do what she did. She could have asked to be reassigned. She could have sought another job. Others faced with similar choices chose differently. Based on what we currently know, a vote for Haspel is therefore ultimately a vote to erode U.S. credibility as an opponent of torture at a time when that credibility has already been seriously tested. For those in the Senate and beyond who believe this is an issue that goes to the core of what the United States stands for, or should stand for, her confirmation stands as a stark moment of truth.

 

Haspel’s past is endangering her nomination, and it should, for the reasons that Just Security cites. Senator Rand Paul has said he won’t vote for her. Senator John McCain has not said anything yet, but given his long, firm, fierce opposition to torture, he’s not likely to support her, either. The GOP has an extremely narrow majority in the Senate as it is. If the Democrats and Independents all join Paul in voting no, and McCain is well enough to join them, Haspel is doomed.

 

Calling to voice your opposition to Haspel will make the choice easier for your senators.

 

Sample script: “Dear Senator [Lastname], I am [Firstname Lastname from town, state]. I am calling to ask you to oppose the nomination of Gina Haspel as director of the CIA. Her history of involvement with the agency’s darkest acts should be enough to disqualify her, but she also defied Congress in 2005 by destroying tapes of waterboarding sessions after your colleagues and predecessors demanded they be saved. Choosing Haspel to lead the CIA would send the wrong message to the rest of the world at the worst possible time. Please vote no on her nomination. Thank you.”

 

 

 

 

 

Read ProPublica‘s correction of its February 2017 story on Haspel and the CIA:

https://www.propublica.org/article/cia-cables-detail-its-new-deputy-directors-role-in-torture

 

ProPublica made a comprehensive and thorough correction to its Haspel story. That’s exactly what they should have done, but it’s never a bad idea to reward a news organization that does the right thing without whining or having to be hounded or shamed. You can donate to ProPublica through this link:

https://donate.propublica.org/give/141278/#!/donation/checkout

 

 

Read the March 2018 Just Security piece on Haspel and the ProPublica correction:

https://www.justsecurity.org/54068/gina-haspel-torture-propublica-correction/

 

 

Donate to Just Security:

https://www.justsecurity.org/donate/

 

 

Read an amended March 2018 Slate story on senators who are skeptical about the Haspel nomination:

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/03/rand-paul-mccain-feinsteins-skeptical-on-gina-haspel-nomination.html

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the blue button on the upper right or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Read additional stories about the Haspel nomination:

https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2018/03/14/593416879/as-senate-prepares-to-vote-on-haspel-nomination-is-a-new-torture-debate-coming

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/gina-haspels-nomination-to-head-cia-faces-some-opposition-in-senate/2018/04/13/3efeaab8-3f31-11e8-a7d1-e4efec6389f0_story.html?utm_term=.009a3b2b62e3

 

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/14/mike-pompeo-gina-haspel-nominations-senate-hearings

Ethics · First Amendment, Defending a Free Press · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare

Listen to Stay Tuned With Preet Bharara

This OTYCD entry originally posted in October 2017.

Download and listen to Stay Tuned with Preet Bharara, a podcast by the former New York federal prosecutor. 

When he served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Bharara got a reputation as a crusader. He pursued corruption cases against Democrats and Republicans. He also brought more than 100 Wall Streeters to court over assorted financial shenanigans. He sued banks and Russian money launderers. He went after several people involved in the Bernie Madoff scandal.

In March 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered Bharara and the 45 other U.S. Attorneys appointed under President Obama to resign–this despite the fact that he had met Donald Trump in New York in November 2016, and he assured him he could stay on. Bharara refused to resign, so he was fired.

As of September 2017, Bharara is dishing about fairness and justice through his podcast, Stay Tuned with Preet Bharara. The debut episode is devoted to his firing.

It should be worth a listen. Check it out.

 

Download Stay Tuned with Preet Bharara from iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/stay-tuned-with-preet/id1265845136?mt=2

 

Read more about Bharara and the launch of the podcast, plus some stories that mention that CNN has hired him:

http://www.vulture.com/2017/08/preet-bharara-launches-stay-tuned-with-preet-podcast-on-wnyc.html

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-20/preet-bharara-s-first-podcast-tells-tale-of-firing-by-trump

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/cnn-hires-preet-bharara-former-u-s-attorney-fired-by-trump.html

 

Here also is a May 2016 profile of Bharara from the New Yorker:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/05/09/the-man-who-terrifies-wall-street

 

Also, follow him on Twitter:

@PreetBharara

Ethics · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Follow Richard W. Painter and Norm Eisen on Twitter

This OTYCD entry originally posted in May 2017.

