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October 04, 2019
Revolving Door Project Joins Partners to Tell Trump: Rescind Executive Order Cutting Federal Advisory Committees
Today, the Revolving Door Project joined civil society partners to call on President Trump to rescind his Executive Order on Evaluating and Improving the Utility of Federal Advisory Committees. This recent Trump executive order calls for the elimination of one-third of existing Federal Advisory Committees (FAC) that are not statutorily mandated. The Order claims to offer a remedy for a problem — bloat in the FAC system — that does not exist. It does identify an actual problem for corporate America, though — more input from civil society can indeed dilute corporate influence in the workings of the executive branch. The order is, therefore, nothing more than the latest in this administration’s string of attacks on independent expertise and the public interest.
October 03, 2019
CEPR's Impeachment Briefing
When Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry of Trump last Tuesday, CEPR’s Revolving Door Project (RDP) was already ahead of the news. RDP’s director, Jeff Hauser answered when reporters asked if Democrats would seek impeachment after the whistleblower allegations. Last year, he warned of then-Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh’s proven willingness to rule “that the president is unreachable by the law while in office.”
October 02, 2019 | The Daily Beast
Don’t Stop With Donald Trump, Democrats: Impeach Attorney General Bill Barr
It’s beyond redundant to say that Donald Trump must be impeached over the Ukraine scandal. The so-called transcript of his July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelevsky released last week — really a collection of notes — was already damning evidence of the president manipulating foreign policy for his personal political goals. Then the actual whistleblower complaint reconfirmed and solidified the case. Trump’s White House counsel, Donald McGahn, even wrote a memo cautioning him that using law enforcement powers to target a political adversary would be illegal and clearly impeachable.
But if Democrats are going to uncover more information through aggressive hearings and ultimately impeach the president, they need to recognize their most powerful adversary: Attorney General William Barr.
September 27, 2019 | Talking Points Memo
Now That The Impeachment Probe Is Official, House Dems Must Ramp Up Other Oversight
In soliciting election interference from Ukraine’s president, Trump did what had long seemed impossible; he committed an offense that even the most impeachment-phobic lawmakers couldn’t ignore. You don’t have to agree that this behavior is materially worse than other known misconduct — we certainly don’t — to celebrate that this particularly flagrant misstep sent the Democratic caucus over the edge. And since House Democrats are no longer paralyzed by a fear of falling into an unwanted impeachment inquiry, it is our hope that the Democratic caucus will finally begin to act like the opposition party it was elected to be.
September 24, 2019
With Impeachment (Slowly) Underway, Other Oversight is Still Needed
Impeachment proceedings are officially underway, meaning that the tedious debate over whether or not to open an inquiry is (at least, hypothetically) behind us. Following revelations last week that President Trump has taken Congress’ refusal to impeach as a blank check, it is even becoming plausible that the days of Nancy Pelosi’s ridiculous ongoing opposition to impeachment are numbered. This is not to say that the impeachment fight is over; questions about the substance and style of the inquiry remain. Democrats, however, have crossed a major milestone. With the majority of the caucus no longer tied up by whether to even open an impeachment inquiry, it is time they turn their attention to the other, related oversight they have neglected. Only then will they begin to resemble the opposition party voters thought they were propelling to power last fall.
September 23, 2019
Key House Democrats Are Giving Betsy DeVos A Free Ride
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified before the House Education and Labor Committee five months ago. She sat down, cleared her throat, and proceded to dodge basic yes-or-no questions about everything from transgender rights to literacy programs to arming teachers for several hours. Through her evasiveness, and the many issues Democrats wanted to bring up, there was barely any discussion of the trillion dollar student loan crisis, a calamity chaining down a whole generation’s opportunity, and which is now larger than both credit card and auto loan debt. Over $1.4 trillion of the $1.5 trillion debt is part of the federal government’s student loan portfolio, which the Education Department oversees.
September 23, 2019 | Common Dreams
Why Are House Democrats Afraid to Wield Their Subpoena Power?
Does the Democratic leadership even want to wield power?
It’s hard to tell. Nine months into their House majority, Democratic committee chairs don’t seem to realize they have any powers at all besides the occasional sarcastic clap.
To be clear, Democratic House leaders possess a major power that Republicans can do nothing to block, obstruct, or impede: the power to issue and enforce subpoenas.
