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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 07.31.19

Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely.

MUELLER TESTIMONY SPURS CALLS FOR IMPEACHMENT

Last Wednesday, July 24, Robert Mueller III testified before the House Judiciary and House Intelligence Committees on the findings of his report, issued at the conclusion of the months long investigation as Special Counsel into whether the President colluded with Russia in the 2016 election. While Mueller refused, often quite pointedly, to offer any new rulings or judgments on the report given in May, his confirmations reiterated the gravity of his findings: “The finding indicates that the president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed,” he said to Rep. Jerrold Nadler during testimony.

This cannot be understated. To put it another way, as Mark Grief contextualizes it: “Mueller, a Republican lawman, with a conservative temperament and following the most conservative legal reasoning, concludes that President Trump cannot be proven innocent of crimes of obstruction of justice.”

Though Mueller, through his adherence to a Department of Justice guideline, refuses to indict a sitting president, the crimes detailed by his report are enough to soundly condemn his corrupt actions. The Trump campaign was aided by Russians, and even invited their aid, they committed numerous campaign finance infractions, and then actively impeded and hindered the investigation into its wrongdoing. This much is clear.

The day prior to Mueller's testimony, DI partner NAACP, in a unanimous vote during their 110th NAACP Annual Convention, called for impeachment proceedings to begin against the president. DI Board Member and NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson issued the following statement:

“The pattern of President Trump’s misconduct is unmistakable and has proven time and time again, that he is unfit to serve as the president of this country. From his attempts to curtail the scope of Robert Mueller’s investigation to calling out minority congresswomen and telling them to go back to their countries, to caging immigrant children without food or water to his numerous attempts to avert the Supreme Court’s decision to not add in the citizenship question to the 2020 Census – this president has led one of the most racist and xenophobic administrations since the Jim Crow era. President Trump is not above the law and the crimes that he has committed and he must be prosecuted. We will make sure that the NAACP is at the forefront of pushing Congress to proceed with the impeachment process."

DI Board Co-Chair and Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn announced Common Cause's call for an impeachment inquiry the day after, immediately following Mueller's testimony. As Hobert Flynn states in her op-ed,

"As we heard again Wednesday in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony, President Donald Trump and members of his administration went to great efforts to hide the truth from government investigators as well. Mueller also made it very clear that the threat to our elections from Russia and other hostile foreign powers is ongoing and not nearly enough is being done to safeguard the integrity of future elections.

And once again, we heard from Mueller that his report did not exonerate Trump of criminal wrongdoing. 'The president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed,' he said. Or, as he put it in May: 'If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.'"

The Democracy Initiative takes this moment to reiterate that the American people must have full transparency, and accountability, from their elected officials, and they must have the opportunity to use their voices in our elections without manipulation or tampering from foreign countries.

Read highlights of the testimony here.

SENATE WATCH

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently blocked multiple pieces of election security legislation, developed and made urgent by the former Special Counsel Robert Muller’s testimony to Congress last week, from reaching a vote on the floor of the Senate.

For months, the media reported that we had evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller’s testimony confirmed this beyond doubt. Yet, armed by the absolute dysfunction of the Senate, McConnell has singled-handedly blocked essential legislation to safeguard our elections and ensure all Americans are free and able to make themselves heard.

McConnell defended himself claiming that he should not be smeared for opposing security measures that he’s championed, but his response rings hollow, considering he’s prevented several measures designed to safeguard elections from reaching the Senate floor for a vote since January, including the landmark H.R. 1 For the People Act, which included provisions for election security, audits, and tampering-resistant paper balloting.

It’s un-American to block votes—arrogant to appoint oneself arbiter of the people’s will, especially when Americans overwhelmingly demand free and fair elections. We are fighting for full turnout, special interest money-free elections, and fair representation for all, and we cannot meaningfully claim to be a strong democracy when the ability to vote is compromised by foreign—and domestic—tampering.

Mitch McConnell, release the security bills.

