Read for the resistance!

Deadline: May 13 and ongoing 

Starting Monday, May 13, tens of thousands of Americans will resist the Obstructor-In-Chief and his lawless administration by reading and discussing the Mueller Report – together. Join us!

Despite our efforts to make sure that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was able to complete his Trump-Russia investigation and deliver a report, according to a CNN poll only 24% of Americans say they’ve read any of the report. 75% have so far opted not to read it, and only 3% say they’ve read all 448 pages.

Unindicted co-conspirator Individual-1 and Attorney General Bill “Stonewall” Barr have sparked a constitutional crisis, blocking Congress and the public from seeing the full report. They’re also trying to prevent witnesses, including Mueller himself, from testifying in public hearings. But while the Democrats, with our support, fight those battles, we have the report, and a critical way to resist is to READ IT!

Members of the Not Above the Law coalition began the Mueller Book Club to encourage more people to read the report. They’re calling on Americans to start local reading groups across the country, and to join them for a once-weekly broadcast to discuss it.

The “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election,” aka the Mueller Report, is the most in-depth summary the U.S. government has produced about Russia’s efforts to interfere in our 2016 election on behalf of  Trump. The two-year investigation also resulted in a sickening chronicle of Trump and his cronies intent on obstructing the investigation.

Over the course of a month, participants in the Mueller Book Club will read the report together, section by section. We’ll devote two weeks each to the two volumes, including footnotes and redactions, to learn what they tell us about the investigations and their consequences. Legal and policy experts will explain the contents and address key questions, and we’ll debate and discuss its findings online.

How to participate:

  • Join the #mueller_book_club channel on Indivisible East Bay’s Slack. Not yet on Slack? Email us for an invite: info@indivisibleeb.org
  • Start a reading group in your own group or community.
  • Sign up to receive a weekly reading guide and information about the weekly online discussions – registration is open for the first call now
  • Encourage others in your community to engage with the report and its findings – organizers will send you suggestions
  • Join the Mueller Book Club facebook group

The organizers’ ultimate goal is for participants to understand the implications of the report, and to use that understanding to inform their friends, family and communities about what it means to them.

The Report debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and tops Amazon’s best seller list, but you can download it for free. Here are some alternatives to get the report:

 

More info & background

To find out more about the Special Counsel’s investigation, and learn what actions Indivisible East Bay has been taking to support it for over a year, read our past articles:

 

Mueller Mad Libs

Ah, the Barr version of the Mueller Report – so many redactions, it looks like Sarah Huckabee Sanders wearing her Hamburglar outfit, and does as much to raise our confidence … Do you wonder what’s behind all those impenetrable Barr’s bars? Wonder no longer, all is revealed – gather your friends round and create your own Mueller Mad Libs!

Here are four selections expertly curated by Indivisible East Bay’s encryption and grammar nerdery team. Please share and enjoy! Also: check out our action article, “We See Through Barr’s Transparency.” And don’t forget to contact your members of Congress – and spread the word!

We see through Barr’s “transparency”

Deadline: hair on fire right now –

Updated April 27, 2019: 

Attorney General William “Cover Up” Barr delayed releasing his redacted version of Special Counsel Mueller’s 300+ page report for nearly a month after he got it. (See Indivisible East Bay’s text searchable version of the pdf). This served Individual-1 and also served two purposes: Barr wants to bury the report by dropping it the day before a long holiday weekend while Congress is in recess; and he and the administration had nearly a month to spin and lie to control public perception about the investigation’s findings. Oh yeah, and he dropped it after holding another head-spinning publicity stunt, oh we mean press conference, about Mueller’s report … but without (wait for it) Robert Mueller.

After constant demands from Congress that Barr release the full report and underlying investigation materials (thanks to your calls and nationwide Trump Is Not Above the Law protests), Barr said he’d redact “sensitive” materials from the report and release the rest. That’s NOT enough — we know Barr can’t be trusted! He’s left a paper trail, like the audition memo he wrote to get his AG gig. And there’s his history of summarizing and redacting important documents. In 1989 Barr summarized a legal opinion that led to the FBI abducting Panama’s leader, General Manuel Noriega. Only after Congress subpoenaed the legal opinion was it revealed that Barr’s summary did not fully disclose the opinion’s principal conclusions. Déjà vu all over again?

In Winston Churchill’s words, this is just the end of the beginning. Congress now has a version of the report, but it must continue to push to get the FULL report and all underlying investigatory evidence. Barr also put his heavy thumb on the scale, improperly making the determination that the evidence did not establish Trump obstructed justice. This is NOT Barr’s determination to make – Congress must move ahead and redouble its investigations to hold Trump and his cronies accountable.

What to do:

1. Call your Members of Congress, now and every day.

Yes, you need to call even when your MoCs have taken good positions on an issue – the other side is calling, and you need to make your voice heard!

