How to Remove a Lawless President Through the Use of Institutional Power

By Nick Knudsen and Matt Scharfstein

Calling for impeachment hearings now is certainly warranted by the evidence, but is not politically strategic, and that is why Democratic leaders are not doing it – yet.

Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on our border has prompted fresh calls for his removal from office. Rightfully so: the American people and their representatives in Congress do not support a border wall, so spending $6 billion in taxpayer funds on a project that nobody wants and that is rooted in xenophobia and politics instead of factual analysis is an abuse of power. Abuse of power is an impeachable offense.

Indeed, polls show that calls for impeachment now resonate with the part of the Democratic base that pays a great deal of attention to the day-to-day horrific news and policy coming out Trump’s White House. However, the same polling shows that those less involved tend to see impeachment as purely political and an attempt to overturn a valid election. Democratic leaders have made a judgment call that an early attempt at impeachment would actually play in Trump’s favor, and hand Trump and the Republican Party a victory we can’t afford. The better strategy – the strategy Speaker Pelosi appears to be endorsing by holding off on impeachment, is to move broader public opinion before beginning the process.
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The Loyal Opposition Mission Statement Update 2019

We have revised our Mission Statement to account for Democrats’ huge win in 2018 and the new challenges we face in 2019.


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The Kremlin’s Use of Amateur Agents

An artist’s rendering of amateur Russian spy Maria Butina in court

This piece was originally published by The Integrity Initiative

By Kseniya Kirillova

Russia uses many techniques in what is often now called “hybrid war.” They include subversive disinformation operations aimed at weakening Western countries and destroying trust in democratic institutions, as well as the direct lobbying of Russia’s interests through various unofficial channels of influence. Elements of this system of influence on Western societies and financial institutions are oligarchs and wealthy businessmen, propaganda media based in Western countries, various organizations for Russians living abroad, and even sometimes representatives of organized crime.

At the same time, in Russia, big business, the media, and the mafia are very closely connected with the Russian intelligence services. As a rule, such “agents of influence” don’t participate in espionage operations, and their functions are limited only to creating a positive image of Russia or laundering money through the Western financial system. However, sometimes Russian intelligence also uses civilians as ‘access agents’ or informants. Let’s look into how this works.

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How Does the Kremlin Influence Russians Living Abroad?

This piece was originally published in The Integrity Initiative & subsequently in DemWritePress.

By Kseniya Kirillova

The Russian-speaking diaspora abroad is quite numerous in many Western countries and is made up of many different waves of emigration – from descendants of White Russian émigrés to those who are arriving today. However, all these waves are characterized by a fairly high level of support for Vladimir Putin. It’s especially surprising to see such sentiments amongst people who emigrated in Soviet times, not so much for economic reasons but rather in search of freedom. However, even among them, support is quite high for a president who is far from democratic and rules a Russia that is far from free.

This leads some Western experts to wonder if Russian speakers are a potential “fifth column” – people who, even if they are not conscious agents of the Kremlin, can easily be manipulated into promoting Russian policies and influence operations abroad. And it should be recognized that the Kremlin is making great efforts to try and turn the diaspora into just such an arm of foreign policy.

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Donnie’s Fake Empathy for Kids

Artwork by Julie Frontera

Donnie loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red, brown, yellow; black and white. They are precious in his sight.

By Adam Cohen

Early in his presidency, some had hope. Donald Trump was incensed that Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on his people, violating international law and killing civilians. “[E]ven beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack,” the president lamented.

In the wake of his disastrous Muslim ban, Trump took this moment to avenge the killing of Syrian children by ordering an airstrike on combined Syrian and Russian forces. At the time, some wondered whether this was a turning point for the blustering billionaire. Could it be that the president was beginning to understand his role as the leader of the free world, and with it the responsibility to hold those who commit atrocities accountable for their heinous actions?  Was this finally the moment he would “pivot” from campaigning to governing? Did he really care about the suffering of children?

Omran Daqneesh, 5, after Syrian regime forces struck Aleppo
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LO Joins 17 Rule of Law Orgs to Urge Senate to Require Commitments from AG Nominee Barr

The Loyal Opposition Joins 17 Organizations Committed to Rule of Law to Urge Senators to Require Specific Commitments From Attorney General Nominee William Barr To Protect Mueller

The Loyal Opposition is one of 18 groups that have sent a letter to Senate leaders urging them to demand commitments from Attorney General nominee William Barr as part of the hearings on his nomination. The commitments are designed to protect special counsel Mueller’s investigation. Barr must commit to allowing the special counsel to follow the facts and complete the investigation, protect the integrity of the Justice Department by preventing President Trump or the White House from interfering in any prosecutorial or investigative decisions, and release the special counsel’s findings to Congress and the American people without the White House withholding any evidence.