Follow Richard W. Painter and Norm Eisen on Twitter–two former White House ethics lawyers who have been explaining Trump’s violations in real time since the election.

Richard W. Painter was the chief White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007. Norm Eisen played the same role for Barack Obama from 2009 to 2011. Both are involved with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonprofit founded in 2003. CREW is the entity that filed suit against Trump the first instant they could for contravening the emoluments clause of the Constitution.

Both men have spoken out, consistently and speedily, on the many and varied ethics violations accrued by Trump since November 8, 2016. Both have since become active on Twitter (Eisen already was; Painter brought himself up to speed).

Following their feeds will by turns outrage you and keep you sane, in that you will see professional ethicists confirm that what Trump just did was indeed wrong and worth being angry about.

Follow Richard W. Painter on Twitter:

@RWPUSA

Follow Norm Eisen on Twitter:

@NormEisen

And heck, follow CREW on Twitter too:

@CREWcrew

Call Your Members of Congress · Elections · Ethics · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Call Your MoCs and Support the Honest Ads Act, Which Requires Internet Companies to Reveal Who Paid for Election-Related Ads on Their Platforms

Support the Honest Ads Act, a bill that would require Internet companies, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google, to reveal the names and identities of anyone who spends at least $500 on election-related ads on their platforms.

 

We are learning more and more about how ads on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms and Internet sites might have affected the outcome of the 2016 election.

 

Current finance campaign law requires television and radio stations to maintain lists of those who purchase a certain amount of political advertising time. Because the law dates to 2002, it does not cover social media platforms or websites.

 

Lack of mention of digital media permitted a loophole in the law that allowed Facebook to sell roughly $100,000 worth of political ads to Russian customers between 2015 and 2017 without having to maintain a list of buyers.

 

It should be noted that as of mid-February 2018, only Facebook has volunteered any information of this nature.

 

Requiring social media platforms and websites that have audiences of at least 50 million to keep public lists of people and organizations that buy at least $500 in political ads makes sense, and it makes campaign finance law apply equally to old media and new. The legal update will also help fight attempts by Russia and other bad actors who try to sow discord and undermine our democracy.

 

Two versions of the bill exist–one in the House (H.R. 4077, sponsored by Democrat Derek Kilmer of Washington state) and one in the Senate (S. 1989, sponsored by Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota). Both have the same name, and both were introduced in October 2017.

 

Right now, the Govtrack pages for each reflect a Skopos prognosis of a five percent chance that they will pass. Let’s do what we can to improve those odds.

 

Sample script for your MoCs: “Dear (Senator/House Rep Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname from town, zipcode.) I am asking you to support (S. 1989/H.R. 4077), the Honest Ads Act. It would require any social media platform or website that has 50 million viewers or more to maintain public lists of people and organizations that buy at least $500 in political ads. This represents an update to existing campaign finance law that was enacted before the Internet became dominant, and makes the law apply equally to old media and new media. It will also help us fight foreign bad actors who want to manipulate our elections and undermine our democracy. The bill was introduced in October 2017 but hasn’t moved forward since. Please support this bill and help shepherd it through the legislative process.”

 

 

See the GovTrack pages for S. 1989 and H.R. 4077, the Honest Ads Act:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr4077

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/s1989

 

 

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 · Ethics · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Call Your MoCs and Urge Them to Demand the Firing of EPA Head Scott Pruitt

Call your MoCs and urge them to demand the firing of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt.

 

We at OTYCD admit we are taking a chance with this. Pruitt could resign or be fired before this post goes live on Monday April 9. Heck, he could resign or be fired before we drop the post in the queue.

 

But! If Monday dawns and Pruitt is still running the EPA, we’ll be mad at ourselves for not having something ready to post. So, here we go.

 

Scott Pruitt is baseline terrible in the way that Trump requires of his cabinet members–he finds people who make it their mission to hate a government agency and appoints them to head the damned thing. Pruitt has been hell-bent on rolling back regulations that make sure our air and water is clean. Every good thing the EPA does, he’s against it and wants to stop it.