What to say:

My name is _______, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay.  I want _______ to do everything in their power to demand that AG Barr immediately give the full, unredacted Mueller report and all evidence to Congress. Also, I support the Democrats’ investigations to hold Trump accountable, and want them to expand the investigations to follow up on all evidence in the Mueller report.

2. Spread the word on social media!

See Indivisible National’s April 18 statement, and then try out their nifty new tool to create and upload a short video clip expressing your opinion.

More info & background

To find out more, and learn what actions we’ve been taking for over a year, read our past articles:

 

9/27/18 IEB & ISF Sen Feinstein office visit

Seventeen Indivisibles from IEB and Indivisible San Francisco met with Sean Elsbernd, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s state director, on September 27 at her San Francisco office. Our almost two-hour meeting was jam-packed with questions and “asks.”

First on the agenda: a detailed back and forth on how the homeless count in San Francisco is conducted. It was further emphasized that more resources were needed to help the homeless, from outreach to affordable housing. Sean seemed particularly concerned about the estimate that 2,400 kids may be homeless.

For those of you not placing the date, September 27 was the day Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh testified in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Of course, the hearings came up, and we stressed – as we have consistently done – that we are firmly against Kavanaugh being confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. The group urged Senator Feinstein to continue what she’s doing and to look as well for other methods to stop his confirmation.

On a not-necessarily-unrelated note, the topic of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act came up. Sean thinks that Congress will just extend the Act, at least for the short term.

Sean told us that on the important issue of immigrant family separation, their office is not getting phone calls, and that it’s crucial for people to keep this issue alive by contacting the Senator. He did acknowledge that the Kavanaugh hearings have diverted attention – but we should look for any opportunity to revive the issue.

Sean said that the House is expected to head home for campaigning and won’t be back until after the midterms, so don’t expect any legislation to pass that needs both chambers to act on.

We also talked about protecting the Mueller Trump-Russia investigation, election security, digital privacy, environmental/public health, the war in Yemen, the Farm Bill, workers’ rights, the federal judiciary, tax policy, trade, criminal justice reform, and having a town hall. Sean’s comments on each of those topics were informative and indicated the Senator’s position. As an example, the Farm Bill is in conference and the final version will have to be acceptable to 60 Senators regardless of what the House passed. Another insight: White House Counsel Don McGahn’s imminent departure will force the Administration and Senate Republicans to start from scratch on judicial nominations and will give Senate Democrats a bit of breathing room.

As of November 7, Sean will be the chief of staff for San Francisco Mayor London Breed. As of now, Senator Feinstein has not selected his replacement but he’s hoping that will be resolved shortly. The general feeling from the Indivisible folks was that Sean will be missed.

Read our memo to the Senator.

 

IEB Meets with Senator Harris’ Staff, May 2018

Sen. Harris office visit 050518

By Myra S. Mitzman

On May 3, 2018, Indivisible East Bay met with Senator Kamala Harris’ State Director, Julie Rodriguez, and Bay Area District Director, June Williams, in downtown Oakland.  

We opened with a serious discussion surrounding ICE tactics of detaining pregnant women and separating children from their parents. Julie stressed that, in light of misinformation about the recently-arrived “caravan,” it is important to humanize the narrative—something we can do to help. Please email Senator Harris if you have a story concerning someone adversely affected by these harsh ICE policies.

The dialogue turned to national security, in particular Trump’s nominee to head the CIA, Gina Haspel (torture, anyone?). We pointed out that the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA Rendition, Detention and Interrogation, about the treatment of detainees during the so-called “War on Terror” rightly belongs to the Senate, not the CIA, and perhaps could be publicly released by any member of the Senate Intelligence Committee – which includes both Senator Harris and Senator Feinstein. Also on the national security agenda: Syria, where there is seemingly no long-term strategy, and where, according to Julie, the U.S.’s “muscular diplomacy” (i.e., ability to engage in effective negotiation) has dwindled.

On the topic of Social Security, IEB members and staff alike took umbrage at the characterization of this program as an “entitlement” when so many of us have paid into it for decades. Ironically, one of the best things we could do to shore up Social Security is to pass comprehensive immigration reform, so more young immigrants will be able to pay into the system—and earn more money, and create more jobs, growing an economy that can take care of the aging population. And let’s not forget how the Trump tax scam was always intended to dry up funding for social safety net programs.

Over the course of the next 60 minutes, we covered climate change (see S.2352, the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2018, currently in need of co-sponsors); Puerto Rico (debt restructuring/renewable energy?); Trump’s latest judicial appointments (see snippet of Senator Harris grilling Wendy Vitter); defense spending (don’t count on a Harris “No” vote on increases); election security (demand paper ballots!); and sexual harassment in Congress (Harris’s staff undergoes regular harassment training, but she appears to be in the minority in doing this).