The groups write: “Absent public commitments from Mr. Barr to protect the special counsel investigation, we strongly urge each senator to vote against confirming him… [T]he commitments from Mr. Barr might be the difference if President Trump orders him to fire Special Counsel Mueller. Mr. Barr’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee provides every senator with the opportunity to uphold the integrity of the rule of law and protect Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation.”

Read the complete letter below.
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CIA Veterans Say Russian Hostage Paul Whelan Could Not Be A Spy

By Kseniya Kirillova

This piece was originally published in EU Today and subsequently in DemWritePress.

On December 28th, 2018, Canadian-American Paul Whelan was detained in Moscow. According to the Russian side, Whelan was detained during an “espionage operation,” in connection with which the FSB opened a criminal case against the American, charging him with “Espionage”, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. On January 3rd, it became known that the Moscow City Court has ordered Whelan held under arrest for two months as a preventive measure.

According to Rosbalt, which refers to its sources in the special services, Whelan was caught red-handed receiving a flash drive with a classified list of employees of one of the secret agencies. However, Whelan maintains his innocence, and his twin brother, David, told the press that Paul was in Moscow for a wedding of a fellow Marine, which took place at an upscale hotel in central Moscow on Dec. 28, the day he was detained.

It is inconceivable to me that he would have done anything to break the law in Russia,” David Whelan told The Washington Post. As the American media discovered, Whelan joined the Marine Reserves in 1994. He was deployed in Iraq for several months in 2004 and 2006, but according to the press, in 2008 he was convicted at a special court-martial on several charges related to larceny and was given a bad-conduct discharge in December 2008 with the rank of Private.

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Trump’s Strength Is As Shallow As He Is

Trump plays tough, because he’s always playing with other people’s lives.

By Avi Bueno

Donald Trump’s base spends a lot of time celebrating his alleged strength. In fact, throughout Trump’s presidency, he has retained positive polling numbers on the attribute of “strength” from a majority of Republicans, even as his overall support has often dipped. Yet, what Republicans see in Trump as strength is a complete facade. While Trump’s actions may take on the appearance of strength, he only puts on this show of power when using other people as bargaining chips, knowing that any and all repercussion will be levied against someone else.

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Are Some Russian Elites Beginning to Give up on Trump?

There were famous religious dissidents in the former Soviet Union. New Christian opposition organizations have sprung up to continue their legacy.

By Kseniya Kirillova

This piece was originally published in The Integrity Initiative.

A new Russian “socio-political club” called The New Orthodoxy was announced in Moscow in October. Its founders assert that the name originates not in religion, but in the eponymous innovative model of economic development created in the 1930s in the USA which contributed to the country’s recovery from the Great Depression. However, the movement’s religious roots are still evident. According to the list of founders, it includes Lutherans, Old Catholics, the Party of the 10 Commandments, created by evangelical Christians, and other organizations associated with religion – along with the Russian Movement for Democratic Reforms. In its opening declaration, the founders say that the current world crisis is of a “spiritual and moral nature” and they want to work to support peacemaking and disarmament.
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Russia’s Media Continues to Support Trump: Where we are with Russia 2 Years In

By Kseniya Kirillova

This piece was originally published in The Integrity Initiative and subsequently in DemWritePress.

Russia’s interference in the internal affairs of the United States has long ceased to be a “political card,” as it’s usually described in Kremlin discourse. The indictments that are being handed down one after another by both Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Department of Justice show in detail the mechanisms of Russian operations for organizing and financing influence campaigns to manipulate American society. Since tracking hacker attacks and other operations is law-enforcement work, I try here to give a brief overview of the themes in Kremlin attitudes towards the United States as observed in the Russian media and how these themes have evolved over the past two years.
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Acting AG Matt Whitaker Can’t Run The Mueller Investigation

Your Action

Call your Senators and Representative and urge them to demand that Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker recuse himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
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The Fight for the Supreme Court Post-Kavanaugh

By Reginald Oh

Brett Kavanaugh is a U.S. Supreme Court justice. That means now there is a clear five conservative justice majority which could work to systematically gut constitutional rights. But, all is not lost. There are two possible solutions to the Kavanaugh appointment: 1) impeachment; and 2) increasing the number of SCOTUS seats. Impeachment, though, presents serious difficulties. The better solution is the second option: Democrats should seek to increase the number of seats on the Court.

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The Putin Regime Uses Blackmail Against its People and the West

By Kseniya Kirillova

This piece was originally published in The Integrity Initiative and subsequently in DemWritePress.

As its confrontation with the West grows, Russia’s use of the elements of blackmail, both veiled and direct, in its diplomacy is increasing. In general, threats and fear-mongering are some of the main tools of the Putin’s regime, primarily in domestic policy, where they serve as essential means of ensuring the loyalty of the population. However, the Kremlin is not averse to using the same tactics beyond its borders as well, trying to win concessions from Western leaders. Let’s look at the main types of Putin’s blackmail inside and outside Russia.

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Changing the Tune of the Trumpian Choir

By Adam Cohen

The high road is littered with potholes and pitfalls, hairpin turns and sheer cliffs.

