Message From Our Executive Director

Message From Our Executive Director

Over the last several months, it has become increasingly clear that it’s going to come down to us–the people–to get our country back on track. It’s going to take a massive grassroots mobilization, all of us across America working together to defeat Donald Trump’s agenda.

Battleground states are going to be particularly important this year, and I have believed for a long time now that North Carolina is a bellwether for the rest of the nation. This is a great time to be on the ground in a state that will be pivotal in the future of our county. And living in North Carolina, I can play a role in ensuring that the voice of North Carolinians is not silenced.

For this reason, I have decided that The Loyal Opposition will go on hiatus for the next several months and I will be joining the team at Organizing Together 2020 North Carolina. Organizing Together 2020 is a community based, volunteer-driven organizing campaign focused on the goal of defeating Trump’s agenda. We have no time to waste. The time to start organizing is now. You can learn more on our website, and by following us on Twitter and Facebook

Yours in solidarity,

Adrienne Kirschner


Call to Action: Contact Your Senators and Demand Vote by Mail

Your Action:

Contact your Senators and tell them we need nationwide voting by mail and expanded early voting. We must ensure our elections are safe and accessible.

Background:

Last week, voters in Wisconsin were forced to choose between protecting their health and participating in our Democracy. This cannot stand. Voters should not have to choose between their health and their vote.

In the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic, Congress must institute reforms that will allow voters to safely cast their ballot and provide states the funding they need to run safe and secure elections.

This critical funding should be used by states to increase vote-by-mail, expand early voting, expand online and same-day registration, and to ensure the safety of voters and poll workers.

Voting by mail or absentee ensures that the voters can participate in our elections without having to venture outside during the pandemic. And expanded early voting will ensure that voters that need to vote in person won’t be faced with long lines and massive crowds. 

In order to win funding in time for the November election, we need to demand our elected officials act now. Call your Senators today to demand $4 billion in funding to secure our elections in the upcoming stimulus. Dial 1-888-415-4527 and use the script below:

Script:

Hello [SEN]. My name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent [ZIP CODE].

I shouldn’t have to risk my health and safety to vote. We need to secure our elections and this can’t be done without the necessary funding. 

We must include $4 billion in the next stimulus package so states can increase vote-by-mail, expand early voting and online and same-day registration, and ensure the safety of voters and poll workers.

Thank you.

 



The Loyal Opposition Statement on the Impeachment Acquittal of Donald Trump

The GOP Senate’s acquittal of President Donald Trump amounts to a complete abdication of the Senate’s constitutional duty to check presidential abuses of power.

The House managers demonstrated with overwhelming evidence that Trump abused his power when he withheld aid to Ukraine as part of a bribery scheme to coerce Ukrainian president Zelensky to announce a sham investigation of a political rival, Joe Biden. 

We have not seen anything like Trump’s abuse of power throughout American history. Trump’s hijacking of foreign policy to further his personal, political interests is exactly the kind of abuse of power that the framers of the Constitution feared the most. If Trump’s Ukraine bribery scheme is not an impeachable offense, then what is to stop Trump or future presidents  from starting a war to further their political interests?

Trump’s misconduct is a  high crime requiring conviction and removal. He is a clear and present danger to the rule of law and national security. Now that he will remain in office, there is a substantial risk that he will abuse his power in a similar fashion. The GOP Senate’s sham impeachment trial without witnesses, in conjunction with their vote to acquit, will go down in history as one of the worst decisions ever rendered by the Senate.


Trump’s Corruption Defense Is His Confession

by Reginald Oh

The GOP senators refused to call witnesses and will acquit Trump on Wednesday. That’s a travesty of justice especially given that Trump has openly confessed to the bribery scheme. How so?

Trump’s primary defense is that he temporarily withheld military aid to Ukraine out of his sincere, legitimate concern about Ukraine corruption.

The problem with the defense?

If he was truly concerned about corruption, his only legal option was to seek to cancel the aid entirely. He had no legal authority to put a temporary hold on the aid. His corruption defense actually proves the illegality of the hold.

Trump’s central defense for withholding aid to Ukraine has two key elements: The purpose behind the hold and its temporary nature. Regarding the purpose, he contends that he put the aid on pause out of his concern that the money might be depleted or wasted through Ukrainian corruption. Because a concern about corruption is legitimate and reasonable, he argues that the temporary hold on the aid was entirely appropriate. 

Trump and his defenders also emphasize the temporary nature of the hold, strategically calling the hold a “pause” and claiming there was no harm, no foul. Because Trump’s concerns about corruption were allayed, the pause was lifted and Ukraine ultimately received the aid.

The problem with the “I paused the aid because of corruption” defense is the Impoundment Control Act. Under the Act, if the president has a policy concern about obligating or disbursing Congressionally appropriated funds, he has only one legal recourse under the ICA: To inform Congress that he wants to rescind the appropriated funds.

And by rescind, the term means exactly what it sounds like: the funds would be cancelled entirely, not just temporarily paused. 

If he wanted to just temporarily hold the funds, he could not do it, precisely because his stated reason was a policy concern. It does not matter if the policy concern was genuine. The ICA clearly prohibits the President from temporarily withholding funds for policy reasons. 

Why? Because of Richard Nixon. Nixon would routinely abuse his powers by refusing to spend Congressionally appropriated funds based on policy grounds. So, Congress passed the Impoundment Control Act to strictly regulate if and how the president can refuse to spend funds, whether permanently or temporarily. 

The ICA states that, if the president has a “fiscal policy” concern about appropriated funds, he has only one option: To seek what’s called a “rescission” or a cancellation of those funds. 

The ICA does give the president the power to temporarily withhold funds, but only for non-policy, budgetary reasons. A temporary hold is called a deferral, and the ICA states that the President can seek a deferral for only 3 reasons: 1) to provide for [budgetary] contingencies; 2) to achieve savings; 3) as provided by law.

Because Trump explicitly and emphatically argues that he had a *policy* reason for withholding aid (concern about Ukraine corruption), he is effectively admitting that he had no legal authority to defer or put a temporary hold on the funds. His so called legitimate reason for the hold is precisely what makes the “pause” illegal or unauthorized.

The implications should be clear. Each time Trump and his defenders raise the corruption defense, they are admitting that he engaged in illegal action.

If Trump sincerely cared about Ukraine corruption, he would have followed protocol, sought a rescission, and informed Congress of that decision as required by the ICA. Trump and his aides knew this, which is likely why he did neither of those things.

The illegality of the temporary hold also undermines Trump’s defense that there was no harm, no foul, because he ultimately released the aid. However, if the hold was truly about corruption, then, under the ICA, it’s up to Congress, not Trump, to determine if the aid ultimately should be released or rescinded. His unilateral decision to release the aid after holding it up on policy grounds actually operated as a usurpation of Congressional authority.

One may wonder, why didn’t he go through the proper legal channels and formally seek a rescission? For a couple of reasons. First, it would have created a political firestorm. Seeking to cancel aid to Ukraine would have raised bipartisan confusion and outrage in Congress.

Second, the truth is that the hold was never about Ukraine corruption. It was about an illicit goal to smear Joe Biden to further his re-election chances. Informing Congress of his wish to rescind the aid would have made it impossible for him to use the withheld aid as leverage to coerce Ukraine to announce an investigation of Biden.

Bottom line, the Ukraine corruption rationale actually undermines rather than supports Trump’s claim that the “pause” on the release of funds was appropriate. Trump raised a defense that amounts to a confession. The corruption argument is the emperor without any clothes.

In light of Trump’s open confession, the Senate acquittal should not be seen as an exoneration.