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.
National Security Concerns
Ask: Congress must throughly investigate Trump's and his team's ties to Russia
- Set a deadline for this hearing please
- Allow this hearing to start
- Share as many findings as legally possible with the public as soon as possible
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.
National Security News
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.”"