Call Your House Rep · Ethics · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause

Tell Trey Gowdy and the House Oversight Committee to Stay on the Trump-Russia Probe

Tell Trey Gowdy and his colleagues on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to keep pursuing the Trump-Russia probe.

Gowdy, who represents South Carolina, became the Republican chair of the committee after Utah’s Jason Chaffetz announced he would resign from his house seat. Gowdy, who hassled Hillary Clinton with Benghazi investigation after Benghazi investigation, recently announced that, in general, the House committee would not pursue matters that relate to Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether and how Trump’s campaign might be involved.

His excuse seems to be that special counsel Robert Mueller is on the case and he wants to steer clear and let him handle things. Gowdy also said that the House committee might investigate in specific, narrowly defined instances. While that might sound reasonable on its face, Gowdy’s Democratic counterpart, Elijah Cummings, sharply countered that sentiment with salient points. The Washington Post quoted Cummings as saying:

“It is a known fact that interference in our election will happen again if we do not take serious steps to prevent it,” he said. “The voters did not send us here to sit on the sidelines while our government is getting attacked. Chairman Gowdy is a very talented lawyer, and I believe he and I can work together to investigate this and make reforms to prevent it from happening again.”

Please call your house reps and urge them to continue to investigate #TrumpRussia matters, even though Robert Mueller is on the case. They should sit and figure out how best not to step on Mueller’s toes rather than giving up and stepping aside completely. Tell them you expect them to stay on this.

Important. Is your House Rep a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee? Then it’s extra-important that you call. See the link below, which lists all the current members:

https://oversight.house.gov/subcommittee/full-committee/

 

If your House rep is a Democrat: “Hello House Rep (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code,) and I am calling to ask you to continue to support investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and investigations into whether Trump and his campaign team colluded with them. I am concerned that the new Republican committee chair, Trey Gowdy, will assume that giving Robert Mueller room to do his work means that the House is off the hook. It is not. Please urge the committee to do the extra, upfront work it needs to do to respect Mueller’s efforts while staying on top of its own responsibilities in this regard. Thank you.

 

If your House rep is a Republican: “Hello House Rep (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code,) and I am calling to ask you to vigorously support House-led investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and investigations into whether Trump and his campaign team colluded with them. I am concerned that the new Republican committee chair, Trey Gowdy, will assume that giving Robert Mueller room to do his work means that his Congressional committee is off the hook. It is not. Please urge Gowdy and his colleagues to do the extra, upfront work they need to do to respect Mueller’s efforts while staying on top of its own responsibilities in this regard. And if they use that upfront work to hamper and frustrate the work of the House investigators, please call them out early and often. Thank you.

 

Read stories about how Gowdy was chosen to succeed Chaffetz, and stories that quote Gowdy saying that while he is chair, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will not chase Trump-Russia investigations:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/on-trump-and-russia-oversight-chair-trey-gowdy-says-he-will-stay-in-his-lane/2017/06/23/4d1dfca6-583d-11e7-a204-ad706461fa4f_story.html?utm_term=.8e754a82703a

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/23/house-oversight-no-russia-investigation-trey-gowdy-239904

http://theweek.com/speedreads/708011/house-oversight-committee-not-pursue-investigation-trump-russia

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/08/trey-gowdy-picked-by-gop-steering-committee-to-chair-house-oversight-panel-239308

 

Read about the partisan shens Gowdy got up to as chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi:

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-endless-trial-of-trey-gowdys-benghazi-committee-20160114

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/10/how-the-press-can-deal-with-the-benghazi-committee/410251/

 

Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause

Keep Demanding that Congress Investigate Trump’s Impeachable Offenses

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.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

House Bills, Federal · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Ask Your House Rep to Support H.R. 2884, the COVFEFE Act

Ask your House rep to support H.R. 2884, the Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement Act, aka the COVFEFE act. 

OK, Illinois Democrat Mike Quigley was having a bit of fun when he named his act, but it has a serious and worthy purpose. It would amend the Presidential Records Act of 1978 to specify that a president’s communications over social media count as presidential records.

Amending the law in this manner formally recognizes that Donald Trump’s tweets, be they from his POTUS account or his personal account, are considered presidential communications, and must be documented for posterity. The law could also prevent Trump and future presidents from deleting tweets and might prevent a president from blocking individuals on Twitter.

 

Read GovTrack’s backgrounder on the COVFEFE Act:

https://govtrackinsider.com/the-covfefe-act-would-permanently-archive-all-of-president-trumps-social-media-posts-c77b97d5802b

 

See the GovTrack page on the bill:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr2884

 

Read the text of the COVFEFE Act:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr2884/text

 

 

 

Call Your House Rep · Call Your Members of Congress · Call Your Senators · Community Activism · Ethics · Marches and Protests · Postcard Campaigns · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends · Vote with your Dollars

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

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.