We also got into drug policy, including Senator Schumer’s proposed national Democratic platform for marijuana decriminalization. Julie pointed out that, with Democrats holding so few Washington “power levers,” one way to effect change is through the appropriations process. If Congress doesn’t approve appropriations, the Department of Justice can’t implement its regressive drug enforcement policies. For now, the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment is still good law (the DOJ isn’t supposed to spend money enforcing federal drug laws in states that have legalized medical cannabis). But as we know, true drug reform requires reforming sentencing laws, eliminating cash bail (promising, but not if the algorithm used to determine flight risk, etc. is inherently biased), and decriminalizing marijuana (including a nationwide “equity agenda” similar to Oakland’s).

Sen. Harris office visit 050518

A few more notable moments:

  • Julie saying that, for Senator Harris, the conversation always needs to be, “How do we improve people’s lives?” It’s her “litmus test” whenever evaluating an issue or proposal. Amen.
  • Quote of the day: “The Senator’s ability to be fearless is because you all are.” Awwww. See the Senator’s interview on the Stephen Colbert show, where she was perhaps a bit measured, but watch and judge for yourselves.
  • Reminding Julie that, despite Mitch McConnell’s bluster, any Senator can introduce the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, which would protect Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia 

Last but not least, we’re pushing for another town hall. June Williams said she’s been pressing the Senator on this. Historically, town halls were held only by House representatives. Fun fact: Before the 2016 election, Senators Feinstein and Boxer had not held a town hall in 24 years—last year’s Feinstein April town hall in San Francisco was her first ever! But in these troubled times, people’s demands have changed, and town halls are an important way to have our voices heard. Please call our senators and reps and demand more town halls this year—then show up (and speak up!) if and when they happen.

Myra Mitzman is an Oakland real estate/business attorney and sideline women’s fiction author (under the pseudonym Sheryl Sorrentino).

Photos by Maria Bernstein

 

IEB meets with Feinstein State Director April 17, 2018

On April 17, 2018, a dedicated group of about 25 Indivisible East Bay, Indivisible Central Contra Costa County, and Together We Will Contra Costa members sat down with Senator Diane Feinstein’s State Director, Sean Elsbernd, at the Concord Public Library. After a week filled with news of scandals and investigations in the White House, as well as some major foreign policy developments, the participants were eager to talk to someone with inside knowledge of what’s going on in D.C.

As is typical of our meetings with Sean, IEB came prepared with a checklist of items to discuss. Our goals are to inform Sean of our position on various issues and request actions for the Senator to take — as well as to allow Sean to provide us with his reaction to our requests. This is never dull. Sean is not shy about asserting his views on the agenda topics, whether or not those views align with ours.

In this latest meeting, our checklist was ambitious — it included more than 20 items. Here are some highlights:

The Mueller probe

With Trump frequently commenting about the possibility that he may fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller or otherwise attempt to shut down the Russia investigation, there’s pressure on Congress to pass legislation to protect Mueller. Senators Tillis, Graham, Booker and Coons of the Judiciary Committee, of which Senator Feinstein is a Ranking Member, have sponsored the bipartisan Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act to do just that. Senator Grassley scheduled a Committee vote, though it may be for naught, as Mitch McConnell will not bring the vote to the floor and the House apparently has no plans to do anything on this matter.

Sean offered little hope. He encouraged us to keep public pressure on the Senators and to keep these bills and the importance of protecting Mueller in the public eye. Consistent with news reports and the perception of groups who are mobilizing to protect the investigation (including Indivisibles), Sean believes the real immediate danger is that Trump will fire Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, as an indirect route to stopping Mueller.

Meanwhile, two committees in the Senate have been investigating Russian interference into our elections: the Intelligence Committee is focused directly on what happened in the 2016 election, while the Judiciary Committee is looking into obstruction of justice concerning the Russian interference. The report from the Intelligence Committee is close to completion. Their findings, when published, need to get to Secretaries of State across the country ASAP, so they can address possible voting obstruction/interference issues. Sean reports that Senator Chuck Grassley (chairman of the Judiciary Committee) has not been helpful in his committee’s investigation. We should be prepared to exert pressure for action here.

Judicial appointments

For judicial appointments, there is a longstanding tradition in the Senate whereby the nominee’s home state Senator is sent a form called a “blue slip” and can signal their support for a nomination by returning a positive blue slip to the Judiciary Committee. Declining to return a blue slip indicates the Senator does not support the nominee; this has traditionally doomed a nomination.

During the Obama administration, GOP Senators often withheld blue slips to prevent confirmation of judges that the Republican party opposed. Breaking with this tradition, Grassley has recently allowed two nominees to go forward without a blue slip. Feinstein has thrown down a marker on respecting the blue slip tradition. We at IEB see this as critical, especially because there are currently seven vacancies in the influential Ninth Circuit, which includes California. Blue slips may be the only way Democratic Senators can influence nominations to this Circuit.