September 19, 2019 | Washington Monthly
The Kitchen-Table Case for Impeaching Trump
After months of waiting, the House Judiciary Committee has finally voted to open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. With that tedious “will-they-or-won’t-they” question out of the way, the logical next question is: can impeachment succeed? The answer is a resounding yes. But getting there will require a strategic reorientation away from a sluggish and legalistic examination of Trump’s offenses via recalcitrant witnesses and toward a broader consideration of how his systemic abuses of power have materially hurt regular people.
September 11, 2019 | The Daily Beast
Trump’s Going to Manipulate the Government to Stay in Power
The power of an incumbent president to aid re-election by abusing the executive branch has in the past been limited by a few powerful forces: Presidential integrity; the fear of a scandal emerging in the media; and the prospect of aggressive congressional oversight.
Due to forces outside their control, the Democratic nominee won’t be saved by the first two “norms based” options. And as a result of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s strategy of not “focusing on Trump,” the president has every reason to scoff at the prospect of aggressive congressional oversight, up to and including a genuine “go big” effort at impeachment.
June 11, 2019
Oversight Targets Abound in Betsy Devos' Education Department
Since last fall, the Revolving Door Project has been working to ensure that House Democrats use their newfound majority to perform long overdue oversight that targets the intersection between outsized corporate influence and Trump-era corruption. We have argued that across the breadth of every issue area imaginable, such oversight not only represents good policy but also good politics. In a moment of deep skepticism about the integrity of elites and institutions across the globe, fighting against corruption could not be more timely. Despite our pleas, few Democrats have embraced this manner of populist oversight. This timidity is disheartening in all cases, but in certain areas, like Betsy Devos’ Education Department, it appears particularly egregious.
May 24, 2019 | BuzzFeed News
Corruption Needs To Be A Kitchen Table Issue In 2020. Start With Betsy DeVos
With the debate over impeachment raging, everyone from Nancy Pelosi to a wide swath of freshman Democrats is making a distinction between Congress working on oversight of the Trump administration, and Congress focusing on so-called kitchen table issues — things that make a real difference to people’s everyday lives. Don’t let one eat up precious time that could be spent on the other, so the argument goes.
May 16, 2019
The Oversight Options Available to the House Financial Services Committee
Eleanor Eagan and Jeff Hauser
The financial industry has been the driving force behind some of the most damaging economic trends of our time. In spite of this fact, since the spasm of reform reflected in the Dodd Frank Act, financiers have faced very little scrutiny from lawmakers. Instead of regulating the industry, many governing officials from both parties have chosen to collect campaign checks in exchange for helpful votes. Maxine Waters has rejected this complacency in favor of aggressive oversight. The committee’s failure to oversee the industry for so long, however, has left a significant backlog of issues to examine, in addition to the plethora of new and novel issues emerging under this administration. In an effort to help advocates and members of the public understand the scope of the task that the House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) faces, the Revolving Door Project has compiled a list of problems that deserve the committee’s scrutiny.
May 06, 2019
Groups Call for Oversight of BB&T-SunTrust Merger
On Thursday, May 2nd, the Revolving Door Project, in conjunction with the Demand Progress Education Fund and Color for Change, submitted a comment to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Federal Reserve System Board of Governors regarding the proposed merger between Branch Banking and Trust Company (BB&T) and SunTrust Bank. This comment raised numerous concerns related to the implications of this merger, the largest since the financial crisis, and the integrity of the process by which it will be approved. We believe that these concerns warrant an elevated level of scrutiny for this merger.
April 25, 2019
Bold Calls to #taxtherich, But Not Enough Talk of Enforcement
Earlier this year, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made waves when she used her appearance on 60 Minutes to call for a 70 percent marginal tax rate on incomes over $10 million. The mainstream media establishment was further blown away when polls in the following days showed that this radical proposal was wildly popular. To anyone who had been paying attention, this was hardly a shocking revelation; Americans have long supported raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Nonetheless, the renewed focus on proposals to tax the rich opens the door for a long overdue conversation about biases in our tax system and how to change them.
April 24, 2019 | Washington Monthly
House Democrats Are Failing to Investigate the White House
The Mueller report is a chronicle of corruption. It outlines attempted collusion between Trump’s closest advisors, including his son and campaign chairman, and the Russian government. It shows that Trump routinely lied about his actions and asked those around him to lie on his behalf. It details a president who told his subordinates to end the entire investigation. The report is especially astonishing given that it didn’t even touch on Trump’s many other potential crimes. From his brazen violations of the Emoluments Clause to his decision to steal emergency funds for his border wall, Trump has been a threat to the rule of law since the moment he was inaugurated.