But I am struggling to stay upon it.

Every day we are assaulted by voices from our political discourse which broadside our sensibilities and threaten to send us careening over the edge of the chasm.  Shakily, we try to maintain equilibrium and forge ahead on the course of liberty.

But these days, let me tell you, it ain’t easy.

The voices screech: The caravan is invading our country, bringing disease, criminals and Middle Easterners!, hardly attempting to hide their completely unfounded and preposterous conspiracy theory that women and children essentially walking from Honduras to the United States and asking for asylum; human beings hoping to escape destitution, rape and almost certain death; mothers who are simply desperate to find a safe home in which to raise their children; and impoverished migrants engaged in an arduous, several thousand mile journey; are all not only somehow clandestinely harboring terrorists, but are also looking to invade America, attack us, infect us, and destroy our way of life.

But the voices don’t stop there.
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The Cloud Over Trump Darkens with the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi: It’s Worse than Just another Conflict of Interest, it Could be Bribery

By Luke Brussel

President Trump’s financial ties to foreign governments and leaders have once again come under scrutiny as Trump equivocates on the United States response to the murder of Saudi journalist and critic, Jamal Khashoggi, even as calls grow from Congress for retaliatory sanctions against the Saudis responsible for the murder. Trump continues to raise questions about his motives as he provides cover to the Saudi government and the Saudi Royal Family by backing their shifting explanations and disavowals of responsibility by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud (“MBS”) for the Khashoggi murder despite a widely held skeptical response. The criticism and dialogue about whether President Trump is primarily motivated by United States policy interests or his own financial interests in his response to Khashoggi’s murder have taken a familiar path to that of his prior reactions to international events: the focus has been on possible issues of ethics and violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause arising from conflicts of interest in Trump’s business dealings with the Saudis. Such focus misses a much more consequential legal dimension to this issue: were President Trump to use the Presidency to block sanctions or other United States government action against the Saudis in response to the Khashoggi murder on the basis of Trump’s financial ties to the Saudis, it would violate Federal Anti-Corruption laws, constitute a felony, and stand as an enumerated Constitutional basis for impeachment. The same is true for other instances in which the President may have taken government action because of or for his personal enrichment over the public interest.

From his actions in response to Russian interference in the 2016 election to the favorable change in U.S. treatment of the Chinese ZTE Corporation, the issue of public corruption by Trump for his personal enrichment from foreign powers is one that runs through the Trump Presidency.

It arguably represents the greatest threat to the Presidency, but has yet gone without the level of scrutiny given to his conflicts of interest and whether such conflicts violate the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause. With the real possibility of Democratic control of the House of Representatives and its investigatory powers looming, President Trump’s ability to evade the open question of whether he is engaging in public corruption may be coming to an end.

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Sarah Sanders Attempts to Rewrite Our Collective Memory

By Avi Bueno

Three years. That’s how long we’ve endured a collective experience of nonstop violent rhetoric from Donald Trump. Throughout these three years, we’ve seen and heard Trump promote violence against everyone from his political opponents, to news outlets, to everyday citizens.

And now, those three years of increasing and unending violent rhetoric have come to a head as the targets of Trump’s incessant public ire became the targets of a serial bomber.

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Russian Spy Marina Butina’s Handler Relocates to Russia to Work on State TV

AMERICAN DIMITRI SIMES VACATES TO RUSSIA TO DEFEND TRUMP & PUTIN ON STATE TV

NAMED BY MARIA BUTINA AS ONE OF HER HANDLERS, SIMES EXPOSES HIS ALLEGIANCES TO TRUMP & RUSSIA.

By Kseniya Kirillova

This piece was originally published on EU Today and subsequently in DemWritePress.

Last week, a Russian-American historian Yuri Felshtinsky published a detailed investigation into the connections between Maria Butina (who was arrested for her activity as a “foreign agent”) and those who she named as her handlers in the United States, namely, the Director of the Center for the National Interest, Dimitri Simes and professor at the American University, Anton Fedyashin. According to Felshtinsky himself, the publication of the article about Simes has “created dramatic consequences”: its hero fled to Moscow in a hurry, where he became a moderator of a political program “Big Game” on an official Russian TV Channel along with Vyacheslav Molotov’s grandson Vyacheslav Nikonov.

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IMMEDIATE: Demand a real FBI probe of Kavanaugh; Not a sham [EXPIRED]

Your Action

Call your Senators and tell them to demand the FBI have a free hand to fully investigate the sexual assault claims against Judge Kavanaugh.
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Vote NO on Kavanaugh for Supreme Court [EXPIRED]

Your Action

Call your Senators at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to vote NO on confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
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Rod Rosenstein: Our national coalition implores you – DO NOT RESIGN

The Loyal Opposition and 40 other national organizations and individuals committed to the rule of law, including conservatives, sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Tuesday imploring him not to resign, and to stay in his position to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

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