Bombing of Syria

Feinstein believes that, while the President can unilaterally authorize limited strikes, sustained military action should require authorization from Congress. Last year, she voted to debate repealing the 2001 AUMF Authorization for Use of Military Force), but that vote failed. Senators Corker and Kaine on the Foreign Relations Committee have introduced a bipartisan bill to repeal and replace the current AUMF. Feinstein plans to review that bill and continues to support having that debate. IEB also wants Congress to have this debate, but considers the terms of the proposed replacement AUMF very problematic and has asked Feinstein not to support it.

Pompeo nomination

Feinstein opposes the nomination of Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. We concur — see our article for action you can take to oppose Pompeo’s nomination.

Offshore drilling in California

Donald Trump continues to push to open the California coast to offshore drilling. Not surprisingly, Feinstein is strongly opposed to this. State Senator Hanna-Beth Jackson has introduced SB 834, which would designate as state land the entire California coast, from beaches to three miles out to sea. The bill would also prohibit “the State Lands Commission from approving any leases of submerged lands that would result in an increase of oil or natural gas production from federal waters.” This would effectively prevent federal authorization of offshore drilling in California. Feinstein supports this bill and additionally wants all California counties to pass resolutions opposing offshore drilling.

We at IEB need to call our state representatives in support of this bill!

Immigration reform

A California woman spoke about her husband who was born in Brazil and had been adopted by Americans as a child. The couple recently learned that, despite the adoption, the husband is not a U.S. citizen. Shockingly, at this point, there is no clear pathway to citizenship for him, nor for others in a similar position. As a result, such individuals could be sent back to their country of origin — where they know no one and do not know the culture. Faced with this prospect, some have committed suicide.

To address this injustice, the woman advocates for passage of the Adoptee Citizen Act of 2018 (S. 2522H.R. 5233), introduced on March 8, 2018 by Senators Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). A similar bipartisan bill has been introduced in the House. The acts “would provide U.S. citizenship to individuals born outside of the United States who were adopted as children by American parents.” She asked Senator Feinstein to support this legislation.

The bill would fix a loophole in the Child Citizenship Act (CCA) of 2000. This existing legislation does guarantee citizenship to adoptees born outside of the U.S. under the age of 18. However, the CCA did not apply to adoptees who were over 18 when the law went into effect on February 27, 2001 — leaving out an estimated 35,000 adoptees. These adoptees remain “susceptible to deportation, unable to travel outside of the U.S. and unable to work legally.”

Everyone in the room was very moved by the woman’s story. We were shocked to hear that so many adoptees are being denied citizenship, and baffled that Congress would find this a difficult problem to solve. Sean rushed over to carefully take down the woman’s contact information, so hopefully Senator Feinstein will take action both on this case and the larger issue. IEB plans to advocate for this bill. So please contact your members of Congress today, and look out for more details and calls to action to come. 

Make those phone calls!

While your calls to our representatives continue to come in, Sean says call volume is down from last year. This is concerning, since if anything our call volume needs to increase — especially on these issues we are most concerned about. Make those phone calls! Today! 

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065

Union City Town Hall with Rep. Eric Swalwell

IEB members were among an estimated 250 people at a very energized and broad-ranging Town Hall with Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) on August 5, 2017. Rep. Swalwell began with a rousing speech in defense of democracy and the middle class for about 20 minutes, then responded very thoroughly for nearly an hour and a half to questions on subjects ranging from the environment to immigration to healthcare to why Democrats are not standing up more strongly for the middle class, and why sometimes Corporate Democrats appear just like a watered-down version of Republicans.  

IEB at Swalwell town hall 8.17

IEB members meet other activists at Rep. Eric Swalwell’s Union City town hall

Swalwell repeatedly turned the issues to how important it was to stay participating, keep resisting, and not getting tired. He seemed to channel the best of all those who have fought to improve our nation over the decades; indeed, many in the audience prefaced their remarks by saying: “We’re so proud of who you have become, and what you are doing in this role.”

Swalwell emphasized over and over that we must get to the bottom of the issue of Russia meddling in our election system and subverting our entire democracy, through both ways we already know of such as the spread of fake news and others we may not yet be aware of. One of the audience’s loudest cheers was to Swalwell’s remark, in response to a question: “And this is not a President who has the right to lecture anyone else on morals.” One of our IEB participants asked a question about Swalwell’s support of HR 1697, a bill opposing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel; he also expressed concern about what Congress could do about the possibility of Trump firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, to which Swalwell responded that he feels that Congress takes this very seriously and that both parties are working to keep the checks in place, to function as the “guardrail” of democracy. We fervently hope that he is right.