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Issue 5.0: Election Cyberattacks, Tillerson, Syria
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re:act is a weekly list of a few concrete things you can do to take action during the Trump presidency.

Missed a letter? See the full archive, or just last week’s issue. Also, here's a form where you can suggest action items my way.

This feels like a pivotal week. Bipartisan investigations are gaining steam in Congress, with the two parties already working across the aisle and against the President-elect’s wishes. They are responding to the voices of the American people: Trump’s 41% approval during the transition is the lowest that’s been polled (Obama’s was 72% at this point). Final vote tallies show that he received 2.8 million fewer votes than his opponent, while 65% of Americans have concerns about his conflicts of interest. At the same time, his cabinet picks continue to be out of step with what people want.

As troubling as his recent actions are, they offer a real opening for early bipartisan action. Particularly #1 and #2 below. So let’s get to work:

1. “The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.”

What’s happening:
What started as an information-gathering operation, intelligence officials believe, ultimately morphed into an effort to harm one candidate, Hillary Clinton, and tip the election to her opponent, Donald J. Trump … Over the weekend, four prominent senators — two Republicans and two Democrats — joined forces to pledge an investigation while pointedly ignoring Mr. Trump’s skeptical claims. ‘This cannot become a partisan issue,’ they said. ‘The stakes are too high for our country.’”

What you can do: (8–12 minutes)
Call your representative
Sample script: “I’m [FIRST & LAST NAME], a constituent calling to ask [REP.  — — — ] to strongly support an investigation into Russian interference in our elections. Please ask [REP.  — — — ] to be persistent in pursuing this bipartisan effort to investigate these events and prevent future attacks.”

Thank a GOP senator who has already asked for an investigation

Residents of NV and AZ: Call Senators Heller and Flake.
The two GOP Senators who are most vulnerable in 2018 have been conspicuously silent on the issue. Let them know that it’s time to put country above party like their colleagues have; remind them that their actions this week will be weighed in the voting booth in the next election.

  • Dean Heller (R-NV): 702–388–6605 (Las Vegas office)
  • Jeff Flake (R-AZ): 602–840–1891 (Phoenix office)

2. “Trump picks ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state”

What’s happening:
President-elect Donald Trump has picked as his secretary of state Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil, setting up a possible confrontation with members of his own party in the Senate.”

Tillerson has a committee problem. Of all President-Elect Trump’s cabinet picks, he may have the toughest road. If confirmed, the State Department “would be led by a man whose ties to Putin go back almost two decades at a time when possible Russian interference in the U.S. election is under scrutiny.” Many in the GOP are responding by citing the support of James Baker, Condoleeza Rice, and Robert Gates — but all three are partners in firms that provide legal or consulting services to ExxonMobil.

What you can do: (15 minutes)
Here’s the current Senate Foreign Relations Committee Roster. The committee will be 10–9 in favor of the GOP. If Tillerson is rejected in committee, he won’t be the nominee. The following senators will likely hold the crucial votes. If one is yours, call them:

Write a letter to ExxonMobil to stop discrediting climate science

3. “Aleppo siege said to be over amid rebel forces’ collapse and reports of Syrian military atrocities”

What’s happening:
The collapse of the rebel forces in Aleppo, announced by Russian officials and an opposition spokesman, came amid reports of horrific atrocities. It would mark the most significant victory yet by Syrian President Bashar Assad in his five-year civil war — a conflict that has left hundreds of thousands of people dead and forced millions from their homes.” 

As far as what happens next, Bloomberg reports that “the world’s reaction may depend on the emerging relationship between Russia and the incoming U.S. president.” Trump could give Russia "a freer hand to press for a military victory in Syria that boosts its status as a great power in the Middle East."

What you can do: (8 minutes)
Donate to the White Helmets, a group of unarmed and neutral rescue workers who have saved more than 73,530 people from the attacks in Syria.

Sign their letter to the UN Security Council, urging follow through on the demand to stop barrel bombs by introducing a no-fly zone.

Make a donation to UNICEF’s effort to help Syrian children, which is the largest relief operation in history.

4. “Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, Climate Change Denialist, to Lead E.P.A.

What’s happening:
“President-elect Donald J. Trump has selected Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general and a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, to run the Environmental Protection Agency, signaling Mr. Trump’s determination to dismantle President Obama’s efforts to counter climate change — and much of the E.P.A. itself.”

Pruitt also used state stationery and signed his name to letters that were drafted by fossil fuel industry lobbyists, The New York Times reported.

What you can do: (12 minutes)
Write a letter with the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) urging Senators to oppose the nomination. Try to personalize it as much as possible: many Senate offices use software to track form letters for similarities and batch process/ignore them. While it may be a uphill battle, it’s worth nothing that in 2015 98 senators voted in favor of a resolution that said “climate change is real and is not a hoax.”

Sign up for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Go to GreenPeaceFund.org and consider donating to the world’s leading independent, environmental campaigning organization.

5. “Trump Picks Fast-Food Executive Andrew Puzder As Labor Secretary”

“Puzder’s appointment sets up a clash between business and labor groups, as he’s been an outspoken critic of raising the minimum wage and the Affordable Care Act.” He once said about robots: “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case.”

What you can do: (12 minutes)
Scroll to the bottom of this page to see if your Senator is currently on the HELP committee, which will hold hearings in January. Call them and ask them to oppose Puzder’s nomination.

Support National Employment Law Project (NELP), which fights to raise the minimum wage at a time when corporate profits are at all-time highs and wages are at 65-year lows. 

Previous letters / still work to do:

Also on the radar:


Look out for each other.
-Derek


P.S. A lot of people asking how to help re:act. One way: I have trouble finding the time (or proclivity) to promote this thing, so if you happen to find it useful, please share this link around so more people can get involved.

Editor's note: This list is not meant to be authoritative, exhaustive, or even expert. I'm just a guy letting you know some things I am doing every week.  I'd love for those with more legislative experience to recommend better levers to pull. I'd love for you to point out what I missed, because I will definitely miss things. 

Please send ideas or stories of your involvement ​my way at derek@reactletter.com
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