Advocacy: The Conscience of the Government is at Stake

— by Katie O’Connell, PFAW Digital Communications Coordinator 

With three nominees stacked into one hearing today, it’s pretty clear that Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley doesn’t actually want us to know much if anything at all about the nominees for two lifetime court appointments and Eric Dreiband, who is being considered for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.

Because if we actually knew about what these nominees stand for, we wouldn’t want them in positions of power in the federal government.

Eric Dreiband has made a name for himself as the go-to lawyer for corporations accused of discrimination. But beyond that, he has devoted his personal time and energy to fighting against civil rights protections like fair pay for women and protections for older Americans challenging age discrimination in the workplace.

Simply put, Dreiband will actively work against the mission of the Civil Rights Division, which has been described as the conscience of the government.

The legacy of the Civil Rights Division must not be tarnished by a Trump/Sessions nominee who doesn’t believe in the mission of the job he was nominated for. This division has a truly remarkable history of seeking justice in the wake of violence and racism and protecting rights for vulnerable and marginalized communities.

Dreiband’s nomination to a division whose mission he has spent his career opposing isn’t an accident or oversight — it’s Trump’s STRATEGY to create an ineffective government that harms communities of color, women, LGBTQ persons, and other vulnerable communities.

Trump and the Republicans in Congress want to distract us with an onslaught of extreme nominees, damaging policy changes, and political drama. Let them know you’re paying attention and speak out!

Speak out and tell Nevada’s senators that they must oppose Dreiband for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.

DACA Under Siege by Trump and AG Jeff Sessions

Last week, Trump pardoned Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a notorious national symbol of racism who refused court orders to stop his racial profiling in his zealous multi-year campaign of persecution against Latino communities. Now, one week later, Trump is throwing MORE red meat to his anti-immigrant and white supremacist supporters by going after immigrant kids, once again undermining American values in order to feed the bigotry of his extreme base. 

This morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced to the world that we, as a nation, can no longer be trusted to keep its word, that our word is no longer our bond. You see, in a stunning act of cruelty even for Trump, he had Attorney General Jeff Sessions announce termination of key parts of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program effective six months from now, upending the lives of 800,000+ young people. That 

DACA recipients – often referred to as DREAMers — were brought to the US as children and for many of them this is the only country they’ve ever really known. Under the DACA program, they registered with the government and passed background checks in exchange for being able to work, pay taxes, and feel secure in their homes without the fear of deportation.

Many on the anti-immigrant Right who have been fighting against DACA since Day One have focused their criticism on the way in which it was done – with an executive order by President Obama. They have claimed that the real problem was just that Congress didn’t pass the law – so now it’s up to Congress to call their bluff and pass the DREAM Act.

Congress needs to act now to protect our investment in their education and assimilation before Trump releases his hordes of ICE thugs to begin deportation of DREAMers as their 2-yr authorizations come up for  renewals. And we even have a head start, because the bill already has bipartisan support!

Congress can undo this outrage by passing the DREAM Act of 2017, which would provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other young undocumented immigrants who graduate from US high schools and attend college, enter the workforce, or enlist in a military program.

In the Senate, the DREAM Act is sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) … we need to demand that the Senate make this bipartisan bill a priority, to get relief to the DREAMers who need it.

Petition:  << Tell Congress to PASS the DREAM Act of 2017 without delay! >>

Or, better yet, take a moment from your day and call or write your members of Congress and ask them to expedite bringing the Dream Act of 2017 [ House bill#:  H.R.3440 / Senate bill#: S.1615 ] to the floor for a vote AND to vote for its passage:

House Democrats Call for Outside, Independent Commission to Investigate Trump-Russia Ties

Dear Democratic Colleague,

It has been reported that days before President Trump fired Comey, the FBI Director had asked for more resources for the Russian investigation.  Given Director Comey’s confirmation of the Trump-Russia inquiry, the President’s actions raise questions about whether this dismissal was an attempt to undermine that investigation. The fireworks at the Department of Justice demand that we remove the investigation from the Trump-appointed Justice Department leadership.

It is clear that in the 2016 campaign, the Russians interfered with the election by hacking and leaking information.  It is also clear that during the campaign there were repeated contacts between the Russians and individuals associated with the Trump campaign.  It is further clear that the public deserves to know the extent to which there was collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign to influence the result of the election.

I am calling upon Speaker Ryan and Republicans in Congress to join Democrats to support H.R. 356, the Protecting Our Democracy Act to create an outside, independent commission to investigate the Trump-Russia connection.  One hundred percent of House Democrats support this bipartisan bill.