SAVE THE DATE: DI 2019 ANNUAL MEETING

DEMOCRACY IN THE NEWS: STATE UPDATES

MICHIGAN—GOP SUES TO STOP REDISTRICTING COMMISSION

Michigan Republicans are suing to prevent the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, overwhelmingly supported by Michigan voters, from taking effect. Filed this past Tuesday, July 30, the plaintiffs—a nonprofit tied to the National Republican Redistricting Trust—claim it unfairly discriminates against the family members of political office holders (former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is the finance chair of the GOP trust).

Jamie Lyons-Eddy, Director of Campaigns and Programs for Voters Not Politicians, gave the following statement:

"Now that citizens are in charge of a fair, impartial, and transparent redistricting process, we know that some politicians who will lose power to draw maps in secret for their own benefit will make a last ditch effort to hold on to it. Michigan is one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation, but voters pushed back by overwhelmingly supporting the new redistricting amendment so voters choose their politicians—not the other way around."

Read more here.

OHIO—HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS AT RISK OF VOTER PURGE

On Monday, July 29, county boards of elections mailed notices to over 235,000 voters, claiming that unless they respond, they’ll be purged from the voter rolls. This is will be the second purge attempted since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld last summer an Ohio law requiring voters to be purged if they don’t vote in a six-year period or respond to the notice.

Some of our coalition allies, including DI partner League of Women Voters of Ohio, are requesting the full list to engage in outreach. We ultimately understand, however, that this punitive action descends from a long line of voter suppression tactics and will disproportionately affect poor, Black, and brown communities most.

Read more here.

GEORGIA—OFFICIALS DESTROYED PROOF OF SUPPRESSION

Lawyers from the Coalition for Good Governance, a small nonprofit that advocates for transparency and election integrity, filed suit against the State of Georgia alleging that Georgia election officials destroyed evidence of alleged “hacking, unauthorized access, and potential of manipulation of election results” during the 2018 midterms. The brief goes on to claim that officials “‘almost immediately’ began destroying evidence after a 2017 lawsuit alleged Georgia’s voting machines were outdated and vulnerable to hacking.”

These allegations are particularly relevant given Brian Kemp’s narrow victory over Stacey Abrams, especially after sources revealed that his office held 53,000 voter registrations(70% of those from Black voters) for failing to clear “Exact Match” requirements—a discriminatory practice pioneered by voter suppression architect Kris Kobach.

Read more here.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE—GRASSROOTS ORGANIZING INTERN

The Democracy Initiative, a dynamic network of 72 organizations, representing 45 million members, is seeking a talented Grassroots Mobilizing Intern to join our team. Working under the supervision of the campaign team, the Grassroots Mobilizing Intern will assist with message development, organizing campaigns, training, and mobilizing democracy issues to our partners. This is a paid internship.

See the full posting here.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE—COMMUNICATIONS INTERN

The Democracy Initiative, a dynamic network of 72 organizations, representing 45 million members, is seeking a talented Communications Intern to join our team. Working under the supervision of the Communications Strategist, the Communications Intern will assist with message development and implementation, social media engagement, and online mobilizations for our diverse issue partners. This is a paid internship.

See the full posting here.

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS—NATIONAL ORGANIZING DIRECTOR

DI partner League of Women Voters is seeking a National Organizing Director, who will be responsible for developing and driving the League of Women Voters’ organizing strategy to build the long-term grassroots power at the state and national levels necessary to secure transformative wins that address the fundamental inequities built into our democracy. This is a senior level management position. This is a supervisory position that directs national LWVUS organizing staff, and in major priority campaigns, works closely with state and local volunteer field teams.

See the full posting here.

TAKE ON WALL STREET—EDUCATION & ADVOCACY COORDINATOR

DI partner Take On Wall Street is seeking a highly motivated self-starter with a passion for economic, racial, and gender justice, and have a demonstrated ability to work well with a diverse team of colleagues and allies for their Education & Advocacy Coordinator position.

The Take On Wall Street campaign came together to build a financial system for white, black, and brown working families, not big Wall Street banks. In the spring of 2016, over 50 groups decided to work together to envision a better financial system, train activists, cultivate champions, and fight for policy change to address the predatory economic power of big Wall Street banks and billionaires, and build a financial system for all of us.

Read the full posting here.

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