This campaign has some very basic asks:
Be decent humans to other humans. Don't take away the rights of our fellow citizens. Don't demonize our fellow citizens. Adopt policies that help people and do not hurt people. Protect our planet because we live here, and we need to be able to breathe the air and drink the water and be outside from time to time and work in healthy spaces. Also, don't let our President get away with giving away our country and Western ideals to the Russian President. Be patriotic. Don't let the perversion of nationalism disgrace the purity of our democracy.
Note: We absolutely think it's important to talk to the Russian leadership and other world leaders, and we have nothing against the Russian people. Meanwhile, negotiate through accepted channels. But don't commit treason or launder money, and don't accept bribes. Bribes are not ethical and illegal, at least in America.
It's really basic and sort of sad that we have to say it aloud.
If you want more details, keep reading.
Ask: Congress must throughly investigate Trump's and his team's ties to Russia
So much has happened in the last month, Nunes messed up the House investigation, and then had to recuse himself, and the Senate apparently hasn't dedicated enough staff to do a thorough job. But, at least the Senate is working on it, and are hiring.
Article Title: Yes, American Spies Really Think Trump Is Putin’s Guy
Highlights from the Article: A former intelligence officer comments on why senior members of the intelligence community were not comfortable with then-Candidate Trump. The author notes it might be possible that Trump is an "unwitting fool...a useful idiot" for the Kremlin.
Follow up: As of mid-February, The intelligence community has signaled that it is still highly uncomfortable with President Trump, and may be withholding some information because they cannot trust the President to keep America's secrets. This is really troubling on both fronts.
November 1, 2016
Highlights from Article: Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, is under investigation by the FBI for his ties to Russian operatives.
"Manafort was a key player in multi-million-dollar business propositions with Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs — one of them a close Putin ally with alleged ties to organized crime — which foreign policy experts said raised questions about the pro-Russian bent of the Trump candidacy."
December 9, 2016
Source: New York Times
Article Title: Russian Hackers Acted to Aid Trump in Election, U.S. Says
Highlights from Article: US Intelligence Agencies have determined with "high confidence" that Russia acted covertly to harm Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the U.S. Election, working to tip the scales in favor of Donald J. Trump. Additionally, the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee's (RNC) computer systems and the DNC's but did not release the information they collected from the RNC. Note that while the Russians may have assisted the Trump campaign, Americans still voted for Mr. Trump via the electoral college. It is highly troubling that the American public would be okay with any foreign government working behind the scenes in favor of either candidate and congress must investigate why the Russians had a preference for Mr. Trump. Donald Trump dismissed the report findings initially and then said "maybe it was Russia."
Article Title: The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.
Highlights from Article: In this in-depth report, the New York Times details the Federal Bureau of Investigations' (FBI) investigation of the hacks into the Democratic National Committee (DNC), identifying two Russian state-sponsored cyber-hacking units dubbed Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear. Worth reading the entire thing.
December 16, 2017
Source: The New York Times
Highlights from Article: A former British Spy, who is now in hiding, wrote an intelligence briefing on Donald Trump for opposition research during the campaign. The file claims that Donald Trump has been working with the Russian Kremlin for up to five years in a conspiracy to overtake the American presidency. The Dossier also explicitly mentions that the Russians were also behind the hacks on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Republican National Committee (RNC). Most of the public got distracted by the most salacious section which allegedly documented some of Trump's sexual preferences (which, like, who cares? Russia may have bought our president!). Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin denied the information in the file. Since, intelligence officers have said that the dossier's author is reliable and confirmed some aspects of the dossier. Still, most of the dossier remains unconfirmed. Congress must investigate.
Article Title: What We Know and Don’t Know About the Trump-Russia Dossier
Article Highlights: A Q&A style summary of what's included in the Trump Dossier. Per the Guardian article above, it too reviews the fact that a former British spy was hired to do opposition research on behalf of someone who did not like Mr. Trump. The memos contain unsubstantiated claims that Russian officials tried to obtain influence over Mr. Trump by preparing to blackmail him with sex tapes and bribe him with business deals. They also claim that the Trump campaign met with Russian operatives to discuss the Russians’ hacking and leaking of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee and from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta.
This file was provided to the FBI, and they was included in memos to the President and the President-Elect, which has caused many to wonder if the claims are untrue, why were they offered to senior officials of the U.S. Government? Congress must investigate.