Speaker Ryan must call up this legislation immediately upon our return next week.  If Republicans continue to work to hide the truth from the American people, it will be necessary for Democrats to file a discharge petition to force a vote on the Swalwell-Cummings measure.

If the President has nothing to hide, then he should welcome the creation of a commission providing an independent investigation to remove all doubt of a coverup.

I hope we can move forward in a bipartisan way to protect the integrity of our electoral system and the rule of law, both of which are fundamental to our democracy.

I welcome your thoughts on this critical issue.

Best Regards,

/s/Nancy Pelosi

Rep. Ted Lieu to Deputy Atty Gnrl — It’s Time!

REP. LIEU LEADS LETTER TO DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL ROSENSTEIN REQUESTING APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COUNSEL

Today, Representative Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County), along with Representatives Kathleen Rice and Stacey Plaskett, sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein formally requesting the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate possible collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia. The Representatives – all former prosecutors – believe Title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations compels Mr. Rosenstein to appoint a Special Counsel.  As a result, the Representatives’ letter stresses that Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein must follow the procedures set forth in Part 600.1 of Title 28, which would cause him to appoint a Special Counsel immediately.

In the letter, the Representatives write:

“As former prosecutors, we know that governmental investigations must be independent and free of conflicts of interest. Because you serve at the pleasure of the President, it is our belief that you have a conflict of interest and cannot exercise true independence into an investigation that may implicate the President. Moreover, your significant role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey—who was leading a counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion between Trump associates and Russia—has placed you into direct conflict with the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation.”

“The Attorney General, or in cases in which the Attorney General is recused, the Acting Attorney General, will appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted and—(a) That investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances; and (b) That under the circumstances, it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.  CFR § 600.1.”

The full text of the letter can be found HERE.

Voters to Rise Up Across US for “People’s Filibuster” of Gorsuch

Rallies in 14 cities will feature everyday Americans speaking on how the appointment of Neil Gorsuch would advance Trump’s extreme agenda for decades to come

—by Lauren McCauley, staff writer at CommonDreams

Organized by a coalition of pro-democracy and civil rights groups under the umbrella of The People's Defense, rallies are being held across the U.S., from Las Vegas to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Portland, Maine. (Image via The People's Defense)

Organized by a coalition of pro-democracy and civil rights groups under the umbrella of The People’s Defense, rallies are being held across the U.S., from Las Vegas to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Portland, Maine. (Image via The People’s Defense)

With Democratic Party resistance to President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch still in flux, American voters are taking to the streets on Saturday to stage a “People’s Filibuster” against the conservative judge.

Organized by a coalition of pro-democracy and civil rights groups under the umbrella of The People’s Defense, rallies are being held in 14 cities across the country, from Las Vegas to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Portland, Maine.

Many events will feature “everyday Americans speaking on why they object to the extreme agenda of the president and how the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court would advance that agenda for decades to come,” as stated by the Seattle call-to-action.

As Common Dreams reported Friday, Gorsuch has “refused to outright state his stance on critical Supreme Court decisions certain to face challenges in upcoming years, such as Roe v. Wade.” However, many are concerned about the ultra-conservative, dark money groups backing his confirmation and what that could mean for the balance of the U.S. Supreme Court.

As NationAction, the political arm of The Nation magazine, wrote Friday:

The likelihood that Gorsuch will move the court to the right, coupled with Republicans’ refusal to even hold a hearing for President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, make it clear that Democrats should fight back and filibuster Gorsuch’s nomination. Of course, if Democrats do this, Republicans could use the “nuclear option” to end the use of filibusters for Supreme Court nominations altogether. However, as Joshua Holland recently argued, this tactic could ultimately hurt the GOP more than Democrats—and Democrats should fight Gorsuch’s nomination and call their bluff.

Amid the political imbroglio surrounding the nomination, the People’s Filibuster provides a platform for popular response and resistance. For those who do not live near an action, People’s Defense is urging people to “call or tweet your U.S. Senators directly and let them know how you feel about Trump’s agenda getting a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court.”

Updates on the protest and larger effort to block Gorsuch are being shared under the hashtags #PeoplesFilibuster and #StopGorsuch.


People’s defense partners include: the American Federation of Teachers, Credo Action, Daily Kos, Democracy for America, Demos, Emily’s List, End Citizens United, Every Voice, Indivisible, Lambda Legal, MoveOn.org, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National LGBTQ TaskForce, People for the American Way, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Sierra Club, SEIU, Stand Up America, Ultraviolet, Women’s March, and the Working Families Party.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

With the Pressure On—Sessions Recuses

The Trump administration is facing a new scandal as the Justice Department has acknowledged Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. This contradicts sworn testimony Sessions gave to Congress during his confirmation hearing.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a news conference. The Justice Department confirmed yesterday that Sessions met with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, two separate times during the 2016 election.

We’re Witnessing A Dramatic Difference in Governance Philosophy

Eleven Senators have formally written to AG Sessions requesting him to immediately appoint an independent Special Counsel to investigate collusion with the Russian government by General Flynn and other Trump campaign, transition, and Administrative officials.

  • Tammy Baldwin
  • Richard Blumenthal
  • Cory Booker
  • Sherrod Brown
  • Thomas Carper
  • Richard Durbin
….
  • Chris Van Hollen
  • Patric Lehy
  • Edward Markey
  • Jeff Merkley
  • Thomas Udall

That’s from the Democratic Senators.  On the other side of the Congress, two members of the US House, Oversight & Government Chair, Jason Chaffetz, and Judiciary Chair, Bob Goodlatte, just sent a request to DOJ Inspector General  Michael Horowitz (with a “cc” of that letter to the Ranking Member of the Oversight & Government Cmtee, Democrat Elijah Cummings) demanding an investigation to determine WHO is leaking information (which led to the resignation of Flynn and which is damaging trust in trump).

I do believe we’re witnessing a dramatic difference in governance philosophy.

So How is Heller NOT Representing Nevadans w/DT at the Helm?

The answer?  Not very well I’m afraid.  Regardless of the number of phone calls and the fact that his line is full and that they’ve turned on the answering machines instead of taking calls, he’s taking his marching orders from elsewhere.  Here, see what I mean?

Rep. Titus to NV-AG Laxalt

Given that Nevada’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism, Rep. Dina Titus (NV-CD1) sent an official letter today to Nevada’s Attorney General, Adam Laxalt, imploring that he join with other states’ AGs to oppose and reject the president’s executive edict discriminating against not just Muslims entering our country (for business or vacation) from seven specific middle eastern majority-Muslim countries, but an edict that impacts individuals who have lived in our country for years and who have “green cards” identifying them as LEGAL resident aliens.

So far all we’ve heard from Mr. Laxalt is crickets, but for the moment, let’s talk a little bit about Green Card holders.

greencard

Muslim GREEN CARD holders, meaning resident LEGAL aliens, who just happen to have gained their “right to life” through the misfortune of being born in certain countries our apprentice president wants to scapegoat, have been prohibited from reentering the country for 90 days if they happened to be traveling. They were detained at airports and prohibited from returning to their homes.

Do you understand what this means?

It means that if they have lived in New Jersey for 20 years with their family and were just unlucky enough to have been traveling for business or just merely on vacation, they are now forbidden to return HOME for 90 days. Will they lose their jobs? Will they lose their homes? Where will they go in the meantime? Will they stay at a hotel? Or will they be residing as homeless folks on some street corner in some other nation?

It also means that if a mother happened to have gone to her father’s funeral abroad at this unlucky time and tried to return home to her children, she was prohibited from doing so by executive fiat. She’s not allowed to do so for 90 days. Who’s taking care of her children? Will she lose her job that helps to put food on the table for her children? Will some state take them away from her for abandonment?

Don’t even try to tell me this is just about the need to conduct proper vetting. These people are GREEN CARD holders. A green card holder is a LEGAL alien. He or she has essentially the same rights as a citizen with respect to residency and employment. They HAVE been properly vetted. These actions against them are 100% ILLEGAL.

But the absurdities with this Executive Edict doesn’t stop with Green Cards.

Already, Doctors coming to our country to perform critical care for U.S. patients have been turned away. People who need critical surgeries that have been scheduled at major critical care hospitals, e.g., Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, etc., are being told they will not be allowed to travel to the U.S. and enter the U.S. for critical surgeries which in some cases will lead to their imminent deaths.

Interpreters who worked closely with our troops in hostile areas, who have already gone through extensive vetting, and whose lives would be in jeopardy in their home country, who have the proper paperwork and visas in hand were being refused.  Luckily, legal personal stepped in to remedy the situation.

The acting U.S. Attorney General has indicated the Justice Dept. will NOT defend the president’s executive order.  But, Sen. Jeff Sessions, the president’s choice for US-AG will be up for a vote shortly and it’s rumored that Mr. Sessions is in lock step with the president.  Given that, you need to realize that if it can be them today, it can be you and me tomorrow! And if that doesn’t scare the hell out of you, you are not paying attention. Those are NOT actions that take place under a Democracy.