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

Action Alerts · Ethics · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Tell Congress to Tell Trump to Fully Comply With The Emoluments Clause

Tell your House Rep that you want Trump to comply with the Constitution by fully and properly tracking the payments that his businesses receive from foreign governments.

A previous OTYCD post noted how Trump was in violation of the Constitution the day he took office, because of the Emoluments clause, which states that the president cannot receive gifts or payments from foreign governments. Having hotels and resorts all over the world–Washington D.C. included–with his name on them complicates the matter significantly.

In order to have a hope of complying, Trump has to track all the payments his many and varied business entities receive. Initially, his organization promised that it would donate all the profits it earned from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury.

Well, on May 24, the Trump organization said it was not going to do the full due diligence required to be in compliance with the Emoluments clause, evidently because it’s just too damn hard. In an eight-page pamphlet it sent to the House Oversight Committee, it stated:

“To fully and completely identify all patronage at our Properties by customer type is impractical in the service industry and putting forth a policy that requires all guests to identify themselves would impede upon personal privacy and diminish the guest experience of our brand.”

Elijah Cummings, minority leader of the house committee, shot back with deserved anger, saying the pamphlet “raised grave concerns about the president’s refusal to comply with the Constitution.”

We at OTYCD are asking you to back Cummings up by calling your house reps and demanding that the Trump organization do everything it can to get right with the Constitution, even if it’s wildly inconvenient. The sanctity of the Constitution is more important than the “guest experience” at Trump’s properties.

If your house rep IS Elijah Cummings, call him to thank him for doing the right thing.

Otherwise, riff off of this sample script:

“Dear House Rep (Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code), and I am calling to ask you to demand that the Trump organization do everything it can to prove that its business entities are in compliance with the Emoluments clause of the Constitution. In late May, the organization said it would not do the work involved in confirming that its entities were respecting the Constitution because doing so might affect the quality of the “guest experience” at Trump hotels and resorts. Well, maybe Trump should have thought that through before he ran for president. The Constitution is priceless. The guest experience at Trump properties is not. If his guests have to suffer a little to ensure that the Constitution receives due respect, that’s a small price to pay, and Trump can eat it.”

 

Read about the Trump organization’s refusal to fully comply with the standards required by the Constitution:

https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/527997/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/05/24/trump-shows-he-wasnt-serious-about-shunning-emoluments/?utm_term=.b22e01bd7440

http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/trump-failing-track-foreign-cash-his-hotels-n764061

 

Read the eight-page pamphlet that team Trump prepared for the House Oversight Committee:

https://democrats-oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/documents/Trump%20Org%20Pamphlet%20on%20Foreign%20Profits.pdf

 

Read Elijah Cummings’s rejoinder:

https://democrats-oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/documents/2017-05-24.EEC%20to%20Trump%20Organization.pdf

Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause

Learn Why Trump Is Impeachable Now

Read the Brookings Institution report on Trump and the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

Ethicists Norman Eisen and Richard Painter, along with Harvard University Constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe, released a comprehensive report in December titled The Emoluments Clause: Its Text, Meaning, and Application to Donald J. Trump.

The clause appears in Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution, and bars any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States]” from taking “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State” without a direct and clear OK from Congress. The clause stops the president and other high-ranking officials from taking bribes and other pricey gifts from foreign entities.

The Brookings report dismantles Trump’s claim that a sitting president cannot have a conflict of interest. It also details the background of the Emoluments clause; explains what an emolument is; and makes clear that the clause applies to the president.

The upshot? The authors flat-out say, “Mr. Trump, as President-Elect, appears to be on a direct collision course with the Emoluments clause.”

Under the section titled Remedies for Emolument Clause Violations, the authors state: “If Mr. Trump enters office in what would obviously constitute a knowing and indeed intentional violation of the Emoluments Clause and then declines to cure that violation during his tenure, Congress would be well within its rights to impeach him for engaging in ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.'”

 

Here is a link to the Brookings Institution report:

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/gs_121616_emoluments-clause1.pdf

 

Here are just a few articles that reveal dealings and behaviors that might place Trump in violation of the Constitution:

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-presidency-overseas-business-deals-and-relations-with-foreign-governments-could-all-become-intertwined/2016/11/25/d2bc83f8-b0e2-11e6-8616-52b15787add0_story.html?utm_term=.982f402fbd93

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2016/11/30/trump-announces-he-will-leave-business-in-total-leaving-open-how-he-will-avoid-conflicts-of-interest/?utm_term=.ebc7a85c1e60

 

This article talks about how Trump’s web of business deals isn’t just a huge, roiling snarl of conflicts of interest–it might threaten national security, too:

http://www.newsweek.com/2016/09/23/donald-trump-foreign-business-deals-national-security-498081.html

 

And here are some articles that discuss how violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution puts Trump at risk of impeachment:

 