Article Title: Top Russian Cybercrimes Agent Arrested on Charges of Treason
Highlights from the Article: Sergei Mikhailov, a senior officer of the Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., the main successor agency to the K.G.B. was fired during the week of January 25, 2017 by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Additionally, two Russian cybersecurity officials were also detained and arrested. All parties were reportedly connected to the hack of the U.S. election. The timing was suspicious; it came after the release of the Dossier on Donald Trump and several articles announcing that the intelligence community suspected Russia of hacking into the DNC and RNC servers in an effort to tip the election towards Donald Trump (see above). A few articles said Putin was directly involved in the hack.
February 7, 2017
Source: The Washington Post
Article Title: Does Trump Know Putin?
Highlights from the Article: A recap of Trumps' tweets and public statements which simultaneously paint a picture that he did not know Putin, then did know him well, then did not know him, then did know him.
February 9, 2017
Source: The Washington Post
Highlights from the Article: In December 2016, using a potentially illegal move, Former Lt. Gen Michael Flynn urged Russia not to overreact to the penalties being imposed by President Barack Obama through a direct conversation he had with the Ambassador to Russia, making clear that the two sides would be in position to review the matter after Trump was sworn in as president. At the time, Flynn was not a member of the U.S. Government, and having this conversation on behalf of the American people is illegal according to the Logan Act. Flynn is a current Trump Advisor and member of the National Security Council, and known conspiracy theorist.
(update, Flynn has since resigned from his role, see below)
Article Title: The Spy Revolt Against Trump Begins
Highlights from Article: The intelligence community and the executive branch must be in a position to trust one another; and they are not. The intelligence community cannot trust Donald Trump or his current representatives. This puts the intelligence community at a severe disadvantage in their ability to collect details which could prevent real attacks on real citizens; as the network of officers is wary to share information with the U.S.
Highlights from Article: Trump and team are currently using unsecured phones; using email servers not owned by US government. Conducting national security business in full view and earshot of members of the public who do not have security clearances at Mar-A-Lago, Trump's country club in Florida. Membership to the country club is now $200K per year.
Highlights from Article: Former Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn admits he had a diplomatic conversation with the Russian Ambassador in December on behalf of the American people to tip off the Russians that the Trump Administration would change or remove the sanctions which had recently been placed on Russia for meddling in the U.S. election by POTUS Obama. The conversation Flynn had was technically illegal because U.S. Citizens are legally not allowed to speak on behalf of the U.S. Government to make deals with foreign nations, per the Logan Act.
Article Title: What Did the President Know?
Highlights from Article: Asks the appropriate question - What did Trump know about Flynn's discussions directly with Russia? Why would he act on his own? There is a possibility that Flynn lied to Trump; but Trump has the CIA and FBI reporting to him and he also had a curiously timed tweet directly aimed at Putin the day after Obama's sanctions were announced. The Justice Department was also warning the President that Flynn was in a position to be blackmailed by the Russians.
Highlights from Article: President Trump was aware for weeks that Flynn had misled Vice President Pence, who was defending Flynn in interviews. White House Counsel immediately told Trump about the situation several weeks ago when the Justice Department alerted them to the possibility of Flynn's conversation.
Also Notable: The Political Assassination of Mike Flynn
February 14, 2017
Source: The New York Times
Highlights from Article: Several members of Trump's campaign have had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election. The FBI and Intelligence agencies intercepted the calls while investigating the hack on the Democratic National Committee (DNC). So far, it is not clear if the Trump campaign was officially colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election. It is possible that campaign members did not know they were talking to Russian intelligence officials. But, the question remains why was the Trump campaign in such continued contact with the Russians while Mr. Trump, who has disparaged nearly everyone else, continued to be so warm towards Putin.
Article Title: The 3 Trump-Russia Scandals Explained
Highlights from Article: "First, an unknown number of Trump campaign operatives and Trump-adjacent people were in touch with agents of the Russian government. Second, the Trump camp had no problem with Russian interference in the election, and at times seemed to welcome it.
What we don’t know is whether there’s a connection between those two things — that is, whether the Trump camp knew about the Russian hack while it was ongoing. There’s no confirmation, in the Times report or elsewhere, to support this."
We need Congress to investigate.
Highlights from the Article: Four men were working through Flynn to push a 'peace plan' document on behalf of the pro-Russia faction of Ukraine and Russia; the plan would also oust the current president, a man that Manifort was trying to remove from office. The authors of the plan are: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who delivered the document; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia; and a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in a political opposition movement shaped in part by Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort. Felix Sater is the most interesting of the bunch. He has appeared several times in the Trump story line, most frequently with helping Mr. Trump secure financing from Russian sources for real estate projects. He's a shady character, and it is curious that he has reappeared in this way.
