Derek Nelson: re:act → Obstruction, Classified Intel, Mandatory Minimums



re:act is a weekly list of a few concrete things you can do to take action during the Trump presidency.

Missed a letter? See the full archive, or just last week’s issue.

The last few months have been an assault on the senses, and it can be hard to keep any sense of proportion. But the last week feels big, even in relation to the others. GOP reps are threatening subpoenas, calling for prosecutors and commissions, and even talking impeachment.

This doesn’t come close to excusing many of their actions over the last year, and we should carefully watch them for follow-through. There’s also the reality that most of their colleagues are still refusing to do the right thing (hi, Paul Ryan!). But it’s all about momentum — steady, if maddeningly slow, momentum. It’ll continue to build if we keep it up.


1. Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation

What’s happening: (New York Times)
“President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting. “I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.” Lawfare has a typically great piece explaining obstruction of justice and how it relates to this revelation. Sens. Burr and Warner have sent a letter to request Comey’s testimony in both open and closed sessions; the letter also asks acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe for the reported Comey memos.

 

And we’ll skip ahead to #2, because the actions will be the same:


2. Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador

What’s happening: (Washington Post)
“President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.” ABC News reports that “the life of a spy placed by Israel inside ISIS is at risk tonight, according to current and former U.S. officials, after Trump reportedly disclosed classified information in a meeting with Russian officials last week.” The revelations have resulted in movement on the Hill, with Dana Bash reporting that members of the congressional GOP are “debating between supporting an independent prosecutor or independent commission.”

What you can do: (10 minutes)
✓ Ask your reps to call on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint an independent special counsel. Use ContactingCongress.org and call both your senators and your representative. Here’s a start:

“Hello, my name is [X] from [CITY]. As your constituent, I’m deeply concerned after FBI Director James Comey was fired while leading an investigation of the president’s campaign, and after the president obstructed justice. I am calling to demand [REPRESENTATIVE X] calls on new Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel to investigate possible Trump-Russia ties. Will [REPRESENTATIVE X] publicly make this call?”

Today! Call your rep in the House to support the creation of the independent commission (HR 356). Floor debate is today. Read Democratic Leader Pelosi’s statement for more background.

Watch Rep. Adam Schiff on why both a prosecutor and commission are warranted.

Find a March for Truth near you. On June 3, there will be demonstrations in 25+ cities to continue the call for an independent investigation.

Check out Invisible’s guide on “Truth or Trump actions”


3. With tough sentencing policy, Atty. Gen. Sessions pledges redoubled war on drugs

What’s happening: (LA Times)
“The Justice Department on Friday released a memo from Sessions ordering federal prosecutors to pursue the highest charges possible, including those that carry mandatory minimum sentences, for drug offenders … Sessions is ending Obama administration policies that told federal prosecutors to avoid charging low-level offenders with crimes that carry heavy mandatory sentences.”

What you can do: (5 minutes)
✓ Use ContactingCongress.org and ask your senators to support the just-reintroduced Justice Safety Valve Act, a bipartisan way to push back against the changes sought by Sessions. The bill, introduced by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), will give federal judges the ability to impose sentences below the mandatory minimums when appropriate. Here’s a start:

“Hello, my name is [NAME] calling from [TOWN]. I am asking [SENATOR X] to join Senators Leahy, Paul and Merkley in supporting the bipartisan Justice Safety Valve Act. The sentencing changes proposed by Sessions would ruin lives. Will the Senator agree to support this act?”

✓ Sign this petition from the Drug Policy Alliance: “Sessions: Rescind Your Draconian Memo” (Click to Tweet)

✓ Read and share: “Rand Paul: Sessions’ sentencing plan would ruin lives.” (Click to Tweet)

✓ Download the Drug Policy Alliance’s “Federal Activist Toolkit, with tactics on influencing members of Congress to end failed War on Drugs policy.


4. Trump signs order launching voter fraud investigation

What’s happening: (The Hill)
“President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order establishing an “election integrity” commission to investigate voter fraud … The commission will be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will serve as vice chair, the White House announced during Thursday’s press briefing. Kobach, who served as an aide in Trump’s transition, has previously claimed “in excess of a million” people voted illegally in the 2016 election … Kobach cited no evidence supporting his claim but said it was just ‘a projection.’”

