We’re now into the second week of the Biden administration, and despite a range of executive actions meant to undo some of the worst damage unleashed by the presidency of Donald Trump, it’s clear that the previous president’s brand of destructive politics is an ongoing threat to the country.
Trump may be out of the Oval Office and silenced on social media, but his divisive and anti-democratic views remain a potent force among his supporters, from the senators who disclaim the need to hold him accountable for inciting a violent and seditious mob attack on the Capitol to the state and local officials who participated and promoted that day’s rally, to the members of Congress (specifically, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene) who disturbingly embrace conspiracy theories and violence. In addition, multiple Trump political appointees remain embedded within the federal government, on boards and commissions or burrowed in to permanent civil service positions and cushy overseas jobs.
And undoing harmful policies — such as family separation, or the ban on transgender people serving in the military — is just part of addressing Trump’s damage. While the former Trump officials and aides who helped push and implement those policies and the dangerous lies about voter fraud search for new gigs, holding them accountable for their abuses of power is imperative. Especially as news continues to surface about how far officials were willing to go to subvert the election for Trump: Last weekend, the New York Times reported that the former president had even concocted a plan with a Justice Department lawyer to oust the acting attorney general and attempt to overturn Georgia’s election results.
This week, American Oversight and Accountable.US launched the Campaign Against Corporate Complicity, which seeks to prevent the normalization of the Trump administration’s worst policies and rhetoric. The campaign will directly call on CEOs of major companies and media organizations to avoid hiring any former officials seeking to sell their government experience without first fully vetting those officials’ involvement in crafting, implementing, or defending cruel or undemocratic actions.
Of course, many of those who would defend the former president’s attacks on democracy are still in office, specifically at the state and local levels. We’ve filed a number of requests in various states for the communications or expenses of lawmakers and local officials who participated in the Jan. 6 rally centered on Trump’s stolen-election lie. One of them is Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem, who this week, along with fellow attendee and former state Rep. Anthony Kern, told the Arizona Republic that they would not release phone messages about their travels, which the newspaper had requested. For the names of other officials who took part in the rally, HuffPost has put together this list.
We’re Also Keeping Our Eyes On…: New state-level voting-restriction proposals: A bill in Arizona that would remove some names from the “permanent” early voting list has the potential to confuse and disenfranchise voters, and another recently introduced bill would allow voters to get their ballots in the mail — but not send them back to send them back by mail. And in Georgia, where Republicans are reeling from recent election losses, a new bill would require voters to make two photocopies of their IDs before being allowed to vote absentee.
The Census Bureau announced this week that the 2020 census’ results, used to determine congressional apportionment, will be delivered by the end April, following months of controversy over the Trump administration’s attempts to politicize the count. From the Commerce Department’s inspector general, we obtained complaints that the office received about fraud, waste, and serious errors. Read more here.
Migrant Detention Conditions
In 2019, Congress created the DHS Office of the Immigration Detention Ombudsman to address complaints regarding DHS detention facilities. But as BuzzFeed’s Hamed Aleaziz pointed out, the office’s first report on the state of migrant detention offers little new information. Immigrants detained by DHS often endure overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, and inadequate medical care. Here’s a Twitter thread on some of what we’ve found in our investigation of migrant detention centers.
Canceled Celebrity Ad Campaign
In August 2020, the FDA awarded a $15 million contract to Atlas Research, part of a $300 million celebrity ad campaign, to “defeat despair” about Covid-19. The campaign was canceled in November following criticism over its politicized intentions — HHS spokesman Michael Caputo had even attempted to brand it as “helping the president.” We obtained a copy of the contract with Atlas Research.
Mike Pompeo’s Favorite Pizza and Sandwiches
The former secretary of state has reportedly landed a job at the conservative Hudson Institute, and questions remain about a number of controversies from his tenure, including his wife’s involvement in official business, his use of taxpayer resources for his own political ends, and even his unusual use of military housing. Redactions on State Department documents obtained by NBC News and American Oversight, respectively, have also underscored how the department went to great lengths to conceal even trivial information, such as Pompeo’s favorite pizza toppings and preferred sandwich.
Rudy Giuliani sued by Dominion Voting Systems over false election claims (New York Times)
Marjorie Taylor Greene indicated support for executing prominent Democrats in 2018 and 2019 before running for Congress (CNN)
Intelligence analysts use U.S. smartphone location data without warrants, memo says (New York Times)
National Park Service spent 4,000 hours working on Trump’s RNC fireworks show (CREW)
DeSantis doesn’t always give notice about his whereabouts, blocking media from asking tough questions (Florida Phoenix)
Former Voice of America overseer hired two law firms to $4 million no-bid contracts (Washington Post)
The ignominious deceits of Congressman Cawthorn (The Nation)
A viral video forced a wealthy Texas suburb to confront racism. A ‘silent majority’ fought back. (NBC News)
The madcap mysteries of Homeland Security (The Nation)
In Aleksei Navalny protests, Russia faces biggest dissent in years (New York Times)
How a bunch of Redditors made GameStop’s stock soar, much to the chagrin of the hedge funds attempting to short it (Vox)
How armed protests are creating a new kind of politics (New York Times)
Trump pressed Justice Department to go directly to Supreme Court to overturn election results (Wall Street Journal)
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