February 24, 2017
Source: Politico (and Real Time with Bill Maher)
Article Title: Issa: Trump-Russia probe requires a special prosecutor
Highlights from Article/ Video: Rep. Darryl Issa (R-CA) former head of the House Oversight Committee, said that he believes that the Trump Administration will need to seek a special prosecutor to participate in the investigations pertaining to Trump's connections to Russia, as he believes the Justice Department's political appointee (Jeff Sessions) cannot be impartial because he was part of the Trump Campaign.
February 28, 2017
Rachel Maddow outlines connections between Wilbur Ross, now our Secretary of Commerce, the Bank of Cyprus, the Russian "King of Fertilizer," and Donald Trump.
March 6, 2017
Source: The New Yorker
Article Title: Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War
Highlights from Article: An in-depth recap of the relationship between the US and Russia, focused on what the recent connections between Trump and Russia. Here's one quote, "For many national-security officials, the e-mail hacks were part of a larger, and deeply troubling, picture: Putin’s desire to damage American confidence and to undermine the Western alliances—diplomatic, financial, and military—that have shaped the postwar world."
and another... "Not in a generation has the enmity run this deep, according to Sergey Rogov, the academic director of the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies, in Moscow. “I spent many years in the trenches of the first Cold War, and I don’t want to die in the trenches of the second,” Rogov said. “We are back to 1983, and I don’t enjoy being thirty-four years younger in this way. It’s frightening.”"
Ask: Congress must throughly investigate Trump's financial ties to foreign entities and money laundering schemes
October 19, 2016
Source: The Financial Times
Article Title: Dirty Money - Trump and the Kazakh Connection
Highlights from the Article: A Financial Times investigation has found evidence that one Trump venture has multiple ties to an alleged international money laundering network. Title deeds, bank records and correspondence show that a Kazakh family accused of laundering hundreds of millions of stolen dollars bought luxury apartments in a Manhattan tower part-owned by Mr Trump and embarked on major business ventures with one of the tycoon’s partners.
November 1, 2016
Source: The New York Times
Highlights from Article: Donald Trump implied during one of the presidential debates that he legally took advantage of tax loopholes available to him to avoid paying taxes for nearly 18 years. Meanwhile, this article says that his tax advisors believed his move to be "legally dubious." This article provides a great graphic representation of how this tax loophole works.
December 8, 2016
Source: Talking Points Memo
Article Title: Maybe the Answer is He Can't Divest
Highlights from Article: In this op-ed, the author uses game theory, to reason that it's highly likely that Trump won't release his taxes because he's not actually as wealthy as he says he is, and he probably owes a ton of money to other people, but there's a lot of strong references included within.
Highlights from Article: Donald Trump's companies owe over $1B to Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, Blackrock, Deutsche Bank, Prudential Bank creating a huge conflicts of interest. Trump also borrowed substantially from the Bank of China.
Article Title: Trump says won't divest from his business while president
Highlights from Article: Trump repeated that he would find a way to divest from his businesses while on the campaign trail; on January 11, he held a press conference with a stack of nearly empty folders to announce that he wouldn't separate himself from his businesses after all, but his sons would run the business day to day, instead of securing his assets in a blind trust, as was recommended to him by ethics watchdogs. He also pledged not to invest in new deals outside of the United States; and his sons have already broken that pledge, per this article.
February 9, 2017
Article Title: Saudis Foot Tab at Trump Hotel
A lobbying firm working for Saudi Arabia paid for a room at Donald Trump’s Washington hotel after Inauguration Day, marking the first publicly known payment on behalf of a foreign government to a Trump property since he became president. (Emoluments violation #1)
February 10, 2017
Source: Mother Jones
Article Title: Trump's Indonesian Business Partner Brags About His Access
In a recent interview with Indonesian weekly Tempo titled "I Have Access to President Trump," Hary Tanoesoedibjo, a billionaire who inked deals with the Trump Organization to build luxury resorts on the islands of Bali and Lido, said he has instant access to Trump's children and through them can reach Trump whenever he wants. (So much for not being involved in his businesses!)
Tanoesoedibjo told the magazine that his existing relationship with Trump means he can help put people in touch with the American president. He noted that he set up a 2015 meeting between Trump and two Indonesian politicians, which Trump turned into a campaign stunt. One of the politicians was later caught on tape in what was allegedly an effort to solicit a $4 billion payout from an American mining company seeking to do business in Indonesia.
February 14, 2017
Source: New York Times
Highlights from Article: Ivanka Trump's line of consumer products have not been selling well in several retailers, who have subsequently announced they will not be carrying the products any longer. President Donald Trump went on a Twitter tirade bashing the store and then during "clean up mode," KellyAnne Conway, Trump's spokeswoman, decided to fully endorse Ivanka's products, which was potentially illegal because the government is not allowed to show favoritism to one company over another.
Article Title: Donald Trump May Have Just Committed an Impeachable Offense
Highlights from Article: He got trademark approval from China for using the name "Trump" in Construction one week after speaking with the Chinese Prime Minister, after fighting for approval for 10 years. This action probably constitutes as another violation of the emoluments clause, i.e. the one where a sitting President can't accept gifts from foreign governments without Congressional approval.
Congress must investigate.
February 17, 2017
Source: The Atlantic
Article Title: Donald Trump's Conflicts of Interests: A Crib Sheet
Highlights from Article: President Trump has still not distanced himself from his business, as he promised he would earlier in January. This creates the perception that the American Presidency is up for bids, which does not bode well for American foreign policy, domestic policy or the American people. There is also a full run- down of the news covering his conflicts of interests, which lists 33 known and outstanding issues.
Congress must investigate.
ASK: The American people deserve access to clean air, clean water and healthy neighborhoods. Americans are overwhelmingly supportive of investment in renewables. Americans love our national parks, as they help define the American experience. Congress must take its responsibilities seriously and commit to action on climate, whether that is adopting a carbon tax or investing in new clean technologies. The so-called "America First Energy Plan" by the Trump Administration lacks creativity in that it attempts to roll the clock back 60 years, reopens closed debates, and willfully puts in place plans to destroy our environment for future generations. It also acts under the incorrect assumption that the coal industry is revivable without acknowledging that natural gas has been moving the market away from coal and towards gas, wind and solar for over a decade. Not to mention the price of solar is declining aggressively thanks to investments by the Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative. Therefore, we ask:
Below is a recap of Trump's attacks on the environment, at the expense of the American people. Note also that last year, the renewables sector employed more people than the coal industry, so this is not a story about jobs versus the environment.
December 12, 2016
Source: New York Times
Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon Mobil and official Friend to the Russian Government, and confirmed Secretary of State, has been working on a deal to exploit oil in the Arctic and throughout Russia, valued at over $500Bn. The project is currently on hold due to US Sanctions on Russia; and as soon as Tillerson lifts those sanctions, the company will have clearance to restart the strategic oil extractions to the vast benefit of the oil-run Russian state, effectively turning Putin into an overnight hero. "Exxon Mobil has various projects afoot in Russia that are allowed under American sanctions. But others have been ground to a halt by the sanctions, including a deal with the Russian state oil company to explore and pump in Siberia that could be worth tens of billions of dollars. Russian officials have optimistically called the agreement a $500 billion deal." Authors' note: Would that be worth buying an American president?
Congress must investigate.
Highlights from Article: Trump said that the work of the EPA is a "disgrace." Pruitt, a methodical lawyer and Oklahoma's former attorney general, is in the pocket of oil corporations, is not likely to completely destroy the agency, but rather he will seek ways to cripple it beyond repair. He also denies climate science.
From this author: It is not a disgrace, but an achievement to have improved the air and water quality over the decades. It is not a disgrace, but an achievement to regulate chemicals known to cause birth defects, cancer and neurological conditions. It is not a disgrace to clean up the toxic elements left after corporate polluters abandon their responsibilities. If anything, the EPA should be able to provide more guidance to regulate chemicals and conduct toxicology studies, and should be allowed to tighten control on emissions and water quality using an economic tool, the social cost of carbon, currently valued at $36/ton.
Highlights from Article: Trump promised to roll back the Clean Power Plan, a commitment to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from electricity 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and the "Waters of the US" Rule, which sought to modernize the Clean Water Act to recognize that sources of water pollution may also infiltrate groundwater systems through streams, rivers and lakes. His new Administrator, Scott Pruitt, has shown detest for the EPA, and will be aiming to eliminate protections for the American people, as he did when he was attorney general in Oklahoma.
Highlights from Article: The House decided to kick off the 115th Congress by first trying to do away with the Congressional ethics office. That didn't go over so well. When that failed, the Republicans in the House then passed a provision that eliminates the requirement to account for the cost of turning over federal lands to state or local governments. Basically public lands, which create billions in tourist revenue, are considered worthless to these Republicans. Surprisingly, Trump has said he's not interested in turning over Federal lands to states, and Interior Secretary Nominee Ryan Zinke, though he has other problems, may also protect Federal lands, but time will tell. Some corporate lobbyists have a lot of money, and are really interested in exploiting National Parks.
The American People love our parks system, and Congress MUST defend it.