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/donald-trump-start-violating-constitution-sworn/story?id=44056726

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-violate-constitution-george-bush-ethics-lawyer-diplomats-trump-washington-dc-hotel-a7428406.html

 

Since the Brookings Report came out, Trump announced his plans to deal with his conflicts of interest. This New York Times article recounts their failings:

 

Also see Wednesday’s OTYCD post in support of Walter Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics:

https://wordpress.com/post/onethingyoucando.com/1343

 

And see Thursday’s OTYCD post on supporting the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act:

https://wordpress.com/post/onethingyoucando.com/1207

 

 

 

Call Your Members of Congress · Ethics · Russian Scandal, Emoluments Clause · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends

Tell Your MoCs You Want Jeff Sessions to Resign

UPDATE: We first published this post months ago, when the news of Sessions’s problematic statements under oath broke. We’re putting this post back in heavy rotation now that we know Sessions was involved in the firing of FBI director James Comes, which appears to be a violation of his promise to recuse himself from matters touching on Trump’s ties to Russia.

Scroll down for an updated sample script to use when calling your senators to ask for the resignation of U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions.

Call your members of Congress and say that you want Jeff Sessions to resign over statements he made during his Senate confirmation hearings that could constitute perjury.

A previous blog post asked you to call your members of Congress and demand that Sessions recuse himself from any investigations arising from the Russia scandals. On March 2, Sessions finally agreed to that–but that was pretty much because news broke that he gave answers during his January Senate confirmation hearings that could constitute perjury.

During the hearings, Senator Al Franken asked Sessions, under oath, what he would do if “there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign.”

Sessions responded: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I didn’t have —did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”

The Washington Post reported on March 1 that Sessions had in fact spoken with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak in July 2016 and again in September 2016.

Republicans, or at least those who have ventured to speak on the topic, are calling it a “grave omission” or calling for Sessions to “clarify his testimony.” They are not using the p-word. It can be argued that what Sessions said was highly misleading, but not severe enough to qualify as perjury. Even still, it still looks bad enough that Sessions should resign. Unlike the statements that Bill Clinton made under oath about Monica Lewinsky, Sessions’s statements under oath about whether or not he had contact with Russian officials is a serious matter of national importance.

 

Important note: Is your house rep part of the House Judiciary Committee? Is one of your senators on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary? Then it’s extra-important for you to call. Check these links before dialing.

House Judiciary Committee:

https://judiciary.house.gov/subcommittee/full-committee/

Senate Committee on the Judiciary:

https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/about/members

 

Special note if one of your senators is Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon: Call and thank him for demanding that Sessions resign for disobeying his recusal in helping to fire Comey. See more in the link below:

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/332767-dem-senator-calls-on-sessions-to-resign-amid-comey-firing

 

Sample script, updated as of May 10: “I’m (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I’m calling to ask (Representative/Senator Lastname) to ask you to demand that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions resign over his involvement in the firing of FBI director James Comey. After the Washington Post showed that Sessions had made problematic statements during his cabinet confirmation hearings about his contacts with Russians, Sessions agreed to recuse himself from matters related to Trump and Russia. His involvement in Comey’s firing flouts his promise to recuse himself. In showing Comey the door, he proves that he is not fit to hold the office of U.S. Attorney General. Please demand that he leave his post.”

 

Here are some more links about Jeff Sessions and his involvement in the Comey firing:

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/332671-dem-senator-sessions-recommendation-to-fire-comey-a-complete-betrayal

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/332651-sessions-was-told-to-find-reasons-to-fire-comey-reports

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/5/10/15610862/sessions-rosenstein-comey-justice-fbi

http://reason.com/blog/2017/05/10/jeff-sessions-defense-of-james-comey-con

 

Original Sample script: “I’m (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I’m calling to ask (Representative/Senator Lastname) to ask you to demand that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions resign over statements he made during his Senate confirmation hearings that have since proven false. While under oath, he stated that he did not have communications with the Russians, but the Washington Post has since proven that he spoke with the country’s ambassador in July and September. Even if his statement doesn’t technically rise to the level of perjury, which is debatable, he should go. We can’t have an attorney general who is clouded by credible accusations of perjury.”

Read the WaPo story that confirmed that Sessions had spoken twice with the Russian ambassador, though he had made claims to the contrary under oath:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-spoke-twice-with-russian-ambassador-during-trumps-presidential-campaign-justice-officials-say/2017/03/01/77205eda-feac-11e6-99b4-9e613afeb09f_story.html?tid=pm_pop&utm_term=.f0bd6863a631

 

See this handy New York Times timeline, which contains the Franken-Sessions exchange cited above:

Read this eye-opening New York Times op-ed from a former ethics adviser to President George W. Bush:

 

Another NYT story on how Republicans now agree Sessions should recuse himself, but can’t bring themselves to say he perjured himself during his Senate confirmation hearing testimony: