Yesterday, the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines to release a memo written by Chairman Devin Nunes that is expected to allege misconduct by the FBI and the Justice Department, specifically Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The vote came even after several members of the intelligence community, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, asked Nunes to delay or even stop the vote. The majority on the committee also voted to not release a memo by the top-ranking Democratic committee member, Adam Schiff.
From the outset, this Nunes memo appears to be a lot of nothing, with “cherry-picked facts meant to paint the Justice Department…in a bad light.” So why the uproar over the document? First, it’s important to remember who drafted the memo. Nunes has been at the center of the Russia investigation, as the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, but he has used that power to act as a cover for the Trump administration. Nunes has continually run interference on Trump’s behalf, refusing to actually investigate Russian interference and instead wasting taxpayer dollars on conspiracy theories and publicity stunts that should, by now, have burned any credibility he ever had. And Nunes has been supported by House Speaker Paul Ryan, who used his press conference this morning to defend the release of the memo and say that there may have been “malfeasance” by FBI officials. With Nunes’ latest stunt, which aligns him with Russian intelligence operations against federal law enforcement, it’s clear that he has abused the power with which he’s been entrusted as Chairman. Paul Ryan needs to act now to remove Nunes from the Intelligence Committee, before he takes further actions to undermine the investigation into Russian interference in our elections.
This news Nunes’ memo comes on the same day that the Trump administration has decided not to take action on Russia sanctions that were passed by Congress and signed by Trump himself. The State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said that the administration is delaying those sanctions because existing sanctions were already “deterring Russian defense sales.” Whether or not that’s the case, the sanctions have certainly not achieved their goal of deterring Russia’s attempts to undermine democracy around the world. In fact, just hours before the State Department’s announcement, Trump’s own CIA Director Mike Pompeo said he has “every expectation that they will continue” trying to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections.
ACTION OF THE DAY
Russia Investigation. With the latest attacks on the Russia probe, it is more crucial than ever that we ensure Mueller can do his job—and Nunes stops interfering! Call your representatives at 202-224-3121, and demand that House Speaker Paul Ryan remove Nunes immediately from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Dodd-Frank At Risk. Next month, the Senate is considering a bill that would repeal major portions of the Dodd-Frank Act. This legislation would deregulate “25 of the largest 38 banks in the United States, accounting for $3.5 trillion in assets (roughly one-sixth of the assets in the entire banking sector), removing them from the post-crisis enhanced oversight regime.” But it’s clear financial deregulation is the last thing our economy—and American families—need right now. Wells Fargo and Equifax, among many other major institutions, have continued to take advantage of Americans, and strong protections are necessary to protect consumers. Instead, Congress could take some of these actions to empower consumer and small businesses. Still need more information on what this bill could mean for financial stability? Watch this explainer video from Generation Progress.
Most Americans Support #Dreamers. As Trump prepares for his first State of the Union—a speech likely to be filled with anti-immigrant rhetoric—a new poll confirms what we’ve seen again and again: the majority of Americans do not support Trump’s approach to immigrants in the U.S. Eighty percent of likely voters in swing districts believe Congress should take action to protect Dreamers. And most Americans are tired of hyper-partisan, extreme immigration proposals, instead calling for a bipartisan, commonsense solution. Finally, the majority of voters want America to continue to be a place of refuge, and they support “both family-based immigration and continued immigration from disadvantaged countries.” With 122 Dreamers losing protection every day, it’s crucial that Congress listen to their constituents and take action.
99 Problems and Trump is One. President Trump picked a new target for his tweets earlier this week, attacking Jay-Z for his comments about black unemployment. Trump took credit for record-low unemployment among black Americans—which, to be clear, is still much higher than the national average. But Trump had little, if anything, to do with these low rates. In fact, “economists and other fiscal experts are near unanimous in clarifying that Trump had nothing to with the good numbers because the downward trend line in black unemployment began years before he took office.” By continuing many economic policies of the Obama administration, Trump is allowing that trend to continue. But he may disrupt the progress soon enough. His refusal to acknowledge structural inequalities in the economic system that negatively impact black Americans is dangerous, and by refusing to take specific action to correct those inequalities—or taking actions that actually make them worse—Trump might reverse the steady downward trend. The bottom line: If Trump wants to give credit for low unemployment, he should be saying #ThanksObama.
Making Schools Safer. Mississippi has “the highest proportion of children experiencing school corporal punishment in the country”—but one Mississippi school district is fighting to change that. Last week, the Greenville School District banned corporal punishment, following a violent incident of a teacher dragging a student with a disability by the hair. It may seem that this practice is long-gone from America’s public schools. But that’s just not the case. In fact, twenty-two states allow the punishment, while another seven simply do not expressly prohibit it. Over 200,000 children are physically punished in schools, and children of color and disabled students are more likely to receive the inhumane treatment. Thankfully, students in the Greenville School District are now able to attend school without fear of their teachers or administrators using violence as a discipline strategy.