Trump's Top Leadership Adhere to a Worldview in which the non-White World is their Enemy
There are no specific Congressional asks in this section. Simply a list of articles that help get inside the mind of these men who are frightened by women, people of color, non-Christians, LGBTQ, countries with non-white populations, progress on climate change, reality as most people experience it and their own emotional range, or lack there of (probably).
Steve Bannon: A Rookie Campaign Chief who Loves the Fight (New York Times): A profile of Trump's then-campaign manager Steve Bannon, former editor of Brietbart news, the alt-right, conspiracy-theory leaning outlet that brazenly paints the picture that the whole capitalist system needs to be torn down. Bannon worked for Goldman Sachs and in Hollywood before taking at run at politics, and finding Sessions and Trump. He appears to have turned into this obsessed anti-establishment zealot after his father was fired from his position at a telephone company, leading Bannon to lean into his "blue-collar" roots and begin his rampage of faux-empathy with post-industrial Americans.
Steve Bannon's World View (Buzzfeed finds a transcript from a live interview in LA)
A review of Steve Bannon's documentary films (Politico): Spoiler alert They are not good films. He is very black and white. Christianity is under attack. Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and Pat Robertson will save us.
Steve Miller: The Believer (Politico): A conservative from Southern California, Miller has become a right-wing diehard. He's convinced himself that the world is against his people. But he's also a policy wonk who has worked for Bachmann and Sessions.
"Miller was hired by [Cory] Lewandowski from the office of Jeff Sessions, one of the most conservative and nativist members of the U.S. Senate... In the Senate, Sessions was often Trump before Trump was Trump. He was an early advocate of a bigger, better, taller border fence. He has spoken for years about “Islamic extremism.” In 2009, as the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, he went after Sonia Sotomayor during her Supreme Court nomination hearings with a line of attack that now sounds familiar. “You have evidenced, I think it's quite clear, a philosophy of the law that suggests that the judge's background and experiences can and should—even should and naturally will impact their decision,” Sessions said, adding that it was antithetical “to the American ideal.”
Return of the 1920s (the Atlantic): Trump's team spent the campaign extolling the virtues of the policies of the 1920's, when nationalist tendencies ran high.
"The 1924 law also superseded the Gentleman’s Agreement of 1907 between the Roosevelt Administration and Japan, to restrict Japanese immigration without barring it entirely. That earlier agreement had created a steady flow of picture brides crossing the Pacific; the 1924 law closed that loophole, reducing Japanese immigration from 7,700 per year to about 100.
The stated goal of the bill’s sponsors and supporters was to enhance an ethnically and racially homogeneous American population. (As it happened, Mexicans and other Central Americans were among the only national or ethnic groups ignored by the law. Businesses and farms in California, and elsewhere in the Southwest, endorsed the need for cheap labor that, they assumed, would quickly return across the open border when no longer needed. No one else objected.)
The theory of eugenics was championed in books like Madison Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race and the Harvard-trained historian Lothrop Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy. Grant, Stoddard, and other scholars argued that the growth of genetically inferior non-white races would ultimately overwhelm the intellectually superior Northern European or “Nordic” race and end white civilization. During this period, eugenics experts regularly testified before Congress and academic study of the field began in hundreds of colleges around the country."
Department of Justification (New York Times):
"Why would the Trump administration paint a picture so starkly at odds with reality? It’s simple: A vision of the nation besieged provides clear justification for policies that will advance Sessions, Bannon and Miller’s divisive nationalism. In the administration’s early moves, we can already see the contours beginning to take shape. An executive order presented as an emergency measure to protect the country from terrorists winds up barring immigrants coming here to study or work from seven countries that have not been a source of terrorist attacks in the United States since Sept. 11. Another order refers to immigrants who “pose a risk to public safety” and then makes millions of the undocumented people in the country a priority for deportation. Impending catastrophe grants the president broad powers, and those powers are used broadly."
Bannon spoke to the Hollywood Reporter about his obsession with power:
"Darkness is good," says Bannon, who amid the suits surrounding him at Trump Tower, looks like a graduate student in his T-shirt, open button-down and tatty blue blazer — albeit a 62-year-old graduate student. "Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That's power. It only helps us when they" — I believe by "they" he means liberals and the media, already promoting calls for his ouster — "get it wrong. When they're blind to who we are and what we're doing."
Steve Bannon is profiled by the Wall Street Journal. In the article, the WSJ repeats the origin story that Bannon has shared with several outlets: his hatred for America's systems stems from a profound admiration for his father, an AT&T company man, who lost his savings in the 2008 market crash. From there, his libertarian politics solidified and he became more determined to position himself against system, ironic as it may be, given his background in banking.