In more welcome news, the Supreme Court rejected the revival of the strict North Carolina Voter ID law, which was earlier struck down by an appeals court as unconstitutional for “[targeting] African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” The analysis by the New York Times says that “the court’s decision not to hear an appeal in the case effectively overturned one of the most far-reaching attempts by Republicans to counter what they contended, without evidence, was widespread voter fraud in North Carolina.”

What you can do: (5 minutes)
Use this 5calls.org script to call your state Attorney General and ask them to challenge any unconstitutional attempts to curtail voting rights.

Read and share this report from the Brennan Center: “Debunking the Voter Fraud Myth” (Click to Tweet)


5. Poll shows Democrat Jon Ossoff, Republican Karen Handel in dead heat in Georgia House race

What’s happening: (New York Daily News)
“Democrat Jon Ossoff barely leads Republican Karen Handel 47%-45%, the latest Gravis Marketing poll shows — a result within the survey’s 3.3-percentage point margin-of-error.” Meanwhile, the race for the lone congressional seat in Montana appears to be within single digits. These races are paths to change on multiple fronts, representing critical votes on healthcare and other issues, a way to decrease Paul Ryan’s power, and a warning shot to the rest of the congressional GOP.

What you can do: (5 minutes)

1. Support Rob Quist for Congress (MT): May 25

Background: Quist is the Democratic nominee in a special election to fill Montana’s lone house seat. From his bio: “There’s nearly 300 millionaires in Congress but not one Montana folk singer. After a career using my voice for the Montana we love, I will be a voice for you.”

Donate to Rob
Volunteer with Rob

2. Jon Ossoff for Congress (GA): Runoff June 20

Background: Ossoff is running to fill a vacant House seat previously held by HHS secretary Tom Price. In April, Ossoff won 48% of the vote in a crowded field. He stands a strong chance to winning this seat in the runoff with your help.

Donate to Jon
Sign up to volunteer: You don’t need to be in GA to make calls.


Additional reading:

  • Health Care Puts House in Play (Public Policy Polling)
  • Story on DNC staffer’s murder dominated conservative media — hours later it fell apart (CNN)
  • ‘Erdoğan’s bodyguards’ in violent clash with protesters in Washington DC (Guardian)
  • Trump suggested imprisoning journalists over leaks, Comey memo alleges (Newsweek)
  • Secret Republican Senate Talks Are Shaping Health Care Legislation (NPR)
  • Scoop: Trump, irked at cabinet and staff, mulls sweeping shake-up (Axios)
  • Russian State-Run Bank Financed Deal Involving Trump Hotel Partner (WSJ)
  • Feds Subpoena Records for $3.5M Mystery Mortgage on Manafort’s Home (NBC)
  • Republicans plan massive cuts to programs for the poor (Politico)
  • North Korea’s latest missile launch suggests progress toward ICBM: experts (Reuters)
  • NBC/WSJ Poll: Just 29 Percent Approve of Trump’s Firing of James Comey (NBC)
  • Trump Warning to Comey Prompts Questions on ‘Tapes’ (New York Times)
  • Tillerson signs international declaration recognizing climate change (The Hill)
  • Presence of Russian photographer in Oval Office raises alarms (Washington Post)
  • The Economist talks to the President of the United States about economic policy (The Economist)

Last 5:

In closing, wanted to pass along these words from David Slack:

“Remember sitting in history, thinking “If I was alive then, I would’ve…” You’re alive now. Whatever you’re doing is what you would’ve done.”

Thank you, as always,
Derek



Editor’s note: This list is not meant to be authoritative, exhaustive, or even expert. I’m just a guy letting you know some things I am doing every week.  I’d love for those with more legislative experience to recommend better levers to pull. I’d love for you to point out what I missed, because I will definitely miss things. 

Please send ideas or stories of your involvement my way at derek@reactletter.com



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re:act is a weekly list of a few concrete things you can do to take action during the Trump presidency.

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