 

Trump also seems to pick people with an appetite for wasteful spending and ethical violations. Even in this rogue’s gallery, Pruitt stands out on both counts.

 

Celeste Pewter (who you should be following at @Celeste_Pewter) compiled and tweeted a list of his ever-accumulating offenses while at the EPA:

 

As of April 6, 2018, Pruitt…

 

Demanded 24/7 security

Installed a $25,000 soundproof phone system

Flew first class at a cost of more than $100,000

EPA explored hiring private jet service at cost of $100,000 a month

Stayed in townhouse owned by lobbyist for $50 a night

Ended up getting pushed out by lobbyist for overstaying–they changed the locks

Asked a subordinate to help him find housing; violates ethics rules [in doing so]

Used loopholes to help two subordinates get raises (and then denied it in interview)

Demoted critics who criticized his management, including those who questioned proposed expenses, like $70,000 in bulletproof furniture

Used security on personal trips including Disneyland + Super Bowl

Deliberately avoids record keeping (and is being sued over it)

 

 

Pruitt has to go.

 

Numerous Democratic members of Congress and at least three sitting House Republicans–Elise Stefanik of New York, and Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida–have called for his resignation.

 

On April 6, 2018, Trump reportedly called Pruitt on the carpet over all of this. He emerged with his job. Earlier in the week, Trump had affirmed his faith in Pruitt, saying he was “doing a great job” at the EPA.

 

Calling your members of Congress to demand Pruitt’s ouster emboldens them to do just that. Those who are thinking about it might choose to do it, and those who aren’t thinking about it will start thinking about it.

 

Sample script: “Dear [House Rep/Senator Lastname], I am [Firstname Lastname from town, zip code]. I am calling to ask you to call for the resignation of EPA head Scott Pruitt.  This is an ethics-challenged administration and Pruitt is the most ethics-challenged of the bunch, outside of Trump. He has wasted taxpayer dollars on things such as a soundproof booth. He took pricey flights when commercial flights would have met his needs. He entered ethically dubious arrangements such as staying at a lobbyist’s Washington, D.C., house for $50 per night. He misused EPA regulations to give raises to aides and then lied about it. And he dismissed EPA employees who questioned his actions. He has to go. Please go on record demanding his resignation. Thank you.”

 

 

Read about the three House Republicans who called for Pruitt’s resignation:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/third-republican-member-of-congress-calls-for-scott-pruitts-resignation

 

 

Read about Trump’s evident support for Pruitt, at least as of April 6, 2018:

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/382063-trump-met-with-pruitt-amid-growing-calls-for-resignation

 

 

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!

 

Ethics · Fighting Bigotry, Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Transphobia... · Good News · Thank You Actions

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey Is Awesome. Show Her Some Love.

This OTYCD entry originally posted in October 2017.

 

Show some love to Maura Healey, the Democratic state attorney general of Massachusetts, who is up for re-election in 2018.

 

Healey is still in her first term, having been elected in 2014, and she is a standout. Previously, she was the Chief of the Civil Rights Division under her predecessor, and she led the state’s challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act.

 

She was a solid state AG already, but since Trump’s election, she has been a tireless defender of laws, norms, and civil rights.

 

She was among the earliest of the AGs to sign on to the lawsuit to defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which Trump promised to kill.

 

She has also been in the forefront of suing the Betsy DeVos-led Department of Education to allow Obama-era laws to take effect that would allow students who were cheated by colleges to discharge their federal loan debts.

 

Healey has also announced that she will sue Equifax over its egregious breach that compromised the personal information of roughly 143 million Americans. She is up for re-election in 2018.

 

Regardless, Healey deserves your support on social media at the very least.

 

 

See the Massachusetts Attorney General’s website:

http://www.mass.gov/ago/

 

 

See her own website:

http://www.maurahealey.com

 

 

Like her on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/MauraHealeyMA

 

 

Follow her on Twitter:

@maura_healey

 

 

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!

 

 

See her page on the website of the National Association of Attorneys General:

http://www.naag.org/naag/attorneys-general/whos-my-ag/massachusetts/maura-healey.php

 

 

Read various stories about her lawsuits against Equifax and the Department of Education, and the lawsuit in defense of DACA:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/equifax-data-breach-massachusetts-attorney-general-to-sue/

http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2017/09/06/massachusetts-suing-daca/

http://www.wbur.org/radioboston/2017/07/06/maura-healey-devos